This past summer, we posted an article about the various options that U-18’s have to finish their season.  We also addressed feedback from some of the coaches who attended the various championships, and concluded with a survey to gather input from a larger audience.

Here is a summary of the survey responses:

We had a total of 145 responses, 86% were club directors from 33 different states across the country.   Not everyone completed the survey and shared their opinions.  The majority of surveys not completed were from clubs that didn’t attend a national championship, did not identify their year-end event, or were from a foreign country. 

107 people completed the survey, sharing their experience and thoughts on the ideal end-of-season experience for their 18’s. (there was some overlap, as some teams attended both USAV and one of the AAU Championships.

  • 46 attended the USAV Championships in April
  • 17 attended the AAU U-18 Championships over Memorial Day weekend
  • 36 attended the AAU June Championships
  • 28 attended other season ending events, and
  • 6 did not report a season ending event but shared what they like in a season ending event

When asked what time of year would be ideal for their U-18’s team to complete their season, 33 responses indicated that mid-June was ideal

The reasons were varied:

  • the majority of 18’s don’t report to college early, so don’t need to end before the other age groups
  • there is a value in having the 18’s part of a larger event with the rest of their club there to support them
  • avoids proms and graduations
  • early end hurts younger players on the team
  • open for college coaches to recruit
  • keeps kids in gym to train and prepare for college
  • allows younger players on the team to continue to train
  • allows younger players on the team to be seen by college coaches

27 reported that a championship in early to Mid-May was preferred.

  • April was too early and there was too much time before the kids would report to college
  • A May weekend off of the collegiate quiet period of Memorial Day was preferred
  • Mid-May allows the kids to get more of a summer break
  • Better for younger athletes on the 18’s teams

17 reported that Memorial Day worked well for their teams.

  • Less time missing school (and work for coaches)
  • Allows for an earlier end to the season but not too early

17 reported that the April Championships fit their teams’ needs well.

  • College coaches are able to recruit
  • Avoids burnout
  • Avoids proms and graduations
  • Allows senior to enjoy their final year of high school
  • Kids who need to report to college early can finish their season
  • Allows kids to start their beach season in May  

The majority of the coaches and club directors who participated in the USAV April Championship and AAU May Championship shared some common concerns of the events:

  • 27 of the 36 teams that participated in the stand-alone events felt they lacked something without the “big event” feel of a large number of teams and more age groups, more excitement.
  • 11 of the teams that did both USAV in April and then finished at AAU, either in May or June felt that April was too early to end the season

The coaches reported that the issues that impact their decision are expenses, graduation, proms, and training schedules.  Graduations across the country can be as early as mid-May and as late as mid-June.  Proms can be as early as the beginning of April through late May.  There was also a call by a number of coaches for NCAA to review their decision to make Memorial Day weekend a quiet period for DI coaches. 

In conclusion, it is pretty clear that there really is no “perfect” U-18’s championship for all teams.  Teams’ needs can change from year to year.  Having a number of options at different times allows a club to choose what is best for their team.  The choices allow for less girls to be left out, whether it is escaping “senioritis” and starting their college life sooner, or school activities.  If more athletes get to participate in a well-run, year-end championship,  that is a great thing for our clubs and our sport.

 For related reading on events click HERE. For related reading for coaches click HERE. For information on JVA events click HERE.

About the Author

Jenny has served as the JVA Executive Director since 2010. She co-founded Milwaukee Sting VBC in 1989 serving as director, head coach and board member through today. She served as Operations Director and then Executive Director of Badger Region Volleyball Association from 1998-2010. Jenny is passionate about junior volleyball and sees the JVA as a vehicle to improve the junior club experience for club directors, coaches and the club member families.