Wednesday, 29 May 2024

A Starlings Heart

Starlings Volleyball, USA has undergone significant changes in the past two years, positioning itself as a prominent force in the volleyball world. Through a comprehensive restructuring starting in 2018, the organization has experienced exponential growth in membership and sponsored clubs nationwide. This proactive expansion strategy has allowed Starlings to extend its reach to what Executive Director Lucy Jones refers to as “mission kids,” positively impacting the lives of at-risk girls through the sport of volleyball.

Since its inception in 1996, when Byron Shewman and Olympian Kim Oden joined forces to establish Starlings, over 40,000 girls have participated in a Starlings club. These girls have collectively earned more than 800 collegiate scholarships, and an impressive 90 percent of Starlings players have successfully graduated high school.

What sets Starlings apart is not just their accomplishments but also where they operate. With clubs in Chicago, Detroit, and even on Native American reservations like the Navajo Nation, Starlings Volleyball has made its mark in underserved communities. In fact, between 80 and 90 percent of Starlings athletes are people of color, aligning with the vision of Shewman and Oden to provide competitive opportunities and training for girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The organization aims to empower these young individuals, offering academic and life skills support to create greater opportunities for success.

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One essential component of Starlings’ mission is the establishment of Sister Clubs. These partnerships between USA Volleyball member clubs and Starlings programs allow for the sharing of resources, knowledge, and a love for the sport. Sister Clubs play a crucial role in executing Starlings’ mission by building relationships with their Starlings counterparts, bridging communication and understanding gaps across diverse backgrounds. They often provide gym space, sponsor leagues, and organize tournaments for the Starlings programs.

Furthermore, the staff at Sister Clubs serve as mentors for Starlings associates, sharing insights and expertise to support the growth of less experienced coaches at Starlings clubs. Additionally, USA Volleyball (USAV) club directors offer guidance on various aspects of running a volleyball club, particularly on the business side.

Some Sister Clubs are even taking the initiative to establish their own Starlings programs, demonstrating their commitment to the success of their neighboring Starlings clubs. Through such collaboration, disadvantaged kids’ lives are improved, and the Starlings kiddos have the opportunity to share their joy and skills with their players and coaches.

As part of its continuous growth, Starlings actively seeks new Sister Clubs, and the increased awareness around diversity, equity, and inclusion has further helped spread the organization’s message. Since June, eight new Starlings clubs have been created, with new USAV member Sister Clubs consistently joining from across the country.

If your club is interested in becoming a Starlings Sister Club, you can visit the Starlings website for more information. Additionally, on October 24, Starlings will host a virtual luau that combines informative sessions and fundraising opportunities. This event allows participants to learn more about Starlings while connecting with volleyball legends from across the country, including current U.S. Beach National Team athlete April Ross and U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Karch Kiraly.

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FAQs

Q: How has Starlings Volleyball expanded in recent years?
A: Starlings Volleyball has experienced significant growth in membership and the number of sponsored clubs throughout the country since undergoing a restructuring in 2018. The organization’s proactive approach has enabled them to reach more at-risk girls and positively impact their lives through volleyball.

Q: What is the vision of Starlings Volleyball?
A: Starlings Volleyball aims to provide quality competitive opportunities and training for girls from lower socioeconomic groups. Their vision is to empower these girls, offering academic support, life skills, and direction to create greater opportunities for success.

Q: What are Sister Clubs, and how do they contribute to Starlings’ mission?
A: Sister Clubs are partnerships between USA Volleyball member clubs and Starlings programs. These clubs share resources, knowledge, and a passion for equity and helping one another. Sister Clubs play a vital role in bridging communication and understanding gaps between players from different backgrounds, often sharing gym space and sponsoring leagues and tournaments for Starlings programs.

Q: How do Sister Clubs support Starlings associates?
A: The staff at Sister Clubs serve as mentors for Starlings associates, sharing insights and expertise to support the growth of less experienced coaches at Starlings clubs. USAV club directors provide guidance on various aspects of running a volleyball club, particularly on the business side.

Q: How can clubs become a Starlings Sister Club?
A: Clubs interested in becoming a Starlings Sister Club can visit the Starlings website for more information. By joining the Starlings network, clubs can contribute to the organization’s mission of positively impacting the lives of at-risk girls through the sport of volleyball.

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Summary

Starlings Volleyball, USA has undergone significant growth and positive change in recent years. Through proactive expansion and strategic partnerships with Sister Clubs, Starlings has successfully reached more at-risk girls and positively impacted their lives through volleyball. With a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, Starlings provides quality competitive opportunities and training for girls from lower socioeconomic groups. The success of Starlings is not only measured by their achievements but also by the numerous collegiate scholarships earned and the high graduation rates among their players. The organization continues to invite new Sister Clubs to join their mission and expand their reach across the country. If you’re interested in becoming a Starlings Sister Club, visit their website for more information. Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in the upcoming virtual luau, where you can connect with volleyball stars and learn more about Starlings Volleyball.