Glen Ridge HS girls volleyball program makes its debut

Glen Ridge Hs girls volleyball players celebrate after winning the season opener. (Photo Courtesy of Matt DeLuca)

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The sport of volleyball has become popular in recent years in the area, evidenced by several high schools that have started programs.

Indeed, Glen Ridge High School has joined the volleyball craze, starting a girls program this fall.

The interest in starting a girls volleyball program was strong in Glen Ridge, from the parents, administrators and, of course, players.

“It’s exciting,” GRHS head coach Mike Tully said. “The girls are receptive to coaching. The administration, with the athletic director, Mr. (Rob) Hill, and the booster club and the parents are all so incredibly supportive. There is a lot of pent-up enthusiasm for volleyball in the community that’s now getting a chance to express itself, and we’re just having a lot of fun in the gym.

“On any given day, we have 30 or 35 players, depending on who’s injured or who can’t make it on that particular day, but we have a core of about 25 kids who are there every day, half-hour early, stay late. You just couldn’t ask for a better situation. When we were having 8 o’clock practices, you would have to get there quarter-after 7 in the morning to get there before some of the kids.”

In their first match, the visiting Ridgers defeated Passaic Charter in exciting fashion. After winning the first set, 26-24, Glen Ridge dropped the second set, 25-20, before winning the third and decisive set, 25-23, on Friday, Sept. 8.

Tully has been impressed by the players’ maturity. As far as skills, the Ridgers have been well-prepared by a development program, said Tully. The process of learning how to compete on a varsity level is coming along, he added.

Tully, who has been in the journalism profession for 50 years, has 34 years of volleyball coaching experience on the high school, collegiate and club levels, imparting his knowledge of the sport to the girls.

Tully said his long-term goal is “trying to teach the girls that every session in the gym is a fight to get better. Don’t bother to fight on game day if you’re not willing to fight for the details today.”

Tully also is teaching the players to “T.R.I.,” which stands for teamwork, respect and improvement.

But make no mistake, Tully has a strong love of the sport and is excited to see his players learn and improve each  day.

“When I’m in the gym, teaching this sport, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” Tully said. ”I just love kids getting better, love seeing them become a team.”

The Ridgers will have their first home match on Monday, Sept. 18, against Newark Arts at 4 p.m.

A boys volleyball program will debut in the spring at GRHS, according to Tully.