JOINING THE CLUB: Western Colorado Volleyball Club growing at rapid pace

Western Colorado Volleyball Club coach A.J. Egli, left gives instruction to Mecia Dearth during practice at the Redlands Middle School gym last Wednesday evening.

It didn’t matter to Nevada Crandall that the Western Colorado Volleyball Club was more than two hours away one way.

The Aspen 15-year-old wanted to try out and play in the program even though there are several other volleyball clubs closer to home.

“I decided I wanted something more serious,” Crandall said. “It was mostly the coaches. I went to three tryouts and decided I like this (club).”

She isn’t alone.

Crandall is one of three girls from the Roaring Fork Valley on A.J. Egli’s 16-under team this winter. The other two, Abby Norton of Basalt and Sarah Davis of Glenwood Springs, left a club team in Glenwood Springs for similar reasons.

All three 15-year-old girls are chauffeured by their parents three times a week just to practice with the team.

“She wanted to come here,” Abby’s father, Chuck Norton, said. “She wanted to play for the best. She felt (WCVC) has better coaches. She played for Defiance in Glenwood, and she didn’t feel like she was learning enough. She is very competitive and aggressive.”

That was a good enough reason for him.

“It’s no problem for me,” said Norton, who owns a dental lab and comes to every single practice, no matter the time. “It’s important to her. I would drive 1,000 miles if that’s what it took.”

Crandall’s wishes were enough for her father, David Crandall.

“I own my own landscaping company,” he said. “In the winter I have time on my hands, so it’s not a big deal.

“She wanted to do it. As a parent, you do what you can for your kids, but if I had a 9-to-5 job, it wouldn’t happen. Three hours makes it worthwhile to come down here.”

The Western Colorado Volleyball Club, formerly the Grand Junction Volleyball Club, is growing so much, it is running out of space for practices.

Jeff Wells started the club 14 years ago with one team. It currently has 12 teams, including one boys team. There are more than 120 boys and girls ages 12 to 18 in the club.

“Two years ago, we didn’t have a 17s team,” Egli said. “Now we have a 17s and 18s team. We added a second 15s teams last year. We were hoping to add a team this year.”

The club relies heavily on School District 51 for facilities, but those facilities have a limited amount of time available for the club.

Last year, each club had two, two-hour practice slots per week, but the club lost eight total hours of gym time this year.

“The school district is good to work with us,” Egli said. “There is more demand for court space with the school district. Either we double up the practice and put two teams on one court or cut two teams.”

Egli said they anticipated the problem and purchased a used sport court from a school in Kansas.

“When we bought it, we thought we had a place to put it, but it’s not happening,” he said. ” I contacted people at the old Circuit City and was turned away.”

Egli tried looking into practicing at the Grand Junction Athletic Club and the Pyramid Printing Building, but the problem is operation costs to use either facility such as lights, heat and water.

For now, the teams will have to live with a couple of hours during the week and three hours Sunday or whenever Egli can reserve a gym.

“We know whenever there is gym space available is when we practice,” Davis said. “These three hours fly by fast.”


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