From Humble Beginnings to Building a Legacy
August 15, 2016 | Categories: Members, Blog, Facility, Club Director
Legacy Volleyball Club in Michigan found it's first home in 2008. The first lease coincided with the first year that high school volleyball in Michigan was played in the fall. Club season used to start in March at the time MHSAA district championships would begin. For Club Director Bryan Lindstrom, it's so crazy to think back and realize that the first tournament of the year used to be a qualifier.
With high school season moving to the fall, all of the volleyball clubs in Michigan had to scramble to find new training options because the gyms would be packed with basketball from November until the end of March. Prior to the switch, using high school facilities was not an issue due to only having to compete with spring sports.
5 partners came together and decided to lease a facility. They found a location in a strip mall where the only entrance to the building existed in the service drive behind the mall. It was a nightmare for people to find because the address actually took them to Dick's Sporting Goods that was located in front on the main road.
"I still am not sure how we got the approval for financing as only one of the five original partners was over 26, but to say we were clueless was an understatement. We didn't have enough money to change out the lights and cage them, so we bartered with a parent for lessons and club dues" recalls Lindstrom.
The club bought old used sport court that had seen it's better days. It took several hours to clean the old gum off of it. The partners, who also served as the Club Directors and Staff, laid it down themselves, which was a feat in itself, as it took several times to align the sport court with the poles in the middle.
The building itself was by no means ideal for a volleyball space. There were support poles next to each ten foot line, which sometimes impeded an attacker's transition. The ceiling was low at only 21 feet, but what were even lower were the support beams that ran across the courts that were at 18 feet. Whenever teams scrimmaged, each team would fight to get the east side of the court because that side's support beam wasn't over the middle of the court.
"I often felt that when a ball hit our ceiling it was like Super Mario Bros. because you had no idea as to where the ball would warp out to next" adds Lindstrom.
With that being said, Legacy could not host tournaments because there was not enough room for spectators, and as soon as players got into middle school the ceiling would become an annoying factor during play. The club's only revenue came from the travel teams, camps, lessons, and the Total Performance athletic training group that began renting the space in 2011.
Legacy Volleyball Club certainly came from humble beginnings, but the partners are proud that they were the ones who signed the lease and not a group of investors they would have to answer to. It was their training facility. In fact, Lindstrom believes their players came to cherish a certain "no frills" atmosphere about the building and took on its character.
Teams had to become better at passing with tempo because if they didn't, they would spend most of the time trying to figure out where the ball went in the ceiling. For all who entered, the first thing they noticed were the banners on the wall. The club hung a banner on the wall for every player that went on to play in college. The players whio earned All-American got an action shot banner on the opposite wall.
When Legacy's lease came up this past summer, the partners decided that it was time to move on and expand to a four court facility in order to host small events and provide more training opportunities. Since the previous lease ended July 31st, Legacy was able to run camps and do its normal summer routine. Tryouts on their side of the state are held at the end of July, so trying to get everything packed up and do team placements was very hectic.
On the equipment side, the poles were upgraded, as well as some of the courts in the old building, so Legacy will have two new courts and 2 older courts for now. Legacy has already expanded into a four court facility about 45 minutes away from its original building and is keeping to its model of small and affordable. The partners know what the utility bills and taxes are this time around.. Legacy plans to have everything open and running by mid-September with Sunday fall clinics at one of the high schools and then will transition over to the new facility.
Although the club dreams to have a mega sportsplex with concession stands, balconies, clear span with high ceilings, and impeccable courts, that will have to wait for the future, not just yet. In the meantime, Legacy continues to produce high level volleyball players, contend for national championships, and improve the junior volleyball experience in the Detroit area.