This challenging #timeout has fast-tracked the launch of Beyond Volley, so we can be better and more unified for our city youth
As early as 2013, when Beyond Soccer was just 2 years into its own journey, Executive Director, Stephanie McArdle, started hearing about dynamic volleyball coach, Marino Valdez, who had taken over as assistant coach of both & boys and girls volleyball programs at Lawrence High School. When Marino emigrated to the U.S. with this family in 2000, like soccer, there was no youth volleyball in Lawrence. This was a stark contrast to his childhood in Cristo Rey, Santo Domingo where opportunities to play were everywhere. That void made it more challenging for his high school players to compete against mostly suburban teams with far greater resources and experience. However, that didn’t deter Marino. He used his passion for volleyball, extensive coaching pedigree, including leadership roles with the Dominican National Volleyball Team, and supportive family, to “dig” in more. Today, 7 years after becoming the LHS girls head coach with daughter, now Assistant, Leti Valdez, at his side, the program has had 4 consecutive tournament bids. That success has a lot to do with their investment at the youth level through Merrimackvolley, which they launched in 2016. Like Beyond Soccer’s early inspiration, it was also about providing year-round access and mentorship to young people through sports.
Although both organizations have made incredible progress, i.e. reaching thousands of young people through leagues, teams, clinics, camps, tournaments & events, much of that progress is the result of resource sharing, like side-by-side programming at the indoor “Sports HUB” and 4 years of participation in multi-sport leadership academy, LSLA. Stephanie, Marino and Leti recognize that their programs are just scratching the surface in terms of community impact and reach, and that MORE opportunities exist to share MORE resources, MORE efficiently. Further, these intersections, coupled with other cooperative work that’s gaining traction, like a planned youth sports collaborative, has encouraged them to act more collaboratively, like through the exciting launch of Beyond Volley.
This COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting national timeout from sports, player and family interactions has further motivated this team approach. The group feels strongly that this reorganization will contribute to a healthier, more vibrant sports community, and just like some of the silver linings inspired during this unprecedented time, like new scientific collaborations, businesses shifting their work forces to develop medical supplies, families/friends finding new ways to stay connected, and a reassessment of what’s important in our lives, Beyond Volley is our response!