Tryouts & Teams...Check!

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By Chris BeermanIt's been a little longer than usual since my last blog but that's because this morning I'm literally taking my first breath in about two weeks! All Club Directors are probably feeling the same way, although some are still in the midst of holding tryouts and making offers to players. Our tryouts were conducted, our players evaluated, and our teams have been formed. Our two-day tryout brought out 270 enthusiastic, hopeful players attempting to make either an elite team or a regional team. Going into the tryout, I had the ability to house 15 Elite teams and 10 Regional teams as a maximum in Year 1 for our club. Our experienced friends from Munciana came down to Lexington to help with registration and apparel sizing and legendary Munciana coach, Mike Lingenfelter got our first tryout in Lexington United history off to a rousing start with a motivational speech to the approximately one hundred players trying out for 15s and 16s, which was by far our biggest age group. We made all of our players pre-register with a deadline being the Friday prior to the Tuesday tryout day, and for the most part, our players adhered to the deadline, but we did have a number miss that date. I made the late players email me their tryout form then bring their information and tryout fee to check-in. We pre-printed 250 tryout t-shirts (so, unfortunately came up about 20 short!) with numbers on the back of the shirt, and assigned them to the players at check-in. The registration process was broke down into two parts. Part 1: Players reported to the check-in desk, turned in a copy of their birth certificate, made sure their JVA paperwork was up-to-date, paid any fees they still owed, and received their numbered tryout shirt. Part 2: Apparel sizing. Our facility, KBA, has a mezzanine which served as a perfect sizing area and also separated the incoming check-in crowd. We sized them for uniforms and shoe sizes and got all the numbers down on paper. Doing this at tryouts allowed us to get a big head start on getting players their apparel packages accurately and on time. After Mike's rousing kick-off speech, the 15/16s age group went to work for 90 minutes running through position appropriate skill work then competitive team drills. Knowing that coaches would have two days to evaluate each player, allowed for a very comprehensive tryout format. Our 15/16s age group coaches evaluated players by giving a 1, 2 or 3 grade which indicated the level of team the evaluator deemed appropriate for each player. The plan was for the evaluator's to receive their numbered sheets right at the conclusion of check-in. Unfortunately the wifi in the building was not working properly and our computers could not get the evaluation lists printed out right away. Eventually (and thank goodness!) after about a 30 minute delay, we all got our sheets and went to work at indentifying the strengths and weaknesses of each player. The next group (the 12-14's) began checking in while the 15/16's were still on the court. We had to obviously set aside separate courts for the 12's due to their different net height and ball size and weight. The last tryout group was our 17's/18's and like most clubs, this was a much smaller group. After the last group concluded their tryout, the coaches got together and did some initial groupings, mainly identifying the obvious ends of the spectrum and then working towards making the tough calls on the kids in middle-high or middle-low. On Day 2 of tryouts we grouped the players at the beginning based on where they feel at the end of Day 1. The format included much more competitive, game-like drills to maximize looks at each player performing at their position, while also being able to see the other intangibles such as attitude, competitiveness, "want-to", and effort. A long coaches meeting followed the second night of tryouts at a local restaurant and we hammered out the rosters for each elite team. Based on the talent level and depth of each age-group, we formed 13 elite teams, including three teams at the 14's and 16's age groups. The players picked for teams were immediately notified by their coaches with a phone call, and we gave them 24 hours to accept the roster spot. Out of 130 elite team players, only a couple declined their spots, so we were able to post the teams and players' names very quickly on the website. Following the elite teams' formation, we had a regional coaches meeting to form those teams. We ended up having two kinds of regional team members: 1) those who wanted to play at the regional level from the very beginning and 2) those who tried out for elite, but did not make a team. We had a pool of about 140 players, but only court space and coaches for 10 teams or approximately 110 players. The regional coaches had done an excellent job of evaluating their players and with the help of the elite team coaches and their opinions of the kids who had not made elite teams, we were able to confidently form our teams. Those players were notified in the same way the elite players were and were given 24 hours to accept. Once all coaches received their commitments, we posted those rosters on our website as well. The last step was to return the tryout deposit to the players who were either not picked for teams or had declined a roster spot. Now that teams are formed, coaches have scheduled their team's parent meeting to go over scheduling, practice, payments, travel guidelines, team expectations, etc. They also have the opportunity to hold a few practices before the holidays prior to the actual season starting in January. I am very proud of the effort and professionalism of our coaches in getting these teams formed and how quickly we have moved through the process with incredible diligence. In year one, Lexington United is able to support 23 teams and that is a strong testament to the excitement, interest and potential for Central Kentucky volleyball. Next blog I will talk about what I will do differently next year in regards to tryouts and the specific topics of the initial parent meeting. Don't forget to ask questions or make comments!


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