A year in the life of the Southeast Alliance Volleyball League
Power Leagues are tournament series comprised of junior volleyball clubs located in a specific region of the U.S. that compete against one another for rankings. Power Leagues are structured to maintain a high level of competition for every team throughout the season.
The SAVL formed for clubs in the North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee areas. The goal of the league is to provide nationally recognized competition through a league in the southeast area.
With year one of the SAVL nearly complete, Co-Director Alex Sing shares his thoughts on the Southeast Alliance Power League's start and progress in its first season.
First Conversation on forming a league: February 2013
Date Started: July 2013
Number of Founding Clubs: 9 (includes teams from SC, NC, GA, VA)
Total number of teams in the league: 200+
Legal Organization: Member managed LLC
Birth of the League
Several clubs had become increasingly frustrated with the old way of doing things throughout the region and were looking for a better way to manage our clubs, control our schedules, and create opportunities for our kids. Volleyball in the South was not very well respected and we wanted to change that. We were not quite sure what to do so we contacted Jenny Hahn of the JVA. Jenny offered to come meet with us and discuss some options for our clubs. She explained that the JVA had resources that could help. She also provided names of other club directors who could offer feedback and advice. By being able to use the JVA insurance and other resources, we knew we could move forward with starting our new league. We decided the 2014 season would be our first and began promoting the league in September 2013.
Creating the Schedule and Format
Many of the clubs involved in forming the Power League had teams at all ages and several levels of skill. We knew that each team had separate needs and our goal was to create a schedule that could challenge each group. We also had teams playing from a large geographic area. We decided on having a Power Schedule of 4 events plus a Championship and a Club Schedule with 6 events plus a league Championship. Various clubs would host divisions of the tournament and the divisions would rotate so teams would occasionally be close to home.
Our power schedule uses a two day format and combines certain age groups for more matched competition. We move teams up or down based on results so that no team is always winning or losing, matches are competitive, and each match is important. Using a two day format gives traveling teams more play for the travel involved.
We also wanted our events to be special for the teams coming. We provide warm-up balls so teams don't need to bring them when they play our events. Each of the power events also has paid officials. Registration and scheduling is done through AES.
The first weekend of January was the date for our first tournament. It would be a power event and we had over 100 teams registered. We had 4 divisions (13/14 Grey, 14/15 White, 15/16 Blue, 17/18 Black) and would play in 4 different cities. We let each club director enter their teams as best they thought. When the dust had settled from the tournament each of the founding clubs knew we had something special. We had never seen a regional event played at such a high level. Each division had 6-8 teams that could win. Plenty of matches were going three games and we were looking around going: this is only January. Wow
Our first season has not been without its challenges. We are still working through who does what. Currently the basic elements of running the league is done by 3 clubs but all the members give input and have a hand in decision making. It works but we are often getting information out later than we want to.
"Each of us have our own club to run so it makes for many late nights. I know we would all say the same thing: It has been worth it." Success Beyond the League
The results that our teams have had beyond the SAVL events is evidence of how much the league has meant. Teams from the league finished extremely well in major events including the Beast of the Southeast, Big South, Bluegrass, K2 Elite, Winter Bump, and other major tournaments.
Axis Elite 16 Rox is one of our teams. After winning the K2 Elite Invitational they finished 5th at both Bluegrass and the Mid-east National Qualifier in 16 Open. At this year's Beast of the Southeast we had a team represented in 7 of the 8 Gold brackets on the final day. Several of our teams also made the Gold bracket at Big South. These are but a few of the great finishes SAVL teams had.
"The competition has been great, but it has also been exciting to build the relationships with other like minded clubs. Our teams are competing but also having a great time together. There is a lot of respect for each other."
None of us are looking back. We all felt that with some minor tweeks the league will be even better in year two and we are reaching out for others to be part of the SAVL. The SAVL will also have access to two brand new facilities for 2015. The Upward Center (12 Courts) in Spartanburg and the Myrtle Beach Sports Center (16 Courts). Both feature hardwood floors. We've also recently joined the Mizuno /JVA Power League Alliance which includes the Great Lakes Power League, SouthernRegion Power League, and the Northern Plains Power League.
To improve the league we are looking at several areas. Discussions will take place at a directors meeting in May.
- Shorter tournament days for our younger teams. We will likely create a schedule just for 11U and 12U teams. A mix of regular tournaments and shorter closer to home league events.
- Use of two new facilities. With the new facilities we will try and use them as much as possible. One of our other facilities is also expanding. We want our events to be in the best facilities possible, as much as possible.
- Whether or not to hire a full-time administrator. We will look financially if we can afford it and whether it would make for a better league. We may settle on a part-time stipend for an administrator.
- Tournament Format so teams do not wait long periods between pool play and playoffs. We have run into situations where teams would finish pool play and then wait several hours before starting playoffs. Sometimes it is unavoidable but we hope to keep that from happening if at all possible.
- Attracting more clubs. 9 clubs is a great start and those clubs are very competitive so the play is very good. But we do hope to add teams so we get even more variety of competition.
- Registration and attendance requirements for league teams. Our league is open to at-large teams to play select events but we have asked that all of the National teams from the founding clubs play in each event and Club teams play in 5 of 6. We also keep teams in age and only move divisions based on wins and losses. Since divisions are hosted by different clubs we have situations where a team would leave home and drive 4 hours and stay overnight to play. Are we going to allow teams to stay home and play other divisions to avoid the travel and expense? We want to be practical if it makes sense and keeps the quality of play we desire.
Everyone is very excited about the new league and has been very pleased with our first year. We know things will only get better as we look to continually improve. We just finished our Club Championships at the North Charleston CC. Our Power League Championships will be the Coastal Classic in Myrtle Beach June 7-8th. We have about 80% of the National teams in the league playing all the way through the AAU
Championships. Can't wait!
For more information and to see who plays in the SAVL visit:
Interested clubs should email: firstname.lastname@example.org