Volleyball player’s gender keeps him on the bench


Trevor Arellano

Cheering on the team, sophomore Nick Cordova helps the team from the sidelines. Head coach Stephanie Scarbrough speaks highly of Cordova’s contributions to the team. “We have a lot of confidence in his knowledge of the game and his ability to communicate that to the girls in a positive and constructive manner.  He is a vital member of our team.”

By Henry DeWitt, Sports Editor

Nick Cordova does everything he can to help the Lawrence High School volleyball team. Whether that be managing, helping coach the girls during games or playing as part of the team during practices.

Cordova may be listed as simply a manager; however, teammates and coaches know that Cordova’s contributions are far greater than just being a manager.

During practices, Cordova is treated like just another player, practicing with the girls everyday to get better, improve his skills and ultimately be the best player he can be.

But come gametime, Cordova is forced to sit on the bench and watch his teammates due to Kansas State High School Activities Association rules not allowing boys to play volleyball.

Volleyball wasn’t new to Cordova when he came to Lawrence High School. Not at all. Volleyball has been in his life since kindergarten when he went to his sister’s volleyball practices.

“It was just a normal, everyday thing,” he said. “She would go after school, and I would come along just because your parents bring both of you because they can’t leave you in two different places. I would just come play with them. I’d have a good time.”

Cordova continued to support his sister, Michaela Cordova, at practices and games. When he turned 10, he learned of an opportunity to play on a club team. Since then, he has shined as a player.

Cordova has bounced from the Kansas City Mavs club team to the Topeka Six Pack club team and now back to the Mavs, excelling on both teams.

“Two years ago I played for Six Pack and went to Nationals with Mavs,” Cordova said. “Last year I played with Six Pack and went to Nationals with them.”

The accolades and accomplishments are clearly there for Cordova, and that is what makes him such a valuable asset to the LHS volleyball team, even though he cannot play.

During games, he acts as an assistant coaching figure.

“He does a great job being an incredible teammate from the bench, helping the girls find holes in the opponent defense or seeing opportunities to improve an individual’s game.” Coach Stephanie Scarbrough said, “We have a lot of confidence in his knowledge of the game and his ability to communicate that to the girls in a positive and constructive manner. He is a vital member of our team.”

Coaches praise his ability to work with the team and get players to reach their full potential. According to teammates, this in-game advice is valuable.

“[He] tells you in a positive way, like ‘Instead of doing that you could have done this and next time you could do this to get the point or to be more strategic’ and everything like that,” team captain Haven Bellerive said. “He just pushes us to be the best we can be, but he’s not soft with us. He’s not afraid to hurt your feelings.”

Cordova practicing with the team gives the girls a nationally competing outside player to try to score on, which can prove difficult.

“Nick is a great opponent for the team during practices.” Scarbrough said. “Defensively it is difficult to get a ball down with him in the back row. He puts up a big block for us to work around, serves aggressive and swings with a purpose to improve our game.”

Cordova doesn’t only help with making the LHS volleyball team the best it can be. He also helps give more opportunities to men trying to play volleyball, most recently, working to create a team in Lawrence to compete in a new men’s league in the Kansas City area.

However, in an ideal world, he said, men’s volleyball would be offered as a school sport. That would provide more opportunities for boys to be recruited by colleges that may not be looking at clubs.

“Boys, most of them here aren’t trained since they’re young,” Cordova said. “You just get into it, and if you’re athletic, you can pick it up pretty fast. So I think if we started a boys team, that would be really cool.”

As Lawrence High School hopes to gear up for another state run, Cordova will continue to prove a key facet of the team’s success.

“I really think we have a good chance of going to state,” Cordova said. “I think we’ll have a good set-up at sub-state and a really good chance to go to state.”