The Richmond Volleyball Club opened in 1981 as a collaboration of two different recreational leagues who saw the need for a dedicated facility. The gym was basic and rudimentary at first with only four courts, one restroom, and no HVAC or concession. Membership was only $12 a year and team fees were $150.
The popularity of RVC developed through word of mouth and grew quickly. Soon there was a year-long wait list for new teams. The need for an additional facility became apparent. In 1989 area high schools added Girls Volleyball and the RVC community stepped up. Most, if not all, of the coaches came from RVC and they hosted the first Metro Richmond Volleyball Camp with over 150 kids. Two years after high school volleyball flooded the area, RVC found an additional gym to allow for the growing popularity of the sport, giving RVC ten courts.
The Juniors program officially started in 1991 with five teams of girls. By 1994 the Juniors program was much more organized and directed by a Board of Directors. The following year, a Boys Volleyball program was added, and it has seen continued growth each year. Finally, after years of searching, in 2010 an opportunity to have everyone under one roof arose and the club moved to a new 12 court facility that was centrally located in Richmond.
“Much to our delight, RVC continued to grow as we added more and more opportunities for adult and youth to play volleyball” shares RVC Executive Director Darcy Carroll. “Last year we partnered with Chesterfield County and opened another brand new eight-court facility, enlarging our footprint to 20 courts.”
Today RVC is a private non-profit 501(c)3 organization that serves more than 1,800 adult members that play in leagues six nights a week throughout the year, and over 1,000 junior players, ages 7-18, who participate in a variety of programs. Between two sites (RVC Byrdhill and RVC Stonebridge) RVC has 20 courts along with a concession stand, weight room, game room, and showers. RVC has approximately 3,000 visitors come through its door each week to fill both facilities year-round.
RVC’s Starter League is a beginner league for adults and wildly popular with the Juniors parents who have been watching from the sidelines wishing they could play!
The club successfully revived the Itsy Bitsy Spikers program for kids 4-6 years old. This promotes future volleyballers movement and hand-eye coordination in addition to learning to focus and listen to instruction.
RVC’s Beach Program is in its fourth year and interest continues to grow. The program expanded last year through a partnership with Henrico County to build eight sand courts in their newest park and start Jumpin’ Junior’s Sand Training for ages 10-13. Most recently, RVC collaborated to host the City of Richmond’s Rocketts Red Glare – a three-day EVP sand tournament and fireworks festival to celebrate Independence Day. The event was held in a historic section of Richmond’s old (now repurposed) Tobacco Row. “With an estimated 10,000 spectators in its infancy, we are thrilled to host the tournament again this year and expect that number to double” adds Carroll.
City League began in 2000 from a need to provide a non-travel program for kids with a) no desire or means to travel B) or who didn’t make their desired team but still wanted to develop their game. From eight teams the first year, the program has grown to 28 teams and over 285 participants. This year, City League also competed against other clubs with similar programs, expanding the field of competition and giving players a taste of travel team.
RVC’s Robison Fund was born in 2005, named after long-time member Roger Robison, also one of the first members of the Board of Directors. The Roger Robison Fund was established based on his belief that all Richmond-area youth should be able to play volleyball without having to worry about the cost. The fund is a way for RVC and its members to provide financial assistance to young athletes who cannot play without financial assistance. In 2018, RVC granted more than $40,000 worth of financial assistance to junior players in the travel program, City League, Middle School League, Jumpin’ Juniors, and summer camps. Each year there is an application and interview process for financial aid. If awarded a scholarship, these athletes are asked to volunteer hours and give back to RVC through service.
“It’s a win for everyone!” exclaims Carroll. “We also award non-travel aid for Jumpin’ Juniors, Middle School League (area schools do not offer volleyball), Summer Camps, and even our youngest Itsy Bitsy Spikers (age 4-6). We believe that you never know at what age the spark will ignite!”
RVC has been very excited with the steady growth of its Boys Program each year. The club has made a conscious efforts to differentiate the programs to bring more boys to the sport and to expose them to as many opportunities as possible. Boys used to walk into the gym and see it full of female athletes, look around and say, “volleyball is for girls.” They would become disappointed or discouraged and not come back until they discovered it again in high school. By then it was late to develop their game. In response, RVC made a specific effort to change this perception by separating the boys not just within junior travel ball but within the City Leagues and Jumpin’ Juniors programs.
“We have also added a “boys only” option to summer camp. We feel this lends to the boys having a sense of belonging, and therefore an increase in numbers” shares Carroll.
RVC boys’ teams continue to compete well on the east coast and consistently win bids for nationals. This year the 17’s and 14’s teams have earned their bid and will travel to Dallas to compete at Nationals. This strategy will hopefully pay long term dividends and push the boys even farther up the rankings.
In addition to seasonal programming, RVC holds three annual large tournaments – Monument City Classic, Boys East Coast Championship, and girls South Atlantic Championships – bringing up to 10,000 players and spectators to the Richmond region for three-day events.
Much of RVC’s success is attributed to a very large community of coaches and staff that are passionate and dedicated to the sport and to the personal growth of the club’s youngest members. Many of these coaches are previous RVC players and former college players who are paying it forward because of the opportunity volleyball has afforded them. RVC is structured to have Lead Coaches that will mentor entry level coaches and provide them with additional support to work with parents and team when situations arise. We partner with local colleges and universities to bring in their coaches to provide clinics on effective coaching and strategic planning.
RVC is a long time member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for club directors, coaches, players, and fans.
Photo credit: High Performance Photography