SportsEvents Magazine

NOV 2017

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Page 28 of 59 November 2017 29 t SPORT Report here's really nothing to not like about volleyball. It's versatile—it can be played with teams of just two or larger teams of six—and it can be played almost any- where: on the beach, inside a gym or outside on a court. It can even be played sitting down. And not only is it adaptable for all age groups— from little kids to senior adults—but all that's needed to play is a ball and a net. Volleyball has proven to truly be a sport for anyone and everyone, and the numbers prove that more and more athletes are heeding the call to volleyball. According to recent data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, volleyball ranks No. 2 for girls in terms of participa- tion, second only to track and field, making it the top team sport for girls. Participation for girls was well over 440,000, which is a 6.2 percent increase in participation from 2011-12. For boys, volleyball has increased 15.7 percent from 2011-12 to 57,209 par- ticipants. In fact, with boys, the only sport experiencing more growth than volleyball since 2011-12 is indoor track and field. "Volleyball's numbers have continued to grow," said John Kessel, director of sports development for USA Volleyball, the national governing body of the sport. "In fact, we haven't decreased in participation in the last 30 years." The love of the sport isn't just revealed in participation numbers throughout the United States. Volleyball is one of the top three sports in the world for both men and women, along with soccer and basketball. "There are 221 nations that are members of the International Volleyball Federation," said Kessel. "That is more than any other sport in the world and 28 more nations than are members of the United Nations." So why is volleyball so popular? "We think the reason is that it's a lifetime sport," Kessel said. "And one thing about volley- ball is that most everyone you talk to has played it. Maybe it was in their backyard with friends, at school or at the beach. Most people get a chance to play it and see just how fun it can be." Another benefit helping volleyball grow in participation is that it's a safe, non-con- tact sport—"It's ranked as one of the three lowest-concussion-rate sports at both the college and high school levels," said Kessel—and at the same time, it's a true team sport. Volleyball teaches teamwork and it requires everyone to work together to succeed. "In volleyball, no one player is going to be the star," Kessel said. "It takes a team. Someone has to pass the ball and someone has to set it so that someone else can hit it. Players know it takes teammates to have a chance to succeed and win." Thanks to the continued growth vol- leyball has experienced over the years, players are benefitting in that there are more scholarship options for women. In fact, the growth of beach collegiate ball has culminated in it becoming a scholarship sport for women, Kessel said. "Beach ► T

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