Before I coached in a National Championship, before I played for the National Team and before I ever had a scholarship to Stanford I was a scrawny little ten year old in too-big spandex at my first club volleyball tryout. I’ve spent most of my life involved in club volleyball, as a player and then as a coach. It’s where I learned how to play the game, how to work hard and how to be a teammate. And as I grew up I had to make choices about where the best place was for me to do that. I know that today there are more choices than ever before. I can’t speak to all of the clubs in the Bay Area but I have spent some time with Vision Volleyball Club and I’d like to share what I’ve observed.
There are three things that stand out to me about Vision and how they help kids develop. The first is great coaching. As much as the focus gets drawn to winning, it is much more crucial to a player’s future that she is learning and getting better. I’ve observed the Vision coaches at every level in matches and in practice. They have a variety of styles but each finds a way to teach the fundamentals, to instill a good work ethic and the drive to compete and to identify each player’s ability to contribute. They’re invested in the learning process of every player on the team, starter or non-starter, and they actively prepare players to compete at the next level. If you are willing to learn then I can guarantee you will get better playing for these coaches.
The second thing that stands out is the tradition of excellence. While I stand by what I said about learning, we do all want to win. Vision has a history of fielding some of the best teams to ever come out of Northern California and consistently competes at the national level. The Vision name and reputation garners respect in the larger volleyball community amongst other club and college coaches. Girls know that when they put on a Vision jersey that it means something and there is a high standard to be upheld.
I saved the most important thing for last: the people. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of bids and medals and scholarships and forget that we’re also talking about kids growing up and learning how to be in the world. My club coaches helped make me the person that I am, both through the lessons they actively taught me and in my observation of them. And there is no one who I would trust more to help mold the next generation than Joe Ripp and his staff. They come from a place of integrity, love and a genuine desire to help kids grow and succeed. On the National Team we held the philosophy that it was not enough just to be the best; we wanted to do it in the right way. I can tell you that Vision is doing it in the right way.