What I Learned From the American Volleyball Coaches Association Convention
An Interview With LeagueApps Director of Volleyball Michael Scott
Last week, some of the top names in the game of volleyball attended the annual AVCA Convention. This year, the convention was held in Columbus, Ohio.
Also in attendance this year was LeagueApps’ very own Michael Scott, the company’s resident Director of Volleyball. We had a chance to sit down with him while he served up a few pieces of advice on the AVCA, the future of the game, how volleyball directors can reach a new market, and that oh-so-beautiful late December Columbus weather.
Read the interview below.
LeagueApps: What is the AVCA?
Michael Scott: The AVCA is the American Volleyball Coaches Association. It’s a great resource for all volleyball coaches at all levels such as high school, college, and the club level.
LA: Aside from coaches, who else attends the AVCA?
MS: Really anyone involved in the game. Anyone from club directors, asst coaches, parents, former players interested in coaching to even vendors who sell or interact with the market.
LA: What type of vendors were at the event?
MS: Oh a ton, especially those geared towards facilities. Anything that can help with new courts, new balls, ball racks, Acuspike was there. Of course you have your apparel merchants like Under Armour on site. A lot of technologies on site, too. I couldn’t help but notice a lot of different and sophisticated systems like ways to track stats and help with recruiting. And video platforms were everywhere.
LA: Sticking on technology, in your opinion, what is one area of technology that directors can find useful?
MS: I think Sports Recruits software is really great for an organization and gives the kids a tool to take more ownership in the recruiting process.
The next question becomes how does this software speak with my online management solution?
LA: What are some of the challenges that club directors face?
MS: There are a few main challenges and they seem to be connected. The first is that volleyball is an expensive sport. There’s a lot of travel on the club side and with that comes fees. So it becomes hard to attract the lower socio-economic classes, such as basketball players. The players from Texas, Minnesota, and Nebraska, to name a few, are amazing athletes and they could easily be great basketball players. Where do we find that balance?
The second challenge is how do we make the game more diverse, which falls in line with the first challenge. Statistically, a lot of great basketball players have more of an opportunity to get into college through volleyball than if they continue to try and advance through basketball. We need to find a way to drive that value.
The final challenge is how to find a way to grow the game so more boys’ programs can be established.
LA: Were there any ideas from some of the seminars or any coaches you spoke with in how to drive that value into that seemingly untapped market?
MS: Look, basketball is not an expensive sport, but there are a ton of similarities. How are they [basketball clubs] able to travel just as much, play in as many tournaments, practice as often, but the costs are significantly lower? How is that possible?
As far as thoughts, personally this is what I think. Volleyball is a long season, maybe too long. So let’s find a way to do mini-seasons and get exposure and practice, but not play seven months. Maybe associate more with basketball or lacrosse. It’s worth exploring to combine sports and not drive athletes at a young age to focus on one and specialize. Once you get to a certain age, like fourteen or fifteen, then you have to pick. Until then, there are no benefits at the age of twelve for a seven month season.
LA: What was your favorite session you attended?
MS: I really enjoyed Kara Pratt’s seminar on recruiting. That and a specific seminar on using specific volleyball metrics for tryouts was mind blowing.
LA: What were some of the interesting themes from the AVCA?
MS: The overall shock and awe of Stanford’s run on the court. Off the court I found the Brad van Dam session quite compelling. A lot of it was how do we grow? How do we prepare kids for high levels of stress? How do we make volleyball and campuses more diverse? And then the technology used to gather stats and video. The direction of how much technology will play for a club team. You will have to have technology to run the organization, technology to measure a kid through data, then use tech in-game to help coach and if you don’t then you’ll be out-coached. And everything gets tied into recruiting software and how players/coaches interact with recruiting.
LA: We can kind of tell what your answer will be next, but where is the future of volleyball headed?
MS: Whatever organization embraces technology the most will have the biggest leg-up on their peers. In the sense of, okay, you’ll always have your blue bloods, TAV and Great Lakes and A5s, but with technology then allows the following scenario to play out. If I’m a former player and I set my program up and invest in technology so it’s easy for parents, and use free marketing like Facebook, I might not be getting the premier players to start, but I’ll get players. Then, performance indexes and technology will help them get better so I’ll be able to compete at the national level. All because of the great technology. It’s that simple.
LA: What were your thoughts on the NCAA Championship?
MS: At that level of volleyball, it’s an up close sport. Television does not do the game justice. It’s super impressive what those girls can do on the court. And the Stanford team just ran through everyone. [LeagueApps Director of Finance and Stanford grad] Rick Eddy is happy.
LA: How is the weather in Columbus?
MS: It was seven degrees. There’s nothing fun about seven degrees. I’d be okay with Miami next year.
LA: How tall are you? Were you among the tallest ones there?
MS: I’m six foot, four inches. And not by a long shot. If you wanna feel short, go to a volleyball conference or match. Stanford has a girl that is 6’8.
LA: Would you recommend clubs going to the AVCA Convention?
MS: Without a doubt. It’s definitely something every club should do. I recognize it’s challenging because of the timing. The season is starting and the holidays are approaching. But, if you can break away for two or three days, I highly recommend it. It’s really hard to innovate and grow without tapping into what’s coming up.