A Look Back at the First Season of LUV

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By Chris Beerman, LUV Club Director

Year one of Lexington United is officially in the books and I couldn't be prouder of how our first year developed and progressed to a successful finish. Since my last blog we have had many highlights: Our 13 Black team won the 13's Mideast Power League beating KIVA 13 Red in a must-win final match. That was a tremendous accomplishment for a great group of young competitors, especially over an incredibly successful club that I respect immensely. Our 16 Black team finished 5th and 12 Black and 14 Black also finished in the top 8 in the MEPL. We had 10 teams go to the AAU National Championships from 12's to 17's playing in different competitive divisions. Our 13's again had a great showing finishing with a strong 3rd in the Open division! We also had two players picked for the 13 Open All-American team, which is an incredible accomplishment. Our 16 Black team also played Open and with four 15-year-olds playing up, made it to the Gold bracket and were one win away from making the championship bracket. Our 16 White team won a Classic division bracket and our other teams all competed very hard in their various club divisions. All in all, a great showing for our club and certainly laid the foundation for future teams and created a new knowledge base for the 100 families attending.

LUV coaches at AAU NationalsIn looking back on the season, it's hard to believe that all of the club components we attempted seemed to work. Much of that praise must go to the great leadership and advice from the Munciana program and my good friends, Wes Lyon, Mike Lingenfelter, Tim Kuzma and Phil Leswing. Their guidance and my ability to ask advice on every possible aspect of running a club was incredibly valuable and along with that, giving me the independence to make Lexington United unique in how we do things was also great. I now continue our camp schedule for this summer and get prepared for 2013. I already have a huge head start on 2013 with dates and new protocols based on the successes or failures of year one. I am excited to implement new ideas and new structures that I believe will make a good product great.

Some areas that will be new or changed for 2013 include:

Fall Skill Academies, Fall LUV Bug and Youth Training Team programs, separate tryout dates for Elite and Regional teams, Elite team fall practices, the addition of the National division with the Elite and Regional, different fee structures, different apparel packages, pre-set schedules, and many other smaller, specific changes. I will also know our coaching personnel much better and will have our teams' coaches named much earlier prior to try-outs. I will also be attempting to form a 10's and 11's team that will be selected from their participation in the Youth Training Team, both fall and spring. We will also have a very good idea of the players in our club next year and look forward to having new players join us. My goal as always is to give every player a chance to play on a team with other players of the same ability level and same volleyball goals. Adding the National level between Elite and Regional will be of great benefit to players and parents. I believe our pricing was very fair and will not change much, if at all. Rising rental rates and paying competitive coaches salaries are factors in pricing, but being consistent in charging fees is also important. LUV players at AAU Opening Ceremonies

In 2013 we will be offering LUV Bugs for 6-9's, Youth Training Team for 10-11's, Elite, National and Regional programs, plus our Short Season teams again; literally something for everyone! One of the best things about our post-season evaluation of year one was when I had a coaches meeting and asked them for feedback on good and bad things, they couldn't really name many, if any bad things! Of course, I will be making a long specific list, but that initial reaction from the coaches who were in the trenches was cool for me to hear. I think the main vibe that came from everything was: POSITIVE. I really believe it's very important to have a club culture that pushes its players to be their best and reach their potential, but does it in a positive way. There will always be times when kids need to be disciplined, but the vibe should always be encouraging and positive. We certainly had our difficult moments with drama and controversy, but we tried to meet those issues head on and communicate with the parties as early as possible. Listening is really the key to solving problems and believe me, I definitely did a lot of listening and then hopefully a lot of educating. I know we will most likely lose a few players who felt our club did not meet their needs and in some cases, I agree with them, but we will also have new members next fall start their club journey's for the first time.

Here are just a few things I would list as important factors in having a successful start-up club:

1. Get a lot of advice from a variety of successful club directors2. Make sure you have more balls and carts then you think you need3. Make sure you have ample practice space and court time4. Vet your coaches as much as possible; and get them with the right age groups and level5. Make sure your competitive program levels have a very defined set of standards, goals and expectations6. Make sure tryouts are fair and you have as much court space and time as you need to get kids on the teams they need to be on7. Communicate all the time with coaches; don't assume anything8. View practices often and talk to parents; listen to their feedback9. Be available to parents for anything; they are your paying customers10. Don't be afraid to make changes if you feel a situation is beyond repair11. Try to be as neutral as possible in coach/player/parent disputes; do not choose sides, be an arbitrator12. Make sure you keep your opinions or comments private; word travels fast within a club culture13. Keep your website up to date as it is a place of information; also use as much social media as possible 14. Be very organized with bookkeeping and make sure payment receipts are given as quickly as possible to parents (I email all payment receipts the day I get them)15. Get to know every kid in the club16. Encourage your coaches and make sure they know you have their back17. Schedule appropriately and early18. Keep roster sizes to 10 or less, never go above 1019. Be very specific early-on about playing time philosophy (with each player/parent)20. LUV the game! If parents/players see you smiling, intense, having fun and working hard, guess what they're going to do!?

Special thanks to Briana Schunzel at JVA who took all my chicken scratches and edited them into a coherent blog. Bri does a great job for JVA and is a heck of a coach in her own right!

Thanks, this has been a blast and here's to year 2 of Lexington United; club season is right around the corner!


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