This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Night and Day

Since CJ didn't make it on the middle school volleyball team, we decided to look into club volleyball.

Club volleyball essentially is actively learning and playing volleyball outside of school. Some teams travel to compete; others compete locally. But it is a more serious commitment to the game, as it costs a lot of time and money.

I have done a lot of research on the area clubs. I have learned that, compared to other cities (mainly up and down the West coast), the triangle is fairly new to this enterprise.

The family and I went to a parent information meeting at one facility, called Triangle Volleyball, and well, it's pretty intense.

After much negotiation with another parent who's daughter is friends with CJ, we decided to focus on two locations: NC Elite Volleyball and United Volleyball.

First stop yesterday was NC Elite. Tryout times were 4-6PM. Upon entering the facility, I was blown away.

Granted, I was at Triangle a week ago and that place is dedicated to volleyball. There is no renting of school gyms, or borrowing a different facility. It is 100% dedicated to playing volleyball.

But NC Elite seemed bigger (it was) and brighter. There were a TON of girls, mainly in the 14 year age group, lined up to register. The 13 and under (CJ and her BFF) had a very small line. I hoped that this was a good thing, as I really, really want CJ on a team.

They received a number and their picture was taken, and then we scooted them onto the gym floor to start practicing. Later, we, the parents, would sit through a very similar presentation that I had already seen at Triangle. The difference being, for me, that NC Elite seemed much more relaxed, happier, more fun, than Triangle. Not blowing off Triangle; this is strictly a first gut reaction to a very limited access to either one.

Anyways...the girls finally start trying out, which was very cool. There were six? courts set up and there were at least 20-30 girls on each court. And coaches galore. Girls would hit, serve, set, whatever, and there was constant movement with coaches calling out adjustments to individual girls, and others gathering balls. It was very organized; it was very fast. There was no break; no one stood around for very long.

I liked the atmosphere a lot but the reality is: there were a lot of girls trying out and only a few spots for a team. There is another avenue, called VolleyU, where only three games are played (vs. 9 or more) and that is geared towards, IMO, all the girls who do not make a team.

We had to leave NC Elite at around 5:30 to drive to the other side of town for the next tryouts at United, which would go from 6-8PM.

United is located in NORTH, north Raleigh, by the WRAL soccer park. They are a very new club, only around for one year. They use the gym facilities at North Raleigh Christian Academy. I can be superficial enough to say: I wasn't really digging the location. That place is not just a christian academy, it's a fricking extremist christian academy. You don't go there unless you're a white Republican that believes gays and buddhists are doomed to hell, and all muslims are terrorists.

Not my thing.

And when we got there?

OMG. This is the first thing that we saw:

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the _side_ of the van because it was covered in bumper stickers. The only one that I remember seeing is the anti-abortion one. We'll be back out there again for the second day of tryouts...if it's around, it's getting its picture taken.

The bible thumpers were leaving the "temple" as we walked past them. At first, I thought they were there for VB tryouts too but soon realized that my gut instinct -- and the reason why I stopped taking pictures -- was that they were there because it is a christian academy.

We make it to the gym and wow. COMPLETELY different than where we just were. There were only two nets set up and there were barely 20 girls ALL TOGETHER there for the 14, 13, and 12 year old tryouts.

Our girls went over to practice and again, shortly, we were ushered into a second gym (private schools = lots of fricking money) where we would hear about the philosophy, teams, travel, costs. I wasn't turned off. I tend to like smaller venues anyway.

But the girls, afterward, mentioned how boring it was. The excitement in the air was much more diffused than Elite. The coaches looked like high school girls and they were much more awkward, more encouraging...which isn't a bad thing, but for the money parents put into this, they need to be coaching.

So my knee-jerk reaction is: CJ will make it on the team at United; but we like NC Elite. She can really blossom as a player at NC Elite and I am not sure yet if that is the case at this place.

But they encourage the girls to try out for all the dates because the girls can have a bad day, and in my vision, I guess the club can too.

Stay tuned. We have this going on until Tuesday.

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