Soaring past stereotypes: Senior embraces mens volleyball

Jon Cho shares his competition journey, insight


Gianna Galante

With a spin, senior Jonathan Cho collects the ball he served. Cho describes his interest in having a mens volleyball team at Prosper. “I would have loved having a mens team at school,” Cho said. “I hope that enough interest sparks (one) in the future.”

Senior Jonathan Cho tosses the volleyball in the air. As it descends, he hits the ball with the heel of his palm and it soars across the net, striking the court on the other side. 

Cho has been playing volleyball with Excel for two and a half years now. Although he had an unusual introduction to the sport, he grew to love it. 

“Before I moved to Texas, I lived in New Jersey,” Cho said. “My friend made a bet to see who would get better at volleyball by the end of the year. I moved to Texas, played volleyball – got better than him – simple as that. Now I’m just addicted.”

When Cho moved to Prosper, he was disappointed that there was no mens high school volleyball team.

“I was kind of shocked because Prosper’s kind of big, so it made me really sad,” Cho said. “I had heard they had a team, so I was excited, but I guess it was never official, so that was a false hope.” 

Although Prosper does not have a UIL men’s volleyball team, Cho still has found a way to play volleyball, even if it is not for his school.

“Because Prosper doesn’t have their own team, I just play for another school,” Cho said. “Instead of playing at my school, I play for the Plano East men’s team during the school season.”

Alongside playing for Plano East, he plays competitively on the men’s team at Excel Volleyball.

“There isn’t a huge variety of mens club teams around this area,” Cho said. “But Excel is perfect for me. I’ve had a great time playing there.”

Although he has played with them for a short time, Cho has grown a strong connection with his teammates.

Recovering, Cho reflects on his serve over the net. Cho has played volleyball since sophomore year. “I’ve grown so much since I first picked up the sport,” Cho said. “I’d like to say I got better than I ever thought I would.” (Gianna Galante)

“I’ve played with Jon for seven months now,” Cho’s teammate Omar Briones said. “The first time I met him was when try-outs were happening, and we were doing this blocking and hitting drill, and I remember blocking him. That was just a core memory I had. I was really proud of that because, obviously, he was really good.”

While playing for the Plano East team, Cho has received the chance to continue improving his skills, even though he does not have that opportunity at school.

“He really tries to implement everything we tell him,” Cho’s coach Nicole Chalfant said. “So, if we say we need a change in something that he’s doing out here, whether it’s placement of the ball or like changing his approach a little bit, he’s done a good job of making those changes.”

Although Cho has enjoyed his time playing for Plano East, but says he would still be open to the idea of playing for a Prosper team.

Off the court I feel like he’s developing a lot as a young man. He’s taking direction, coming, and asking questions, looking for guidance, and he’s being really thoughtful about the way he communicates, and I think that’s been a big change that we’ve seen in him.

— Nicole Chalfant

“I don’t really know if I would rather play for Prosper (instead of Plano East,)” Cho said. “I haven’t experienced that. But, if Prosper had a good team, then sure, I’d be open to it.”

Because Cho is in his senior year, even if Prosper created a men’s volleyball team, he would not have the chance to play with them. Regardless, Cho plans on continuing his volleyball career in college. 

“I would like to play in college, but I don’t know if I’m good enough,” Cho expressed. “I want to play in college though, and I hope to get scouted this year.”

His passion for the sport and the way he has benefited from it – both on and off the court – have encouraged him to continue playing.

“I love the adrenaline rush of playing the game,” Cho said. “It improved my decision-making, made me a better leader and gave me a healthy lifestyle. And on every team I’ve played on, I’ve made connections. I still talk to them today, so I’m happy about that.”