BROOKINGS – Most girls in the Brookings community have always had to wait until seventh grade to play organized team volleyball. That will change this September, when the first year of the Brookings Youth Volleyball Club begins.
Former Brookings High School volleyball coach Jodi Melius and her assistant coach, Tracey Buisker, decided to resign from coaching in November 2016. They decided they wanted to make a difference in the community and start a program for kids who wanted to learn how to play volleyball before middle school.
“The idea came about because we saw that we had such high numbers in volleyball at the middle school level with about 45 girls per grade trying out. But there wasn’t a program in town that allowed girls to play volleyball prior to seventh grade,” Melius said.
The Brookings Volleyball Club will include girls from third to sixth grade. There will be two divisions. Third- and fourth-graders will be together, and fifth- and sixth-graders will be together.
The season will begin on Sept. 7 and will go until Nov. 2. There will be one practice a week and league matches will be on Saturday mornings.
“To start out, it will be a combination of fundamental skills training and league play. On Saturday mornings they will be working with their coach on team concepts. Understanding volleyball. How to rotate and how to substitute,” Melius said.
Melius said the overall goal of the Brookings Volleyball Club is to help girls decide if volleyball is a sport they want to play.
“We want to get more players introduced to volleyball at a younger age,” Melius said. “So hopefully they fall in love with the sport and want to play it in middle school and high school and develop the skills to get to those levels.”
After 10 seasons as the head coach for Brookings, Melius decided this was the right time to step down and pursue this program because her daughter is going to be in third grade. Tina Birgen, who was an assistant under Melius, is the new head coach of Brookings High School.
“Our goal is to be able to communicate with Tina, so that we are teaching the skills that she wants to be taught at a younger age,” Melius said.
Melius believes this program will help make the high school team become more talented.
“Girls will come into middle school with stronger skills since they’ve been playing for longer. So we of course hope it develops more competitive teams for Brookings athletics, but we also hope that girls, from an emotional standpoint, will identify as being a Bobcat athlete and they really want to succeed for their team and for their school,” Melius said.
You can register for the club online at brookingsyouthvolleyball.com until July 31.. Cost is $65 per player, and sponsorships are available for players who need financial assistance.
Melius said there have been 30 registrations so far and they hope to get to 60 by the time registration closes.