NCVA Finds Success With Developmental Youth League •
It’s that time of year where one can visit just about any community baseball field on a Saturday morning and see 4- and 5-year olds playing a T-Ball game that loosely resembles baseball.
The boys and girls who play are never sure if they’ve won or lost, or if they were safe or out. But they’re excited to come back the next week. And in many cases, the kids continue in the sport up through the more competitive divisions as they grow older.
Now, think of the T-Ball concept played out on the volleyball court. That’s the concept of the Northern California Volleyball Association’s Youth League, though with slightly older participants.
“We really wanted to offer something for our clubs that allowed for younger programming,” NCVA Chief Program Officer, Melissa Walker said. “On the boys side, we’d just barely started our 14U power league. It was growing, but after we started youth league it doubled the next year.”
NCVA Youth League began offering just two age groups of 5th/6th graders and 7th/8th graders. Points are kept, however the matches are played with some adjusted rules to help the new players develop and gain confidence within the sport. The league consists of four league days each season with round robin tournaments that typically run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
New Youth Leagues in 2019
in 2019, there’s a spring Youth League for girls and a fall Youth League for both boys and girls. The divisions go as low as 3rd/4th grade now. And while the number of participating teams throughout the divisions hasn’t significantly grown, the competitive divisions at the younger levels have.
“For a long time volleyball was really considered a high school sport,” Walker said. “Kids don’t really find it until they attend high school.
“This year (NCVA) had an 11U Power League and an 11s division in every tournament we offer. Now our 12s have grown, and our 13s in girls went from 50 teams to 90 teams. These age groups and younger groups has really grown because of the Youth League.”
Participating in Youth League starts by finding a club that participates in it. Some of the Bay Area clubs that take part include NorCal Volleyball Club of Pleasanton, Mountain View Volleyball Club, Absolute Volleyball Club of San Rafael and SF Juniors of San Francisco.
The 2019 Spring Youth League will wrap up on April 7. Fall Youth League begins in mid-October and runs through mid-December.
For more information on the league, visit NCVA.com/girls/league-play/youth-league/