Special thanks to Biltmore Volleyball Academy for this information and the photos:
Biltmore Volleyball Academy Launches its 20th Anniversary Season With Upcoming Try Outs
(Asheville, NC) Biltmore Volleyball Academy launches its 20th season as an elite club with its upcoming tryouts. Biltmore Volleyball Academy (BVA) is a nonprofit organization, and was founded in 1995 to promote and enhance volleyball in Western North Carolina by providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for all ages and levels to develop. BVA is the premier club in WNC offering the highest level of coaching, including Mars Hill University, UNCA, and area high school coaches. Tryouts will be held at the Asheville School for 12-14 year olds (Middle School) on October 18 & 19; and for 15-18 year olds (High School) on November 2 & 9. Tryout times vary according to age, and the fee is $35.
Biltmore Volleyball Academy was founded in 1995 as Biltmore Volleyball Club by Bill Shook. Coach Shook set forth to form a
prominent program, the first of its kind in Western North Carolina. Over the years, he served as the Club’s Executive Director, Coach, and Technical Director until moving out of the area in 2010. Not only did BVA give WNC players the opportunity to play a longer volleyball season, but playing club volleyball emerged as a critical ingredient for success for players seeking college recruitment.
At the time of BVA’s inception, Title IX was in its 23rd year. Club Volleyball was a pivotal force as a training ground for women with aspirations to become professional athletes across the country. ‘Although the United States Junior Olympic Volleyball (USJOV) program was established in the mid-1960’s, [it wasn’t until] the 1970’s junior club volleyball actually began to grow,’ according to John Dunning, Head Women’s Volleyball Coach Stanford University in his 2013 article: ‘Trends in Women’s Volleyball: What Changes Will Occur in the Future?’ However, it wasn’t until 1981 that Division 1 Volleyball would actually form. According to Dunning, ‘…women’s volleyball became one of 12 sports that were added to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) championship juggernaut.’
Here in Western North Carolina, high school athletics thrive, yet for female athletes with dreams of playing in college, club volleyball was their advantage for the road to success. Through a tryout process, players are paired with the best across high school team lines to form the most competitive teams possible. This increased level of training and competition draws college recruiters to club tournaments verses high school games across the country. Simply put, at one club tournament a college recruiter can watch 100 to 1,000 potential college prospects; whereas at high school matches, a recruiter may only see 20 players, or none at all since college & high school seasons are the same time.
Biltmore Volleyball Academy has had over 25 players sign to play at Division I, II & III colleges over the years. Past alum include
Summer Kramer- East Tennessee State University; Jenny Simms- University of North Carolina Asheville; Kerstin Koehler-
College of Charleston; Bailey Hunter- Georgia Institute of Technology; Becca Brinkley-University of North Carolina Asheville;
Brittany Fennel- Clemson University; Brooke Stanley- Albany University; Breanna Holiday- High Point University; Hannah
Wilson- Mars Hill University; Regan Macomson- Mars Hill University; Rebecca Smith- Mars Hill University; Alex Stewart-
University of North Carolina Asheville; Taylor Saeur-University of North Carolina Asheville; Laura Ann Huskey- Mars Hill
University; Halee Wright-East Carolina University; Rachel Bryant-Flagler College; Lindsey Austin-Mars Hill University; and
Mary Kate Griffin-Mars Hill University.
This year, 8 seniors went on to play in college earning volleyball scholarships for a total of ten players signing in a season. For the Class of 2014, the following were recruited: Natalie Montini, East Carolina University; Savanna Austin, University of North Carolina Asheville; Mariah Lewis, Tusculum College; Hannah Phillips, Southern Virginia University; Laura Lindsey Berea College; Kathryn Sizemore, Lenoir Rhyne University; Cameron Pryor, University of North Carolina Asheville; Taylor Van Reenen, Brevard College; and Whitney DeMoss, Brevard College. And, the most recent BVA player to sign is Class of 2015 senior Micayla Bedoian, committing to Berry College.
Another highlight of the Biltmore Volleyball Academy’s history is the Jr. Hi Neighbor Tournament. The 2015 season will be the 19th anniversary of this tournament which was created by the City of Asheville’s Park & Recreation Department in 1997. Originally, the Adult Hi Neighbor tournament gave recreation players the opportunity to compete locally, and the Jr. Hi Neighbor was a spin-off for youth created by Jeff Joyce of the City’s Park and Recreation Department. In 1992, the City decided to partner with BVA to manage and grow the junior tournament. Under the direction of BVA, the tournament became the first 2-day volleyball tournament in the Carolinas. More than 3,500 athletes, their friends, and family from throughout the southeast (North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio) traveled to the Asheville area to compete. For most teams in the Carolina Region Volleyball Association, the tournament is their last of the season. The Jr. Hi Neighbor Tournament is also the largest fundraiser for the club’s Jordan Hodges’ scholarship Fund.
In 2009, tragedy struck the Western North Carolina volleyball family. Jordan Alexandria Hodges was a rising freshman at West Henderson High school. At the age of 14, she was already a great and competitive volleyball player with BVA and her school. Her life was cut short when she was killed in an automobile accident. Rugby Middle School Athletic Director Mark Page spoke highly of Jordan, ‘She was a delightful lady to be around. She was liked by all of her peers and had a positive attitude. She was truly a leader.’ In her honor, a scholarship was established to help others follow their dream to play volleyball.
Over the years, the Biltmore Volleyball Academy has helped thousands of girls follow their dream. And with the 2015 season just around the corner, the club’s tryouts will soon launch more dreams. For more information, including the 2015 Tryouts and Tournament Schedule, visit BVA’s website http://www.biltmorevolleyballacademy.