Palmetto Strikers Volleyball Club debuts with DI ties
There’s a new youth club volleyball program in town - and organizers are hoping it serves up plenty of opportunities for players.
The Palmetto Strikers Volleyball Club (PSVC) LLC, a non-profit organization, was established in the Charleston region in August by several parents and community members, among them Daniel Island residents Steve and Gail Salomon.
“This looked different for us from the way we experienced club volleyball before,” said Gail, a member of the PSVC Board of Directors who has a daughter currently in her fourth year of playing the sport (and an older daughter who played for two years). “That’s why we got involved. I liked what we were hearing from the other parents involved and just sort of began to strategize on what a bare bones structure might look like.”
James Island resident Janine Mabe, a fellow volleyball parent, is the club director. She’s had a child in club volleyball for the last seven years and was interested in exploring new options.
“During that time I have really seen the cost of that skyrocket and the tides seem to be continuing to turn with college recruiting, so that college recruiters are now utilizing these larger tournaments as their avenue to see a large number of players over a weekend, versus traveling to high schools.”
But club volleyball, explained Mabe, isn’t affordable to a large majority of families.
“It’s become, for lack of a better word - elitist. So that if you can afford to play club volleyball, then you can afford to be seen by college recruiters. To us, that seemed a little backwards.”
So Mabe and her team set out to create an organization that could function not only as a top-notch, skill-enhancing experience for players, but also, through its charitable arm, allow them to do some fundraising to support their efforts. If needed, players can seek sponsorships for their participation in the club, which has annual dues (between $1000 to $2500) to cover the costs of coaches, tournaments and other expenses.
But the principal purpose of the PSVC is to develop and improve the individual athlete, by providing them with technical, physical, and mental volleyball training to help them achieve maximum performance - regardless of age or current ability. The program, geared towards students aged 11 through 18, is focused on the long-term growth of the individual player.
“…We strive to provide the best learning environment for our athletes,” said Mabe. “We set a high standard of dedication and work ethic. Not just for the players, but for the coaches and staff, too. It’s our goal for everyone in our club to grow in sport and in life.”
And one of the most critical pieces of the package is coaching, she added, along with consistency. The club has hired Jim McClellan, an assistant junior varsity volleyball coach at Bishop England High School, to serve as the PSVC technical advisor and master coach.
“He will not be coaching a team, but will be attending practices and assisting coaches to ensure we have a consistent level of coaching regardless of the age or skill level at any given time,” said Mabe. “So we’re building a good base platform for children to grow as they learn…We are going to be looking at Jim to train our coaches and make sure that everybody is on the same page, teaching the same techniques.”
“We think that will be great for our coaching staff,” added Salomon. “…It all goes back to the players, and trying to support them in what they’re wanting to learn, and maybe they have skills they didn’t even know they had!”
Another area the PSVC hopes to target is the frequency and duration of out of town tournaments, something all too familiar to parents and athletes in a variety of sports clubs and programs. Younger players in the PSVC, those under the age of 14, will not be engaging in out of town tournament travel.
“We feel it’s a little too early for that,” said Mabe. “The biggest reason to travel that extensively to these larger tournaments is you are in recruitment mode, and you’re not actually in recruitment age until your sophomore year in high school. So we will introduce that in the 15 age group, but more at the local level so that they have a little bit more exposure to it. Then when they do get to that point of 16, it’s not so overwhelming.”
The club will have a national team for older players, but their overall plan is to make sure not to overcommit their athletes to a level that results in burn-out, frustrations, and in some cases, injuries. For the middle school and early high school players, they will offer some shorter tournament opportunities that are within relatively close driving distance.
“We wanted to look at still being competitive, but not having to have families go travel for two or three nights,” said Salomon. “That’s multiple nights away, just the expense of it and it separates family members when someone has to stay home with the younger ones…So we’re looking at some one day events….It’s kind of refreshing and we’re excited to be able to do that.”
“It’s like they’re suddenly reaching a mature age and they are realizing they’ve given up so much, and they’re not willing to give it up anymore,” added Mabe. “So we’re trying with our programs to bring that commitment level down slightly, not to say that our teams would be any less competitive. But we feel like you can maintain competitive teams and still allow some freedoms for children to continue to attend other events.”
The PSVC will soon enter its try-out season, scheduled to take place for 12u-14u on October 24 and 25, and 15u-16u on November 8. Currently, they are offering weekly clinics or training sessions for players who want to get involved earlier. Their fall training program is designed for players who are not currently playing for their school teams.
“When you have a Wando High School and you have close to 80 players trying out for the JV team and there are only 14 spaces, that’s a large number of girls that now aren’t playing school ball, which makes it more difficult for them to continue to progress.”
Mabe is confident the PSVC will offer an avenue to keep players motivated and engaged in the sport they love, while taking their skills to the next level. It sounds as though the club is in “ready position” to do just that. For additional information, visit the PSVC website at www.palmettostrikers.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.