SynergyForce was founded as “CalSynergy” in 2009. The club had 7 teams and struggled to obtain enough practice space. In 2012, CalSynergy merged with “Force” and became “SynergyForce,” securing its own training facility and expanding to 14 teams. The expansion continued in 2015 to 22 teams, and in 2021-2022 SynergyForce fields 49 teams.
The club leadership knew that the athletes wanted national exposure and more intense training, so in 2016, under the guidance and inspiration of Director Matt McEvoy and the late Todd Tkachuk, the club introduced a National Program. Matt and Todd developed Best Practices based on the models followed by the top six performing junior volleyball clubs in the country. The inaugural year of the National Program included athletic training, collegiate recruiting guidance, more advanced film study, team travel, and collaborative positional training across teams.
The program has improved and evolved over the years. SynergyForce currently has 12 teams in the National Program, with its 1’s teams consistently ranking in the top 5 in Northern California.
In 2020, as the Pandemic was impacting volleyball across the country, SynergyForce became a charter member of the West Coast Volleyball Association, the new JVA affiliated league in Northern California and Nevada. Club Owner Matt McEvoy was selected by the other founding club directors as the Executive Director of the league, a role which he still holds.
2014 saw the founding of the SynergyForce Youth Academy.
“The concept was novel, but we knew we needed to provide a fun, educational opportunity for our “littles,” says McEvoy. “The Youth Academy has grown, under the leadership of Addie Hauschild-Willis, to be one of the most successful youth volleyball programs in California. Last month’s enrollment of more than 200 youngsters was a credit to our coaches and programming.”
The Youth Academy creates an appetite amongst SynergyForce families to see the younger kids on organized teams. As a result, the number of participants pushed the total of 11’s and 12’s teams to 9 teams in the 2021-2022 season.
A fun and gratifying fact: Many of the club’s young athletes move up through the ranks and join older and more advanced teams. The older athletes are cultivated to return to Youth Academy, but this time as court coaches! These new coaches continue the culture and training and give back to the young athletes.
Support and Service
SynergyForce recognizes that volleyball can be, at times, an expensive sport. It is important to the club to be inclusive and provide for families who struggle to play the sport. SynergyForce sets aside a scholarship fund each year to assist families in paying for their club dues and uniforms. Donors contact the club each year to help families as well. While the scholarship fund is still small, SynergyForce leadership take great pride in providing some dues relief for families on a need basis.
While SynergyForce does not organize fundraisers, many of our team parents will organize fundraisers for their individual teams. We find that the combination of all of these avenues help athletes, who normally would not be able to play due to financial constraints, participate in the sport they love so much.
Many SynergyForce teams organize community-service events as part of their team bonding activities. Teams contribute to Toys for Tots, organize food drives, and write letters to military members stationed overseas. When the deadly Camp Fire hit the town of Paradise, California, the entire club mobilized to organize donations for the victims. Massive stacks of diapers, wipes, hygiene products, warm clothes and blankets filled the SynergyForce training facility.
“Our families drove the donations north to the tent cities erected in parking lots to help families survive the cold winter nights. Additionally, SynergyForce families made financial donations that allowed us to distribute dozens of gift cards to the residents of Paradise. Gift cards allowed many Camp Fire victims to purchase food, gas, clothing and other items that they lost in the fire. Incredibly, sister clubs in the Bay Area reached out to us to arrange introductions to the community of Paradise, specifically the Paradise High School volleyball program. The clubs then donated jerseys and other uniform pieces, as well as equipment, to help the high school to continue its program,” shares McEvoy.
Coaching the Coaches
The sport of volleyball is ever evolving, and it is important to the SynergyForce leadership and coaching staff to grow their knowledge. Coaches are encouraged to continue their education through clinics offered by the club, especially for new coaches. The club is fortunate to have Bret Almazan-Cezar on staff, an 11-time California high-school state championship coach. He trains coaches in “real time” at practices, tournaments and in the film room.
“The healthy and positive culture developed at SynergyForce over the years is something we take very seriously,” adds McEvoy. “When coaches join our team, we take care to show them a positive culture that invites growth and maintains the health of our athletes and staff. Our coach and family surveys repeatedly demonstrate that we are on the right track. Families know that we put family, education and health first.”
SynergyForce has a club-wide Hudl partnership which allows the coaches and athletes to delve deeply into film. From a film study standpoint, National Program Head Coach Bret Almazan-Cezar is consistently available to break down film and train the National coaches to put together better highlights from matches and charts to share with the athletes, and to become more prepared for future matches.
Coaches participate in clinics, where National Program Coaches go over the basics and techniques of coaching with the newest Premier coaches. As they get into the season, the National and Power coaches make themselves available to assist a Premier team in a practice or offer guidance and feedback before or after a tournament.
Recently, many of the SynergyForce Power and Premier coaches began working under the National coaches with their college or high school volleyball program. This allows for additional development and camaraderie across programs and allows the coaches across all three team levels to learn from each other through mentor/mentee relationships.
“We still have so much room to grow and improve, I’m so excited about the next 3-5 years truly being our best,” McEvoy said. “We are also proud of our role of expanding the WCVBA and JVA in Northern California. We’ve barely scratched the surface to improve youth volleyball in our community.”
SynergyForce Volleyball (Rocklin, CA) is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to enhancing the junior volleyball experience for club directors, coaches, players, and fans.