Two JVA member clubs in Minnesota have been running one of the most competitive and collaborate season-long competition series in the Midwest for ten years. The Molten Series is a joint effort between Club Directors Doug Bergman of Mizuno M-1 and Scott Jackson at MN Select.
The Molten Series was born out of the incredibly high level of competitive clubs in Minnesota and the open mindedness of Doug and Scott. The two Club Directors came together after much discussion and careful thought regarding what the key elements would be to sustaining the most comprehensive and competitive season long series. One where teams could continue to play higher competition, moving up a bracket (playing older teams) with every successful play date, a structure that accurately represented the true win-loss record of competitive play, not a contrived point system.
Both of them wanted a league that the area clubs could come together at for the benefit of the players, not just one facility. Their product was focused on doing what is best for the athletes. Out of necessity, due to their busy schedules at their own clubs, they hired a third party, Chris Hunt (then with Crossfire Vball Club) to be the administrator and he was a great help getting it off the ground.
“In the early days“, says Scott, “we were fortunate to have Chris Hunt from Crossfire VB Club, at the time, to help us; he did a great deal of the work to get other MN club volleyball coaches to participate and organize all of the schedules at the host clubs’ two locations.”
Not only are these two powerhouse clubs in the same state, they are a short 30 minute drive from one another. Mizuno M-1 is located on the south side of the Twin Cities metro area in Bloomington and the other play site is MN Select’s home at Ralia Sports Center up on the north side, in Maple Grove.
The core of the Molten Series was modeled after the Great Lakes Power League with 18 full brackets across all age levels, U12 – U18. The Series has grown from a 4-date to a 5-date league series. Eight team brackets go head-to-head for the reward of moving up a bracket or the reality of adjusting down a level for the next competition day.
“Cooperative effort is the key! It’s all about providing a great training opportunity through local competition for our kids” adds Doug Bergman.
The series provides the Midwest’s highest level competition for the Elite 18s, 17s & 16s teams down to the younger 12s and 13s teams. Players from all over Minnesota come to compete in a half-day bracket each weekend of the season.
This season’s competition weekends are: January 6/7 January 20/21, February 24/25, March 17/18 and April 7/8. The initial play schedule is based on preliminary seeding and previous performance of the teams. Higher brackets compete on Sundays and the lower bracket play is on Saturdays. The series also offers an annual Twin Cities Molten Cup Tournament, a two-day event in May each year at the end of the season.
This year, the MN Molten Series involves 14 clubs and 119 teams! Doug and Scott kick it off with an inter-club scrimmage in December, offering a wonderful environment for official training as well. There are paid R1 officials running each match in the Molten Series, employing dozens of officials every competition date.
College coaches know about this talent-packed series and come to scout players for all levels of collegiate rosters. The Minnesota area clubs are fortunate to be able to watch their players grow up competing against some of the nation’s most competitive teams every month right in their own back yard.
The Molten Series is a core of the clubs’ schedules, however both clubs also compete in AAU and USAV events in addition to JVA events to round out their competitive schedules.
“Our teams still travel to places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Indy, Omaha, Vegas, Orlando and wherever the U18’s GJNC Championships have been held, plus other great tournaments every JO season; but on behalf of all the area parents and players, I wanted to make sure JVA knew what these great guys have done for us!
“No matter what happens when we travel to tournaments in other states, we here in MN always know we have a monthly event that brings top competitors to our own gyms and it has had a big affect on the participating clubs in our region maintaining their edge!. They do this because they know it’s the best way to develop MN players from the 12’s on up.”
We want to thank Doug Bergman, who is in his 20th year as Club Director at M-1 and Scott Jackson from MN Select for their efforts, their leadership and commitment to the junior volleyball scene in Minnesota. What Doug and Scott put together and have maintained, going on a decade, is a showcase for the incredible talent here in Minnesota, allowing for the best competition possible each time for all teams.
About the Author
Michele Landis is Co-Founder & CRO of Accessible360 a technology company that help businesses make websites and mobile apps accessible to people with disabilities. Her daughter, Lily, currently plays for Doug Bergman’s U18 1’s at Mizuno M-1 Volleyball, a JVA Club in Bloomington MN and is headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy this fall, joining the D1 Falcons. Lily was honored as a 2016 JVA AthLeader for her outstanding volleyball performance, academic excellence and leadership and has been on the JVA Ultra Ankle Watch list for 3 years. Last season she was also named to the JVA Beach Watch List. Sincere gratitude to Scott & Doug for all of their work over the years on the MN Molten Series. This is a great place to raise volleyball players!