SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

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January 2018 22 After playing Division I volley- ball at Bowling Green University and coaching volleyball for collegiate and club-level volleyball for more than 18 years Nicole Keshock found herself at a crossroads where she asked herself what she wanted to do. "Do I want to continue coaching at the collegiate level or do I want to coach youth at the club level? I loved both of them, but I really enjoyed working with young girls and boys trying to reach their goals and dreams through sport." By that time, Keshock had already started the club that would become Mobile Storm Volleyball while acting as a NCAA DI coach to increase the exposure of volleyball in the region. "I wanted to continue to build competitive volleyball teams and a program that helped boys and girls improve their skills," Keshock said. Today, Keshock's Mobile Storm Volleyball Club is one of the largest volleyball clubs in the Gulf Coast Region with hundreds of children aged 3-18 receiving training and exposure to competitive tournaments and travel ball. As a former coach at Heidelberg College, the University of Findlay, Eastern Michigan University, the University of West Florida (UWF) and the University of South Alabama and her own experience as a college player, Keshock brings quality leadership to her own club now. But it may be her memories of participating in an Ohio volleyball club in the late 80s that convinced Keshock to coach and train young people today. "I just remember driving an hour each way to go to club in Ohio as a kid," she said. "I looked forward to club and all of the components associated with being on a team for practices and traveling to tournaments." Keshock is known for organizing sports events along the Gulf Coast which have been hosted in Destin, Florida all the way to Biloxi, Mississippi. These tournaments include NCAA championships events to amateur tourna- ments and recruiting combines benefitting volleyball players from developmental to elite players and the host city destinations from the sport tourism revenue generated. "Living along the Gulf Coast we have beach- es that are a good starting point for girls and boys to get started in volleyball. This is a big football area and I don't think boys think about playing volleyball much in our region, but it is catching on. There is something else besides football for young athletes to engage and the sport is becoming more and more popular." And Keshock has her own Storm training fa- cility with three courts and another two courts being added in the practice facility because of the growth of her club. "We've created a great atmosphere where girls and boys can come and hang out," she said. "We also have a sports performance director (Jake John- son) specific to volleyball strength and conditioning who is great. In our club, we have different levels of play and we try to accommodate the different levels of teams that play locally in tournaments or those seeking more highly com- petitive tournaments with travel to Atlanta and other major cities in the southeast region. We also work with a sister club, the Pleasure Island Storm run by Shawn Weaver." From the youngest players who are first learning volleyball in the Storm's Volleytot program to national elite teams that compete in the best tournaments across the country, Keshock said her mission is to provide the right coaches and staff to instill good habits and teach discipline. "As for the younger players, I don't know if they are even thinking about volleyball as a possi- bility for college, but we do have a mixture of both club, high school and middle school girls who are starting to think that way," Keshock said. "I was born in Ohio and Midwest volleyball is played really early and at a young age, but it's more than volleyball. The players have to have a place to come where there is a positive environment that is stress free, drama free and positive," she said. "We want our teams to be successes. We need to get each player better so they can make the middle school volleyball or high school team." Mobile Storm has over 300 players from VolleyTot's to 18-year-olds with 25-30 teams with players ages 12-18 with some players on a team competing in nine to 10 tournaments each year. "We host 4-5 tournaments every year and we have an opportunity locally to really do well," she said. "We also compete in tournaments in Biloxi, Mobile, at the new Foley Event Center where they have 12 new courts and we will be having a two-day tournament Feb. 3 at the Foley Event Center. It will be one of the largest tournaments around." Keshock says youth club volleyball has changed since she first moved to Pensacola, Fla. and started a club while serving as the first head volleyball coach at the University of West Florida (NCAA DII). "There were probably only three clubs in Mobile when I became head volleyball coach for the University of South Alabama (NCAA DI) at the time and now there are six. The Gulf Coast region is the smallest region in the country, but it's growing. We have more than 3,000 members now and our region goes along the Gulf Coast to Mississippi, Alabama, and Niceville, Fla." In addition to running the largest volleyball club in the region, Keshock's four tournaments each year bring 100 teams each tournament resulting in a $2 to $3 million economic impact for the host city. She also serves as a consultant to volleyball tournaments in the southeast and she's organized the workers for the NCAA Sand Volleyball Championship event held each May in Gulf Shores, Ala. In that role, she supervises court managers, operations staff and the more than 400 volunteers who assist in running the event. When nominated for the Readers' Choice Nicole Keshock Director, Mobile Storm Volleyball, LLC SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue

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