By Rick Butler, Club Director, Sports Performance Volleyball Club
The Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora, Illinois home to the Sports Performance Volleyball Club, the Great Lakes Power League and several other junior tournaments has added four additional courts and is now a full service 12 court volleyball only facility. The expansion was a 4 month project that took place over the summer and was completed in October just in time for Fall/Winter programming.
The need for additional courts came about primarily for two reasons. The first was that the Great Lakes Center is host to many events and the amount of money and hours that was being spent on outside court rental and running offsite venues had gotten extremely costly. Now the Great Lakes Center can host 96 teams on site per day (am & pm waves) and while the strain to have to manage off site facilities will not be completely eliminated, for now it will be much more manageable. The second reason for the expansion was that the Sports Performance program is going to restructure their youth development program (7th grade and under) to move away from the traditional club model to an Academy model where players will have multiple training options.
The primary focus of the Academy will be physical and technical development with competition being a secondary element and all travel will be eliminated except for the most elite players who have long term experience. This model will be much more cost effective in a sport that is out of control in regards to what youth and junior players are currently paying in travel fees. It will also allow young athletes to start playing volleyball at a much younger age while they are still involved in multiple activities and have limited time to focus on any single sport.
Added along with the four additional courts is a 1,300 square foot parent / player lounge where parents watch their kids during training and teams can rest and relax during tournaments. The youth training center uses balloons, light balls (smaller balls bought in Japan), blow up beach balls, hula hoops and cones for agility and coordination training. There are also several boxes that are made by SPVB staff and are basic coaches boxes. The facility uses the Schelde net system that goes all the way down to the floor.
The expansion of the Great Lakes Center also included a new 300 car parking lot that is across the street which brings the current parking to 500 lot spaces plus parking on the street. The Great Lakes Center now has a full service retail store and concession area, 12 courts that all have a rubber padded wooden sub-floor under the sport court playing and two restrooms each for both Women (23 stalls-8 sinks) and Men (8 stalls-8 urinals-5 sinks)
The center is not even 2 months old, but the hope if for the club to see a very large increase in overall participation among the K-7th grade age groups, especially now that the variety of youth programs allow players to receive volleyball training while also being able to participate in other sports and extra-curricular activities.