- 4 Month Regular Season with options for additional play determined team by team
- Working hard when we are in the gym with a focus on player development
- Balancing cost with competitive needs of each team
- Focusing on recruiting events that make sense for our players
- Allowing players breaks before and after our club season to rest and recharge

We believe that a focused 4 month club regular season from January-April with once per week optional open gyms over the holidays in late November/December is a full and healthy season length. It allows plenty of time to get in the gym, work hard, improve, compete, make new friends and have a great experience.  Having lived it and seen it play out year in and year out... kids (and coaches) get burned out and lose focus as the club season winds into late April and beyond.  Breaks between Middle School/JV/High School and Club and then between Club and the Summer Camps, High School Open Gyms and pre-season are good for kids and families. Breaks also allow kids some time for "unstructured" play without a coach in their ear or concern about winning, losing, medals etc. Breaks allow kids to be as competitive, driven, relaxed, goofy and creative as they want.  Or maybe they can do something other than volleyball, a new sport or something totally unrelated to sport that they otherwise don't have the time to do.

There is a continual "creep" of expectation among players, parents, coaches and club directors that kids should be playing close to year round.  Parents and players don't want to be left out or feel that they are "falling behind." Coaches and club directors extend seasons so they don't lose families to other clubs. It can become a vicious circle of self-fulfilling prophesy and angst.  This happens not only in volleyball but in youth sports across the spectrum and across the country.  FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) sets in and seemingly well-meaning decisions are made that may ultimately not be in the best interest of young athletes. To be clear, there are certainly kids who just can't get enough.  Even for these kids, they may find that they actually enjoy the breather and come back even stronger.  

There are a lot of variables to consider and we are by no means trying to limit players enjoyment, opportunities or enthusiasm for the game. On the contrary, we want players to be mentally, emotionally and physically healthy and fully engaged in the sport throughout their club and high school playing days. We believe that mental and physical rest are healthy parts of that equation.  We have established a club sanctioned Pre-Season Open Gym and In Season practice schedule that we believe can meet the needs of our players across a wide spectrum of motivation levels.  There can be a time and place for an extra practice or scrimmage. However, sometimes less is more.  We fully understand that some will nonetheless be motivated to start sooner and play later.  You have to make the choice that is best for your daughter.  We at Relentless have made our choice as to how we will run our club and placed what we feel are appropriate boundaries. We feel that we offer a substantial yet reasonable opportunity for your daughter that balances time, cost and competitiveness.  If you can get on board and support that, we welcome you! 

We will also be REDEFINING SUCCESS as a club this year. We have always had a primary focus on growth and development as a priority over winning in the short term.  Winning is hard at any level and we love to celebrate when it happens. However while celebrating victories player, coach and parent focus can gradually shift away from development and too heavily towards the scoreboard. So this year we are going to work hard on choosing to IGNORE THE SCORE and focus on highlighting development. 
Over time, doing right things will bring right results. The process of development does not always show up on our side of scoreboard right away. We won't take shortcuts to get the wins at 12s or 13s or 14s while completely missing the bigger picture of overall player development. I feel that by and large our coaches take a developmental approach, however it is important that this is ingrained in the club culture at all levels including players, coaches and parents.    

Some insightful, provocative and challenging articles of interest on these topics:

National Athletic Trainers Association Recommendations

Dr Andrews - Article on the Dangers of Year Round Youth Sports

The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports

Obsession With Winning is Hurting Youth Sports

Are We Too Obsessed With Youth Sports

It would be irresponsible for Relentless to promote a tournament schedule that is inconsistent with the prevailing needs of the players in our area. Our players do not need to travel to far flung locales to develop as a young player or to be recruited to play in college.  What other kids are doing around the country is no foundation for building a volleyball club in Central Pa.  We build our schedule based on what makes financial and competitive sense for the overwhelming majority of our players. For some older teams that includes events such as NEQ and Capitol Hill Classic and other multi-day events.  From that foundation each team can opt to participate in additional events. In 2019- Relentless 15 Gold played 4 multi-day events in regular season including Capitol Hill Classic and then added AAU Nationals; 16 Gold attended 6 multi-day events including Capitol Hill Classic and 18 Gold attended 5 multi-day events including NEQ.  All of these team schedules were ultimately the result of team families coming to an agreement together on what would best serve the team competitively and financially. If players want to experience some larger more distant venues, there is a place for that and opportunity to do so. 

The truth: The vast majority of college bound volleyball players residing within 1.5 hours of State College are going to end up playing at a level on par with the PSAC conference (DII) (or lower) level which can encompass Div I, Div II or Div III schools. Some maybe a little higher level.  And... that is not a bad thing! It is actually a great thing that so many players have an opportunity to play. There is plenty of good volleyball played at each of those levels.
  There are of course always exceptions, however historically the number of Power 5 and even Mid-Major DI scholarship players from Central Pa is very small compared to the number of lower level DI, DII and DIII players. The majority of DII and DIII players end up playing within 3-5 hours of home. Therefore the majority of these schools have rosters filled predominantly by players from within 3-5 hours of the school. You do not NEED to travel all across the country to be seen or recruited by these schools.  The major events that our Gold teams participate in within 3-5 hours of State College provide ample opportunity for you to be seen and recruited. And, unless you are a legit national level recruit who may get DI offers in 9th or 10th grade, you don't need to be spending multiple $1,000 on large recruiting events at 13U or 14U. If you are that good, you most likely will be playing up on older teams that are attending appropriate level events for you to be seen. Consider this, if we attend an event 3 hours away and that event draws schools from a 3-5 hour radius, you may still be seen by coaches by as far as 8 hours away!  There is not one single answer or means by which to be recruited and club tournaments do play a big role. Recruiting comes down to a blend of many methods of making connections. However, a lot of recruiting comes down to YOU.  If you are good enough, do your research, reach out to schools and a college coach likes you enough, they will find a way to come see you play.  We also welcome college coaches to visit practices and scrimmages. 

Do your own research! You can use this link to the PSAC conference volleyball teams and search their rosters. Yes, you will find some schools with larger numbers of players from more distant areas. However, you will find that at this level the largest percentage of players comes from within the 3-5 hr driving distance of the school. 

DI is better than DII or DIII???
It depends.  Power 5 and stronger Mid Major DI is as good as it gets. However, consider two recent conversations. One with a DII coach and one with a DI coach (lower level conference). 
A DII (PSAC) level coach attended an NCAA Championship Tournament match involving a Power 5 school vs a lower level DI CONFERENCE CHAMPION. This coach remarked that there were only 2, maybe 3 players on the lower level DI conference champion school roster that they would even take on their DII level team (a team that finished middle of the pack in their DII conference.)   
In another recent conversation with a DI coach in a lower level conference, the coach referenced a desire to win the recruiting battle for in-State players who are otherwise going to DII schools.  
Competitively, DI itself is not necessarily stronger than some DII or DIII programs. At the top end, DI is absolutely stronger, but there is a wide range. There are differences regarding scholarship availability and financial aid depending on the level. However, from a school selection standpoint, finding the best school fit considering all factors (academic, financial, competitiveness, location....) is more important than the specific Division of play. 

Going to Nationals has become all the rage (is that still a saying???) it seems. So much so that we will be devoting a whole info page to address Nationals! (full article to come!)  Full disclosure, our 15 Gold team went to AAU Nationals last year and by all accounts had a great experience. I have had 3 of 4 daughter's compete in AAU Nationals.  It can be a fun and exciting event and great opportunity for girls. It can also be expensive, extend the season well into June and should in no way be considered a "make or break" event for a player's development and/or college recruitment. A small percentage of players from our area will realize any appreciable additional practical recruiting exposure by attending "Nationals".   We are not in favor of sending 14U and younger teams to Nationals. For the cost and time commitment we do not feel that it provides a competitive development component that justifies the added time and expense at that age.  



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