Investing in Your Facility AND Your Culture
We have come a long way . . . Premier Volleyball Academy opened its doors in 1996 as a four team program practicing out of a local high school with nothing more than a bunch of eager players and a few dedicated coaches. We now house about 35 club teams (350 players) at all levels, 150 adult indoor league teams, 110 adult sand teams, 12 juniors sand teams, 8 youth sand teams, thousands of campers, and an extensive private lesson clientele. We are host to approximately 30 juniors' tournaments each year, and approximately 6 adult or college tournaments. Our teams are serviced by 7 full time staff members, 2 strength coaches, and a full time athletic trainer. Throughout the years we have hit major milestones having recently committed our 250thplayer to play in collegiate level volleyball. Along the way, we have been members of the AAU and USAV, and we are proud to be a founding member of the JVA. We now have had our doors open for 17 years and counting, all because we decided from the beginning that we wanted to invest in two main things: a great volleyball facility and a great gym culture.
How It All Began
Our club debuted as "Perrysburg Premier VBC" with a goal of coaching local kids and playing in local tournaments to better prepare players for their HS season. Over the course of the next few years we grew in popularity and size reaching 15 teams by 1999. The need for space was growing and we knew we had to find a facility to house our expanding club.
Knowing this was a lofty endeavor, the decision was made to file the paperwork to incorporate as a single owner business and forge ahead with plans to become a year round volleyball academy for both youth and adult players. After much research, in 1998, we decided to move our club to the Maumee Sports Center in Maumee, Ohio because of its convenient location. The Sports Center was only 2 years old and already housed a large indoor soccer center, golf driving range, and a basketball club. It seemed to be the perfect fit for our future plans.
Flooring & EquipmentThe structure had only been up for about 2 years and was originally built for a basketball organization and community recreation programs. At the time we moved in, the flooring was merely a concrete surface, so the need for a volleyball surface to train and compete on was the first endeavor on the list. We decided to start out with 5 sport courts that doubled as multisport surfaces.
Although sport court was sufficient to use, the sport of volleyball began to evolve, and with that, we now had an extended training season to work with. This forced us to look at the best surface for our players to train on now that they were in the gym more hours per week and more months per year. We eventually made a large investment to take out the sport courts and install a 2 inch suspended all wood floor from wall to wall. This major investment has since paid dividends aesthetically, functionally and most importantly in terms of injury prevention.
Even though the financial upkeep with sport court is minimal compared to a wood floor, the physical and long term benefits of a suspended wood floor far outweigh the results of training on a portable plastic surface for long periods of time. To compliment our new floors, we decided to purchase top of the line Senoh standards and nets for all of our courts.
Adding Courts & Weight RoomBy 2004, we continued to grow and were up to 35-40 club teams. Once again, we looked at how we could service our players the best way possible, and this led us to the decision to expand and build an auxiliary gym to house 2 additional volleyball courts and more office space. During this phase, we also added a mezzanine style weight room, a pro shop, and a full food service area. With the demands of club sports ever evolving, we have continually made investments in our club and our facility as the times and needs of our members and the sports of volleyball have dictated. Employing a full time facility manager allows us the ability to routinely build our own training equipment from scratch, allowing us to be creative as methods of training evolve. Each year, we also make the investment to purchase hundreds of new Molten volleyballs. The decision to replace our balls each year allows us the opportunity to donate our balls to areas schools in need of equipment. Even though we donate our balls each year, we have one ball that never leaves the ball carts and his name is Frosty! Although Frosty is very old and barely breathes air anymore, the younger players just can't seem to part ways with him making him part of our culture.
2008, after experiencing a good amount of success with our juniors' club program, we were pleased to land a sponsorship with Asics America, which continues today. Premier Academy has advanced in many other areas over the recent years, keeping us on our toes but always excited. For example, 2010 brought our sport the introduction of sand volleyball as an NCAA sport and decisions once again needed to be made with our facility. Once again we jumped in with two feet and made the decision to install outdoor sand volleyball courts adjacent to our indoor facility.
With Ohio not necessarily being known for its sand volleyball culture we decided to start small with two courts. We installed state of the art equipment by purchasing Senoh outdoor poles and nets, and carefully chose the sand that was installed. In beach volleyball, it inherently becomes all about the quality of the sand and we invested a lot of time and money into that decision and we are proud to say that our sand courts have become one of the most popular places to play sand leagues in Northwest Ohio. This past spring, we introduced a Juniors Sand Club and it was a huge success both in popularity and the teams' results on the national level. Renovations
In 2011, our most recent project was an extension of our weight room, which allowed us to hire a second strength coach and take on training more athletes at a time. At the same time, we expanded our Pro-Shop and installed an area for our Athletic Trainer that we were able to bring on our payroll. We felt that bringing on a certified Athletic Trainer added to our investment in injury prevention. During this phase of construction, we also built a private team room that is used exclusively by our 18-1 team when they are in club season. The team room serves as a private recreation and lounge area reserved for the players on our club's top team. It is sort of a rite of passage and plays a part in promoting the, "work your way up," club culture in our gym.
Since our club's inception we have spent a significant amount of time, effort and financial investment in expanding and fine tuning our volleyball facility. These decisions were all made as an investment for the long term goals of the facility and allowed us to service our customers with the best training and products that they need for the sport. We have also invested heavily in our gym culture throughout the years. Reminders of our gym culture span from each year's practice t-shirts, inspirational quotes, accolade banners, and alumni recognition to every jersey ever worn in our club displayed on our walls. All of these things are constant reminders to each player, coach, and spectator of Premier's strong gym culture. Although the investment in gym culture does not guarantee to pay dividends on the court, we believe they add great character to a building and definitely make a facility feel like something more than a series of courts.
In terms of a return on investment, our gym culture has paid some of the greatest dividends of all. On any given day of the year, you can walk into Premier Academy and instantly feel a culture that values cohesion and hard work. This culture was built over 17 years and stays strong today because of the decision to stay true to the core values of the organization, and a commitment to excellence. Throughout almost two decades now, we have seen our building change many times as we continue to invest in our facility and try to adapt with the ever evolving athlete and sport. Through all of these changes we try to be constant in our commitment in providing a great training and competition facility that allows our athletes to optimally progress in their development. We will continue to try and uphold our gym culture through our facility and hope to continue to do so for many years to come!
"Culture is the process by which a person becomes all that they were created capable of being."