While the term "club volleyball" is not a rigorously defined term, it generally implies some specific characteristics relative to other more informal volleyball programs:
Club volleyball requires a larger commitment (of both time and money) than recreational programs but the longer season combined with the increase in practice time results in significant improvements in player skill over the course of the season. If someone is just looking to have some fun and play casually with friends, then there are better options. If they are looking for stronger competition and an opportunity to really elevate their level of play, then club volleyball can be a great fit.
At first, the world of club volleyball can be a little disorienting. It is awash in acronyms, governing bodies, rules, regulations, and other distractions. Don't worry, we were once in your shoes. It gets better.
The important thing to understand is that all volleyball clubs are independent organizations. They have their own philosophies, policies and procedures, they differ in size and cost, etc. Regardless of their differences, all clubs must belong to or “affiliate with” a governing organization in order to participate in tournaments.
While there are other governing organizations out there, USA Volleyball (USAV) is *the* National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of volleyball in the United States and is recognized as such by the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC). That is why MVSA Volleyball Club is a USAV affiliated club.
USAV separates the United States into forty Regional Volleyball Associations (RVAs) or "regions." Regions have their own rules and processes on top of those dictated by USAV. A club's region is based on simple geography. MVSA Volleyball Club is a member of the Chesapeake Region (CHRVA) since it covers Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia.
MVSA Volleyball Club hosts teams in the 10U through 18U age groups (generally 4th grade through 12th grade). We typically have one team at 10U, two at 11U/17U/18U, and three at all other age groups.
Within each age group that hosts multiple teams (11U-18U), our "top team" is focused on qualifying for USAV Nationals. They can qualify through CHRVA bid regionals or via one of the qualifying tournaments they attend during the season. Our second teams have also qualified for USAV Nationals in the past, but generally speaking, their goal is to win the CHRVA club regionals tournament. Our third teams (age groups 12U-16U) are focused on developing players who may not have the experience or skills but show an aptitude for the game. Positive attitude and general athleticism can go a long way to getting selected for one of our third teams. Despite their more developmental nature, our third teams often outperform the top teams from other clubs.
A volleyball club's region combined with USA Volleyball policies determine the length of the club season. In the Chesapeake Region, clubs are not allowed to conduct tryouts for teams until the start of the open tryout period. This is normally the first weekend in November for age groups 10U-13U, and the second weekend for age groups 14U-18U. Practices start a week or two after a team forms (mid/late November to early December). Tournament play starts in early January and continues through the end of the regular season in late May (Memorial Day weekend). Teams that earn bids to USAV Nationals will continue to practice through June and then end their season with the completion of Nationals in early July.
We often get asked about playing in college (or college scholarships) and the simple truth is that every quality club program has players that go on to play in college. Clubs can differ in the levels of support they provide to players seeking scholarships, but your individual grades, desire, ability, and skill are what is most important.
For a number of reasons including timing, logistics, and NCAA recruiting rules, college coaches tend to recruit during the club volleyball season and do so at major cross-regional tournaments. Any club, including MVSA Volleyball Club, who participates in these events provides potential exposure to those coaches.
However, a focus on playing in college and scholarships is ultimately misguided. They are the byproduct of doing the right things for the right reasons. Work hard, get good grades, make good decisions, focus on the benefits of leading an active and healthy lifestyle and good things will happen, including playing in college if that is your goal.