Tawa’s Daily Dots: an Epic Club in Indiana, Trammell’s tribute, a Pitcher who may have walked

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Tawa's Daily Dots 3/5/2021-Emma Grace Rhyne
Emma Grace Rhyne

Daily Dots (March 5, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)

In today’s Dots, we discover club volleyball news through the power of Google! Let’s search “club volleyball” and see what comes up!

In Howard County, a Maryland volleyball hotbed, schools playing a COVID-shortened high school season this spring are trying to coexist with club ball. The Baltimore Sun article notes that over half the county schools have noted that they had at least one potential starter opt out, mostly to focus exclusively on playing club.

“The club schedule intentionally was set up where it starts over the winter and therefore doesn’t typically interfere with high school and college, but now with the change of seasons we are the ones infringing on them,” Atholton coach Larry Schofield told the paper. “It not only puts the kids in a tough spot, but also a lot of the coaches who coach both high school and club. There’s a lot of overlapping of practices and games.”

For players trying to honor both high school and club commitments, schools have the option to have varsity matches occur earlier in the day to accommodate evening club practices. And both high schools and clubs are trying to be mindful of burn out and wear and tear from too much volleyball, especially with high school matches scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays. That doesn’t allow for much recovery time from weekend club events.

• With many big tournaments in Utah canceled by COVID, 435 Volleyball is hosting a twice-monthly Southern Utah Volleyball League for spikers in St. George, a city near the Arizona border but four hours from Salt Lake City.

The league gives local players a little bit of normalcy in their lives, Jenna Thorkelson told the St. George News.

• On Sunday, Priest River HS hosted the River City Invitational, the first USA Volleyball-sanctioned tournament of the season for club teams across North Idaho and parts of Eastern Washington. Meagan Mize, the Priest River head volleyball coach and founder of River City Volleyball, put it together and told the Bonner County Daily Bee that it was a big undertaking, but one Mize was willing to take on for the kids.

North Idaho teams usually travel to Spokane to play, but with Washington slower to allow club volleyball to get started than Idaho, something had to be done, Mize said, to save another season.

“It was really apparent that Washington really wasn’t going anywhere and I just felt the need to try and pull it off,” she told the paper.

 A number of teams from Washington made the trip across the border to play.

Plans are advancing for a new facility that would house the Epic United Volleyball Club in Merrillville, Indiana, according to the Northwest Indiana Times. Epic has proposed constructing a 60,000-square-foot building that would have four basketball courts that can be converted to eight volleyball courts, Councilman Shawn Pettit said. The facility would offer athletic instruction and sports tournaments.

“It is a part of the overall plan for the town of Merrillville multipurpose recreational campus,” Merrillville Planning and Building Director Sheila Shine told the paper.

Merrillville currently owns the 3-acre parcel, but there is a purchase agreement in place to sell the land for about $86,000 to Epic.

• PrepVolleyball.com, the company I founded in 2003, has a new staff writer to replace recently-departed Sloane Green. Her name is either McKenna Reagan or McKenna Meagher, as the “About Me” article is a bit unclear. McKenna has Nebraska roots, a degree in journalism, played college volleyball and now coaches club. She could be good!

The Gazette, a paper in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reports that a state audit revealed that Craig Pitcher, the highly successful former head volleyball coach at Iowa City High, did not pay over $50,000 in fees for using Iowa City Community School District facilities while operating an unaffiliated summer league from 2011 through 2018. Both the Old Capitol League and Little Hawk Volleyball Club used district facilities, equipment and a school logo. According to the paper, Pitcher told auditors no one approached him to discuss an approval process or the need to pay facility rent or provide insurance for the league.

Purdue University middle blocker Taylor Trammell said she is thriving in the Big Ten because of the coaching and promotion she received while at Lexington United Volleyball Club from club director Chris Beerman. Beerman died in January at age 53 from COVID complications.

“I played for him for three years for coach Beerman,” Trammell told the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “He always wanted the best for me and looked out for me. He is 100 percent the reason I am here right now.”

• According to ABC-11 in Raleigh, the Mid-Atlantic Power League tournament downtown last weekend attracted more than 2,300 people in infused more than $2 million into the local economy.

• The BC Juniors, a Boulder City, Colorado, club team consisting of eighth and ninth graders, came in first place in a tournament last weekend according to the Boulder City Review.

The Nevada Volleyball Center Challenge was a 16-and-under tournament held at the Nevada Volleyball Complex in North Las Vegas from Feb. 27-28. The BC Juniors, coached by BCHS girls’ volleyball varsity head coach Chad Robinson, went 7-1 in the double elimination tournament.

“These girls played awesome the whole weekend,” he told the paper. “Most of them have played together since sixth grade, so they have good chemistry.”

• In the non-Google portion of the Dots, Craig Dyer, an assistant coach at Creighton University, posted this on Facebook yesterday:

“This was a first for me in almost 20 years as a Division 1 coach/recruiter. A 2022 athlete emails with her interest – I respond by saying that we are not recruiting her position. She replies thanking me and providing me the names of two of her teammates, stating that they are the reason her team is so good. What a considerate act from a great teammate!”

• Last Friday, I put out a call to club coaches to share stories about players on their team — not stars — who have most impressed them early in the season. Sue Dillon wrote in to tell me about Emma Grace Rhyne, a 15-year-old playing up on Dillon’s Lake Mary Volleyball Club 16 Elite Sue team in South Carolina.

“She is an amazing all-around athlete but it wasn’t always that way,” Dillion recounts. “She puts in SO much time outside of practice, both learning the sport and increasing her physical strength and abilities. She works out daily in her garage with her mother, doing cardio, plyometrics, agility and strength training.

“She was chosen as an OH for this season but had to play her first two tournaments in a spot that she wasn’t familiar with. She had to play MH in our first tournament and did it with a smile on her face and gave everything she had. She actually ended up being our tournament MVP, not because she was the better MH or had the most kills but because of how she carried herself and her work ethic and never say die attitude the whole weekend, even though she was completely outside her comfort zone as she had NEVER been trained as a MH. The very next tournament, our incredible lefty RS hitter was out for Covid, and she stepped right in and played RS like a boss!

“Words cannot describe the growth this girl has shown in the four years that I have coached her. She was always an awkward athlete until this season. She has really grown into her own and concentrates every day at being better  On top of all of this she is an amazing student, extremely coachable and adored by her teammates. She is honestly one of the sweetest and most caring young ladies I have ever had the pleasure to work with.”

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