By Matt Bieker for USA Volleyball
Looking Ahead: The Potential Future of the PVL
RENO, Nev. (June 30, 2013) - While the Men’s PVL Championship is in full swing, the Reno-Sparks Convention Center is also hosting the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships (BJNC) with over a 400 junior teams from all over the country competing.
The expansive convention center houses over three dozen courts where teams compete for at every hour of the day. Spectators and family members crowd the sidelines, and many heads turn as they walk by the furious PVL matches, held in the midst of the BJNC courts.
Many young players watch the PVL matches in between their own play time, and see first-hand the kind of athleticism and skill displayed at high-level league play. Two players representing the Bay to Bay club team out of San Jose, Calif., shared their thoughts on the match between team Norcal Premiere and Great Lakes Lights Out.
“I think it’s really cool that we finally have a professional league where we get to see higher level players, some of which we know,” said 16-year-old Ryan Rodriguez, wearing his No. 2 jersey.
“It looks like really good competition,” agreed No. 8 David Tomlinson, also 16. “It’s good to see older men’s volleyball players getting the chance to play in a professional league."
Both players recognize their former coach Jake Dietrich from the Norcal Premiere as he competes, and while neither have any specific next-level-play aspirations as of yet, they are both excited to see the kind of exposure the PVL is bringing to the game.
“I think it’s really good exposure for the sport because it shows that volleyball is a highly intense sport that’s fun to watch and it takes a lot of athleticism to play, so its good to see that,” Rodriguez said.
The PVL is creating a mark in the volleyball community and younger players are taking notice. There are audible gasps and cheers from the sidelines as spectators recognize former coaches, players and friends who are competing not just for themselves, but for the future of the sport.
One From Many: Team Western Empire
RENO, Nev. (June 30, 2013) - After Team Western Empire defeated Team New England early Sunday morning, coach Chris Hosley told the story of his team’s diverse background, and the effort it took to bring Western Empire to the inaugural Men’s PVL Championship taking place in Reno, Nev.
Hailing from New York, Western Empire hosts player from three different regions within the state.
“New York is composed of three different regions, it’s: Western Empire, Iroquois Empire, and Garden Empire,” Hosley said. “It helps because the availability of players—it’s a little tough because there are a lot of players that are either coaching or are still playing … so it helped definitely being able to use the players from the three regions.”
While other teams belong to a single region, New York’s regions are broken into smaller areas, but by pulling talent from across region lines—with the help of PVL President Steve Bishop—Hosley has put together a team he knows can perform.
“A lot of these guys play with me at Open Nationals,” Hosley said of his players. “We play all year-round … Most of these relationships start through college: playing with guys in college, guys you play against in college … It’s like a big conglomeration of players.”
Hosley himself has coached for over 15 years in various club teams, including the Men’s Open at USA Volleyball Open National Championships, as well as high school and his current girls’ club team in Albany, N.Y. Hosley played collegiately at Springfield College, as did several of his players.
Western Empire received several sponsorships to compete in the PVL Championship this year, including uniforms and gear from the PVL’s official outfitter Rox Volleyball, but most of the team’s travel money came from an in-house fundraiser.
“Brandon Waas did a lot of fundraising for money running tournaments in Rochester, and he got some sponsors too,” said Hosley, referring to the team’s libero.
With sponsorship from the three different regions in New York, and of Rox Volleyball and Waas specifically, Team Western Empire draws talent and support from a diverse range of sources—and Hosley is determined to reflect that support in his team’s efforts.
“We want to represent our region in the best manner we can; getting the best team we can,” Hosley said. “Playing for the PVL is kind of an honor, it’s an honor to play for the region and it’s actually kind of awesome. People ask about it and we love to tell them because there’s never been anything like this before for men [in the U.S.].”
Hosley and the Western Empire have come to the championship ready to play and are remaining focused as they try to bring the first ever PVL championship back to New York.
Player and Coach: Brandon Waas
Name: Brandon Waas
Team: Western Empire
While every player is essential to a team’s success, it can be said that Brandon Waas is a large part of the reason that his team is in attendance at the PVL Championship this year. The fundraising efforts he was involved with in New York covered many of the entrance and travel fees for the Western Empire, but his motivations were far from personal.
Waas got his start playing for club teams and the U.S. Youth National Volleyball Team in high school before going on to Springfield College in Massachusetts on an academic scholarship. After college, he went back to Rochester to complete his master’s in special education and began coaching at Nazareth College. At that time, he began coaching the same club team that he grew up playing for, the Rochester Pace Bootlegger.
Waas actually came to Reno, Nev., this week with two teams: Western Empire and Bootlegger, his age 12-18 club team which is competing in the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships being held in the same venue.
This means that when Waas isn’t playing libero for Western Empire, he is coaching Bootlegger in its competition play, usually on a court no more than 100 yards from the one he was just playing on. Conversely, when Bootlegger has some time off, you can find many of them watching Waas and the Empire.
“It just sort of fell into my lap,” Waas said. “I lucked out, they were at the same venue, so as a coach, I get to play … they get to see there’s life after club.”
Waas therefore had every incentive to come to Reno this weekend, and the volleyball community of New York was happy to help him and his team raise the money to go by competing in several fundraising tournaments in Rochester.
“Our club director let us play a couple tournaments at Nazareth College, which was really nice, and I help operate the Main Street Armory in Rochester, which has a big volleyball facility,” Waas said. “So the guys came and played in the tournament, which they knew was a fundraiser for us, and we got a good chunk of money from that. Most of the guys who played in the tournament were guys who weren’t on the team but wanted to support—wanted to see a good, solid team from WEVA … we have a good following.”
Waas was happy to see the money bring his team to Reno, and has high hopes for both of his teams’ performances, and in the future of the PVL.
“It’s a great opportunity for guys who finish college and don’t want to go overseas to play professionally. It gives a lot of the guys the same chance … it was worth raising the money for.”