U.S. Women Taking Integral Role in Starlings Anaheim Program

May 14, 2013, 2:51 p.m. (ET)

Bill Kauffman, USAV Senior Manager of Communications, Phone: 719-228-6800, Email: bill.kauffman@usav.org
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 14, 2013) - The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team (WNT), which trains in Anaheim, Calif., as the official host city of USA Men’s and Women’s National Teams, is giving back to its ‘home’ community by being involved in the creation of the Starlings Anaheim program.

The program commenced on May 6 as 69 wide-eyed youngsters from the Anaheim Union High School District came into the American Sports Centers to receive training from the U.S. Women’s National Team players and coaching staff. The program will continue on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30-6 p.m. Each player on the WNT is assigned to coach the 12-14 year-old-girls on either the Monday or Wednesday session to not only give back to the Anaheim community, but to teach the sport of volleyball to an eager group of young athletes who may not otherwise have the chance to be involved in club volleyball.

“Anaheim Starlings has provided a special opportunity for myself and my teammates to share our skill set and experience with young girls in the surrounding area,” Christa Harmotto, a middle blocker on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Volleyball Team that won silver at the London Games, said. “It is a privilege to be a part of this USA program and the opportunity to be a part of this team is so much bigger than ourselves. Starlings has given us a way to share the gifts we have been given and platform they have provided. It is a blast seeing their faces light up after finally conquering something and fills my heart with joy. Thank you to the city of Anaheim for connecting us to the faces of Starlings.”

The Starlings Anaheim program is directed by Jason Dillard, who also runs Goldenwest Volleyball Club. The Starlings Anaheim program would not be possible without the assistance of the City of the Anaheim for its tremendous support along the way, Mike Gallup with the American Sports Centers in providing the necessary courts, Anaheim Unified School District Athletic Director Gary Humphries in getting the word out to the teachers and students at the local schools, and Southern California Volleyball Association Commissioner Ann Davenport for covering the insurance costs for the program.

“Having the U.S. Women’s National Team at each practice to demonstrate skills and then coach the girls is such an unbelievable opportunity for these Junior High School girls,” said Bryon Shewman, founder of Starlings Volleyball Clubs. “You cannot imagine how the young players look up to the Women’s National Team players.”

Shewman, a past U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team player, founded Starlings in 1996. Starlings has grown from a one-team club in San Diego to the largest junior volleyball club in the nation – serving some 2,500 girls in about 40 clubs across the country. The guiding concept has been to provide an opportunity for girls ages 10-18 to participate regardless of their socioeconomic background. Club dues, if any, are a fraction of most junior club costs and no girl is turned away because of inability to pay.