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Let's Head Into A New Season With NFVB

By Rocco Lucci, 07/26/23, 7:15AM EDT


These past few weeks have been very interesting in the world of Western New York club volleyball. I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you as a member of Niagara Frontier to speak on our commitment to the players and families of our club.

The ability to adapt and recognize the need for change has been a cornerstone of our organization since we started this club well over a decade ago. It would be simple to have the same ole’ teams learn the same ole’ stuff and go to the same ole’ places. Doesn’t sound very exciting, but would certainly be easier to manage for a club of our size and scope. I can confidently say that we have never gone through two consecutive years with things being “the same.” Numbers of teams, levels, rosters, schedules, staff and policies… all change from year to year and oftentimes during a single season. As always, Niagara Frontier is ready and willing to make changes needed to ensure the highest possible level of success for each of our teams and athletes. Change doesn’t affect each player in the same way but part of being a member of a team sport organization means that we need to adapt and understand the true meaning of teamwork and doing what’s best for the greater good and not just a few individuals.

I am well aware that volleyball players in Western New York have choices to make and I also know that some of them are difficult. As we head into tryout season I wanted to share some of the great features of our organization as well as recognize the tireless work of our partners and staff. Hopefully you can take pride in sharing this information with any new families interested in becoming part of something greater than just a "volleyball team."

The facility which we choose to practice in was designed specifically for the Niagara Frontier Club. Yes there are other events that happen on our courts but Niagara Frontier is the main tenant in the building and always has been. It is a safe place to leave your kids for practices or even a full day of camp or a tournament. We have the first choice of court time and weekend tournament scheduling which is a huge benefit to our members. I'm sure most of you appreciate that our club and facility is set up to service youth athletes and to showcase good health and wellness, not adult recreation. Kids come first, at the expense of staff and coaches. Other venues that we may practice or compete in such as Pinnacle or the  Armory (in Rochester) or anyplace in Buffalo, just can’t boast the same. Our place at 425 Meyer Rd is great and we are happy to call it home!

Our coaching staff is large, experienced and diverse. Our best coaches are willing to both teach and learn regardless of how much experience they have. It’s great to see coaches from other teams sitting on benches together, talking about strategy and sharing concepts that might help dig a few balls or win a few points. We ask our coaches to help and support each other whenever necessary and we have a great number of coaches willing and able to run practices or take teams to tournaments if their regular coach has an emergency, has to work or is having a baby. What a great culture to be part of and what better way to teach our players that “it takes a village” to produce positive results. Dan Johnson and I could not run this club without the unconditional support and help of coaches and staff who are loyal to each other.

A good number of our coaches are alumni. I am proud to watch former Niagara Frontier players develop into young adults that are making a difference in the world.  It's great that they have made the choice to "give back" to the sport which gave so much to them. Your son or daughter is benefiting from years of tradition and pride in our past successes. I know each of our coaches wants you to come back and help us be part of the new growth and success we aspire to have in 2024.

We also take pride in teaching and developing new coaches so they can continue to grow and share their  energy and passion for volleyball. It's important for players to be exposed to experienced and seasoned coaches, however, it’s also important for our young coaches to be around and near our kids, so they can “relate” and be good role models. As parents we know how impactful a young coach can be to our children. While we loved coaching both of our sons for one year when they were each on their first  Niagara Frontier team, my wife and I have been so much more pleased with the connections and development they have made with the many other NFVB coaches they’ve had over the past 4 years. I also hope you are as excited as I, to see your child’s future development guided by the collection of different coaches we have in our club.

In the past year and especially over the last three months we identified the need to add more staff in order to create more lines of communication and to decrease response time. As some of you know, It’s been difficult for me to respond to every inquiry or request that comes my way. Dan and I are so much better and more efficient with the addition of professional part-time staff to help us organize and control the inner workings of this operation. We have recently introduced additional duties that can be applied for by our team coaches which will prove to enhance our lines of communication and productivity. Thanks in advance for trusting that things will be better due to the collaborative efforts of our staff, committee members and coaches. 

Our club has fostered great relationships with others in the volleyball world. Not only are we a role model for other clubs but we are being looked at and recognized by college and university programs across the country for the things we do in our gym and the young athletes we produce. Relationships take time and we take pride in spending time talking to and meeting with college coaches and volleyball minds to not only help put our NFVB players on a path to playing in college but to also learn new ways to train and/or play the game. This season, we are planning to grow our outreach with some enhanced committees of coaches who can focus on things like recruiting, skill development and positive culture. Examples of this are the number of athletes we have committed to colleges at all levels as well as the world renown Noezy Buckets clinic we recently brought to our building and last year's acknowledgement as a JVA Club of the Month. This type of recognition and programming doesn't come to just any club… but it came to Niagara Frontier.

There are so many more pertinent topics I’d love to share with you but in keeping with the focus of this message I’d like to close by again recognizing the choices you have when it comes to club/travel volleyball. I want you to know that our Niagara Frontier system works. I know that many of you are asking yourself if this is what you want, or wanted to get yourself into, and I understand that for some of you, it may not be the right fit. I believe that we offer a great opportunity for these boys and girls to grow together and learn some NFVB lessons that will go beyond their volleyball experience. Your desire to register and participate in our upcoming tryouts is our indication of whether or not this is a commitment that you and your son or daughter want to make. I really hope you choose the success and tradition that Niagara Frontier and our coaches have to offer.

We will do our best to respond to any replies or comments to this message so please feel free to contact any of our staff members. Please know that our staff is working on coaching assignments (some of which have changed in the past three days), costs and tentative schedules. We are doing our best to post this information over the next week as it becomes available.

Thanks for reading.