Fun. Opportunity. Safe. Economical.
These four words were the start of North Country Region’s Fall Friendly Players’ League (FFPL). When the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) announced on Aug. 4 that high school volleyball would be moved to the spring, the NCR staff took one of the many ideas they’ve thrown at the “Back-to-Play Idea Wall” and went into action. They wanted to create an opportunity for players to safely participate in volleyball and to provide work for region officials. Below is a quick overview of the FFPL, shared by NCR for other club directors to build upon.
The league will start Sept. 8 and conclude Oct.16. The hope is that league play occurs on weeknights to allow weekends free so that players can participate in other fall leagues that compete on weekends.
Social media blasts and direct emails to USA Volleyball junior-age players and to Minnesota high school coaches
A Google form that requests that a “captain,” who will be the region’s main contact, register the team, team name, high school (we want to limit travel and to learn where to secure locations), and list the expected roster. The idea is that the players take ownership of their team and communication. For some of the younger teams, a parent is serving as the contact person. The goal is to keep the FFPL player-focused and as player-run as possible.
Location, Location, Location
Securing facilities in locations closest to a “pod” of registered teams is an ongoing process. Clubs outside of the Twin Cities have stepped up to secure community and school gyms and serve as site directors. The region has encouraged that the school or club utilize the league to fundraise by charging a nominal admission fee and selling concessions.
To ensure that all participants are current USA Volleyball members, individuals will also register for the team and select the team to which they are attached. NCR staff will verify USA Volleyball membership. The new – and very exciting – USA Volleyball’s fall membership is perfect for newcomers to the sport or to USA Volleyball and will participate in the FFPL. For current members who had a shortened or canceled USA Volleyball season, this is a great way to utilize their membership through Oct. 31.
Register by Event
Teams commit and pay by event rather than commit and pay for a six-week league. For $50, a team will receive two matches on an event night and have a paid R1 on the stand. The region staff will administrate schedules, hire officials and communicate with site directors.
If a player already has a full USAV membership and is on a team of 10, then it will cost an individual $2.50/match or $5.00/event. The region will also provide full event refunds until Thursday of the week prior to the event or if the event must be canceled.
Yes, NCR has them and share with participants and facilities.
From the staff’s point of view, it has been a lot of hustle…fun hustle. They are constantly updating internal processes and next steps. The cart and horse move through this new region adventure side by side, and at times it is uncomfortable but manageable. They have navigated the questions from the MSHSL to ensure that the region is communicating its policies and rules to all participants prior to registration and during the registration process.
With more than 100 teams registered and excited parents and players, fingers are crossed that demand can be met by securing sites. Communications have been clear concerning payments. A USA Volleyball membership should not be purchased until sites are available for teams. With MMS locked down for membership purchase until Sept. 1 and event registration not open, NCR has not had to deal with incorrect purchases or refunds. Phew!
Stay tuned and send positive vibes on finding gyms.