As the school volleyball season comes to a close, the club calendar is just about to take off.
Registration for the Airdrie-Calgary Volleyball Club (ACVC) is already open, with team tryouts beginning Nov. 25 and running until the first week of December. According to ACVC president Lance Merrifield, the club offers competitive teams for girls aged 13 to 18, as well as competitive teams for boys aged 15 to 18.
“[Club volleyball] is a great complement to the high-school season,” he said. “The improvement we see in players from the beginning of the club season to the end of the club season is quite phenomenal. Many club players go back to high school as one of the top players on their team, because they’ve had so much more time to instill the fundamentals.”
The club volleyball season runs from December through to May. ACVC teams typically train three times a week, according to Merrifield, with practices at various schools around the city.
“Airdrie has a phenomenal advantage – because we’ve been such a growing city for the last 10 or 15 years, we have a lot of newer schools, with higher gym ceilings and excellent wood floors,” he said. “We get to practice in excellent facilities that are quite brand new.”
Along with regular practices, the teams compete in Volleyball Alberta’s four premier tournaments, which usually take place in Calgary or Edmonton on a monthly basis.
“Then, sometimes, we’ll throw in a private tournament or have exhibition games against other clubs in the area, and those will be about once a month,” Merrifield said.
For the club’s older teams, the season concludes with national championships in the spring. Last season, the U16 girls’ team went undefeated at nationals, while one of the U14 girls’ teams brought home silver.
Merrifield said no prior volleyball experience is necessary – particularly for the younger age groups, when the focus is more on player and team development.
“I think what happens often is, our U13s and 14s, when they come in, they really learn to love the game of volleyball,” he said. “Just watching that as a coach is so exciting, to see how internally motivated they become to get better and to improve.”
The cost to participate on an ACVC team, per season, ranges from $1,200 for younger age groups to $1,800 for older age groups, according to Merrifield. He added the “all-in” fee includes everything other than transportation, food and accommodation costs for tournaments outside of Calgary.
However, Merrifield said ACVC has offered scholarships in the past to players in need of financial assistance.
“We don’t want finances to necessarily be the only thing stopping great athletes from Airdrie and the surrounding areas from playing volleyball,” he said.