Roundup: Club Volleyball Tryouts in the Winston-Salem Area

Last year, the WAVE did an article on the club volleyball scene – but that landscape has greatly changed!  So it’s time for an updated roundup of the club volleyball tryouts in the Winston-Salem area.

Tryouts begin in mid-October for the younger age groups.  With so many clubs in our area, there is overlap in tryout dates.  Be sure to check our calendar for complete details.  Not sure where to start with tryouts?   This previous article on trying out for club volleyball may help.

So here’s the roundup for the main clubs fielding teams from players in our area (in no particular order):

Set Point Volleyball Club

winston-salem volleyball

Philosophy towards training:  Set Point’s training philosophy has always been to train players to play with proper fundamental technique. They believe that players trained to play as a team using appropriate skills will be successful, that wins will take care of themselves as individual players learn to function as a team.

Program goals:  Set Point’s goals for all players are for them to learn to enjoy the sport of volleyball, improve their skills and learn the benefits of cooperation and teamwork in an atmosphere of good sportsmanship.

How they are different from other clubs:  They believe that their people make the difference. They benefit from a history rooted in the very beginnings of junior volleyball in this area. They have prided themselves in involving top quality coaches who pass along their knowledge and experience to players, other coaches and parents.

What’s new for the club this season:  Set Point welcomes Heather Holmes and Trevor Hewitt to the club as principal clinicians. Heather is the former coach at Wake Forest and Trevor is a successful high school and High Performance coach. They will bring fresh ideas and training skills to our clinics and assist their coaches with practice execution.

Set Point volleyballPractice schedule:  Teams typically practice either two or three times a week. Most teams will practice on Sunday afternoons and various weeknights. They periodically have individual skill clinics throughout the year. Set Point is a USAV club and play principally in the Carolina Region and on the East Coast.

Practice locations:  Winston-Salem, Clemmons

Teams they expect to field: 12U-18U, with one-two teams per age group.  For older age groups, there will be travel team options.

Clinics/Open gyms:  Lead by Heather Holmes, Robyn Wesselman and Trevor Hewitt, clinics started on September 28 and will continue through October 19.  Details online.  Cost is $10/session.

Tryout dates:  October 23 – November 11.  Check the website for dates for specific age groups.

Contact:  Fred Wendelboe, Director,


 Champion Volleyball Club


Philosophy towards training:  All of their teams, regardless of the level, will focus on both individual skill development and team play. Each of their practice sessions are broken down into skill development – where all girls are trained in all aspects of the game, and team play – where they teach both defensive and offensive philosophies.

Program goals:  For the younger players, we have two major goals. First, they want to develop a love and a passion for the game of volleyball. Second, they want to teach the girls the correct way to play the game.  For the older players, they want to help refine their skill level and their individual game play. They also want to train and prepare each player to be an integral part of their high school program and prepare them to play at the next level.

How they are different from other clubs:  The club tries to focus on the development of the player in a safe and supportive environment. They have found that encouraging players during instruction, will help the player learn the required skills at a faster pace. They are also offering a true National program, which will help the more advanced player receive college attention.

What’s new for the club this season: The club has merged with the former Davie Dazzle program, so they will be now offering club teams, not only out of the Winston Area, but also out of Davie and Stokes counties. They are adding a National Team program this year, which will allow the advanced players to compete at a higher level. They have also signed NIKE as a sponsor for our club.

Champion volleyball clubPractice schedule: Regional teams usually practice 1-2 times a week, depending on tournament schedule. Practices are a combination of individual and team skill development. Specific skill development clinics are offered in the fall, spring and during the season.

Practice locations:  Winston-Salem, Rural Hall, Davie County (for Davie-based teams only)

Teams they expect to field: 12U-18U, with one-two teams per age group.  For 16-18U, there will be national (travel) team options.

Clinics/Open gyms:  None

Tryout dates:  October 18 – November 6.  Check the website for dates for specific age groups.

Contact:  Doug Balser, Director,


 Piedmont Volleyball Club

winston-salem volleyball

Philosophy towards training:  Piedmont’s training philosophy is to create well-rounded players that while eventually specializing, will understand all court positions and have mastery of basic skills for each position (setting, passing, hitting, serving).  Piedmont believes in getting as many touches on the ball as possible, employing proven drills for building skill sets in a high-rep, fast paced practice.  With coaching coming from many qualified staff members, players will get solid instruction to build their skills individually so that when they come together to train with their teammates, they will be confident and able to work as a unit.

Program goals:  By offering various levels of play, Piedmont hopes to grow a love of the sport and the skill set of every player.  For players desiring to play post-high school, they offer the training to get them to collegiate play.

With the change in landscape with community colleges springing up all over America, many of the 2 year schools have volleyball. The schools have conferences and operate as like the 4 year schools with many having financial aid available. Piedmont VBC will educate the players and families about the opportunities that may present itself through their journey with the club. All players, regardless of what level program they may consider, will have an opportunity to explore collegiate volleyball.

How they are different from other clubs:  The biggest difference between their club and others in the area is that their program, teams all train together. Regional will all train the same time and Zonal and National will train together. They see this as a huge advantage and why their Master Coaching philosophy works. Coaches move around at practices during position training and the players have the advantage their entire coaching staff at work, including coaches who specialize in specific volleyball positions.

Another difference with clubs in the area is that they have their own training facility, so court space for training or private lessons is never an issue.

What’s new for the club this season:  Piedmont, after taking over the former Sportsplex Volleyball Club, is now offering three levels of play:  Regional, Zonal travel and National travel.

piedmont volleyball clubPractice schedule: Regional and zonal travel teams practice twice a week with special skills clinics offered on other days.  National teams practice three times a week.

Practice locations: Greensboro Sportsplex facility

Teams they expect to field:  12U-18U, with two-three teams per age group.  For older age groups, the level of teams will be national travel, zonal travel and regional.  For younger age groups, the level of teams will be zonal travel and regional.

Clinics/Open gyms:  Lead by Piedmont coaching staff, open gyms started on September 14 and continue through October 12.  Details online. Cost is $6 per session.

Tryout dates:  October 18 – November 3.  Check the website for dates for specific age groups.

Contact: Kim Mansfield, Director,


 Salem Spirits Volleyball Club

salem spirits logo

Philosophy towards training:  The club is committed to every Spirits/Fluid Volleyball Club athlete having a positive experience that fuels their love of volleyball and competition. Their top priority is always striving to improve and giving each athlete the feedback and tools to help them improve as a volleyball athlete and person every day. They believe that long-term success comes from a strong foundation of youth volleyball players. The SPIRITS Developmental Program will create an atmosphere of fun and excitement in a low-stress environment. This program will promote proper technique and teach athletes to learn the game. Additionally, they teach athletes to be a positive and supportive teammate, be a problem solver, push beyond their comfort zone, and compete with confidence and enthusiasm.

Program goals:  Spirits has no aspirations of growing into a sizable club with numerous teams at each age group.  Limiting the number of teams allows them to provide quality club volleyball experience.  Teams are formed with the goal of creating fun, competitive teams that work throughout the season to improve each player’s skill, getting them ready for the next level, be it their High School Varsity team or to prepare for College.

How they are different from other clubs:  Unlike most clubs which require travel across the state, they conduct most of their competitions at home.  Spirits hosts 2 tournaments at month that their teams compete in, inviting different teams from around the area so the competition varies.  They do not play in the Carolina Regional tournaments, and have found that by hosting at home, we can keep the cost down and put less stress on their families. They are insured and participate in AAU Volleyball, which provides them with excellent coverage and is about ¼ the cost of a USAV registration.

Salem SpiritsPractice schedule:  This will vary with different teams, but most teams will practice twice a week. They try to make our schedule the same each month so families can plan accordingly.

Practice locations: Salem College facility in Winston-Salem

Teams they expect to field:  12U-18U, with one-two teams per age group.  Teams are based on commitment level, talent, etc. and not necessarily on age.  The level of teams will be both regional and travel.

Clinics/Open gyms:  They will have Mitch Sadowsky come in late December for a hitting clinic and possible “Christmas Camp”.  Information will be on their website.  This year they also are working with local trainer Andy Hepler, who will be doing training sessions with teams.

Tryout dates:  October 20 – October 26.  Check the website for dates for specific age groups.

Contact:  Dana Wall, Director,


 Deacon Volleyball Academy

winston-salem volleyballPhilosophy towards training:  They believe the most learning takes place within this age group during training with multiple repetitions. The players will be challenged both physically and mentally during every training session in a competitive environment.

Program goals:  DVA believes players under the age of 14 should be spending the majority of their training time working on proper technique and skill development as opposed to playing in a magnitude of tournaments.

How they are different from other clubs:  DVA has a proven systematic way of teaching proper fundamental volleyball skills. Every training session is under the direct supervision of the current Wake Forest Volleyball coaching staff. Each practice is planed out a head of time and drills are modified according to the players current ability level.

What’s new for the club this season: The club is offering a boy’s program, which is currently the only one available in the area.

Deacon volleyball academyPractice schedule:  Dates TBD but twice a week practices with competition in four tournaments throughout the season.

Practice locations:  Wake Forest University facility in Winston-Salem

Teams they expect to field: 11U-14U for girls, with two teams per age group and at least one team each for boys 12U and 14U.

Clinics/Open gyms:  Lead by Wake Forest Volleyball coaching staff, clinics will be held on October 6 and 13.  Details online.  Cost is FREE.

Tryout dates:  October 20 – October 25.  Check the website for dates for specific age groups.

Contact:  Jen Murczek, Wake Forest Volleyball,



5 Things You May Not Know About Kevin Troup – and Reynolds Volleyball

reynolds volleyballThe volleyball community in our area is pretty tight-knit. And many players and parents know Kevin Troup, or “Coach Kevin”, as many refer to him. But they may not know everything about Coach Kevin…or why he is so passionate about changing the face of Reynolds High School Volleyball.

Fact #1: He was (and still is) a volleyball player

“I started playing volleyball on the beaches of South Florida. I couldn’t surf and sitting on the beach bored me. I loved the game so a group of friends and I started playing sand doubles,” shared Troup. His coaching career started at Winston Salem State University when a good friend of his had just been hired and needed an assistant coach. With absolutely no coaching experience Troup said “sure”! and coached by his side for 3 years. He then spent a year at a private high school in Greensboro, worked a year at a Forsyth county middle school, put in three years of JO coaching and this is now in his second year at Reynolds High School (RJR).

Fact #2:  He attended RJR himself

He started as the JV coach but quickly became head of the volleyball program at RJR.  “I know that RJ Reynolds high school was a good program in the past. Being an alumni, I wanted to see it get there again,” said Troup.

Fact #3:  He wants RJR to be a contender again

He believes in the rich history of the school, and has a strong desire to see it contending for conference titles again. “It’s no secret that Reagan, Tabor, and West are successful programs year after year. I want RJR mentioned in that same breathe. It doesn’t happen overnight, but is a work in progress,” Troup explained.

reynolds volleyballFact #4:  He has secret weapons and knows how to use them

Troup has been strategic in making some changes at RJR that will help the program reach his goals. Last spring he was one of only a two schools in the county that added sand volleyball, one of two schools in the county. Teaching the outdoor game enabled the players to learn all aspects ( passing, setting, hitting), thus creating a more all around player. Troup also gave the players ownership in the team with the addition of a team store. He wanted his players to be proud of their team and wearing merchandise like other programs.
 reynolds volleyball

Fact #5: He knows how to instill belief in his players

 Troup shared that as a coach, the most rewarding thing is when a player or group of players, play to the potential he sees in them. He loves the “light bulb moment” when they run up to him, excited that they did something – and they start to believe in themselves.
DSC_0215“Last season”, Troup shared, “the JV team had a match where we lost the first set and were down in the second. I called a timeout, calmed the team and watched them come from behind to win the second set and match. Normally they would have given up, this particular day they trusted me and started believing in themselves.”
 If you are high school team in the Forsyth Country area – watch out!  Kevin Troup and Reynolds High School are planning to take the conference by storm. “Volleyball is an incredible game and anything I can do to grow the sport I will,” says Kevin. “We are a young team and expect us to play hard from the first point to the last.”
reynolds volleyball
 I think the best thing about Kevin is his style of coaching. He has a way of making them [the players] want to be better. He has such a love & passion for the sport that it inspires the girls to play hard even when they are down.
– C. McCarthy, Reynolds volleyball player parent
Coach Kevin has been instrumental in making volleyball a part of the culture at Reynolds. Since arriving, he has created an awareness of the program within the school and advocated for the needs of the team.
– S. Dobson, Reynolds volleyball player parent

Andrea Beck: Hometown Girl, Volleyball Star

volleyball superstar

Andrea with her high school and college coaches

Andrea Beck is practically volleyball legend around Winston-Salem, having played at one of the top volleyball high schools in the area as well as locally at Wake Forest University.  Andrea graciously granted us an interview recently and shared her story.  This is part one of a two-part series.

When did you start playing volleyball?
I started playing during the summer before 8th grade, when I went to team camp at App State with Hanes Middle School. I remember having a fantastic time, even though I could barely walk because I was so sore! I went on to play on my middle school team that year, which won the conference, and I also played my first season of club volleyball for the 14’s team at Triad Volleyball Club.

I understand you did not make your middle school team at first? Did it provide motivation to get better?
That’s right! I tried out for the team in 7th grade and didn’t make the cut. I remember being very disappointed, but the experience taught me that I couldn’t just expect things to be handed to me. I learned that I had to put in some effort if I wanted to succeed. That lesson stayed with me all the way through college, and I believe that all of my great playing experiences were made possible by hard work.

What are some of your favorite Mt. Tabor volleyball moments? Favorite Wake Forest moments?
My favorite Mt. Tabor volleyball moment was definitely when we beat Myers Park in the Regional Final of the state playoffs during my senior season. The win sent us to our first State Championship match, and we were playing at home so the students all stormed the court after we won, which was an incredible feeling. It felt like we had the support of the entire school, and it was a really exciting time that I will never forget.

Two matches stand out from my Wake Forest career as my favorite moments. The first was senior night from my sophomore year, when we beat Duke at home in 3 sets. Duke was the ACC champion that year so it was a huge win, but that’s not why it was my favorite moment. Our senior captain, Kristen White, had sprained her ankle in practice the day before, but she was able to play for long enough to record 5 digs and end her career with exactly 1000 digs. It was a great night all around. My other favorite moment was our televised “Dig for the Cure” match during my senior year, when we beat NC State in five sets. We were the underdog, and even after being down 0-4 in the fifth set, we came back to win 16-14. It was a total team effort, and it meant even more that it was our “Dig for the Cure” match because our coach, Heather Holmes, was fighting breast cancer.

Tell us about some of the doors volleyball has opened for you.
Volleyball has had an incredible impact on my life, and I am grateful to have been involved with a sport that has provided me with so many amazing opportunities! Volleyball gave me the chance to receive an education from Wake Forest University, which in turn helped me get into medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. My athletic scholarship allowed me to enjoy my college experience without worrying about debt, and my hard work as a student-athlete continues pay off because ACC and NCAA scholarships will help me finance my medical education.

volleyball star

Playing volleyball in Europe

I have also been able to travel around the world, thanks to my involvement with the sport. I have gone to Europe three times to play and spent the last seven months in Rovaniemi, Finland, having an incredible experience as a player for WoVo (“Woman Volley”). It has also shaped me as a leader, competitor, and teammate, and has introduced me to some truly amazing people.

As an active coach, what changes have you witnessed in volleyball in the Winston area since you graduated from Mt Tabor?
My perspective has changed throughout my playing and coaching career, but in general I think that volleyball is headed in the right direction, with growing interest and cooperation. I played and coached for Set Point Volleyball Club, which brought together several clubs in the area, and some of the best coaches in Winston. The club has continued to grow over the past few years, and it is exciting to see all of the young talent out there. Since I graduated from Mt. Tabor, many other girls have gone on to play in college, and now the region has created a professional team to play in the PVL tournament this May. I can’t wait to see the level of the game continue to rise in the coming years!

(click on the images below to enlarge and scroll through Andrea’s photo gallery)

Advise from a Coach: Volleyball Beyond Club

volleyball beyond clubAs club volleyball season nears its close, we thought we’d share some insights from a local club director.  Doug Balser is the founder and current director of Champion Volleyball Club in Winston-Salem, NC.  Here, Balser gave us his take on players looking to be a part of the sport beyond high school.  In the fall, we’ll hear from him again on volleyball for younger players (and insights for their parents).

WAVE:  What is your advice for players who’d like to play beyond the club or high school volleyball experience?

Balser:  A lot of young players who are watching the collegiate volleyball matches on television dream of playing for Penn State, Texas or other similar programs, but that is not realistic for the majority of the players.  If a player is interested in playing at the collegiate level, the best advice I could give is to do your research and get your name out there to the programs that match your ability.  A lot of players and parents have the misconception that if their JO team plays at a big tournament, a college coach will walk by, see them play and sign them to a scholarship.  That is just not the case.  College coaches come to see the players play who they have had previous and extended contact with over a period of time.

With a player who would like to play in college, we usually start by examining schools that fit their particular athletic and academic needs.  I always encourage families to look specifically at schools that have the academic major their child wishes to pursue.  The majority of collegiate volleyball players will be doing something other than volleyball to make a living after college, so this is important.  Once we determine a list of schools, then I have the girls begin making contact with the schools and coaches.  Almost all collegiate programs have a website and a questionnaire for the player to fill out.  This shows the coach that you are interested in the program, and all coaches want players who want to be at their school.

volleyball beyond club

Balser’s 12U team at a club tournament in 2014

WAVE:  In your opinion, what is the most necessary attribute of a volleyball player?  How does what’s needed change as a player seeks a more competitive level of play (i.e., college)?

Balser:  For me it has always been a player’s mental toughness that allows them to excel.  Athletes at all levels make mistakes and they have to be able to learn from them and then move past them.  I think the big change that occurs as players move to the next level is their ability to learn from their mistakes on their own.  The competitive players understand why the previous play didn’t work and can make individual adjustments.

WAVE:  Champion Volleyball Club has attracted accomplished, experienced coaches as well as provided the opportunity to mentor new coaches to the sport.  What advice do you have to those for those players looking to transition to coaching?

Balser:  Coaching takes a lot of time and effort to do it right.  I think it is important to have a mentor who can model what it means to be an effective coach.  I encourage them to find someone that they can talk to about problems and situations.  We see a lot of new coaches burn out, because they don’t have someone that they can turn to for help.

I also believe in today’s environment, a coach really has to have a passion for helping the next generation of players.  Our coaches today are open to a lot of criticism and in order to be successful, coaches have to know that they have the potential to make a major impact on a young person’s life.  This is a very serious and important role, and I encourage all new coaches to really understand the impact they can have either positively or negatively on a young person’s life.

volleyball beyond club

Balser and one of his experienced coaches, Kevin Troup

WAVE:  In conclusion what “positives” have you seen come out of players as a result of playing volleyball?

Balser:  I think playing volleyball can have a lot of positive influences on a player.  Volleyball is one of the ultimate team sports, and I think a lot of the girls, sometimes for the first time, learn the importance of team.  I have also seen a real growth of individual players’ self-esteem.  I think both of these positives will go a long way into making these young ladies a success in all aspects of life.

The Future of Jr. Beach Volleyball – bright… very bright!

This is the final installment of a three-part series by guest blogger, Mark Nalevanko, Director of the Carolina Region/USA Beach Volleyball. 

In my series, I ‘ve talked about where beach volleyball in NC began and its current state.  Now, I would like everyone to open their minds and consider the possibilities that lie ahead. Let’s start by looking ahead just one year…. 2014. What can one expect?

High School TrophyAt the collegiate level, sand volleyball will be contested by nearly 40 schools. With that achievement, one can expect by 2016, after two successive years where at least 40 schools participate, the sport will officially be recognized as an NCAA championship sport just like football, basketball, etc.. By that time,  many more schools will feel comfortable about jumping on board. I would not be surprised to see many, if not most, of the ACC schools participating.

What about at the junior level? Participation will continue to skyrocket in large part spurred by the new scholarship opportunities in college, not to mention that more facilities are being built every year to support!  USA Volleyball will continue to develop its national junior beach tour and High Performance program with more events across the country. Carolina Region/USA Volleyball will continue to hold a tour of events across the state.

While plans for 2014 are still in the works for the region tour, it’s a good possibility we’ll see the establishment of a handful of majors as part of the tour, along with several sub-series that are geographically focused. Beach-focused clubs and indoor clubs with beach components will continue to pop up in NC, such as the newly formed Southern Sand Volleyball which will be based at a projected 10 sand court facility in Apex, just outside of Raleigh. The North Carolina High School Sand Volleyball Association is projecting 20-30 schools involved with club sport activities at their schools.

2013 High School Team Finals Action - Small

Let’s now look out 5 years… we will likely see over a 100+ colleges with established sand volleyball programs. Many players will decide by the time they are entering high school that they want to play sand, following a development course focused on that game instead of indoor volleyball. The high school sand league in NC may also be approaching 100 participating schools, and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association will consider sanctioning the sport, as happened recently with Lacrosse.

What about 10 years out? A network of sand volleyball facilities on high school and college campuses? A much more diverse geographical representation of sand players?  “May Madness” for sand volleyball playoffs?  With as bright a future as beach volleyball has, anything is possible!

Club Tryout Roundup

As the high school and some middle school seasons come to a close, volleyball players are starting to think about club ball, or Junior Olympic volleyball, which occurs over the winter months.  For anyone wanting to further their skills as a player, playing club ball during the off-season of school ball is a must….not to mention, it can be loads of fun.

In the Winston area, we are fortunate to have many clubs to choose from.  Choosing the right club for the player is not always easy – we wrote an article last season about this, that may be helpful.

Most clubs field teams ranging from 12U to 18U, .  typically players in 5/6th through 12th grades.  Some clubs do not field teams at every age level, while. some field multiple teams at an age level.  Certain clubs have regional and travel teams.  Checking the Carolina Region website may be helpful for more details and explanations.

So here’s an overview of what’s available in our area:

Champion Volleyball Club

  • ChampionPlanning to field teams at all age levels, with multiple teams at some
  • Plays Carolina Region regional tournaments with one travel tournament
  • Tryouts for 12U-15U begin week of October 20; 16U+ week of November 4th.  Check website for specific details.
  • Practice locations:  Winston-Salem, Rural Hall, Walnut Cove

Setpoint Volleyball Club

  • SetpointPlanning to field teams at all age levels, with multiple teams at some
  • Regional teams play Carolina Region regional tournaments; travel teams play some Carolina Region regional tournament with 3-4 travel tournaments
  • Tryouts for 12U-15U begin week of October 20; 16U+ week of November 3rd.  Check website for specific details.
  • Practice locations:  Winston-Salem, Clemmons

Davie DazzleVolleyball Club

  • dazzle logoPlanning to field teams at 12U-15/16U
  • Plays Carolina Region regional tournaments with one travel tournament
  • Tryouts for 12U-14U begin week of October 20.  Combined 15/16U tryout dates TBD. Check website for specific details.
  • Practice locations:  Davie County

Yadkin Valley Volleyball Club

  • Volleyball_Girls_Logo_messagePlanning to field teams at 13U-18U
  • Plays Carolina Region regional tournaments
  • Tryouts for 13U-14U begin October 27.  Check website for specific details.
  • Practice locations:  Yadkinville

Salem Spirits

  • salem spirits logoPlanning to field teams at 12U, 14U, 16U and 18U
  • Development teams play local tournaments plus scrimmages; Regional Travel teams play local tournaments with two travel tournaments (16U and 18U only)
  • Tryouts have already begun.  Next tryout for all ages is October 15.  Check website for specific details.
  • Practice locations:  Winston-Salem

Wake Forest Deacon Volley Academy (DVA)

  • wf volleyballMore focused on development than tournament play
  • Planning to field teams at U11-U14 ages
  • Development teams play three tournaments
  • Tryouts are on October 21.  Check WAVE calendar page for more information.
  • Practice locations:  Winston-Salem

Beyond the Winston “area”, there are clubs that offer various levels of competitive play.  Check out their websites for details on tryouts:

The 2013 Beach Season in Review

This is the second installment of a three-part series by guest blogger, Mark Nalevanko, Director of the Carolina Region/USA Beach Volleyball. 

Can you name the 3 states that held the largest tournaments on the USA Beach Jr Tour in 2013?

Read to the bottom of the article – the answer may surprise you. Well, fall is pretty much here. School volleyball teams are in full swing, and memories of beach season may be starting to drift away.  Here’s a refresher on what our season looked like.

It quickly became apparent that the number of events and locations for the 2013 beach season would be more than ever, with 21 slated.  We got some great news early on:  USA Beach gave the Carolina Open “Grand Slam” status, enabling the top five finishers in each age division to get bids to nationals (previously only top three did).

Also leading up to the start of the tour season was the scheduling of the first Carolina Region hosted USA Beach High Performance Tryout. Finally, athletes in the Carolina Region looking for selection into the highest level of junior beach volleyball opportunities would not need to travel many hours to participate in a tryout.

High Performance tryouts, 2013

High Performance tryouts, 2013

The Carolina Region Jr. Beach Tour kicked off on April 13th at Capt’n Bill’s in Wilmington, NC with 40 teams participating. The rest of April gave a taste of the number of tournaments that would be available throughout the season with stops in the Triangle, hosted by Blue Sky Volleyball and Vh1vball, Claremont in Western NC, hosted by Bearfoot Juniors and a new site in Catawba, NC, hosted by Carolina Crush Volleyball.

16U finalists at Carolina Grand SlamParticipation levels kicked up to a new high in May. The Carolina Grand Slam in mid-May saw 143 teams from six states . The most popular divisions, Girls 14U and 16U, had 12 pools each. The depth of competition was the best seen in the area and even though five national bids were given out per age division, inevitably some well-deserving teams did not get a bid.

In June the focus event was the Carolina Challenge in Wilmington. Originally conceived with the intent to create a “Battle of NC vs. SC” theme, the event ended up not getting the participation levels desired from the SC side but it became a huge event nonetheless, the 2nd largest of the year with 97 teams.

July saw the culmination of the 2013 season. The ROX the Night event, an evening grass event in Claremont, NC saw the most junior teams participate in an event in that part of the state at 67. Emerald Isle hosted for the 2nd year in a row the tour championships. Under fantastic weather two locations about ½ mile apart on the beach hosted 90 teams.

The season came to a close with the USA Beach Jr. Tour Nationals in Milwaukee, WI over the last weekend of July. Of the 260+ teams participating, seven teams consisting of at least one NC player competed. The 16U teams of Kylie Grandy (Wake Forest)/Genna Simpkins (Cary) and Katie McCullough (Raleigh)/Kati Smith (Raleigh) had the best finishes, tied for 5th. The best 14U finish was an 11th by Sydney Rowan (High Point) and her partner from TX, Eliza Gallagher.

Aerial shot of 2013 Nationals

Aerial shot of 2013 Nationals

There you have it… a quick recap of 2013. What a season!? And now going back to the question, “Can you name the 3 states that hosted the largest events on the USA Beach Jr Beach Tour?” 1. Wisconsin (Nationals) – 268, 2. Texas – 160,  and 3. North Carolina – 143. Believe it or not, NC is up there with anyone in popularity of play by juniors.

(Stay tuned for Part III of this series of articles which will be looking ahead to 2014 and beyond.)

Where Has Junior Beach Volleyball Come From in NC?

This is the first installment of a three-part series by guest blogger, Mark Nalevanko, Director of the Carolina Region/USA Beach Volleyball. 

As we just concluded another record-breaking year of junior beach volleyball in 2013, I took a few moments to reflect on where things started, where they are now and where they’re going. I grew up in the Triad and  was able to participate for three years on a co-ed volleyball team, which got me hooked on the sport. Even though there were no formal opportunities to play boys’ volleyball during high school, I continued to play occasionally in the backyard and recreationally in college either on the sand courts by the dorms or through intramurals. While I didn’t consider myself a serious player, I was completely enamored by the sport.

After participating in an occasional tournament, traveling to places like Captain Bills in Wilmington or even down to Florida, I got to thinking “Why aren’t there some sand volleyball tournaments around the Raleigh area?” I saw so many people playing in grass events, and with multiple parks in the area with 4-6 courts each, it just made sense to me.

First junior beach clinic, 2006

First junior beach clinic, 2006

As I was doing my research on this idea, I happened to stumble across a site called AAU Beach. I read on the website about how junior beach tournaments got started in California in the 1990s. I said to myself “Wow, I wish I had this opportunity when I was growing up!” And this led to starting BOTH junior and adult sand tournaments under the Vh1vball organization in 2006.

I quickly found myself focusing on the junior side of things with the help of well-established volleyball people in NC, Mike Marks and Vaughn Hastings. The first year saw three tournaments and a clinic event. From what I could tell, it was the first large-scale effort in NC to involve juniors in the sport of beach volleyball. The very first tournament that year at Jaycee Park had 24 teams competing across the 14U-18U divisions. It was a modest but successful start.

First junior beach tournament in Raleigh, 2006

First junior beach tournament in Raleigh, 2006

Junior tournaments would continue to grow in leaps and bounds in subsequent years. Participation numbers would seemingly double almost every year. Events with 40-50 teams became common, then 70-80 – finally 100+ became the reality! In 2013, the four Vh1vball hosted events brought in  419 teams with the Carolina Grand Slam in May having 143, the most ever for a juniors beach event in NC. Other organizations across the state have joined in recent years to help establish the Carolina Region Jr Beach Volleyball Tour. In seven years, the sport of junior beach volleyball in NC has become a nationally recognized hotspot for junior beach volleyball participation.

NC teams at AAU junior beach olympics

NC teams at AAU Junior Olympics, VA Beach 2006

Outdoor Volleyball: What You Need to Know

Captain12 (19)

As we are approaching the end of March, your player may be sad that her indoor JO seasons are about to wrap up.  Tell her to cheer up – because the outdoor season is just getting started!  Even if your child has never played outdoor, she can still take part in this version of volleyball that is growing in popularity.

What’s Different

  • Unlike indoor, outdoor volleyball is played with two players, although sometimes  there is an occasional 3-player tournament (such as our local Bash Before the Clash).  
  • Games are played on either a grass or sand court.  
  • There are also a few rule differences with regards to setting and handling the serve.   
  • Most teams are self-coached, unless one of the players’ parents happens to be a coach or player.   Since they are self-coached, players call their own time-outs during a game (I believe they get two per game.)

Where to play

RenaissanceCharlotte061212 (38 of 86)There is a tournament “circuit” for outdoor, and teams may choose the events they prefer to compete in.  Tournaments begin in April and the season officially wraps up in late July.  The Carolina Region website has an entire area dedicated to outdoor volleyball and posts the scheduled events.  However, there are additional tournaments outside of what the Region lists.  Players typically hear about them through other players.

Most tournaments offer an online sign up, with fees typically in the $20 range per player.  As well, players can almost always just show up at a tournament and pay to play on the spot.

Why kids love it

What’s not to love???  You get to play outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air.  It is much more laid back than indoor…no one gets bent out of shape if a match doesn’t start on time.  Many players like the reliance of just themselves and their partner to make all the plays.  If one gets the first hit, the other one gets the next hit – no wondering whose ball it is.  They also enjoy getting to choose their partner and play with a good friend.  Players get many more touches on the ball than with indoor – so it’s a great way to improve both their passing game and serving.

Parents love it too.  Most bring along a pop-up tent, camping chairs, coolers and hang out for the day.  We even brought along our hibachi grill and cooked lunch!  It is definitely a family event.

how To train

BearFoot062312 (31 of 46)

Ideally, players train for outdoor play much like they would for indoor.  With sand in particular, there is a definite learning curve and movement is very different than on an indoor court.  There are several outdoor training programs in the works (we will post these to our blog).  Finding outdoor nets is tough in our area, but we’ll try to get a list going of public nets.  Let us know if you are aware of any!

future of outdoor

As the parent of a player who just started outdoor last year as a 13 year old, I can’t say enough good things about outdoor volleyball.  My daughter probably enjoys it even more than indoor and plans to continue outdoor even though she’ll be busy this summer with open gym at her high school.  More and more colleges are adding outdoor programs, with projections that by 2014, it will become an officially sanctioned NCAA sport.  The future looks bright for outdoor volleyball – I highly encourage indoor players to give it a try, as you never know where it could take you!

Angela Levine

GreenHopeCary042812 (23 of 28)

Tournaments: What You Need to Be Prepared

As the club season is beginning, parents and players are getting prepared for the all-day and sometimes all-weekend tournaments.  For those new to club volleyball, here are a few thoughts on what you might need to make it through the day.

It’s a long day, with a different set up for each tournament.  Be sure to know your tournament venue and any restrictions – for example, no outside food allowed.  Some will not let you bring food in the venue…but will allow you to set up tables outdoors (this can be chilly but may be your only option).  Here are some other thoughts:

  • Tournament nutrition is REALLY important.  Players need healthy food, not junk.  Parents should make a plan for having everyone contribute food for the team (see below for some ideas).  This will be a lot easier than having everyone try to prepare for their own player individually – and healthier than running out to McDonald’s for lunch.
Energy bites (recipe link in snack list below)

Energy bites (recipe link in snack list below)

  • Find a couple of parents willing to invest in folding tables and have them bring them to every tournament.  Sometimes tables are available, but not usually.  These can be purchased at places like Costco or Staples for $35-45.
  • Seating is unpredictable.  Bring camping chairs and seat backs in case there is bleacher seating.
  • Every team should have a first aid kit.  One thought is to have parents each contribute $5-10 and have one parent purchase supplies or a ready-made kit.
  • Players need to switch sides of the court throughout each match – having some kind of water bottle carrier will make this a lot easier.  Dick’s sells some of these, but you can also create your own by using a cleaning supply container with a handle, purchased from Walmart or Target.


  • If you have little ones in tow, make sure you’ve got a bag of “entertainment” as well as kid-friendly snacks on hand.
  • Prepare to have a headache…at some point.  As much as we enjoy watching our kids play, tournaments can wear on you.  The noise alone can often create a headache – so be prepared with Ibuprofen or whatever medicine you prefer.

Ok….so now to the food.  Based on my experience, players need to have one “substantial” meal during the day.  If you can bring a crock pot (and extension cord) to your tournament venue, you can do things like meatballs, chili, soup or even pre-cooked chicken strips that you simply re-heat in the crock pot.  We’ve also done taco meat and let our players make their own tacos.  Hot dogs are another item that can be heated in a crock pot easily.  If you don’t have crockpots, you can still do sandwiches and wraps, salads, etc.

Mostly, players need high-protein food without a lot of sugar.  Candy, chocolate and chips will not help them keep their energy level up.  Here are some of my snack ideas – click on link for attached document:  Snack Ideas for Tournaments.

I hope this information helps you to have a positive, comfortable and successful tournament.