There is no question that the midwest, specifically Indianapolis, Indiana, has become a hot spot for boys volleyball. With an incredible growing rate of athletic participation, Indianapolis has seen the sport develop in college athlete participation, number of club teams, and the level of competitiveness. However, the number of high school boys teams in Indiana is still low. The Academy Volleyball Club has created a program to increase boys volleyball participation at the high school level.

Over the last 28 years, Indiana has had over 100 high schools represented in the IBVCA (Indiana Boys Volleyball Coaches Association) season.  However, only 35% of teams participate in the state tournament each year. Why do the majority of teams not participate in the state tournament? There are several factors that impact participation, but the main one is funding.

“When I played for Carmel High School from 2009-2012, we won two high school state championships. However, in order to represent our school, each athlete had to pay $500 to participate,” says Fuller.

It is common to pay a fee for extracurricular activities to cover coaches pay, uniforms, equipment, or court rental. Funding is a primary need for creating a new program. In 2021, an idea was raised about creating a grant program for high school programs looking to get involved with boys volleyball in Indiana. With the rapid growth of our boys club program we were in a position where we were could make this idea a reality. The Academy Boys Grant Program was created to assist the funding for high school boys volleyball programs.

So how does it work? The Academy Boys Grant Program is open to coaches who are trying to kick start their boys program to lower the costs for their families for two consecutive seasons. The club added a line item in the overall budget for the program with a maximum payout of $12,000 annually. The first step is for a coach to complete an application that provides The Academy with the very basic details of the program. From there, Executive Director Emily Hawthorne, and Boys Director Andrew Fuller, go over the application to make sure they feel there will be enough stability within the organization to provide the financial assistance to them. The purpose of the program is to set the team in motion to be able to have a future, not sustain them for only one season. After the review process, coaches will get the opportunity to allocate the money.

“Thanks to The Academy’s size and relationships we have built over the years, we work with some of our vendors to offer discounted rates for these programs including uniforms or equipment. We also allow these programs to rent out our facility if need be,” explains Fuller.

The total amount for the grant is $1,750.00 over a two year span. With the support of the boys club program, The Academy has had seven programs apply and be approved for the upcoming season.

“It is our hope that boys club programs across the country will pursue the same opportunities in their state to create more opportunities for high school boys to play the game we know and love,” shares Fuller.

There are a lot of positives that come with a program like this, but the best part is the ability to help establish strong connections and relationships throughout boys volleyball. Typically, The Academy offers a satellite camp for each program receiving a grant, however due to the large number of programs they are assisting this year, they are hosting a team camp instead. This allows the club to bring the new teams together, so they can train, play and interact with each other. The camp will be six hours long and teams will work with some of The Academy’s top coaches to learn system training and compete against the other programs.

“We can’t wait to get started with these new programs and continue to help them grow and succeed throughout the years.”

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About the Author

Andrew Fuller was named the Boys Program Director for the Academy Volleyball Club of Indianapolis, a JVA member club, in the fall of 2018 where he was part of the initial growth of seven teams to twenty-four. Andrew also founded the Boys High School Program at Guerin Catholic High School just north of Indianapolis where he has led them to four consecutive regional championship matches and their first Regional Championship in the spring of 2021. He was a recipient of the 2021 AVCA 30 Under 30 High School Coaches.