U.S. women’s volleyball is second to none, sitting atop the world rankings. The game is thriving from the youth level up to the Olympics. But every year, the top U.S. women head to international leagues after college.
That’s because the rest of the world has something the U.S. does not: dozens of women’s pro volleyball leagues that are crucial for players to reach the highest level of their sport.
“We have 400 girls that have to go abroad if they want to continue in the world of volleyball,” Katlyn Gao, the CEO of a new pro league called League One Volleyball, told NPR.
“And many of them don’t really want to. They want to be closer to home, closer to the communities that they have been brought up in.”
The players leave because for most of them, the international leagues are the only way they can hone their skills, earn a living and maybe prepare for a shot at the Olympics.
Gao’s new league is meant to create a new option, to give top American players a reason to stay home rather than playing in Italy, Turkey, Japan and other countries with strong leagues.
“What we’re building is really a tribe around volleyball,” Gao said.
The new league is announcing its launch plan today. And while a bustling pro league is the end goal, LOVB is starting small — literally. It has set up a network of youth clubs in 11 cities, from Atlanta and Chicago to Long Beach, Calif., looking to guide more than 9,000 players and energize communities that could eventually support professional women’s teams. see the full article