USAV Annual Meetings Recap

May 27, 2009, 11:56 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman
Manager, Media Relations and Publications
Phone: 719-228-6800

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 27, 2009) – USA Volleyball engaged in a positive week of Annual Meetings, held May 19-22 at the Hilton Minneapolis, discussing wide-ranging topics intended to bring growth and commercial appeal to the sport while maintaining competitive excellence on the court.

Last summer in Beijing, the U.S. captured five Olympic and Paralympic medals, including gold medals in both men’s and women’s beach volleyball and indoor men’s volleyball. The women’s indoor and sitting teams were rewarded with silver medals in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, respectively. No other country has ever reached the gold-medal match in all four Olympic Games volleyball disciplines in the same year.

However, competitive volleyball success is only one key the USA Volleyball Board of Directors has identified as components of a solid strategic plan moving the organization forward. As part of its strategic mission for the current Olympic quadrennial, the USA Volleyball Board of Directors focused much of its May 20 meeting agenda on three main objectives: 1.) maintaining competitive success for all volleyball indoor, beach and Paralympic disciplines; 2.) creating new member categories and increasing overall membership and participation; and 3.) increasing efforts to enhance volleyball visibility and commercial attractiveness, especially as a broadcast property, spectator event and in print!

“We are progressing on our strategic plan focusing upon competitive excellence, club and membership growth, and identifying greater commercial opportunities for volleyball,” said David Schreff, chairman of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors. “We had excellent dialog on the initiatives relating to beach volleyball collaboration among the AVP, its players and USA Volleyball, and also the opportunities to better utilize the Web site and social networking to connect with our players, their parents and business partners. We began to lay the foundation to discuss the creation of a U.S.-based indoor professional league for men and women based upon the insights of 2008 Olympic Games gold medalist Reid Priddy. We invited Wincraft, one of the top manufacturers of licensed sports products, to present national, regional and club programs for players and fans.”

Doug Beal, USA Volleyball CEO, concurred with Schreff that the board of directors made progress on many fronts that present opportunities for the organization to succeed during the lead-up to London 2012.

“Our board had positive dialog surrounding issues with beach volleyball, its players and the Olympic qualification process, along with insights into what it will take to bring a professional indoor league to the United States,” Beal said. “The board reviewed the USA Volleyball budget, and I am proud to report that as an organization we continue to operate within our approved budget in these challenging times. At the same time, we recognize that if we are going to accomplish our three main areas of the strategic plan, our organization cannot rely on our past and must push toward the future with new programming and creative concepts. The bar has been set very high by the Beijing results; our challenge is to raise the sport’s profile at all levels and across all disciplines.”

The Board discussed options on how to create added revenue streams to help expand programming and reach the previously mentioned strategic goals. One potential source of income discussed was a membership fee increase designated for National Office use to grow the game and enhance the cooperation with the regional associations across the spectrum of grass roots initiatives. The Board elected to table the discussion until this summer to gain additional feedback from leaders within the volleyball community.

“Investing in our future requires our volleyball participants to make a small sacrifice,” said Joe Williams, commissioner of the Delta Region and chair of the Regional Volleyball Association Assembly. “We realize these are challenging times, but this fee increase represents a small percentage of the amount paid to participate in many other sport activities. USA Volleyball has done an excellent job of shepherding the organization with minimal member support. We fully expect this increase to foster growth, innovation and encourage participating in the sport of volleyball across the United States.”

In addition, the new USA Volleyball Congress drew a standing-room-only crowd of 175-plus to watch presentations from Beal, 1984 Olympic gold-medalist Paul Sunderland, 2008 Olympic gold-medalist Reid Priddy, Board member Adam Rymer (Independent Representative) and Board member Dave Gentile (Junior Development Representative). Sunderland served as the keynote speaker and presented “Olympics and USA Volleyball.” Priddy spoke in regards to “The Professional World of Volleyball: What it Means to the USA,”, while Rymer gave a presentation on “Web Site Success.” Gentile offered a PowerPoint on “Junior Clubs and USA Volleyball.” Beal offered a combined presentation on the “State of the Game” and “A Strategic Vision for USA Volleyball.”

“How fortunate we are to have a Board comprised of so many experts drawn from arena and event management, new media and sports licensing in addition to volleyball, to grow the sport over the quad,” Schreff said.

“The Congress was a positive, well-received part of the Annual Meetings that provided presentations on a range of topics, allowing feedback from our membership directly to the Board,” Beal said. “For those who were unable to attend, our office is creating a document combining the presentations to distribute to the regions and all Member Organizations and also make available for download from our Web site.”

The Junior Assembly discussed many hot-button items in its meetings. The Competition Committee supported the staff’s desire to increase opportunities and access of the Open Division in the USA Junior Olympic Girls’ Volleyball Championships, which could possibly reduce matches to best-of-three to allow for an increase in field size. The committee also recommended that staff post approved formats and tweak deadlines to make it more convenient for Boys’ and Girls’ teams attending qualifying events and Junior Nationals. The event staff explained the new ranking system that will seed the National Qualifiers and selecting at-large bids for 2009-2010. The grassroots committee discussed better communication of the Best Practices information gathered at the meetings and is working on a grant proposal program to help distribute the Development Fund money.

USA Volleyball presented the Annual Meetings for the first time under its new governance structure, and was successful in allowing active voices to be heard through the new assemblies (Regions, Junior and Officials) and multiple sub-committees with key agenda items filtering back to the Board of Directors.

“The Junior representatives felt it was very productive to work alongside the Regional Commissioners in the Joint Zonal meetings,” Junior Assembly chair Andy Reitinger said. “Also, the USAV Congress was very informative and helped eliminate redundancies in staff reporting.”

USA Volleyball held its 64th Annual Dorothy C. Boyce Awards Banquet on May 21 with nearly 300 people attending to honor 16 individuals receiving awards. The evening was highlighted by Hank van Arsdale, commissioner of the Heart of America Region, receiving the organization’s highest honor – the “Frier” Award. The banquet also featured “Beijing Glory” as the Boyce Moment honored the unprecedented success of USA Volleyball at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing last summer. In attendance were four-time Olympians Lloy Ball and Danielle Scott-Arruda, national team head coaches Hugh McCutcheon and “Jenny” Lang Ping, and U.S. Women’s Sitting Team Assistant Coach Denise Van De Walle.

As the Annual Meetings concluded, the 80th Annual USA Adult Open Volleyball Championships started on May 23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Approximately 5,000 athletes and just under 500 teams registered for the national championship event with participants coming from as far away as Brazil, Venezuela and Canada. A total of 29 different championship flights are taking place through May 30. Daily schedules and results for the USA Adult Open Championships can be found online by clicking here.