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The Journal Gazette

  • Photo courtesy IPFW IPFW junior Tony Price, a Woodlan graduate, didn't start playing volleyball until his sophomore year of high school.

  • Photo courtesy IPFW Junior Max Hansen, a Carroll graduate, is one of two local players on the IPFW men’s volleyball roster, a rarity in the program. 

Friday, April 06, 2018 1:00 am

City natives rarity for Mastodons

2 volleyball players got late start to sport, played for local club

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

No. 15 IPFW vs. No. 7 Ohio State

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Gates Center

IPFW men's volleyball players Tony Price and Max Hansen make up a unique demographic for the Mastodons: They are Fort Wayne natives.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association does not sponsor boys volleyball, so the development of players in the state is through club teams.

“My mom got to play here, she got to play under Arnie Ball,” said Price, a Woodlan graduate. “I've been around volleyball my whole life. My sister played in college and stuff, and I didn't start playing until my sophomore year of high school. I gave up every other sport and started playing. Two of our alumni were our coaches at our small club team (Loren Gebert and Dustin Sherman). And then I really didn't have high school. We just had one small club team.”

Price, a redshirt junior outside hitter, was an underdog compared with his teammates who grew up playing the sport.

“I was looking at a bunch of other schools, but I thought about it a lot and wanted to stay in town, wanted to play here so it took a lot of work on my end,” he said. “I think it's one of the things that's helped me and elevated my play. I was seen as somebody who wasn't supposed to be much here.”

Hansen's story is similar in that family connections brought him to the sport through the Fort Wayne Volleyball Club.

The stories differ in that Hansen, a junior middleblocker, didn't make volleyball a priority when choosing a school, but the fact that the right connections, the right major and the right location just made it a perfect fit.

“I wasn't really looking to play in college,” the Carroll graduate said. “If I did, great. If not, I wasn't going to make a big deal about it. Starting so late, I felt like girls here start middle school maybe elementary school. I didn't start until later in middle school. I ended up having a good relationship with (Gebert) and ended up talking with (former coach) Arnie (Ball) a little bit and placed myself here.

“With my major (dental hygiene), it was a no-brainer. My family's here, I'm pretty close with them, so I felt like staying in Fort Wayne was a big deal for me. Staying here was my best option for me.”

The two are the first locals on the roster since Nate Berg, a Bishop Dwenger graduate, was on the team from 2007 to 2009.

“It's very rare to have somebody like that, let alone two at the same time with Max and Tony,” coach Ryan Perrotte said. “I think it's great. I think a lot of the fans locally know them because of their high school connections here. It's great to have them come out and support not only Tony and Max but our team.

“I think it's a great way to connect with our community, when we go out to schools to do community service projects or go down to Fort4Fitness. When we have two local guys, I think it speaks volumes in our community. Especially young kids can look up to Tony and Max and think, 'Wow, look what they've done. This is what I'd like to do.' ”

areichel@jg.net