Thomas Jefferson

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At a Crossroads

Posted 05/03/2016 by Lucy Peterson

The 303 15 Alpha team celebrates a block at the Crossroads tournament. photo by Robert Sandoval

Club volleyball is a program for athletes who are looking to take their volleyball skills to the next level.

When high school athletes across the nation finish up their school volleyball seasons in November, another season is right around the corner. Between the end of November and the middle of December, club volleyball teams begin preparing for the upcoming club season, which typically lasts from early December to late April. Club volleyball is a competitive environment that is recommended for players who are serious about the sport and who are looking for a possible future in volleyball, whether it be playing in college or going into the sport professionally.

Club volleyball is a nationwide program which allows athletes to practice their skills outside of the normal high school season. A characteristic club season is extensive and strenuous, lasting five to six months with at least two tournaments a month. Practices range from one to four practices a week, depending on the age group and the skill level of the team. Along with giving athletes the opportunity to advance within the sport, club volleyball also offers players a unique experience, especially for male players who do not usually get a chance to play at school. Athletes can begin participating in club as early as 12 years old, and can play until they are 18. Within each age level, there are different skill levels that are determined by each player’s performances at tryouts, which are usually held four months before the start of the season. There are three skill levels within the age groups: 3s, 2s, and 1s teams (3s being the lowest level and 1s being the highest). Most often, the 1s and 2s teams of each age level travel around the country to different tournaments, such as Colorado Crossroads.

Colorado Crossroads is a volleyball tournament held every spring at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, which houses almost 90 courts and over 100 teams from across the country. The tournament is divided into two weekends by age group: ages 16 to 18 compete one weekend, while ages 12 to 15 compete another weekend. Many players enjoy Crossroads because it introduces new competition to the different teams, and it allows players to see how other teams across the country view the game of volleyball. Sophomore Macey Murray, who has been playing club for three years, said, “I enjoy the energy and the environment of Crossroads because it allows for an exciting experience and it challenges me to play to my best abilities every year I come.” Players find the tournament enjoyable because of the competitive environment and the range of skill levels involved. Laura Brandon, another sophomore at TJ, is currently playing her first year of club volleyball. She explained her first time at Crossroads saying, “My favorite part of Crossroads was just walking in the first time. The sheer size of the event was intimidating but it made me even more excited to get out on the court and play.” This year’s Crossroads tournament occurred on February 27-29th and March 4-6th.

Crossroads is also an exciting experience for players who strive to improve in volleyball. Players are able to observe high skill levels from clubs around the country, which can encourage athletes to work harder. Additionally, college scouts from around the country can observe and recruit players they see fit to play at the collegiate level. Many athletes look forward to Crossroads as an opportunity to display their skills to various college coaches and scouts. Jurnee Farrell, TJ senior and setter for 303 Volleyball Academy’s 18 1’s team explained, “Without club I wouldn’t get the exposure to colleges that I have. Club has definitely given me a better competitive mindset and has given me the opportunity to work with the highest level players.” Farrell will be continuing her volleyball career at Howard University in the fall, as she hopes to further improve her skills.

Crossroads is one of the aspects of club volleyball which makes the experience even more exciting. Players all around the country join club volleyball in order to improve their skill level, but to also have fun playing the sport that they enjoy. Murray added, “I am very passionate about the sport and I love that you can be aggressive but still smart while playing. I enjoy club because it brings me closer to people who enjoy the same things as me and it allows me to play the sport that I love.” Club volleyball can change many lives as young girls and boys continue to improve their playing, and continue to display their talents and pursue their passions in volleyball.