How HB volleyball stays on top


The HBHS volleyball programs host a summer skills development camp every year. This is part of the overall mission to keep the teams always fresh with new talent and to provide court time outside of a given season. “It’s very important to get involved and help the younger generations that will come after you leave high school,” says Maddie Norris ‘19, who is looking to play at the Division I level in college.

Patrick Bloniasz, Co-Editor in Chief

The Hollis Brookline boys and girls volleyball teams have been one of New Hampshire’s premiere sports programs over the last few years, with this past girl’s season has been no exception. The girl’s capped off their 21-0 season with a championship title over Bishop Guertin, their third title in a row. Preparations have already begun for some members of the boy’s program, fresh off of a semifinals finish last year and a championship win in 2016. Keeping this in mind, it is important to see how the two teams stay so competitive in the NHIAA’s Division I year after year.

Maddie Norris ‘19, a three year varsity player and 2017’s “Division I Player of the Year,” believes it has something to do with the sheer amount of court time the players try to achieve over a given year, saying “as a whole, our program is constantly running camps throughout the summer and on the off season which helps tremendously with our improvement.” While citing that the vast majority of varsity girls play club volleyball, which technically classifies as any league outside of NHIAA, she also feels as though development within the program itself is beneficial, as younger players playing against more skilled athletes assists in skill development.

Boys varsity captain Jonathan (JB) Brackett ‘18 has a slightly different theory: “The volleyball program consistently stays competitive because of the amazing coaching staff. Balf, Mr. B, and Coach Ed are some of the most invested and intelligent coaches of any sport that I’ve ever had, and they’ll pretty much do anything in order to ensure the success of their players.” Brackett is currently one of the best hitters in the state after coming to play volleyball his sophomore year without any prior experience. “With Balf and Coach Ed in charge, you could walk on the court for the first time with no idea what you’re doing, and those two will make you great in no time,” he said.

Rebecca Balfour, head coach of the girls varsity team, Vice President of the DI NH Volleyball Coaches Association and HB Social Studies teacher, had the most heartwarming sentiments regarding the success of the program. Having started the program here at the high school with her husband in 1999, Balfour had a vision from the beginning of what kind of program she wanted to bring to this community. “I wanted to create one cohesive program, where every team, whether it be Varsity, JVA, or JVB, is part of one big team, creating a kind of family,” she said with a smile.

Balfour discussed how HBVB truly unifies all different skill levels, with young recreational players, middle school players, and high school players being almost indistinguishable in how they are treated by “Balf” and the rest of her coaching staff. It is all about developing each individual’s own skills, according to her general philosophy.

In how this relates to the recurring annual success, the teams are never in a “rebuilding” or transitional stage like other teams, where they are just beginning to develop players when they are pulled up to the varsity level–this program is always just “reloading” the varsity team with already developed players. The future of our volleyball programs looks promising, as the effects of great attention and care from years past are just beginning to be felt.

Your next chance to see Balf’s philosophy at work is this  spring, as the boys look to take on Division I once again.