In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and as racial justice movements recaptured our country’s collective attention, our office embarked on a reflection of how we can advance equity and inclusion in junior volleyball. The JVA’s mission has always been to support clubs, their staff, and their athletes and in order to do this fully, we must seriously consider the experiences of underrepresented folks in our sport.
Our contemplation led us to assemble our Social Justice Task Force comprised of coaches, directors, and educators and our Athlete Subcommittee to create informed, transformative initiatives. Our mission is to foster a community of inclusion and belonging that supports and celebrates our full range of identities allowing every player, coach and director to show up authentically. With a commitment to long-lasting, meaningful impact, we have identified three areas to begin working on: providing education, expanding play opportunities and access to volleyball, and creating support structures for underrepresented athletes, coaches, and directors.
Organized and led by Lauren Ray and Steve Bailey, our task force and subcommittee include:
Jordan Armstrong, Jacksonville University
Jennifer Charles, University of Tennessee
Alan Davis, KIVA
Michelle Erins, Illini Elite
Kristina Johnson MSW, LSW, RYT 200, Kristina Johnson Wellness
Rachel Wilson Ed.M, Brandeis University
Nya Bunton, KIVA
Madison Eddington, Skyline Juniors
Rylee Hinton, University of Illinois
Savannah Matthews, Kent State University
Equity, inclusion, and belonging are vital ingredients to a resilient, safe, and thriving volleyball community. In her poem, An Invitation to Brave Space, Micky ScottBey Jones writes, “We call each other to more truth and love. We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.” It is from this place that we begin to expand the bounds of inclusion and foster true equity and belonging in our sport.
Our first initiative, an education series on learning and teaching anti-racism is out now. Join us for our third session on race and activism in athletics and our fourth session on the power of athletics, and check back on our website for the full series in February. Each session is designed to promote active learning and open dialogue between the hosts and participants, and is followed with an article of resources and activities that clubs and coaches can utilize with their teams.
If you would like to get involved or talk with us about inclusion and belonging in junior volleyball please email Lauren Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Steve Bailey (email@example.com).
Related reading: A Case for Discussing Racial Inequity