Former Club Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Angelos Share Their Thoughts about Their Daughters Experience at WJV

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We wanted to share this letter we received from the parents of a couple former club players who played for us 7 years ago. Their names are Sarah and Amy Angelos and they both went on to have amazing college careers. One of them is currently coaching in college and the other went on to play professionally overseas. This was a powerful and impactful letter and we thought it would be great to share it with our current JVC customers so they can really see and understand the value that club volleyball can have on a family.

My name is Joy Angelos, our family spent 5 years with WJVB. We have twin daughters, Amy and Sarah, who began playing at 14’s, it has been 7 years since they played their last match as a Junior! So hard to believe. We really had no idea what to expect when we began.

Our daughters played volleyball and basketball in grade school and middle school and expressed to us that they wanted to continue playing both in high school. They had a lot more experience playing basketball and at that time it was their passion. One of them even said in 6th grade that she didn’t “know if she was going to play in the WNBA but definitely was going to play basketball in college!”, like it was a done deal. After 7th grade their volleyball coach told us about “club volleyball” and suggested it as a way to develop skills in preparation for high school.

After he explained more to us what club volleyball was, we decided to give it a try. His daughters (one was a classmate & friend of the girls) played for another club so we planned to try-out there. We also spoke with a family member who was a high school coach, she told us about WJVB. We decided to try-out for both and see what we thought. After trying out at both clubs we felt that WJVB was a better fit for us. It felt like a family environment, a very comfortable feeling.

The 14’s year was rough, they were chosen for the 14-1’s team by people other than the coach, as he was unable to be at try-outs. I don’t think he was too happy. My girls were tall and athletic but lacked skills and experience that other girls had. There were tears on the way home from practices, initially they didn’t play as much as others, and frustration. I remember one practice that the girls spent the majority of the time running while the rest of the team was playing. Apparently the coach felt they needed an “attitude adjustment”. It was very hard sitting in the bleachers watching it but I felt confident that he had a purpose. After practice he spoke with them and made clear his expectations, I appreciated that he didn’t just send them off without discussion. To this day he is one of the girl’s favorite people. They call him for volleyball advice and to share their volleyball successes.  As the season went on friendships developed, confidence and skill levels increased and we really enjoyed the travel!

When it came time for 15’s try-outs I asked them (as I did every year) if they wanted to play again. Both of them quickly answered YES! As it turned out, one was selected for the 15-1’s team and the other for the 15-2’s team. This was difficult at first, not only logistically but emotionally.  The one on the 2’s team didn’t understand why she wasn’t good enough. As twins they really had never been separated so it was an adjustment. We often had to divide and conquer, going to different tournaments and practice times etc. It turned out to be just what they needed. It allowed each girl to flourish on their own. Again, we had to trust that the coaches/directors had a purpose.

16-18’s years the girls were both on the 1’s teams; they began to get attention from college coaches and started to think that volleyball was something that they wanted to pursue in college. Many successes came individually and as a team. We had the same core group of girls and parents for all of those years, a few came and went. The girls all became very good friends and the parents as well. The overnight trips were a blast! We still try to get together once a year or so. The coaches and directors at WJVB were very helpful in facilitating opportunities to be seen by college coaches, there was a recruiting person at major tournaments that spoke with coaches about the players, provided feedback as to what coaches showed interest. We had fun with it too. We parents always tried to find some way to “embarrass” the girls one day of a tournament- wearing Hawaiian shirts, crazy hats, bunny ears etc. I really think they looked forward to seeing what we would come up with!

Both girls were fortunate and able to play volleyball at the collegiate level and one went on to play a year professionally in Denmark. They obtained their masters degrees and one is an assistant coach at a university and the other works in the athletic department at a college.

Club volleyball is a big commitment- time, money and energy. It is not a half-hearted thing. We knew that we could not plan vacations during club season- qualifiers and nationals were our vacations. It would not have been fair to the coach or teammates to take off in the middle of the season. Plus, all of our money went to volleyball! Decisions were made to not do certain things because of volleyball- trips, extracurricular school activities, etc. We were upfront that our daughters were going to continue to play basketball in school (we also communicated to the school coach that they were involved in club volleyball). When it came to schedule conflicts our philosophy was: game vs game: school won, game trumped practice, practice vs practice: do everything in our power to make both, sometimes it meant leaving early from one and arriving late to the other. There were many days that I picked up my daughters from basketball practice with dinner and volleyball bags in the car and drove straight up to the Rec Plex while they ate and changed! One year they had a basketball game Friday night, we left immediately afterwards and drove all night to Omaha to make the first game of the President’s Day Tournament. Another year, we dropped them off at the Omaha airport so they could fly home to make the first regional basketball game, while they were flying we drove back home and made it just in time for the game. These sound crazy but they were things we felt we needed to do to honor the commitments that were made. Our house rule was that as long as the grades didn’t suffer they could continue to play both, if grades slipped then something would have to go. Fortunately, that never happened.

Many people play club volleyball (or any club sport) expecting the almighty FULL RIDE SCHOLARSHIP! There seems to be a lot of emphasis put on this. Play because you enjoy it, if it’s not fun STOP. Ask your child if they are still enjoying playing. Being a student-athlete in college is a lot of work, a full time job. Both girls did not receive full scholarships ( 1 did and 1 received half) but they both ended up where they wanted to be and would not trade it. But it is not for everyone, several of their teammates left before their college days were over. If playing in college is a goal, make sure that your daughter shares that goal. Also realize that college coaches are not only watching how she plays but also how she acts when she’s out of the game, they talk with their club coach to see how they are in practice. And parents you are not off the hook, they are watching you too.

During our time at WJVB, I always felt that the coaches had the best interest of the girls in mind, did I always agree with their plan? — no. But I felt that they were the coach and had to trust that there was a reason behind their decisions. I remember one coach pulling one of my daughters out of a set because she was just “off” that day and making many errors she was NOT happy but he did what he needed to do for the good of the entire team. Our focus as a parent is on our child, as it should be, but the coach’s focus is on the big picture which may not involve our children as significantly as we think it should. It is difficult as parents to turn over the reins and control of our children to someone else but when you put them on a team that is what you do. It is very tempting to speak for your child to the coach but they need to do it for themselves. Often I have found that the parent has more of an issue than the player does. The kids need to learn to advocate for themselves. Our job as parents is to coach them on how to handle a situation, not handle it for them. Obviously, the amount of parent involvement is different at age 12 than it is at 18 but I hope you understand my point.  We made our daughters write the emails and make the phone calls to college coaches, they were not recruiting me. When they had a complaint, I asked if they had discussed it with the coach, if they chose not to I assumed that it wasn’t that important to them. Understand, I am not talking about inappropriate kinds of things here ( we NEVER experienced anything like that at WJVB). Those definitely require parental intervention!

Our daughters gained so much through athletics- practice pays off, how to be a team player, how to accept victory AND defeat, communication skills, dealing with disappointment, perseverance and confidence. Volleyball has opened so many doors personally and professionally that began with our decision to play at WJVB.