The high school volleyball season wrapped up in November, but that hasn’t kept a group of athletes from playing. Since April, the Kodiak Island Volleyball Club has met six times a week to workout and practice. Next week their hard work will hopefully pay off when the girls head to the Volleyball Festival in Phoenix, Arizona.
Merissa Koller-Williams has coached the group for the last three months and said hundreds of other club volleyball teams from around the country will attend next week’s festival.
“It’s a much more significant event than just a
tournament, since it involves four or five days of volleyball. There’s a
big opening ceremony where everybody dresses up and there’s a grand
march and the festival is very much about companionship. It’s about
bringing teams together from around the world to get to know each
Koller-Williams said the girls were selected to play after last
year’s volleyball season. The team is comprised of eight girls, ranging
in age from 14 to 17. She said the initial intent behind participating
in the festival was to improve the girls’ skills before next year’s
season kicks off in August.
“A lot of these girls have just
tremendous potential and we wanted to enhance that as much as we could.
There will be scouts from all over the country at the festival. It’s a
big event for them. There will also be athlete showcases that the girls
can choose to participate in. Before the tournament starts they will
have a chance to go out and demonstrate their skills for the scouts.”
The trip isn’t part of the regular volleyball season, so the team
had to fundraise more than $13,000 to make it financially feasible for
all the girls competing.
“It has taken a village to make
this thing work. Between the parents and we had three coaches in here
regularly, we had volunteer coaches who stopped in and we did lots of
fundraising. So I guess if it’s OK I’d like to thank everyone that came
to our car wash and bought raffle tickets and came to our bazaar and
bought baked goods and helped us in any way shape or form.”
As for the athletes, most are excited for the upcoming trip.
“Well it’s working out every
single morning and having practice four or five times a week for the
past three months. I’m looking forward to playing against competition
and showing what Alaska can bring and I just really want to show how
we’ve been working so hard. I’m really excited; I’ve never been to a
volleyball tournament like this, so it should be interesting. I’m just
hoping I can learn from this tournament. I am very excited to see how
people in the lower 48 play. I’m a little nervous, but of course I want
to impress everyone. It’s going to be a learning experience. Try to win.
Go as far as you can.”
Opening ceremonies for the festival kick off on Sunday night with game play starting on Monday.