May 31, 2021 – By NJP
Jack Farah of St. John Vianney has taken the NJ High School volleyball season by storm this Spring. After a few of his inital games, Jack has exploded offensively and driven the Lancers to four straight wins. What makes this even more extraordinary is that Jack is just a sophomore and playing in his first varsity campaign.
The Lancers had a strong team slated for last year with 6’8″ middle Alex Leiba prepping for his senior year. But the cancellation of the season shook things up in regards to volleyball, Leiba has now graduated, and Vianney looked at Spring 2021 as a rebuild year. They got off to a slow start aginst some of the Shore’s best team losing a back to back to #7 Wall and then to #17 Marlboro. Then things started to click and they took #20 Howell to three sets and then played Jackson Liberty to within a couple of points.
The season turned around on May 17th when Vianney traveled to Lacey to play the 11-3 Lions. Jack put up his best game statistically of the year pounding 21 kills and lifting 21 digs to lift the Lancers to their first victory of the season.
Jack tallied similar numbers over the next three games earning wins over Red Bank Catholic twice and Colts Neck. Their last game of the season went right down to the wire in three sets but Colts Neck avenged their loss and Vianney finished the season at 4-8. Seven of their last 8 games went to three sets leaving their fans and student body on their edge of their seats.
Farah finished the season with 141 kills in 12 matches. He earned a spot on the all-conference team as a sophomore and also won player of the week honors at the shore. What was equally as encouraging was that another sophomore Matt Brana was second on the team in kills with 78. This dynamic duo should have a blast over the next two seasons as they rebuild the program to potential dominance by their senior year.
Jack also benefited by playing Club volleyball at Garden State Attack this past winter. Like many club players, it’s only a matter of time before they become impact players at the high school level. And Jack’s time came this breakout year. At 5’11” and still growing at 15, a few more inches can help Jack move toward elite status in NJ. We will be watching.
Here is our interview with sophomore outside Jack Farah of St. John Vianney…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Jack?
My name is Jack Farah, I am 15 years old, and attend Saint John Vianney high school. I live in Old Bridge, New Jersey, and I graduate in 2023. I live with my parents and have twin younger brothers. My mom played D2 field hockey and made first team all-state. My younger brother is following my path of playing middle school volleyball, and my other brother plays travel baseball.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I started playing volleyball in 6th grade, for my middle school team and made an appearance in the middle school tournament at SJV where I met Coach Gad. We had a great Coach in Ms. Swider, who taught me the fundamentals of volleyball for three years. This is when I decided to make my switch from baseball to volleyball. Since they are both spring sports, I had to choose one. I picked volleyball because of the potential I had, and to try something new. And I made a great choice coming into a great program of men and women’s volleyball, learning about the history of SJV, and meeting great coaches and alumni.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What is your favorite position to play?
I am 5’11, with a vertical of 30.8 inches, and play outside hitter. I adapted to the outside position throughout my first high school practices. From hitting, transitioning to passing, you need to do it all. Rotating through all 6 spots is what I really enjoy and being a leader on the court.
I also joined a club team over the winter, GSA, led by Coach Ryan McNeil. Coach Ryan is an outstanding coach who taught me well throughout the 5-month span.
Tell us about your Lancer teammates. Who are this year’s standout players?
We have a great young squad, surrounded by tons of energy. It was rough losing 7 or 8 seniors last year because of covid, which gave all us underclassmen no experience out on the court or against tougher competition. This became our rebuilding year, as we have many young players, including myself, who need to get the hang of the fast-paced gameplay.
This year’s stand out to me is our other outside hitter, sophomore Matthew Brana. Joining the team last year but getting no time to play and practice, became an unfortunate event for him and the team. Matt worked his way onto the starting lineup as he continues to build up his great sophomore year and I cannot wait to see what’s in store next year.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state, especially for your grad year. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
It is a great honor to be recognized by NJP, and other schools, and I do not take that for granted. I would love to get the opportunity to play at the collegiate level for volleyball, experience a college sport, and continue something I enjoy. I am still unsure of the path I would like to study and take throughout college, but it would be great to follow my dad’s footsteps in the business and sales vocation.
Your initial varsity campaign has been so impressive. Vianney got off to a slow start but you have really picked up the pace and made significant contributions to your team’s success. Tell us about your three straight wins against some talented teams like Lacey and Red Bank Catholic.
Energy and heart. Those two parts play huge factors in every game and every point. As our coach says all the time, you cannot play as 6 individuals out on the court. As I played a big role in the wins, I could not do it all myself. Prior to our first win against Lacey, our energy was below par. But knowing the statement we can make against a top conference team, and being on a 7-game losing streak, something had to change. From the start of the game, the energy was through the roof, and it all stemmed from our bench. We went on to win our first match of the season, celebrating like we won the state championship, but this is the spark our team needed. As we won our next 3 games, we worked and strived together as a team.
Football or Volleyball?
This is a tricky one. I have played football my whole life, starting when I was just 6 years old. I have a huge passion for football, both watching and playing it. My passion for volleyball is also growing more and more throughout the year. Both sports are fast paced games and would not want to decide between them. I would love to attend college to play either sport, but we will have to see when the time comes.
What can we expect for your junior and senior years on the court for the Lancers?
Progress. I do not want to worry about the stats after every game, or at the end of the year. I want to know that every game I grew and got better whether that’s with passing, hitting, or blocking. And that’s not just for myself either, I want to help and push my teammates as well. I want to become more of a leader out on the court, picking my teammates up, and providing faith in them when it is needed. Our young group will strive and work to be better every day on and off the court.
Who motivates you?
The one person that motivates me is my coach, Coach Gad. She is never satisfied with any performance, no matter who you are. Which is why I get motivated. I want to play my best every game, and practice to get congratulated by her, because that is a rare occasion. She will always tell me I need to work on something better, like passing or hitting cross for instance. Then getting those actions done would be my goal for that game, or practice, to show that I want to get better and prove myself I can do any task.
What are your other hobbies or interests?
My favorite hobby and interests outside of sports, has to be Fantasy Football. Getting together with a group of my friends, drafting, talking, and bragging about our teams, to following the games every second, and scanning the waiver wire every week is truly a great feeling. Cheering for your players to succeed and getting annoyed when they don’t. The life of fantasy football.
What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year? Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)
In summer and throughout the fall, I play football for SJV. I made varsity last year and ended up becoming a starter to close out the year with 42 tackles in 8 games.
Also, throughout summer, we have our volleyball program for SJV 2 days a week, to keep our skills fresh, and always stay prepared. Together we practice as a team to build better chemistry and work harder.
Who is your support group?
My biggest supporters are my teammates. Nobody else can pick me up on the court besides my teammates and encourage me to do better. Jacob Davis, our middle blocker, is the most energetic person on and off the court and can always put a smile on your face. Same goes to all my other teammates as well. We are like a family when we’re playing together, and we will never let someone have a frown on their face.