I’ve been a soccer mom, basketball mom, football mom, wrestling mom and track and field mom. Like many parents whose children are athletes, my schedule revolves around their practice and game schedule, I try to attend every single home game, and I wear those little buttons with a picture of my kid in that particular sport on it. I’ve enjoyed each sport in which my children participated — even football. I’m not a football fan, and I was a little crushed when my son decided to give up basketball for football in middle school.
My point is I’ve been supportive parent, but I’m slowly but surely becoming one of “those” parents now that I’m a volleyball mom. You know what I mean. The parents who are all about the sport their child plays. To show you how bad it’s becoming: I bought a T-shirt with the words “Volleyball mom” in large print, and I wear it outside of volleyball tournaments. I almost bought a necklace over the weekend with “MOM” with a volleyball in place of the “O.” It’s getting bad, and I don’t care!
As I said earlier, I’m not new to this world of being the mom of an athlete. However, volleyball is something different. If you’ve never really paid volleyball any attention, you have no clue that this little volleyball world exists. It’s like a secret society. Volleyball doesn’t tend to get the same attention sports such as basketball, football or even track and field do, but it is a huge sport. I have a sister who played school and club volleyball throughout middle school and high school, so I was somewhat knowledgeable about the world of volleyball, but I didn’t see the full impact until my daughter began playing club this year. The girls usually play three matches, each consisting of the best of three sets, so the days are super long. I’m talking about eight hours a day for a tournament, many of which are on both Saturday and Sunday, so you spend a lot of time with your team.
We recently had the pleasure of traveling to Orlando for the Amateur Athletes Union (AAU) Nationals. What an experience it was. The Orlando Convention Center held more than 160 volleyball courts filled with girls from all across the United States and abroad. The ESPN Center housed additional courts. Girls cycled in and out of Orlando for volleyball for three weeks.
Besides the level of playing, what impressed me most was how many girls of color I saw playing this sport. Club volleyball isn’t cheap. Cost is what often made club volleyball out of reach for many Black families when my sister played years ago. While I see more Black girls playing today than when my sister played, I’m sure cost is an issue for some families (regardless of race). Thankfully, my daughter’s club realizes how cost prohibitive it can be so they offer options for travel and non-travel, payment plans and an opportunity to volunteer to earn money for fees and fundraise. I’m grateful for these options as I’ve used several of them, but it’s still expensive.
I want to see more of our girls playing volleyball, so I was happy to see so many Black and Latina girls at the convention center. I think the more parents learn about and experience volleyball, the more girls of color will have the opportunity to play. As I said, it’s expensive, but it’s worth the sacrifice when you see your daughter having the time of her life competing and growing as an athlete. Oh, did I mention colleges also offer volleyball scholarships? So, when you’re considering sports that have the potential for college scholarships for your daughters — or even sons (yes, boys can play club volleyball, too) — don’t cross volleyball off your list until you check it out. Our secret society could always use a few more players.