The Evolution of a Volleyball Facility
By Alex Sing, Club Director, Grand Strand Juniors
In an earlier article I wrote about the space within a converted warehouse that we were able to use for a practice facility. We had our "own space", but the warehouse was shared by other groups from basketball to an air soft combat zone. The space had served us well, but it was always in the back of our minds that we would someday "own" a facility.
Just a few weeks ago the dream of having a designated volleyball facility for the club became a reality. We purchased a 21,000 sq. ft. building that was at one time a skating rink. The site also included 5 acres of land that could be used for expansion and adding sand courts.
On the surface our situation in the shared warehouse looked ideal. It was in a great location. We had unlimited access from 8am to 11pm 7 days a week. The facility provided signage, clean up of common areas including bathrooms, and electric was included, all for about $3.00 per square foot. Not bad at all.
Here is the "but": The warehouse owner was running a business and offered space to those willing to pay. He had 100,000 square feet to try and fill. At such a low price he attracted quite a range of tenants. Our neighbors included pole fitness (not exactly what you want beside your young volleyball players), and a batting cage that had a wooden wall that provided quite a scare when a ball went foul and hit it. Plus with gymnastics and a dance studio close by, you could hear 3 different songs playing at any given moment. Not exactly "our" space after all. The space was not climate controlled either.
The JumpOne huge advantage to the shared warehouse was its location. Right in the middle of town and central for many of our players. The building and property we were considering to purchase was 30 minutes away and according to some it was "in the middle of nowhere." Those who were close by our current location complained immediately. For others the new location would be closer to home.
So while some families were excited, others were not. We had to see if moving our club was going to fly. I remember reading what John Brannon from CUVC mentioned his post about searching for a facility. It was something like, "Perfect is the enemy of very good". We had found a great building with climate control and a price we could afford, but the location was not perfect. Still it was within a reasonable driving distance and an opportunity that we decided to pursue.
Middle GroundRather than disrupt everyone's schedule mid season we decided to take one step at a time in our transition. We asked our landlord at the shared facility for a reduced rent for a smaller space. He agreed. At our shared location we had 4 courts so we moved 2 courts over to our new facility (and added a third) and kept 2 courts at the shared warehouse. We made a schedule where teams would alternate practices between the two locations so no one was driving out each practice. This has added cost to the club by paying for two locations, but we felt it was worth it to let teams finish this season. I felt compromise was the best policy for those making noise about a move in season. I was betting once the new place was up and running they would see it was worth a drive.
We have been practicing at our new facility for 3 weeks now. We had a few teams vote to practice at odd times at our old place just so they would not drive out an extra 30 minutes to the new place. Unfortunately they did not even give it a chance. "I know we are spoiled here in the south."
Just seeing the attitude of our players and families at our new facility has been worth the move. The vibe is so much better and practices have a different attitude. Players can come in early to do homework and enjoy "their place". In every aspect the facility is better and a step up for the club.
Next season we will have all our practices at the new facility. We expect some players will fallout and not make the drive. But if you are building a club on convenience, don't expect to be very competitive. We believe other players will make that drive to us because they know we are training athletes to be the best they can be in an environment that we control.
We were not desperate to move but it felt right and I believed was in the best interest for the club as a whole. A climate controlled facility allows us to do more. We've already started scheduling camps, clinics, and a high school summer league. Plans are for a kid's fair to introduce ourselves to the new community and preview a volley tots program.
Grand Strand Juniors is a member of the Junior Volleyball Association. Established 2007. Serving Myrtle Beach and the surrounding areas of South Carolina. For more information about the JVA click here.