By Mike Miazga
On paper, the A5 club program’s success since its inception in 2011 qualifies as quite impressive.
The club has sent more than 300 players on to the collegiate level and over the last two years is one of the select few clubs that qualified a team in the Open Division at junior nationals in every age category.
But beyond national tournaments and college scholarships, A5 players say they are better prepared for the real world.
“It’s incredible how much my life skills have grown,” says A5 alum Ashley Veach, who went on to play at Ole Miss and now coaches at Birmingham-Southern. “A5 helped me with discipline and being on time. I learned a lot about work ethic.”
Haley Templeton, who will be a junior on the University of Miami team this fall, notes her time in A5 helped set her up for what was to come in college—in terms of the classroom.
“Volleyball is very time-consuming. At A5 we learned real fast how to do our work on the road,” she says. “That has helped tremendously in college. In college we travel on the weekend and if you can’t do your work on the road, you won’t be getting it down at all.”
Templeton also learned plenty about being a leader. “We had good leaders in the club who showed you how to be a good leader,” she says. A5 and University of Michigan graduate Courtney Wilkinson values the concept of family, something she learned plenty about during her time in the early days of the club. “I loved the culture there,” she says. “It always felt like a complete family. Everybody had each other’s back. If we weren’t playing at a tournament, we were talking around trying to find another A5 court to cheer on. I had the most fun playing in that club. It was a complete blast. A5 showed me what I wanted as a person. When I was choosing a college, I wanted the same things. I wanted to be part of a family. Every place I go in the real world, I value that whether it was in college or in relationships. You want that team and family atmosphere wherever you go.” Templeton isn’t surprised her former club continues to go gangbusters. “Volleyball is the No. 1 growing sport in Atlanta now and I’m pretty sure,” she says, “ A5 is a big part of that.”