DNA Volleyball aces first year

Author: Sylvie Sparks Writer: Elyssa Morataya
Published: Updated:

A new volleyball club is making waves in the sports world. The boy’s team called DNA Volleyball, placed third and fifth in the AAU national championship, even though many of the boys had never played the sport before.

“I have high standards every time. I knew eventually it was going to happen, but I didn’t know it was gonna be this fast. It’s very encouraging to see how far we can go with this club and boys volleyball in the area,” Saad Rivera, Founder and Director of DNA Volleyball.

DNA Volleyball founder and director Saad Rivera grew up playing volleyball in Puerto Rico, earning him a college scholarship.

The Aubrey Rogers girl’s coach was shocked Southwest Florida high schools don’t have teams for boys.

“I was like, ‘You know what? If nobody’s gonna do it, I’m gonna take the initiative and start it.’ And then I had a very good response,” said Rivera.

DNA volleyball launched, and in year one, the 16U team won third, and the 17U team came in fifth at the AAU national championship.

Despite most of the rosters having never played before.

“To come in third, I mean, just wow. I have massive respect for my coach who turned the rough gems that we were and really polished us and made us into a team,” said Adam Berman, 16U middle.

Now, the boys are hooked on volleyball and behind Rivera in his mission to bring it to high schools, even if it is after they graduate.

“Even though I might not be able to play, I know that there’s people out there who love the sport and want a chance to play at some point,” said Alexander Arbez, 17U outside hitter.

Sophomore CJ Hogan is one of those people, driving hours from Labelle to Collier County to play.

“I really want to play in college at the next level. Hopefully DI, but I’m okay with DII. I’m gonna try my best of course.” said Hogan.

Hogan thinks that if he played for his high school, he’d likely get more exposure to college coaches. DNA’s volleyball’s success is a step in the right direction.

“I think that third-place metal definitely put us on the map. People are looking at us now. I think I think we’re going somewhere,” said Hogan.

Boys volleyball is a Florida high school athletic association-regulated sport in some of the state’s bigger cities.

Rivera, the players, and their parents hope to jump-start establishing boys’ volleyball programs in southwest Florida high schools. Of course, these are baby steps. Next year, Rivera plans to expand DNA to four teams.

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