Club volleyball starts strong

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The Steamboat Volleyball Club began last year with 13 members. This year, the club Marilou Jones founded has 25 members and three teams already enjoying success in Colorado.

At the opening of a two-week seeding process last weekend, Steamboat's 16-and-under team placed first, its 14-and-under team placed second, and its 13-and-under team, of which many players just began playing volleyball, was third in Colorado Springs.

"I guess my main goal is to provide a quality club program in Steamboat," Jones said. "Another goal is to get kids starting at a younger age. Now, they see a volleyball for the first time in seventh grade."

Jones is interested in holding camps and clinics geared toward younger players to introduce them to a sport that has a special place in her heart.

"I think my biggest priority is to use volleyball as a means to teach life lessons to girls," she said. "To be able to get them to work and understand what it means to be a teammate and use sports to mature and be better people."

Club volleyball, particularly in the talent-rich state of Colorado, is also the venue most girls use to present themselves to college scouts and coaches at a young age.

Last year, Steamboat's club teams traveled to four tournaments. This year, the three teams will compete in six to eight tournaments, Jones said.

The main reason behind the early success, she said, is the talented coaching staff she has been able to assemble. She couldn't say enough about Steamboat's club coaches.

"It's amazing for this little town to have that level of coaching," Jones said. "I want people to know they don't need to go to the Front Range to get national level coaching."

This winter's coaches are Kurt Garbin, a former Fort Morgan coach; Jenn Paoli, a former club and varsity coach in New York; and Jenn and Jamie Jones, sisters who played in college.

The three teams will conclude the seeding portion of the season with the second of two weekend tournaments Sunday on the Front Range. The teams will average last weekend and this weekend's finish to get a seeding number and be placed in a division.

"It's a real benefit for our high school and middle school to improve their programs," Jones said of club volleyball. "It's such a valuable team sport."

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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