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2009 USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships in Miami

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I purchased a last minute ticket for $350 from Minneapolis to Miami, quite a deal, but I can only imagine the additional expense for those teams traveling from the west coast, especially in today’s economy.

I had a great time watching my little club that could, Low Country Volleyball Club that has a total of 3 teams in the entire club (not three teams per age group like many of the teams they faced).  The team won its region for the second straight season in the 18s age group and played in the National division (the middle division) at the USA Volleyball National Championships.  From the win/loss column, you might think the team did not play well, but overall, Low Country had their best ever showing at Nationals in the 18s age group.  I’m proud of their accomplishments 🙂

As always, it was a joy to watch the teams from larger clubs and larger metropolitan areas, especially the Minnesota teams, as I have some familiarity with the players that will be moving on to the University of Minnesota.  The Northern Lights 17s team with Tori Dixon and Ashley Whittman had a nice tournament as well as Minnesota Select’s 18s team with Katherine Harms.  I never did get a chance to watch Briana Haugen, as our schedule always seemed to conflict.  All I can say is the University of Minnesota will be stacked with great talent over the coming years.  I look forward to watching them!

As for the tournament overall, I felt as if many of the players in the upper age groups (17s and 18s) played emotionless.  It seemed as if the players are just going through the motions, as if they have to be there to play.  Many of the players looked burned out.  These girls play all year long.  They don’t have a break from volleyball.  I remember when I played indoor, I would get bored with it, but just as the indoor season ended, outdoor would come around and I could play on North Avenue Beach in Chicago.  The mix from indoor to outdoor really kept my interest.  Players today don’t have time to switch from indoor to outdoor or have time to miss the game.

Many of these players just played at AAUs in Orlando a couple weeks ago, followed-up by USAV Nationals or JVDA Championships.  Next these players will visit camps to “try-out” for their respective colleges of choice.   After camps, high school practices begin followed by the high school season.  The never ending volleyball cycle then turns over again, as the high school season is immediately followed-up by club tryouts, then the club season…all the way until July.  Its too much.  Players are coming into college with over-use injuries and need surgery after their first season.  Many players play in pain or are simply burned out.

I was under the impression that part of the reason for the inception of the JVDA was to help limit playing time.  The JVDA could make a great impact into the schedule of these players if they moved their championship to May, but unfortunately, that has yet to happen.

Anyway, I always enjoy watching the Hawaii teams play.  They prove that height doesn’t matter.  And the 12 year old teams are always fun.  Some of the players on those teams are so advanced already.  The really good 12 year old teams look like they could step out onto the court with some of the 16 year old teams and hold their own.

Even though Miami must have been quite an expense for some, it was a great venue to host a tournament.  I was able to get down to South Beach between matches and catch a few outdoor games with some old friends.  As much as the game changes, it still seems to be the same.

9 comments

  1. Coach,

    You made a very good observation about the upper age group. I went to a National Warm-up Tournament in my region before they left for Miami. Those 18 year old girls were sure burn out then, I heard some of them are reporting to their college right from the JO. Most of these 18s have gotten full-scholarship offers to good schools. So they are ready to move on to begin their college life.

    What can I do to help my daughters to prevent burn-out? Thanks for your time.

  2. Coach,

    You made a very good observation about the upper age group. I went to a National Warm-up Tournament in my region before they left for Miami. Those 18 year old girls were sure burn out then, I heard some of them are reporting to their college right from the JO. Most of these 18s have gotten full-scholarship offers to good schools. So they are ready to move on to begin their college life.

    What can I do to help my daughters to prevent burn-out? Thanks for your time.

  3. Jackie,

    Preventing burn-out is not easy on the juniors volleyball circuit. There are a lot of underlying pressures to keep a girl playing. To prevent burn-out, your child’s volleyball goal must be identified (and this needs to be your child’s goal, not a parent’s wish for a child). Many children that play club have a goal to play in college. I believe there is a college out there for most of them, but it may not be the school or level of their choice. Furthermore, only about 5% of all juniors that play club volleyball will earn a scholarship and of those 5%, very few know their college destination in their junior year of high school. This means that if it is a goal to play in college, a player must be seen by a college coach, and unfortunately, they need to play club volleyball through their senior year to be seen.

    For the lucky few that earned scholarships in their junior or senior year (many at Junior Nationals), they can take a different playing path if they choose (and are willing to take the public scrutiny). I believe it is best to play club volleyball their senior year, as the experience of simply seeing the ball will help the player prepare for college, but it is not necessary to continue on that elite, number one team of the club. Playing on a second or third team of a club enables a child less commitment, less pressure, and probably more fun. Practices will be less days a week and less away tournaments over the season. It will also give a player on the team your daughter usually played for that has not earned a scholarship more playing time and possibly earn a scholarship. The trade-off is that your daughter will likely have some friendship ‘shifts’ between teams and I assume other parents will look at the family differently. But what’s in your best interest?

    Another option is for your child that has a scholarship to finish high school a semester early (in December) and enter college in January. Your child can play spring volleyball with the college team, acclimate to college academics on a less stressful schedule, and will be much better prepared in the fall, both athletically and academically. There are obvious trade-offs with this scenario as well – can we say senior prom?

    Unfortunately, for those with the goal of playing in college, I’m not sure what more can be done. There could be rebellion within the parents of club teams to not play in May and June. It would have to be a coordinated and group effort. If enough clubs stop playing in May and June, there might be a chance (but unfortunately, many clubs are profit making entities, their interest is more volleyball). In addition, will other children that continue to play in May and June earn a college roster spot in place of your daughter?

    Ironically, I started reading the classic novel Catch-22 on my way down to Miami. Club volleyball seems to be a Catch-22 in itself.

  4. Jackie,

    Preventing burn-out is not easy on the juniors volleyball circuit. There are a lot of underlying pressures to keep a girl playing. To prevent burn-out, your child’s volleyball goal must be identified (and this needs to be your child’s goal, not a parent’s wish for a child). Many children that play club have a goal to play in college. I believe there is a college out there for most of them, but it may not be the school or level of their choice. Furthermore, only about 5% of all juniors that play club volleyball will earn a scholarship and of those 5%, very few know their college destination in their junior year of high school. This means that if it is a goal to play in college, a player must be seen by a college coach, and unfortunately, they need to play club volleyball through their senior year to be seen.

    For the lucky few that earned scholarships in their junior or senior year (many at Junior Nationals), they can take a different playing path if they choose (and are willing to take the public scrutiny). I believe it is best to play club volleyball their senior year, as the experience of simply seeing the ball will help the player prepare for college, but it is not necessary to continue on that elite, number one team of the club. Playing on a second or third team of a club enables a child less commitment, less pressure, and probably more fun. Practices will be less days a week and less away tournaments over the season. It will also give a player on the team your daughter usually played for that has not earned a scholarship more playing time and possibly earn a scholarship. The trade-off is that your daughter will likely have some friendship ‘shifts’ between teams and I assume other parents will look at the family differently. But what’s in your best interest?

    Another option is for your child that has a scholarship to finish high school a semester early (in December) and enter college in January. Your child can play spring volleyball with the college team, acclimate to college academics on a less stressful schedule, and will be much better prepared in the fall, both athletically and academically. There are obvious trade-offs with this scenario as well – can we say senior prom?

    Unfortunately, for those with the goal of playing in college, I’m not sure what more can be done. There could be rebellion within the parents of club teams to not play in May and June. It would have to be a coordinated and group effort. If enough clubs stop playing in May and June, there might be a chance (but unfortunately, many clubs are profit making entities, their interest is more volleyball). In addition, will other children that continue to play in May and June earn a college roster spot in place of your daughter?

    Ironically, I started reading the classic novel Catch-22 on my way down to Miami. Club volleyball seems to be a Catch-22 in itself.

  5. Chuck,
    I happened on your blog as I was being tutored in facebook. I am very impressed that you have this support system for fellow vb enthusiast. I enjoyed reading what you had to say about Nationals and appreciate that you take the time to offer your comments to help others, you are amazing!!!

  6. Chuck,
    I happened on your blog as I was being tutored in facebook. I am very impressed that you have this support system for fellow vb enthusiast. I enjoyed reading what you had to say about Nationals and appreciate that you take the time to offer your comments to help others, you are amazing!!!

  7. Thanks Judy! Just enjoying what I do!

  8. Thanks Judy! Just enjoying what I do!

  9. hey coach i wanna be vallyball player in your club.i can play good.please?

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