Build the Recruiting Pyramid

To empower the best opportunity for a Prospective Student Athlete's collegiate future, volleyball families can build a pyramid of outreach to college coaches.  When families build this pyramid, it allows them the opportunity to say "no"; saying "no" or "no thank you" is an important component of the recruiting process.

The outreach and evaluation process of potential collegiate programs should look like a pyramid.  When beginning the outreach process, families need to be laying a wide base or the bottom of the pyramid.  Be more open than closed to schools - Academic, Athletic and Geographic parameters should not be rigid.  If you are considering schools within a 3 hour radius, open that circle up to 4 hours.  If you are mainly looking at mid level NCAA Division I programs, reach out to elite level NCAA DII and NAIA programs.  Should small schools be your comfort zone, throw a couple of medium sized schools into the mix.



When families have a wide, stable base layer, it allows them to effectively review and eliminate those programs which may not be their best fit.  When families have determined that a school is not their best fit (for whatever reason), then they can simply say "no thank you" and narrow their choices.  Saying "no" is part of the review and management process.  The college coaches understand "no" because they say "no" to many, many recruits who are not the best fit for their program.

Recruits that have the most success in selecting their best fit for their collegiate future, are those which begin with a sizable number of potential schools and manage the process by saying "no" to achieve their volleyball and academic goals. Start with the 1st stage of the Recruiting Pyramid and and work your way through the process.

If you need further assistance and education on the junior volleyball recruiting process click here.

Also, for additional college volleyball recruiting information and support, please visit our Educational Partner, NCSA Athletic Recruiting.

Volleyball For a Cure

What do you get when you mix an accessory line with youth volleyball teams? The VB 4 CURE SERIES! The newest Power League sponsored by JVA member clubs Premier Academy, Pineapple SportONE Volleyball and A2 Volleyball that brings teams together to compete not only for a championship, but for a life-changing cause.

The VB 4 Cure Series Started in 2014 by Pineapple and Premier and added A2 in 2015 to broaden out the cities.  The power league is comprised of club level teams who compete in a nice round robin format with the goal of lessening travel, playing similar skill competition, and a way to give back to a great charity that is focused on women, which also sells a product that is well known by teen girls (Vera Bradley). Below are details about the Power League.

Host Cities: 
Maumee, OH (right outside Toledo)
Ft Wayne, IN
Lewis Center, OH (right outside Columbus)

Host Playing Sites: 
Premier Academy (Maumee, OH)
SportONE Fieldhouse (Ft Wayne, IN)
A2 Sport Gardens (Lewis Center, OH) 

Schedule:
Three weekends (6 play dates) with teams rotating between each site over three weekends. The league weekends are one weekend per month in January, February and March.

Afternoon start on all Saturdays to help lower travel/hotel costs for clubs. 5-6 Matches per weekend

Divisions:
This league is designed for "club" level teams. The sponsor clubs enter all of their non-national level teams and then area clubs enter club level teams as well. The league divisions are 12s-18s. Teams may participate in 2 weekend dates only if they need to for scheduling with a lower entry fee.

The Cause
The league holds an auction and raffle to benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. A huge basket of Vera items are auctioned off at each site for $1 per ticket. All proceeds of the basket, 50/50 raffles and 15 dollars of each team entry fee are donated to the Vera Bradley Foundation. Last year the league raised $700 in it's first year.

The Future
The league is all inclusive to any teams regardless of affiliation but is known as a JVA Power LeagueThe league sponsors are hoping to grow the league significantly next year in 2016 since the league is centrally located to so many cities and clubs, now using three very nice playing sites (Columbus was added this year as a site). Last year the league was comprised of 37 teams, this year 42 but the league can hold up to 128 teams. 

There are two weekends left in the league this season and entries are still being accepted for March 7-8 and March 21-22. To enter one or both dates email Stephanie Harms. 
For more information about this league email Jay Golsteyn. With hopes of growing this league and the support for this great cause, the league is actively seeking more club entries in 2016.

For more youth and junior volleyball education and information on Power Leagues visit www.jvaonline.org. 

7 Steps to Landing A Sponsor For Your Volleyball Club


You’re a few weeks into your club season and you realize your teams have qualified for more tournaments than expected, but you don’t have the funds to front the tournament fees. What can you do to generate the needed revenue without charging your players more?

Sell Sponsorships!

Don’t know the first thing about selling sponsorships? Well, here are 7 steps to guide you:

Step 1 – Define your audience and assets

Essentially, this first step is about taking inventory on the size of the audience you can deliver to a sponsor and what assets they can use to connect with that audience.

Your audience can be defined by calculating the number of players, parents and coaches who are in your club and the amount of people that will be exposed to your club throughout the year. These include opposing clubs, community members, your players’ peers, etc.

Finding the exact size of your audience is almost impossible, but listing statistics that include your club size, number of tournaments you participate in or run and any other community outreach events gives business owners a good ballpark figure.

Once you have provided that figure, you’ll need to list assets that a sponsor could use to connect with that audience. To start a good list of assets, ask yourself:


What would you be willing to put a sponsor’s logo on?

o   On the wall of your facility
o   On your team’s jerseys, warm-up gear, backpacks
o   Website



What could you give a sponsor the naming rights to?

o   Tournaments (i.e. The Jamba Juice Jamboree)
o   Teams (i.e. State Farm Vipers 16 – 1)
o   Club (i.e. The Kent Kukamugas)

What type of online exposure could you give?

o   Logo on your website
o   Email blasts to your members
o   Social media shout outs

Don’t stop with just these; be creative and list everything possible that could potentially add value to a sponsor.


Step 2 – Create your sponsorship packages

In Step 2, you want to organize everything you wrote down in Step 1 into packages that vary in marketing power. Start with an introductory level sponsorship for companies with smaller budgets, then progress into more expensive packages until you’ve created a good, better best package list.
  •   SILVER

o   Logo on website
o   Logo in bi-weekly newsletters
o   Monthly Facebook posts or promotions
o   Sign on the wall in facility

  •   GOLD

o   Logo on website
o   Logo in bi-weekly newsletters
o   Monthly Facebook posts or promotions
o   Sign on the wall in facility
o   Flyer handout to all parents in the club twice a year


  •   PLATINUM

o   Website banner advertisement
o   Logo in bi-weekly newsletters
o   Monthly Facebook posts or promotions
o   Sign on the wall in facility
o   Flyer handout to all parents in the club twice a year
o   Three email blasts to all parents about a promotion or service provided

Aside from the basic packages you just organized, brainstorm how you can build big-ticket items that sponsors may want to buy exclusive rights to. This could include a special photo contest, tournament naming rights or the rights to put a logo on every player’s jersey.

Quick tip: When creating your big-ticket items, make sure they give sponsors the opportunity to earn a return on their investment (ROI). This is the most overlooked element of youth sports sponsorships, and it needs to be a focal point of how your big-ticket items are set up. 

Examples of ROI opportunities in big-ticket items:

Monthly social media photo contest sponsor
  • ROI – Each month club members can win a $25 gift card if they go to the sponsor’s establishment, buy a product, take a picture of themselves with it, then share it on their social media platforms. The person whose picture gets the most likes wins.

Club hosted tournament-naming rights
  • Sponsor will receive naming rights to the Spring Classic Volleyball tournament, which attracts over 50 teams and over 1600 total attendees. As the title sponsor, you will have premium booth space to sell product throughout the tournament.

As you can see, big-ticket items can create opportunities for the sponsor to earn a return through a contest or event sales.


Step 3 – Price your packages

Pricing your sponsorship packages is tough, and there isn’t really a formula to follow that will give you the exact value of what you have to offer. This means you have to do your homework to figure out a fair price that sponsors would be willing to pay.

A great place to start is to calculate what it costs to service the sponsorship package. (For instance, cost of signs, embroidery, etc.) This way you can make sure you don’t lose money. From there, you can ask friends and business owners what they might be willing to pay and you can also talk with anyone else who has sold sponsorships in youth sports in your area to get an idea of what the market can bear.


Step 4 – Create your materials

This step is basically putting together a one-pager (front and back) that displays all the work you’ve already done.

Your one-pager should include:

  •  Overview of your club’s history and season outlook
  • Statistics on your club members and the audience your sponsors will be able to reach
  • Sponsorship offerings and pricing
  • Contact information 

This information should also be put up on your website so that anyone can access it at any time.


Step 5 – Identify potential sponsors

Identifying the right sponsors to go after is a very important step. It could save you a lot of time, effort and discouragement if you’re able to target the right businesses right off the bat. These businesses have the funds, the autonomy to spend, and can realistically benefit from what you have to offer.

Here are a few industries that align well with what volleyball clubs generally have to offer:


·       Fitness gyms
·       Insurance agents
·       Banks
·       Spas
·       Coffee shops
·       Sporting goods stores
·       Financial advisors
·       Realtors
·       Furniture stores
·       Les Schwab
·       Pizza places
·       Auto part stores
·       Burrito places
·       Office supply stores
·       Subways
·       Smoothie shops
·       Nail salons
·       Physical therapists
·       Dentists
·       Massage therapists

One of the easiest ways to determine which businesses to target first is to find out which parents in your club own their own company and which ones are employed by companies on your potential sponsor list. When you identify a few leads that could help you in your search, try striking up a conversation about their company’s giving policy or what they’ve given in the past to youth sports teams.


Step 6 – Sell your packages

Now that you’ve defined what you have to offer, packaged it, up, priced it out and identified some leads, it’s time to sell.

First things first: Find the decision-makers in your potential sponsor list, then figure out a way to get your sponsorship information in front of them. This can be done through email, in-person meeting or over the phone.

Regardless of how you get the information in front of them, make sure you cater your sales pitch to each business specifically. Highlight how sponsoring your volleyball club can help them, not how their money could help you.

If you can’t think of a way your club could help them, you need to go back to Step 5 and work a little harder on targeting the right businesses.


Step 7 – Activation

Simply put, this step is delivering on what you said you would do. To make sure this happens, create systems and checklists to knock off all your to do’s for each sponsor and carry them out better than you promised.

It also helps to check in with the sponsor a few times throughout the year to get feedback on the value you’re providing them and what you could do to increase their exposure or sales.

Also, a nice touch you can add is sending them a thank you card or poster signed by all your players and staff.

What you’ll find is it's the little things you do in the activation step that make it a no-brainer for the sponsor to sign on with you next year. So work hard to provide value and this process will keep getting easier and easier.



The Art of Coaching Volleyball is an educational partner of the Junior Volleyball Association.
For more junior volleyball education visit www.jvaonline.org

Fall in Love with Volleyball: How One Club is Growing the Game with Fun!

Memphis Metro Volleyball began their Youth Volleyball Academy one year ago with a mission to promote the sport of youth volleyball in a safe and fun environment. Many of their older players have younger siblings and they wanted to start learning to play as well, so the club came up with a fun, one hour volleyball class and the Youth Volleyball Academy was born. In one year the program has grown from 6 players to 72 players, which is the gym's capacity. So needless to say, Memphis Metro is looking at ways to continue to grow and improve the Youth Academy next year. Let's take a look at all the components that make this program SO MUCH FUN, the kids are falling in love!

Coaching
Instructors are not only Metro coaches but “Volley Veterans“ of the club, more experienced players 15-18 years old. They have an opportunity to demonstrate and further their leadership and mentoring skills. 


Equipment
What makes their program so unique is that Memphis Metro is introducing volleyball to children as young as three years old. The youngest “Volley Minis” are exercising and developing their muscles, coordination and agility while having fun. In order to make this a fun learning experience, the right equipment is needed: nets, volleyballs, tennis balls, foam balls, cones, balls of all shapes and sizes, cut out foot prints, jumping blocks, jumping tubes for the obstacle course, and hula hoops. 

Memphis Metro built their own net system for the YVA, and the net height is a big deal, as many kids are discouraged when they cannot get the ball over the net. The club uses mini nets that are made of light weight plastic pipes and the net replicates an actual volleyball net. The net height is adjustable so based on each age group the net is 4 feet high for the youngest group, 5 feet high for the next level, and so on. 



For volleyballs they use Molten First Touch V 70 and Mikasa Starter VT2, which are extremely light and soft. The tennis balls are used for throwing and other fun variations of balls are thrown into the mix.

Class Structure
The Youth Academy is structured into 3 classes:

LEVEL 1 VOLLEY MINIS  3-5 Years Old  
6 sessions: Sundays 1:30 -2:30pm 

Lesson Plan 

  • 50% Exercise, 30% Volleyball, 20% Fun 
  • Keep classes small
  • Give maximum attention to each of the "Minis”!

1:30 Welcome time! Hi, happy to have YOU here. 

1:35 Agility: Obstacle course “Follow the river” 

Variety of balance, run, jump, climb, crawl, tumble and roll. 
Click to Watch the Obstacle Course

1:45 Ball Time (use variety of balls, small, big, different shapes)


Throw the ball in the air 
Throw the ball in the air and catch
Bounce the ball to partner – add catch

2:00 Platform Time: Buddy thumbs 

Who can make a passing platform?
Knee Passing - pass the ball up and forward 
Corner Drill
Sticker Time!  

2:10 Arm Swing: bow and arrow 

Step and throw the ball over the net (nerf ball, tennis ball, mini ball)
Hit the ball over the net (ball is being held)
Hit the ball over the net (ball is being tossed)
Sticker time!

2:20 Agility: Roll them, Throw them, and Hit them. Obstacle course - add balls. 


2:30 End 


LEVEL 2 MINI VOLLEYBALL  6-8 years old  
6 sessions – Sunday practices 1:30 – 2:30 pm

Click to Watch This Drill in Action
LEVEL 3 YOUTH DEVELOPMENT  9-12 years old  
12 sessions 


Tips for Club Directors
Memphis Metro is having so much fun building their volleyball community one “volley mini” at the time. For clubs planning to start your own program, here are some tips

  • Start small. When quality is there your program will grow. 
  • Make sure to find the "special" coach who can relate to very young players and bring the fun and energy to each work out. 
  • Make it fun and enjoyable for all. That is the number one goal.  

Let them fall in love with the game  

Memphis Metro is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization that focuses entirely on growing and improving the sport of volleyball at the youth and junior levels. To learn how your club can be involved with the JVA, click here.  For more junior volleyball education visit www.jvaonline.org

Parent Council: To Be or Not To Be

By Sharon L. Galonski, Club Director, Next Level Volleyball Club

At a pre-season regional meeting two years ago, a presentation was given on the implementation of a parent council by one of the Mid-Atlantic volleyball clubs.  My initial reaction was, “No Way.”  Why would I want parents to have direct involvement with decision making at the club level?”  After all, over the past twenty years as a coach, twelve as director of Next Level Volleyball Club, my communication with parents tended to be when situations were out of hand between a player/parent/coach and I was called upon to step in to mediate and resolve. I saved the Parent Council information for possible review another day.

This past summer, as I was clearing out some old club files, I came across the handouts.  As I re-read the information, I thought, why not give it a try?  After all, we had just completed a season where many parents failed to follow the basic policies outlined in our Parent/Player Club Handbook.  More often than not, the parent attempted to claim that no one had ever informed them of, for example, refund policies in connection with players who decide to quit midseason or parents who didn’t follow the hotel policies and ended up with extra out-of-pocket costs.  I knew I needed to find another way of opening lines of communication to better educate the parent membership. 

I decided that it was my job to make sure that the club focused on all aspects of club volleyball – not just the athlete.  We had to do a better job of educating the parents who are attending every match and who will ultimately advertise our club and their experience to others. They are paying the bills after all. 

Why not put to use what could be our greatest asset to the Club? 
I received a lukewarm response when I presented the idea of a Parent Council to my coaches at our pre-season meeting.  Coaches felt that the Council would turn into nothing more than a venue for parents to complain, complain, and complain some more.  I decided to move forward despite the negative response.

After tryouts when teams had been selected, I asked coaches to seek a representative from each team.  The response by some parents was very hesitant, while others jumped at the chance to be represented.  One coach was unable to get a single parent from his team to step forward.  He asked me what would happen.  I simply responded that his team would not have a voice within the club.  Two days later, he provided me with the name of a parent possibly interested.    

As I mentioned above, my reasons for wanting to start a Parent Council were to open better lines of communication and to find ways to educate our parents.  By sharing ideas for uniforms, practice facilities, tournament selection, fund raising, etc. (and the list goes on), it’s my hope that parents will feel more involved in every aspect of club development.  I’d like to encourage the sense of “family” within Next Level Volleyball Club.  I hope to educate our parents in connection with issues we face involving bullying, racism and harassment by providing parent council representatives with information and guidelines to take back to their teams.  

It’s my hope to be able to discuss tournament rules, reffing requirements, and other guidelines that may be obvious to coaches, but not so obvious to parents.   I want to do a “Personal Insights Profile™” with the parents before we try it with our players to show them in advance different ways we can evaluate players and what strengths and weaknesses they might bring to our teams.  The parents get to be part of the decision making process in a setting that I can control. 

On the flip side, I could be opening a can of worms.  Am I crazy allowing parents to bring forward “concerns” from their team before they become “issues” to be mediated or before they discuss these same matters with their child’s coach?  Am I setting myself up for attack in having to defend every decision I make in connection with club policy?  Maybe the parents don’t know why we participate in USAV, JVA and AAU events?  Maybe they have questions about fees or surcharges with credit card payments?  Maybe parents can provide better feedback on hotels I choose for overnight tournaments?  Who knows – the list could be endless.  I might have to finish my night after a council meeting with a nice glass of wine, or two, or more.  Only time will tell. 

At the end of the day, I believe the combination of parents who have been with the club for years who know the ropes and parents who are experiencing club for the first year will result in better lines of open communication and an understanding of what Next Level Volleyball Club’s goals for the present and the future may be. 

Our first Parent Council meeting is coming up!  I’ll share in a part two article the results of our first season utilizing a Parent Council.  We’ll see if it was meant “to be or not to be.”






[1] Sharon L. Galonski is the Director of Next Level Volleyball Club based out of Franklin, Wisconsin.

Behind the Scenes: The Making of “Court & Spark”

by Leslie Hamann and Jack Hamann


Courtney Thompson pounded a chair.

She was a high school sophomore. Her club team, Kent Juniors, was a national powerhouse. But in a regional Seattle qualifier, Courtney’s team had dropped the first set to Washington Volleyball Academy, with a lineup that included our daughter.

As teams and parents traded sides, we passed behind the Kent Juniors bench. Courtney, a setter, fixed her eyes on her teammates, many of them older and taller. She balled her fist and pounded that chair, announcing, “We are NOT gonna lose to these guys!”

“Wow,” we whispered, “THAT’s a girl we’d want on OUR team.”

In the 14 years since that memorable moment, we’ve heard plenty of people say pretty much the same thing about Courtney. She led her high school to three state championships … her University of Washington team to three Final Fours and a National Championship … her professional club teams to glory.

Courtney's trophy drawer has an Olympic silver medal and a World Championships gold. She is certain to be among those considered for the 2016 Olympic Games roster in Rio. And through it all, she remains as much of an inspiration to players young and old throughout world as she was to her Kent Juniors teammates that day in Seattle.

When USA Volleyball’s Puget Sound Region learned that Seattle would host the 2013 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Volleyball Championship, it’s directors decided to create some sort of lasting legacy for those who love the sport. They approached us—veteran documentary producers—about making a one-hour video exploring all that volleyball means to players, coaches, parents and fans. We, in turn, immediately thought of Courtney.

Like all world-class volleyball players, Courtney has spent much of her adult life overseas, making a fairly comfortable living as a pro. Although she currently stars for a top-ranked team in Zurich, she was headed to Poland back in 2012 when we approached her about the documentary.

“Sure you can follow me,” she agreed when we suggested filming for a month in Europe. “But you have to agree to come in February.”

When asked why, she was ready. “In February, it’s dark. It’s cold. The season’s been going for months. The holidays are over. Summer’s still a long way away. That’s the time of year when those who really love and understand the game live the volleyball life.”


We call the documentary “Court & Spark,” adopting a Joni Mitchell song title to reflect the spark Courtney brings to the volleyball court. The program’s first half brings viewers to Łódź, Poland, where Courtney navigates the challenges and rewards of a volleyball-mad town where few speak or understand her language.

The second half brings us to Courtney’s improbable effort to land one of only 12 spots on the USA Olympic roster. Throughout the documentary, we hear from several of Courtney’s USA teammates, plus coaching legends like Karch Kiraly, Hugh McCutcheon, Marv Dunphy and many more.


Most important, Courtney offers extraordinary advice on issues that affect anyone who plays or coaches volleyball: how to deal with parents, how to deal with coaches, how coaches and parents deal with each other, how to handle adversity, how to balance sport with the rest of one’s life. Many who watch “Court & Spark” watch it a second time, and use it as a conversation starter with teammates, coaches and parents at the beginning or end of a season.

On that day back in 2001, Courtney’s Kent Juniors teammates got the message. After a comeback in the second set, they won the decisive third, earning the Regional title. No one celebrated more than Courtney. And no one was more impressed than we were. We still are.

"Court & Spark" the Documentary is available for purchase in the JVA Product Store for only $10 for JVA members (30% discount) and $15 for non-members. For more junior volleyball education and information on becoming a JVA member visit www.jvaonline.org.

Hello Recruiting Season!

This is a critical time in the recruiting process for all high school age volleyball players - Preparing for the start of the Recruiting Season!

The MLK Weekend traditionally begins the current year's recruiting cycle.  Per NCAA Rules, NCAA Division I volleyball coaches are allowed to leave campus to evaluate Prospective Student Athletes (PSA's) on the Saturday of the MLK Holiday Weekend (all other college volleyball categories have been able to be off campus to recruit over the Holidays).



For all college volleyball coaches, this MLK weekend tends to be the first weekend where they can attend a major tournament to evaluate PSA's.  Volleyball families must remember that the window of time from Thanksgiving to the MLK weekend can be professional chaos for college volleyball coaches.  Coaching changes, players transferring, programs not renewing scholarships…..all of these situations will create an urgency in the recruiting process, which many college volleyball coaches may not have anticipated.

Don't believe the recruiting rumors that all D1 schools are done recruiting the senior class, or that the only opportunity this late is being a walk on.  The reality is today's recruiting landscape (for all categories) is fluid - Roster spots and scholarship opportunities are constantly opening and closing for each recruiting class and for each level of college volleyball.  PSA's cannot control these situations but they can put themselves into the best position to take advantage of opportunities.

Recruiting is the most important component of a college volleyball coach's responsibilities.  There are a number of average college volleyball coaches which have enjoyed long, successful careers because they successfully recruit players.  And with the ever growing popularity of volleyball for high school age players, college volleyball coaches have the luxury of choice.  In economic terms, supply of quality volleyball recruits has exceeded the demand of college volleyball programs.



Here are some tips for Recruits to focus on in the next few weeks:
  • Reach out to college volleyball programs.  Recruiting has always been a competitive situation for college coaches, and with the current supply/demand recruit ratio, it is now a competitive situation for volleyball families.  The biggest mistake I see with today's recruits, is they wait to be found by a college program, as opposed to putting themselves digitally in front of desired college volleyball programs.
  • Use these days leading up the the MLK weekend and President's Day weekend (which is considered the next major recruiting weekend and a lead in to the heavy recruiting time period) to reach out to appropriate college volleyball programs.
  • Appropriate?  Yes, make sure that the college volleyball programs are a good fit academically, geographically, financially and athletically for you, so do your research.  If you don't have the size/talent to play in the Big 10, then do not reach out to Big 10 schools.  If you hate the cold, then don't write schools in Wisconsin.  If bugs the size of cars freak you out, then don't email schools in Florida (my apologies to WI and FL….both great states but they do have cold weather and huge bugs!).

Don't wait for schools to find you - Put yourself in front of them!  Just make sure that your reach out matches your recruiting comfort zone! 

For more recruiting education click here.


This article was written by Matt Sonnichsen, Director of Volleyball Relations for NCSA, the official partner of the JVA.