Scheduling, Training and Why JVA Works
By Chris BeermanAs a newbie club director I am constantly amazed at the multitude of responsibilities that are a part of this job. As a former collegiate coach, scheduling was always a part of the job, but in comparison to making schedules for 23 different teams with different competitive levels, collegiate scheduling is a walk in the park! As a JVA program, Lexington United cannot enter tournaments that are "USAV"-only and in the past that was definitely an issue, but with the emergence of club programs either starting as new JVA members or long-time USAV clubs making the switch to JVA, the number of JVA tournament options for all levels of teams has increased substantially. The best part about being a JVA member and hosting a tournament is that you can accept all teams and that includes AAU teams and USAV teams, and this maximizes the size and competitive potential for your tournaments. It also allows for a much broader scope of club participation and ability to play a wide variety of teams within your region or out of region. Since our 13 elite teams are committed to playing in approximately 10 tournaments, including competing at AAU's in June, their scheduling goals are much different than our regional program which is committed to 5 or 6 tournaments and a season ending in April. All of our top elite teams will play in the Mideast Power League which includes four rotating competition weekends for 12's, 13/14's, 15/16's and 17/18's in the cities of Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Muncie. This power league includes the best club teams in the Midwest and offers great competition for our top teams. It also allows us to use these four tournaments as a hub to revolve the rest of the schedule around. As is the philosophy of JVA, our goal as a club is to provide the best possible competition and recruiting exposure while keeping travel costs as low as possible. To me that is the best part of the power league concept and JVA in general. The farthest our families will travel from Lexington is Muncie, Indiana, a 3 Â½ hour drive and for our regional teams, the longest trip is to Louisville. Of course many of our elite parents also want to travel a couple weekends and for those teams, we will attend the JVA World Challenge in Houston, as well as the AAU's in Orlando. Our parent groups have already begun fundraising for those trips and in most cases, will be able to raise enough money to cover all travel costs! We do all of our financial planning up front for our schedules and the parents know before the holiday season exactly how much their tournament fees will be and what the approximate coaches' travel fees will be based on a set of travel criteria that we set for meals, hotels and mileage. Knowing these amounts at the beginning of season allows for better budgeting and a more fair and balanced monthly payment plan. Our teams have been able to have a few practices together before the holiday season and I think that's very important. Traditionally in Lexington, club teams were picked and then didn't start practicing until early January, and that lack of practice time definitely showed when the teams played in their first few tournaments. Our teams will start the New Year knowing their coaches, teammates, what practices are like, competitive expectations and the offensive and defensive systems that they will be utilizing. I feel like our teams will be much better prepared for the beginning part of the schedule. During these December practices, I've been able to observe the teams and our coaches in action and I have been very impressed with the energy, intensity and focus early on. The numerous coaches meetings have been great for understanding the type of practice environment we want to establish early on. We want our players to be taught, trained and to continually show improved skill level and confidence on and off the court. I will be at every practice to make sure as a coaching group we continually strive to positively impact the growth of our players. To that effect, our most recent coaches meeting discussed how we will teach skills, offensive and defensive terminology/systems, and how these will be modified for each age group. The best part of these types of discussions is they really make for some great dialogue about why we teach what we teach. Having your entire club on the same page fundamentally and philosophically is something I really think is a key element to long-term success and age-group continuity. As someone who puts a huge emphasis on ball control, quality targeted reps, aggressive-intelligent attacking and a groveling defensive mind-set, I love to make the point that even though Penn State and UCLA (the past five national college champions) had terrific offensive teams, the reason they won was their overall toughness, superior targeted ball control, tough serving, groveling defense and aggressive, but low error attacking. No need to reinvent the wheel; great volleyball teams have always had these attributes and that will never change. Lexington United's players and teams will also the play the game this way and I couldn't be more excited to get our season started! Have a wonderful Holiday season and I'll be back again in January!