Alliance Volleyball was founded in 2010 when two clubs (Impact and Select) merged into one, immediately making 60 girls teams in year one. Today, 28 teams train and The TOA Sports Performance Center, a hub for youth sports in Middle Tennessee that features 12 volleyball courts with hardwood floors and adjustable net systems. In addition, there are 3 satellite locations in Lebanon, TN (6 teams), Spring Hill, TN (2 teams), and Murfreesboro, TN (6 teams).
Alliance focuses on developing the complete athlete by teaching positive lifelong character traits including sportsmanship, leadership, and cooperation, in addition to a solid foundation of fundamental and technical skills. The club’s philosophy focuses on open communication for parents and players, as well as an open gym environment for parents.
“Access to team practices allows for a better understanding of what we teach, how we teach, and the uniqueness each coach brings to our gym,” says Alliance Executive Director, Ann Mullins.
COMMUNITY SERVICE. Over the past 6 years, the Alliance community has donated nearly 2,500 backpacks filled with food, clothing, toiletries, etc to homeless and domestic violence centers. The efforts have been geared towards Backpacks for the Homeless, Backpacks for Bridges Domestic Violence Center and Backpacks for Homeless Vets. They even did a Backpacks for Bluegrass effort which enabled teams to hand out backpacks around the city of Louisville while they were in town for the Bluegrass Tournament, a JVA Challenge Series event. Prior to COVID, some teams would also get together and volunteer their time at one of the homeless shelters in downtown Nashville. After the devastating tornado hit Nashville in 2020, Alliance athletes spearheaded a tornado relief effort, which brought the entire community together to help get diapers, formula, toiletries, blankets, clothes, other various essential items to the people who needed them most.
SELF-LOVE. As a female led organization, Alliance saw the need to help their young girls learn to love and appreciate all of the beautiful things that differentiate us from one another. Thanks to the efforts of a group of Alliance coaches, this event has grown into something the kids look forward to every year and what once was a Self-Love Day, is now a Self-Love Week.
“This is an event that serves to reiterate what we believe to be important at Alliance. It’s a time to celebrate individualism and our hope is to empower our young women to lead confident and purpose-filled lives,” explains Mullins.
The week is surrounded with positive messages about self-confidence, self-care, the importance of loving yourself and your uniqueness. The activities change year to year but has included mindful yoga sessions, guest appearances, coloring positive message stations, photo booths, and most recently they started to do a Q&A with a member of the volleyball community.
“Last year Lexi Sun joined us on a Zoom session, and this year we have one of our Alumni, Avri Davis who currently plays for WKU. To top it off, we raise funds to donate to YWCA, which is an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all,” adds Mullins.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH. Alliance’s mission is to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone who steps foot in our gym. The club is passionate about celebrating its diversity year-round, but this will be its 6th year officially celebrating Black History Month throughout the club. February is a month to highlight the African American athletes and coaches at Alliance via social media. Throughout the month, each athlete and coach will have their own social media spotlight where they get to speak on which African American leaders/influencers throughout history they look up to for guidance, what they do to help celebrate and bring awareness to Black history in all months of the year, and share their favorite motivational quote. In addition to this, an Alliance coach and Board Member has taken on the task of creating educational zoom sessions throughout the month to learn about the importance of Black history, HBCU schools, black innovators, and local black businesses.
SUCCESS ON THE COURT. Alliance has been the home of six Tennessee Gatorade player of the year selections and 1 Alabama Gatorade Player of the year selection. The club has facilitated 150 + athletes to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level. In 2018, Alliance 18 REN won the USAV Girls’ 18s Junior National Championships in the National.
FINANCIAL AID. Alliance has a need based financial aid program for families in need. The financial aid program is funded by donations and the club’s annual holiday benefit 4v4 tournament. The club also offer families the opportunity to work the home events in many capacities to help alleviate some costs.
LEADERSHIP AND COACHING. A club is only as good as its coaching staff and leadership. Ann Mullins has over 10 years of club leadership, Managing Director Abbey West has over 5 years of club leadership, and Club Administrator Carolyn Earp has been in her role for 12 years. Alliance is governed by a Board of Directors that holds regular meetings to address both long-term strategy and financial operations. It is important to the leadership that the club hires and retaines coaches who demonstrate the appropriate technical experience and skills needed to succeed as a coach, who can thrive in the club’s culture and support the club’s goals.
Alliance hosts a preseason coach meeting every November. Some years the meeting is heavy on the technical and conceptual side of what they want coaches to be teaching, and other years the discussions are focused more toward how to be better teachers, learners and leaders. This current season, two veteran coaches have been assigned as Mentor Coaches. One is focused on the 15s-18s coaches and the other leads the 11s-14s coaches. All of the coaches are in a group chat together based on their age group, allowing the Mentors easy access to coaches who practice on different nights, as well as allowing the satellite coaches to feel more connected to the main hub. The chat groups are also utilized for Mentor Coaches to lead discussions for the Lead Positional Coaches to drive discussions regarding what is being taught and learned in the positional sessions.
Each positional training session, coaches are assigned a different position to help them grow their skill knowledge base. Alliance utilizes an app called TeamApp that stores the club’s educational documents, schedules, activation warm-ups, notes from the Directors, etc. Lastly, the club created a Coach Lounge area where the coaches can set their stuff down, grab a cup of coffee and a snack, relax, talk volleyball and get reconnected with each other.
“This has been a huge hit! Having a coaching staff as large as we have here at Alliance, integrating the group chats, having one place to store/locate documents, having a place for coaches to decompress, and allowing coaches to lead events they’re passionate about such as Self Love and Black History has been instrumental in driving our culture and has been key in keeping everyone connected. On top of ALL of this, we celebrate the heck out of our athletes and we let them know in every way possible they are valued, they are appreciated, and they are loved beyond the walls of our gym,” shares Alliance Managing Director, Abbey West.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. In addition to the club’s support of the JVA, Alliance Volleyball continues to forge relationships with other clubs, such as LA Volleyball, Union, Tsunami, K2 Volleyball and Ethos Volleyball.
Alliance Volleyball (Franklin, TN) is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for club directors, coaches, players, and fans.