When you think of sports in the Northeast U.S., mainstream sports such as soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, and tennis probably come to mind. Here in Connecticut, you’ll even find less common sports such as squash, fencing, and sailing, each with an established cultures and deep roots.
So where does volleyball fit into this picture? Currently, it doesn’t. Yes, we have youth volleyball programs in our region, but they’ve mostly struggled to reach the best-in-class standard we expect from our youth sports. The reason: it starts with a culture.
Volleyball’s popularity in the U.S. certainly isn’t the issue. In fact, volleyball recently passed basketball as the most popular team sport for high school girls. That’s a huge accomplishment, especially considering that volleyball only became an Olympic sport in 1964 (almost 30 years after basketball). Although volleyball was actually invented in New England, the sport hasn't taken off here yet as it has in other parts of the U.S.
Volleyball culture in the U.S. instead stems from the other coast — Southern California — where the athletes are laid back, "beach-y," and yet still competitive. This culture is displayed in the style of play: loose, calm, smooth, and yet dominant. The Southern California region has also created a "recycling" system for coaches: local athletes who go play in college will often return to the area to coach the next generation. This cycle sustains a high level of competition, as former NCAA All-Americans, professional players, and even Olympians all come back to share their love for the game.
Building on Success in Youth Sports
While the Northeast may not be known for a laid-back culture, our area does have some key ingredients working in our favor. Connecticut, and specifically Fairfield County, is home to some of the best youth sports teams in the country. Fairfield just earned a berth to the Little League World Series in 2017, in addition to three regional championships and six state titles in the last decade. The Mid Fairfield Stars girls ice hockey program has made numerous National Championship appearances and won a national title in 2011. These are just a couple examples of the high-performing culture of our youth athletics.
In this area, people know what it takes to be successful, understand the value of commitment, and, last but not least, love cheering for their kids (we tend to have the loudest fans!). With all of this, our region is only missing one key element to make volleyball successful: more people committed to growing the culture.
This is where we come in. A goal of our club is to create a positive volleyball culture in our community. With good instruction, positive coaching, and even a little “chill,” we believe our athletes will fall in love with volleyball and find success. Here are our keys to developing volleyball culture in our area:
Start Young — Exposing athletes to volleyball at a young age is crucial to the development of our sport. Everything from basic skill development to practice culture needs to be established early, so our coaches can focus on more advanced skills and strategies in high school. Northeast Volleyball Club is proud to offer programming for athletes 12 and under to begin their volleyball careers.
Invest in Coaches — If we are going to keep growing the game, we need strong coaches at all levels. Our area doesn’t have as many All-Americans and Olympians as Southern California, so we are investing heavily in coaches’ education and training to build a strong foundation of coaches. And eventually, we hope some of our former players may come back to us as coaches!
Create Opportunities to Play — Go to just about any park, church, or cul-de-sac in this area, and you will find a basketball hoop. It’s no wonder basketball dominated volleyball in this area for such a long time - all you need is a basketball to play! Our long-term club goals include adding outdoor nets and building local middle school programs to create more opportunities to play
The bottom line is, we are passionate about volleyball and we know it can succeed in our area. To learn more about our club goals and specific programs for our Northeast athletes, check out our About Us and Programs pages.