CHARDON, Ohio — This past summer, the Ohio High School Athletic Association sanctioned boys volleyball, allowing schools to start building those programs to begin this school year. At Chardon, they're fundraising to get their team ready to start their season in March—and doing it in a unique way.
Bryan Sutton, the current assistant coach for the Chardon girls volleyball team and soon-to-be head coach for the boys team, was thrilled to see the sport expand for the school.
"It all started with some of the guys coming to me, as I was the assistant coach for the girls, that were interested in putting a team together. They—within 48 hours, as we were about to play in the regional semifinals—we had about 30 emails ready to go and sent straight to the AD. We started to get some traction," Sutton said. "Just everyone kind of came together and we're excited and we're ready and we have the support from the town, the community, and then also the girls team as well."
Boys from the football team, soccer team and other sports at the school, coming together to form a new boys volleyball team. Not many have a lot of experience with the new sport, but they've been watching the girls play and doing their best to learn from them.
"I'm excited for them. It's really nice to see them come support our games and they're always wanting to join in," said Chardon outside hitter Emma McCartney. "They're taking advice very well. They don't get upset when we give them constructive criticism. They're excited to learn and it's really fun to see them get frustrated when they're trying to learn."
But learning to play, while obviously important, is just one of the steps the boys team needs to take before their season starts—they also need to raise money to fund the team.
With boys volleyball being a new sport for the school, the team has to raise their own money.
"Each home game is going to cost us anywhere between $400 or $500. We have eight home game scheduled, jerseys all come out of our pocket. So we have to do double duty when it comes to fundraising because we need to supply everything, make sure that we have transportation, make sure we have refs, line judges, officials, bookkeepers," Sutton said.
So to raise money, the boys needed a plan. They didn't want to have a raffle or host a car wash—they needed something more fun, more unique. That's when a parent reached out to Sutton with a crazy idea: A volley potty.
"Coach here sent me a TikTok the other day and it was about a Prom Potty where they're fundraising for their prom. So we decided to do it for our volleyball team. And basically we put this toilet on people's yards and they're going to they have to either give us $20 to take it off or $40 to move it somewhere else of their choosing," said senior Joseph Evans, who has joined the new boy's volleyball team.
A traveling toilet. Donated by the local Home Depot and decorated by Sutton, the toilet is now Chardon-themed. Sutton's wife helped redecorate a sign that explains the premise of the toilet and now, it finds itself on the lawns of people in on the fun.
"It's been to my house. That was very interesting to see. It's a lot of fun to see when people are like, 'Oh, man, I hope it doesn't show up in my house,' and it does," McCartney said. "People pay a lot of money to go to certain houses."
Houses like the athletic director, the principal and other members of the Chardon community. Evans, who also is the kicker for the Hilltoppers football team, said his coach got hit with the traveling toilet too.
"My cousin, CJ Paterniti, donated $100 to send it to the head football coach's yard, so that was pretty funny," Evans said. "Good donation and obviously you get to incorporate another aspect of the school, the football coach."
Both the boys and girls teams come together, helping load the toilet into vehicles and take it to the next home that has been made the next destination of the bathroom staple thanks to a donation from a friend or family member.
Future players like Juan Panella, a senior exchange student from Argentina, enjoy themselves as they "decorate" the lawn with the unusual ornament. Panella's smile on his face spread ear to ear as he and his future teammates planted the potty in the lawn.
The volley potty has been going on for just over a week and they've had their fair share of fun while raising money for their team to be created. So far, they've reached around half of their goal and they hope to continue their fundraising efforts over the next few weeks before the season starts. They're also raising money through donations online for those who'd rather leave the bathroom business out of it.
Chardon isn't the only school in the area looking to create a boys volleyball team. Other districts are also raising funds like Chardon is and many are asking for their community's support.
While the Hilltoppers aim to reach their goals, they're also keeping a big goal for themselves on the court.
"Expect a state championship, Division II. A lot of laughs. This is a great group of people here and we're going to have a lot of fun. And the first year we'll see where it goes," Evans said.
And until they hit their goal leading into their first match on March 10 against Nordonia, expect the volley potty to move around a bit more.
"This is a fundraiser. Hopefully, we're having a good time with it. So watch your lawns," Sutton and the boys joked. "But we're excited."
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