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Foothill League boys volleyball: Not the quitting type

Schlossman didn’t give up on volleyball or Golden Valley, and now the program is prospering

Posted: April 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley High junior Alec Schlossman played both basketball and volleyball as a freshman. He chose to stick with volleyball despite the basketball program’s success at the time, and he overcame a back injury this past winter to help the Grizzlies’ volleyball program continue its ascension.

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Alec Schlossman had every reason not to play volleyball.

Those who know him probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out he stuck with it.

The 17-year-old is not exactly the quitting type.

But the Golden Valley junior has had plenty of hurdles to clear along the way.

When he was a freshman, Schlossman played for both the school’s freshman basketball team and a team at Legacy Volleyball Club. Eventually, he would have to choose one or the other.

But the hurdles didn’t end there.

This past winter, during club volleyball season, he had to take himself out of a match because of unbearable back pain.

“You could tell that he was really hurt, because otherwise he wouldn’t be sitting out,” says Griffin Ender, a club teammate of Schlossman’s.

Schlossman was born with a small fracture in one of his vertebrae, and it was aggravated last winter, nearly costing him playing time in the current high school season.

“It killed me because I was sitting on the bench watching my team play, and I saw all these college coaches sitting there watching them play,” Schlossman says.

Enough time with a physical therapist landed him back on the court in time for this season, a key year for getting the attention of colleges.

That’s been Schlossman’s primary motivation all along — playing at the next level.

It’s the same reason he chose the sport in the first place after his freshman year on the basketball team.

That season, Golden Valley’s varsity basketball team won a Foothill League title with a 9-1 record and the varsity volleyball team finished 0-10 in league.

“That made it really hard to quit the basketball program, because it was a fun time to be involved at all in the Golden Valley basketball program,” Schlossman says.

Something about volleyball kept his interest, though.

For starters, he had a knack for it. He played outside hitter for the 15-year-old club team which went on to take a gold medal at the 2009 USA Junior Olympics in Atlanta.

He was named MVP at the tournament and has played the same position ever since.

“He’s just intelligent, so when he’s on the court, he knows I’ll be saying some things to guys,” says Golden Valley volleyball head coach Jeff Cody. “But I trust him enough where he can give guys tips.”

At first, Schlossman wanted to continue playing both sports, but in order to maintain his high GPA (currently 4.23), he had to free up his schedule and choose just one.

In hindsight, volleyball was the right call.

“I think he took it as a challenge and a new personal goal to make the team better,” Ender says.

As a sophomore last season, Schlossman joined the varsity team under first-year head coach Cody, who had known Schlossman from coaching at Legacy.

Cody had seen him play beforehand, and thus convinced him to take his talents to the high school arena.

“It’s great having him out there because he definitely knows what it’s like to play in those (big) matches,” Cody says of Schlossman’s experience. “He brings a definite comfort level for the team.”

With both in their second year with the team, things are looking up. The Grizzlies went 5-5 in Foothill play and finished third last year, earning a berth into the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs. Schlossman was a sophomore playing with athletes that were brand new to volleyball.

“We all knew everyone, but basically we were all young,” Schlossman says. “I was a sophomore. There were all juniors that year so no one expected anything from us. It was us against the world, so we said, ‘Let’s go out and make a statement.’”

This year, Golden Valley is following up on that statement, posting a 14-10 overall record and going 4-2 in league play so far. In the meantime, the boys basketball program has taken a downturn.

“Volleyball is becoming a buzz because for years, it was only basketball,” Cody says. “It was only boys basketball at Golden Valley.”

Cody said when he took over the program, he had to talk freshman football players into playing volleyball just to fill out the freshman and junior varsity rosters.

Now, the freshman team boasts as many as 14 players, with some capable of playing at the JV level.

Cody gives credit to players like Schlossman and senior Ryan Kessler for the sudden popularity of the program. Kessler also used to play at Legacy.

Schlossman, one of the team’s captains, does it all for the Grizzlies. Besides hitting, he also contributes on defense, both passing in the back row and blocking in the front row.

The impact of players like him can hardly be broken down in mere statistics, though.

The real story will be demonstrated in the ongoing progression of Golden Valley volleyball.

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