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For senior Wootton, coed team is just the beginning

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Ty Wootton's senior seminar project is "set" up to be a "hit."

The 17-year-old New Albany High School senior has organized and is participating in a coed volleyball team for his seminar project.

He and 12 fellow NAHS seniors are participating on his Eagles team that competes against other local club teams Sunday evenings at the McDonald Athletic Complex on Olentangy River Road.

He and his teammates -- seven boys and six girls -- practice on Mondays at Wootton's home and Saturdays at the New Albany United Methodist Church on South Third Street.

NAHS girls varsity volleyball coach Josh Lee coaches the team.

"I chose people who were reliable and who were also decent at the sport," Wootton said. "We have five Division 1 athletes."

Wootton, also a member of a local intramural volleyball club, said he has learned that being good at volleyball is much more than hitting the ball.

"There is actual strategy to it," he said. "I thought it was you hit the ball and you get it over the net. It has a lot to do with your team chemistry and knowing your other players."

Although he's having fun and learning a lot through his team, Wootton said, this wasn't his original plan for his project. He initially wanted to inspire the New Albany-Plain Local officials to create a boys varsity volleyball team.

"We don't have a boys volleyball team at our school, so originally, my project was to start a boys team," he said. "It was too late in the year. It's a spring sport."

Now he is working with district athletics director Rex Reeder to make a boys volleyball team a reality for future NAHS students.

"I think volleyball is a sport that guys can enjoy no matter how competitive they are," he said. "It's definitely a team sport, and you need a good team. You have to rely on other people, trust them and it's just fun."

He said he plans to write a proposal about a varsity boys volleyball team before the end of his project in the spring.

Reeder said the district tries to add new sports for students, but it has to weigh the financial impact of paying a coach and other officials.

"Ty is working on a proposal, and possibly once we take a look at that, we'll take a look down the road," he said. "We're obviously very much in favor of trying to add more opportunities for kids, but it depends on the cost."

He said a potential team has to be a school-sponsored club sport for two years before it would be accepted as a varsity sport.

Though the Eagles have only three games left in their season, Wootton, who is looking to attend college for either business administration or physics, also is planning a schoolwide volleyball tournament during Peace Week in the spring.

He said the freshman team would play juniors, and sophomores would play seniors. The two winners will play each other, and the winner of that game will play a team of teachers.

Wootton said he plans some charity component to the tournament, such as asking those who watch the game to bring canned goods.

He said he's learned to be more of a leader through organizing the team and the tournament, as well as taking steps to create a boys varsity team.

"I am not very much of a leader myself," he said. "I think I've become more of a leader. I play sports, but I'm not the person that talks very much. At practice and at games, I find myself yelling, and I sometimes need to calm down. I have never seen that side of myself before."

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com

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