Allentown students working to start volleyball club

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By Matthew Sockol
Staff Writer

A pair of Allentown High School sophomores are working to create a club for students who have a passion for playing volleyball.

As part of an effort to establish a volleyball club at the high school, sophomores Matt Geleta and Ben Mashkevich established an online fundraiser and sought $1,400 in donations. The fundraiser exceeded its goal and as of Jan. 18, $1,410 had been donated.

According to Matt, Allentown High School does not have an interscholastic volleyball program or an intramural volleyball club.

In early January, the students leading the initiative created a petition seeking to establish a volleyball club and obtained more than 300 signatures, according to the fundraiser. The students said they were informed by the Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education that the district does not have the finances to create new clubs at the high school.

“In order to create the club, we need to be self-funding,” Matt said.

According to the fundraiser, the donations will be used for equipment, gym space and other needs to benefit the club.

Matt, who is the Student Council vice president of his sophomore class, said he was inspired to create a volleyball club after noticing that students at the high school enjoy the sport, but lacked resources to pursue it.

“There are so many people here who love playing volleyball,” he said. “It only makes sense to give them someplace to play.”

Matt counts himself among the students who are passionate about the sport.

“Volleyball is everything to me,” he said. “I play with my friends every day after school and the weather is never a factor. We have played through rain and snow and still love it. I really started getting into volleyball during the summer when I got a friend and we played a beach volleyball tournament. We lost every game, but we absolutely loved playing.

“I have been playing volleyball since sixth grade … and I have been playing seriously for the past six months,” he said. “If volleyball didn’t mean this much to me, I wouldn’t even be trying to make the club. Ben is in the same boat as me and has also been playing since middle school. We frequently meet up to play and also to plan out how we are going to make this club work.”

According to Matt, he and Ben are intending for the high school club to be a seasonal sport for fall and spring, and to have competitive and noncompetitive leagues. He said the club has received support from Principal Constance DeNicola Embley.

Matt said he is planning to present a proposal for the club to the school board and if the proposal is approved, he expects it to be fully operational by the fall.

Furthermore, Matt said he hopes the club will lay the groundwork for a volleyball program that would join the roster of Allentown’s interscholastic sports teams.

“I would just like to say how overwhelmed I am at the amount of support we have received,” he said. “From our generous donors to our student body, the reactions have been nothing except positive and encouraging.

“I am not creating this club for myself and I am certainly not creating this club for my friends. I am creating this club for the students of Allentown High School. The interest is there, we just need a leader to step up and lead the charge to create the volleyball club,” Matt said.

“I will represent the interests of the student body and make a club for all students to enjoy. The one thing I do not lack is passion. Words alone cannot describe how motivated and driven I am to see this club out to its completion. Together, I know we can make this work and create a volleyball club at Allentown High School,” he added.