From Chrys Longley
Five years ago if you asked someone what sports Granby was known for, the answer would likely be soccer and possibly field hockey. The answer would probably not have been volleyball. If you ask a local resident today, however, that answer would likely include and may even begin with volleyball!
Volleyball has become one of the top sports in the country. Court and beach volleyball were some of the most-watched sports in the Olympics this year, and some of the most successful. It is fast-paced, exciting, and fun to both play and watch.
The Granby Memorial High School volleyball program just completed its most successful year ever since becoming a varsity program just three short years ago. Under the direction of coach Dave Sprowson, the program grew from club status to having more girls sign up for volleyball than soccer this season and the creation of the junior varsity team in 2011.
This year’s seniors (Lauren Holt, Megan Nilson, Anna Fede, Mary Kidd, Leanna Bellmund, Erin D’Agata and Jess Remme) have been an intregal part of the program seeing improvement every year, culminating with a strong season this year (finishing 14-4 overall, third in conference and making it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament).
The team can also count amongst their successes having players ranked in the state and country for aces, kills, blocks, digs and assists.
And while many teams in Connecticut are, like Granby, losing their starting line-ups, Granby’s continued success lies in strong upcoming junior, sophomore, and freshman players. Two prior players, Heather Longley (Lasell ‘16) and Jess Coons (WSU ’15) have gone on to play collegiate volleyball, and several current players are being actively recruited. The volleyball girls also joined together this year during October to raise funds for breast cancer research — baking and decorating to earn almost $200.
While Granby does not have a feeder program locally for the sport, there are several options in the state. These options include Northwest Juniors at the YMCA in Torrington and Husky Volleyball. Both offer programs for kids ages 11 and older that are interested in playing volleyball.
These programs run from tryouts beginning in November and December (depending on the level of play you are looking for) through May, with a one or two day a week commitment. For any junior high student or 6th grader considering playing volleyball at the high school level, these clubs offer excellent skills training, along with the opportunity to play in tournaments throughout New England. These tournaments are skill and age appropriate.
Coaches at these clubs are former players, high school and college coaches with a vested interest in youth volleyball. There are also summer camps available at Loomis Chaffee, Springfield College and the sports center in Tolland. One thing that all coaches and players will agree with — the more touches you get in volleyball, the better a player you become!
See you on the court!