Over the past decade there has been a decline in girls basketball participation numbers, which has been partially accredited to the influx in girls volleyball athletes. Three years ago, for the first time, more high school girls played volleyball than basketball according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
A group of basketball club directors in the Northeast is recognizing an opportunity to utilize volleyball to their advantage, and form grassroots volleyball clubs to keep their athletes in-house. Rather than view volleyball as the opponent, Zero Gravity Basketball CEO Greg Kristof sees a unique opportunity to grow both sports, while starting a new and fresh approach to events, scheduling, and education sharing.
“This discussion has been going on for over one year” says Kristof. “Our group has had six meetings to discuss our goals and how we can positively impact grassroots volleyball. We are taking a holistic approach to bringing new clubs into the volleyball space and trying to teach these clubs how to take each piece of running a program the right way.”
There are 2 contributing catalysts for the grassroots movement:
- The growth of participation and popularity of volleyball for young female athletes in New England.
“The more this group learned about the great sport of volleyball the more the excitement grew” adds Kristof. “There are no barriers to entry in volleyball. The game is pure, there is no contact, and the stakeholders almost all seem to be in it for the right reasons.”
- A need for quality events in the region.
“After talking to numerous clubs in region, it was clear a professional event operator needed to come in and provide a great experience for the volleyball programs in New England.”
Joining Zero Gravity in the volleyball movement are 6 other basketball clubs: Middlesex Magic, NE Playerz, Massachusetts Huskies, Connecticut Swarm, Greenwich Stars, and Syracuse Select.
The group came together twice this summer during a summit hosted by Zero Gravity. The meetings included discussions around scheduling, operating a volleyball club, developing players, training curriculum, working with the existing clubs, and the differences in club basketball and club volleyball.
JVA Director or Member Development Lisa Wielebnicki notes the passion of the group of basketball directors during a recent meeting in Boston, where the JVA directors continued their planning for the new power league and series of JVA insured events they are teaming up to host.
“Being able to witness first hand the passion of this group as they take on the sport of volleyball was truly inspiring” shares Lisa. “Their mission, drive and understanding of what playing this great game is about, runs parallel to the beliefs of the JVA.“
The Northeast event series will include an array of dates beginning in January and running through March. The newly formed New England Power League (NEPL) will offer competition dates for 12U-18U.
“This movement brings an addition of quality events in the New England states, and more opportunity for the growth of our sport.” adds Lisa. “We hope the mission of the JVA is spread across the New England clubs, and they see the benefits of JVA education, resources, and the ability to allow Club Directors to effectively and ethically run a business.”
The JVA is eager to work with the club directors, tournament hosts and coaches in the New England Power League to improve the volleyball experience for all involved. An indicator that this movement will make a positive, long lasting impact is the fact that the leadership are all working together as a cohesive unit. There is open communication, organization, and sharing of resources.
Kristof is optimistic about the immediate impact the movement and partnership will have on the players, parents and coaches.
“We at Zero Gravity Volleyball are thrilled to be working together with the JVA. Zero Gravity Volleyball believes in bettering the game in every way possible both on and off the court. We are passionate about educating coaches, players, and parents to provide a great sporting experience, as well as to provide life-long lessons. The mission of our organization lines up perfectly with the JVA and will lead to a great experience for those who truly care about the great game of Volleyball.”
For more inforation on running a volleyball event click HERE. For related reading for Club Directors click HERE. For related reading on events click HERE. For more information on joining the JVA click HERE. To learn more about Zero Gravity Basketball click HERE.