A Beach Volleyball Club in Minnesota Eh?

You wouldn’t think that beach volleyball and Minnesota would go hand in hand.  Minnesota is known for snow, the cold, its numerous lakes, and possibly Paul Bunyan. But soon a new beach volleyball club for boys and girls will hit the market in the Twin Cities. Surface VBC is the brainchild of Eric Poppelman, current Head Coach of Northern Lights 18-2’s.  Eric has been processing his idea for his beach club for over a year.  After winning the 2014 AAU 16 Premier division with his Northern Lights 16-2’s team, Eric began writing things down on paper.

“Making the ideas tangible really helped the creativity flow.  I just began writing down ideas of who, when, where, and how I wanted to train volleyball players in order to help them develop a more complete skill set in the game of volleyball.  Surface VBC is what came about.  I want to train volleyball players that want to be successful on hard court, grass, and sand.  Many players struggle when transitioning to play the game in a different environment.  Surface VBC’s goal is to train its players to be able to perform on any surface and with any number of players.”

The beach club is set to launch their fundraising campaign and open up for registrations on 1/01/2015. The beach season will begin training in May 2015. In the next several months, we will be checking in with updates on the new beach club as it prepares for it's first season.

Here are programs the northern beach club will offer:
  • Boys volleyball will be an important piece of Surface VBC.  Eric grew up playing HS ball in SE WI.  Eric’s sophomore summer in 1990, he played beach volleyball nearly every day from 11-4pm in deep sand at North Beach in Racine, WI.  He grew four inches and increased his vertical by 7 inches that summer entering his junior season.  After noticing how easy the indoor game seemed after that summer of growth and development, Eric realized the importance of playing as much as possible.  
“The learning curve is so high on the beach because you must be able to perform all the skills necessary and work with only one teammate to be successful.   The outdoor game is certainly a struggle at first learning the timing differences and the movement issues, but the more you play the more you figure it out.”  
Dealing with the outdoor elements is also challenging.  Since there is no HS boys volleyball in MN, Eric wants to be able to offer a program to either get boys started in the sand, or allow current indoor, club, boys players a place to continue to develop their games as he did on the beach. 

  • Children of young ages will also have training options with Surface VBC.  Eric has four of his own children under the age of 11, and has been an elementary school teacher with PK-3rd grade teaching certification.  He understands the young learner and wants to be able to give them opportunities to learn the game early.  “We will work on movement, provide beginning fundamentals, and let them have a good time learning a fun game in the sand.  There is very little out there for young kids in our sport.  We will create something for them that will allow them to develop skills at an appropriate rate.  So, when they have the strength, movement, and fundamental skills they can begin playing.”

  • College and recent college players will also have the ability to train with Surface VBC.  Nothing exists right now, in Coach Poppelman’s knowledge, that offers the college player the opportunity to be coached, practice, and train during the summer on the beach.  There are certainly tournaments on the weekends and bar leagues in the evenings, but Poppelman wants to provide the college players with something more.

Another goal of Surface VBC is to offer flexibility in training programs by allowing Surface VBC members the ability to select from a “menu” of options that suits their needs best.  Although they haven’t trained their first player, they are confident they are moving in the right direction.  Poppelman is eager to share his journey with the volleyball community.  He is hopeful to follow up during and after their first season!

Minnesotans looking to get into beach, follow Surface VBC on FaceBook and Twitter for updates. 

For more junior volleyball education visit www.jvaonline.org

Volleyball Recruiting Cliff Notes: November

From the NCSA, the offical partner of the JVA


November is the start of the National Letter of Intent season! Especially pay attention to the early signing periods that start November 12th and end November 19th.

Initial Signing Date
Final Signing Date
Early Period
November 12, 2014
November 19, 2014
Regular Period
April 15, 2015
August 1, 2015


The deadline for schools that accept ‘Early Decision’ or ‘Early Action’ applications usually falls around November 1st or 15th.

*This process is binding if they are accepted to the school.


The time starts now to prepare families for the FAFSA process! Follow the steps below to ensure all families are ready come January 1st:

  • Have last year’s tax returns on hand and fill out the FAFSA worksheet prior to   January 1st

  • Both steps will make the application process go smoothly!

Make sure families are aware money is on a first come first serve basis. Applying as early as possible will allow the family to receive the maximum amount of funding – some funding is limited and may be depleted if a family waits too long. Plus, no matter the families income everyone should apply for the FAFSA! This will ensure they are eligible for the maximum amount of aid possible and cover themselves in case an unforeseen circumstance arises with the family.

November NCAA Articles

  • On Thursday, South Carolina announced that it would be the latest school to commit to 4 year scholarships for a larger number of student-athletes. 
  • The program, called “The Gamecock Student-Athlete Promise: A Championship Experience,” will ensure that all student-athletes in the “Head count” sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball will receive 4 year scholarships. 
  • In a study in early September by CBSSports.com, it was revealed that only four schools (Ohio State, Florida, Arizona State, and Florida State) that had a football or men’s basketball team finish in last year’s top 25 had more than 20 athletes on four year scholarships in all sports. 
  •  Ohio State led that group with 71 student-athletes with four year scholarships. 
  • The only way that a South Carolina athlete in those sports can be removed early from a scholarship is if they leave the team voluntarily, become ineligible, or violate university or athletic department policy.

  • The Big Ten Conference has given its initial recommendations to the NCAA to provide enhanced benefits for student-athletes in good standing as part of the new NCAA autonomy structure 
  • The plan includes the following recommendations:

o   Cost of Education: Redefine full grant-in-aid to meet a student-athlete’s cost of education, as determined by the federal government.

o   Multi-Year Scholarships: Guarantee all scholarships. If a student-athlete is no longer able to compete, for whatever reason, there should be no impact on institutions’ commitment to deliver an undergraduate education.

o   Lifetime Educational Commitment: Ensure that scholarships are available for life. If a student-athlete leaves a university for a professional career before graduating, whether the career materializes, and regardless of its length, the scholarship will be honored after his or her playing days are complete.

o   Medical Insurance: Provide improved, consistent medical insurance for student-athletes. 

  • The Big Ten has also agreed to address additional student-athlete welfare issues with a specific pathway and timeline for implementation in the future that includes:

o   Health and Safety

o   Time Demands

o   Comprehensive Academic Support

  • With big changes coming to major college athletics, the USOC is worried about the possibility of funding being cut or eliminated altogether for NCAA Olympic sports. 
  • USOC CEO Scott Blackmun last week outlined several ways in which the USOC may become involved with sports within the NCAA. 
  • One idea he mentioned is having US national sport governing bodies working with the NCAA to sponsor national championships in various sports. 
  • There are no set in stone ideas yet, but he went as far as to say they’ve already identified a donor willing to provide $5 million to back his effort if the right idea is found.

November Recruiting Calendars

Women’s Volleyball

                Contact Period: November 1st – November 9th

                Dead Period: November 10th – November 13th

                Contact Period: November 14th – November 30th  

For more junior volleyball education and junior volleyball recruiting information click here.
For more information about the NCSA click here.