Valley girls showcase VB skills
In the end, regardless of the club, the goal is to compete with volleyball teams on the Front Range.
At the Western Colorado Volleyball Showcase on Saturday at Colorado Mesa University and Grand Junction High School, 36 teams composed of girls ages 14–18 showed up to compete in front of four college recruiters.
The showcase continues today.
A little more competition is emerging on the area’s club volleyball scene. The Western Colorado Volleyball Club was started 15 years ago. Mesa Juniors, which is in its first year as a club team, has players from the now defunct Thunder and Rockslide, which was a club team composed of Palisade High School players. The Thunder had players from all other schools.
Dave Fleming, in his seventh season as head coach at CMU, is the president of the board for Mesa Juniors.
David Skaff, an assistant volleyball coach at Colorado Mesa University, is the Mesa Juniors director of coaching.
An advantage Mesa Juniors has is that, unlike the Thunder and Rockslide, it now combines players from all high schools, and so the high school coaches coordinate players’ development with Colorado Mesa University coaches.
Bob Richardson, head volleyball coach at Fruita Monument High School and on the Mesa Juniors advisory board along with high school coaches Wendy MacAskill of Palisade and Beth Nelson of Central, said the club teams can coordinate the development of players from middle school through high school and, ideally, into college.
Dane McCabe, a Western Colorado Volleyball Club coach and the meet’s site director at Colorado Mesa University, said the more valley girls playing volleyball the better. In addition, he said the added competition from Mesa Juniors should help the overall skill level in the area.
“We love to see girls who are playing volleyball,” McCabe said. “We have that competition with them, but it’s great because on Monday they all go back to school and talk to each other. And one thing that’s neat we do after club season is we can watch them play across from each other at the high school, and then they’re crossing over the net, giving each other hugs.”
Both Mesa Juniors and Western Colorado Volleyball Club are sanctioned by USA Volleyball.
The Western Colorado Volleyball Club has long been the most popular club team in the Grand Valley. McCabe’s 15-Red team has a player from Moab, Utah, and another from Ridgway.
Danielle McKelvey, a freshman at Ridgway High School, said since the club volleyball season’s November tryouts, she’s made the 90-minute drive at least 10 times.
“I just love the sport,” McKelvey said. “It’s an opportunity to play longer.”
For one of the Mesa Juniors’ 14-year-old teams, Truth Hafey has been playing club volleyball for three seasons.
“I did club volleyball with the Thunder, and I knew a lot of girls who were coming to this club, so I went along with them,” Hafey said.
Tami Hafey, Truth’s mother, said having her daughter playing since she was 10 years old has helped her skill level immeasurably.
“As a parent, I went around begging a team to start early and kept asking how old they have to be to get started,” Tami said. “So, when Dave Fleming was willing to start a team when Truth was 10 (with the Thunder), I think that was huge.”
Megan Rush, who just completed her senior season at CMU, coaches a 14-year-old Mesa Juniors team.
“With all the high schools represented,” Rush said, “we get a big variety of players who want to play for us.”
And for Mesa Juniors (http://www.mesajuniors.com) and Western Colorado Volleyball Club (http://www.westerncoloradovolleyball.org), it all goes back to competing with teams on the other side of the mountain.
“The problem is in the valley they start so late, so you get kids in seventh, eighth grade basically beginning because they’ve never touched a volleyball,” Richardson said. “From a high school coach’s perspective, that puts us way behind the Front Range. ... During a two-month high school season, four years in a row, you just can’t get someone proficient at volleyball.”