College Club Volleyball: The Perfect Blend Of Passion, Fun, And Competitiveness
College club volleyball is a great blend of fun, competitiveness, and time management that most college students enjoy. With the rise of college club teams on the rise, college clubs are starting to gain some recognition as not only fun teams to be a part of, but dominate teams that show they are a force to be reckoned with.
If a college student wants to be a part of a team that is hands on, committed, and passionate about volleyball they will want to join the club team at their college. College club teams are about eighty percent of the time ran by the students at the college. The school sponsors the team but they are not part of the Athletic Department. In The New York Times article, Rise of College Club Teams Creates a Whole New Level of Success, written by Bill Pennington, discusses with coach Jim Giunta the passion that is shown in club sports because, “‘Nobody competes for the money or the fame because there are no scholarships and not a lot of attention. The kids have to do all the work to make their club function. They do it because they love their sport, and I’ll tell you what, we don’t have the prima-donnas you see at the higher levels of college athletics.’”
So how about club volleyball? Is it popular? Are there any teams at my college now or that I want to go to?
It may or may not be a surprise buy club volleyball at the college level is very popular. Some programs are more organized than others but all in all the clubs have the same goal, to continue to play COMPETITIVE volleyball against others. Notice I simply did not say continue to play volleyball. Any one can continue to play volleyball in college by playing intramural. Intramural is great for people who just want to get together once a week in a gym and play a game of volleyball for forty minutes. For some that is plenty of volleyball to satisfy their needs, for others, they are just getting warmed up after forty minutes. This is where a club team is needed at the college.
I have an interesting club college story. When I transferred to Azusa Pacific University, I was told there was a club team already formed and in full force, turns out that was not true. The team had stopped competing three years before I got there. Having the desire to play more than just intramural, I decided to form the team again because I knew there were others that wanted to play COMPETITIVELY just like me. When I first advertised about the team there were almost thirty people signed up to tryout for the team. After tryouts and people naturally cutting themselves from the team the first roster was set at fifteen players. Our first year back on the court we won our league and were ranked seventieth in the nation. What’s that you say? You won your league? You were ranked nationally? … How?
Just like the NCAA and the NAIA are established for varsity sports all over the nation there is a national organization dedicated to college club sports. The organization is called NIRSA, the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association. NIRSA does some of the similar duties that the NCAA and the NAIA perform. NIRSA has national rankings that are submitted by coaches, captains, and commissioners in order to properly determine what colleges should be ranked at what position. NIRSA is also responsible for organizing the National Tournament that brings together all the club teams to one location and determines the National Champion. Unlike the NCAA and the NAIA though, there are not qualifying standards in regards to a clubs season record. The only aspect that holds college club teams back from competing at the national level is the funding to pay the national tournament entry fee, airfare, and hotel reservations.
Once again, similar to the NCAA and the NAIA, there are conference tournaments to help get a club team seeded higher in the national rankings. My team was part of one of the most competitive club conferences in the nation, the SCCVL, the Southern California Collegiate Volleyball League. Within the SCCVL there are three divisions that divide up the Southern California area. The Northern Division has teams from the Santa Barbara area and some Los Angles colleges. The Central Division, which APU was a part of, consist of Los Angeles and Riverside club teams. And finally the Southern Division, which has teams from Orange County and San Diego County. Each division played their own league and winning your league determined your seed in the SCCVL tournament. The SCCVL tournament brought together all the divisions to determine the SCCVL winner. No surprise, UCLA’s club team came out on top much like their varsity team usually does in the NCAA. There are many conferences all over the nation for club teams. The other dominant conference in the nation is the MIVA, the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association. This conference has over thirty teams in the league, which are then divided up into divisions similar to the SCCVL, and always prove to be a dominant force at the national level.
Ok so club volleyball does sound pretty official. What kind of commitment is actually involved though? The club experience is an experience like no other. You still get to play very competitive volleyball against other schools, yet practices are much more laid back and the team is entirely ran by the players. The players determine all the growth of the team and how intense the team wants to be. The team does not have to enter tournaments, but they can if they want to. The team does not have to have the nicest top of the line uniforms, but they can if they want to. The team does not have to practice five times a week, but they can if they want to. All the administrative responsibilities, scheduling, and game time decisions are made by the players, which really puts a new meaning to a hands on experience.
The toughest part of club volleyball of course is the money. Since club teams are ran by students, the students must come up with all the fees necessary for tournaments, uniforms, and travel cost. Most colleges will provide some financial help through ASB or the Student Government, otherwise the club team has to set up fundraisers, beg letters, or hold tournaments to raise money to pay off the cost of being on the team. The easiest way to make money is to charge a membership fee to be on the team. Having asked around from a bunch of different college club teams at very different stages in their programs history, membership fees range from 100 dollars all the way to 1,000 dollars. Again, the players determine all this sort of administrative responsibility, because they are the ones that run the club team.
Club teams are sprouting up all over the nation and there are some club teams that are just as organized and competitive as their varsity teams. The biggest difference though between the club team and the varsity team is the passion that is demonstrated on the club team. Varsity level athletes sometimes forget how fortunate they are to be able to play the sport they love everyday and get to travel around the nation playing that sport. Club teams have more passion for their sport because the club team is on campus for those athletes have pure love for the game. They do not mind paying money to play than to get paid to play. Club teams truly bring out the passionate players of the sport.