“This is a great honor for Alex especially since there’s no feeder program at the high school level in Georgia for him,” said Southern Storm founder and club director Brian Teague. “Alex is a tremendous talent and has a high level of drive.”
Pia’s journey to volleyball began as a curious eighth grader with interests in other sports. “My family plays volleyball and I found out about the Southern Storm online,” stated Pia. “I was already playing football and basketball even though my sophomore year in high school. Coach Teague called me up that year for practice and I played in my first tournament the day after Christmas.”
Since that fateful tournament, Pia has developed into an elite athlete within the sport but also overcame the structural obstacles as a Georgia volleyball player.
“Its’ been tough because other guys around the country have had high school teams to help with promotion and recruiting,” said Pia. “However, coach Teague pushed all of us to be better athletes and for us to advertise ourselves.” Pia’s hard work has been rewarded and the cum laude graduate of Johns Creek High School will attend Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. starting this fall on an athletic scholarship. “It’s a good college program with a nice campus and the players are treated like family,” stated Pia.
The middle blocker is currently in an active playing period, recently winning a gold medal on the Tampa Bay Invaders team at the East Coast Championships in Richmond, Va., during Memorial Day weekend and placed third with the same squad at the highly competitive Puerto Rico National Championships from June 6 to 9. “I gained great international experience playing at a hostile environment in Puerto Rico,” said Pia.
Many supporters of boys’ volleyball, including Teague, hope that Pia’s successes on an international level may lead to bigger things within Georgia. “Any type of positivity like Alex will help get boys’ volleyball in Georgia high schools,” said Teague, who is currently in Orlando, Fla., with two Southern Storm squads at the AAU National Championships. “Boys’ volleyball is highly athletic, has fewer rallies and promotes a team sport concept where you get to travel around the nation and meet great people. I think that it will be in Georgia high schools at some point.”
Pia spent the last week training in Colorado Springs, Co. with his national teammates in preparation to face elite talent from Russia, Brazil, China and Cuba. “The competition within practice has been good and we have great coaches who have made this entire experience entertaining and engaging,” said Pia.
The next steps beyond the World Championships will include college and continued international play for Pia, who looks within his own family for inspiration. “I have a younger brother who wants to play volleyball also,” stated Pia. “I want younger kids to look up to me and try to play at this level and maybe even better. Hopefully that will include more volleyball opportunities for them in Georgia.”