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A5 Volleyball heads to national championships
by Marcel Pourtout
mpourtout@neighbornewspapers.com
June 12, 2013 11:29 AM | 3739 views | 0 0 comments | 85 85 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bob Westbrook, founder of A5 Volleyball (left), Suzanne Fitzgerald, head coach of U-14 team (center) and Jeff Black, head coach of A5 beach volleyball (right)<br>Staff / Erin Gray
Bob Westbrook, founder of A5 Volleyball (left), Suzanne Fitzgerald, head coach of U-14 team (center) and Jeff Black, head coach of A5 beach volleyball (right)
Staff / Erin Gray
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Nestled within an office park development in Roswell, the Southern Volleyball Center, home to the nationally-renowned A5 Volleyball club volleyball team, has emerged from humble beginnings less than 10 years ago to become one of the most successful organizations in the ever-emerging sport in the entire U.S.

A5 Volleyball will send 16 teams to the AAU Nationals in Orlando starting on June 18 and a national-high 13 squads to the USA Volleyball National Championships in Dallas beginning on June 28.

Several north Fulton residents will be on the teams including three Chattahoochee High School students — Haley Templeton, Claudia Coco and Reinna Terry along with Annika Olsen of Johns Creek and Blessed Trinity’s Molly McAlvany.

“Volleyball is the fastest-growing women’s program in the state of Georgia,” said A5 founder Bob Westbrook, who spent the past week in Puerto Rico with A5 players to train with its under-20 and under-18 national team members. “We started nine years ago with eight teams and now we have 32 in the Roswell location alone and 60 in totals throughout the entire state.”

The club’s success has been due to a training platform that encompasses all aspects of volleyball on and off the court, particularly for the younger players.

“We let all the kids participate in the tryout process and don’t eliminate players who are 12 years old and younger,” said A5 Director Michael Fletcher. “Beyond that age we may have three players trying out for one spot but getting the younger kids into our program and developing them has helped us greatly.”

Furthermore, since 2008, every alumna of A5 Volleyball has had the opportunity to play the sport on a collegiate level if she chooses, a source of pride for the staff.

“We’ve been able to compete on a national platform and sent 48 of our kids to college last year,” said Fletcher. “This year we’ll have around 43 kids who will play collegiately.”

The volleyball center’s resources go beyond the indoor courts as the emergence of beach volleyball on the national stage has reached Georgia as well. The A5 players practice at Don White Park in Roswell as well as private facilities in north Alpharetta.

“We have about 96 girls, from ages nine to 17, who train at our different locations once to twice a week,” said A5 Beach Volleyball head coach Jeff Black. “The increase of college programs with beach volleyball and overall awareness has grown the sport in Georgia.”

While college scholarships serve as a motivating factor for some players, the staff at A5 focuses on the other attributes that the sport brings out.

“Our motivation is to teach life lessons through the sport of volleyball,” said Fletcher. “We view the opportunity to play in college as a byproduct of athletic talent, good coaching and hard work.”

Westbrook shares those sentiments, looking at the broader scope of what the sport of volleyball means to the growth of the players.

“Volleyball is a community-driven activity about families,” he said. “The young women learn what teamwork means, taking care of a facility and interacting with people.

“Our older players work with the younger girls and create living role models while dealing with the challenges of athletics which often mirror those associated with life.”

For more information about the volleyball center, A5 Volleyball, camps and private training sessions, visit www.SouthernVolleyball.com



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