Bump. Set. Spike. Kill. Block. Dig. Ace.
Girls ranging in age from 10 to 15 and coming from all across Hall County learned these volleyball terms and then put them into the practice.
That is one of the primary goals of the Matrix Middle School Volleyball League: Teaching young students from elementary and middle schools including Centennial Elementary to North Hall Middle about the sport along with promoting volleyball in North Georgia.
It seems to be working since 40 girls comprise four teams the Matrix Middle School Volleyball League based at Life Point Church in Gainesville. The teams then play each other in multiple double elimination tournaments.
The end result is each player has made great strides in all areas since the beginning of the school year, Matrix Middle School Volleyball League Founder Glenn Bryant said. The added bonus is the family atmosphere formed among the players.
“They’ve really come together as a unit this year,” Bryant said. “These young ladies have decided to listen to our coaching, and they progress more quickly. I really think these girls enjoy coming to practice.”
The practice shows. Students in the league have begun moving on the court and scoring points. But first the teams had to learn the basics. Therefore, Bryant started developmental and advanced divisions of Matrix Volleyball, coached by area high school players.
“We are trying to prepare girls to play at the high school level, and now they understand their role on the team,” Bryant said of his advanced league. “Everyone has to play their role so the system works well, which they can apply later in life.”
For a select few who learn more quickly or have more experience, Matrix started a travel component to reward them and push them harder in competition. Bryant and the other coaches selected eight girls to compete as a team each week in the Competitive Volleyball League in Alpharetta. Players meet on Sundays and play against members from other club teams.
“I feel like we have an advantage, because we have a cohesive team that goes every week,” Bryant said. “Other girls in the CVL are placed on a team when they get there.”
Caroline Brady, Amber Fite, Allison Slowick, Katie Allgood, Natasha Enriquez, Ansley McLean, Madison Dowdy and Holly Worden make up the CVL team. Bryant hopes to send more Matrix Volleyball members to compete during the winter session.
For now, he hopes to encourage younger girls all across the area to join the sport or any extracurricular activity.
“Extracurriculars boost academic performance,” Bryant said. “They also give these kids a reason to go to school.”
He also hopes the athletes in the league will acquire life skills and friendships along the way.
“Friendships have been built across schools,” he said. “We’re bridging that divide and community building at the same time.”