The following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning player tryouts. For more information, please contact Club Director John L.
Please note, this FAQ was updated for the 2015 season (and is currently being updated for the 2015-2016 season), but may continue to change...
Why should I tryout for Columbia Juniors?
That depends... Are you a competitive player? Do you want to improve your volleyball skills? Do you want to have an experience you will carry with you for the rest of your life?
Columbia is intended for players who are trying to develop the skills to play volleyball in college or to excel with their High School teams. (Girls often go directly from our U-14 teams, Black or Red, directly to at least JV teams in High School. In 2007 for instance, players from all three of our U-14 teams reached HS varsity or JV teams as 9th graders.) League all-conference lists are usually dominated by Columbia Players. While we try to place every player who graduates from our program with a college or university team (see our alumni list), our expectation is that every girl who graduates will go on to college. (This is why we insist on seeing gpa information for each player in the program, shut down our practice schedule for finals or state testing, and work to find solutions for players who develop any problems with school work during the season.) School & Family come first for players in our program.
Columbia fields very competitive teams. In 2008, the club fielded seven teams and every team reached one or more tournament championship matches. Columbia teams play the most competitive schedules we can find. In 2009, all seven Columbia teams played in the extremely competitive CEVA Power League, and three teams (18-Black-3rd, 16-Black-2nd, and 14-Black-6th) finished in the elite Gold Division. Our teams do not enter "easy" tournaments... we believe that playing at an elite level of competition produces elite level players. In 2008, we sent five teams to the National Volleyball Festival (the largest volleyball tournament in the world), and every team finished in the top 50 of their age level. Two teams (18-Black & 17-Black) finished in the Elite Eight at the tournament. In 2009, We again sent five teams, and again every team finished in the top 50 of their age level 18-Black reached the Final Four overall tournament championship semifinal against some of the best teams in the nation. In 2011, Columbia 18-Black finished 2nd in the NW Power League that combined Washington and Oregon. In 2013, Columbia began sending teams who qualify to the USAV National Championships, and in 2015 Columbia began sending teams to the AAU National Championships as well. In 2016, we're adding the Colorado Crossroads National Qualifier to the list of tournaments we enter. (We already participate in the Far Western National Qualifier.)
Frankly, we believe it would be hard to come up with another small-market club that has the current record of success Columbia has achieved in recent years.
While you certainly work hard in our program, playing for Columbia will be an experience you will carry with you the rest of your life. Your teammates, coaches, & friends in the program will spend a great deal of time with you over the season. You get to travel, have new & fun experiences, and play against the very best volleyball programs from throughout the country. Even parents of players who graduate the program often find themselves missing their time with Columbia!
Is there a better way to get information than this FAQ?
You bet, either contact John (see above) or attend the information meetings.
Should every player tryout for Columbia?
Probably not, some players may find a better fit with another club. That's fine too, and we'll be happy to see you at tournaments. (We still like you!) Players who don't really intend to play for Columbia shouldn't go through our tryout. To discourage players from jumping from club to club (which we believe hurts their development) Columbia won't consider players who were previously offered a team spot with a Columbia team (the previous year), but turned it down later than at the initial offer. Players who declined offers at the time they were offered are always welcome back the following year. Players who were not offered a position the previous year are always welcome to go through tryouts the following year (regardless of where they played the prior year)... sometimes we simply don't have a spot for a player we really like, but are able to take them the next year.
I'm an 8th grade U-14 age player. Can I tryout for an older team?
Not with us. It's been our experience that Middle School players (while they might be athletic enought to play up a level) aren't ready to mix with a team of High School players. They don't have the same experience with the team, and don't have as much fun as they would playing with their own grade level. They are certain to get better playing time with a U-14 team, and their development as a player is better served at that level. (Exceptions to this require a decision by our club director.)
I'm already in High School, but young enough to still be a U-14 player. Which tryout should I go to?
U-15 and up. If you are in High School, you are ready to participate with teammates who are also in High School. A U-14 team will seem "too young" for you. We'd like you to push yourself to make a U-15 or U-16 team this year.
I'm in High School, and I'd like to "play up" to another level. Can I attend an older age tryout?
Attend the tryout for your actual age-level. The coaching staff will evaluate you, and ask you to "play up" if they have a spot for you. All HS-age players are evaluated to play at the level they show during the tryout. (We also think players should avoid the temptation to jump to a weaker, older team to play up a level. If you can work your way up to one of our older teams, great... but moving to an older team somewhere else may actual decrease the level of competition you will see over the season. Be certain you are finding the best experience for you, not just trying to play as old a level as possible.)
What does the tryout fee cover?
The Columbia tryout fee ($10 for 2015-'16 tryouts) is used to offset the paperwork & equipment costs for the club during the tryout process.
What do I need to bring to tryouts? (NOTE: forms are currently being updated for 2015-16 season.)
Players should be prepared to practice (appropriate clothes, shoes, & knee pads) prior to the scheduled start of their tryout. They should either bring completed registration & profile forms (updating now for 2015 tryouts and 2016 season), or be prepared to arrive early and complete the paperwork BEFORE the tryout begins. Players under 18 will need a parent signature. Players in High School must bring a recent copy of their report card with them to tryouts. Columbia players are expected to maintain a 3.0gpa.
What is the difference between team "colors" (i.e. a 14-Black vs 14-Red)...?
Usually the "Black" team at each age group is the older, more experience group of players. This doesn't mean that any particular player on a "Red" team isn't as good or better than a "Black" team player. It simply means that the "Black" group as a whole is expected to be slightly older (8th graders vs 7th graders) and have more club experience.
In addition, players are sometimes moved from one team to another to avoid violating club rules about practicing/playing with school coaches. An 8th grade player might move to a 14-Red team to avoid playing for a coach from her school, or a 7th grader player might be moved to 14-Black for the same reason.
Finally, Columbia has the same expectation about Red teams being competitive as Black teams. They often play the same tournaments. Black and Red teams practice against each other and are often the best competition for each other. (In 2006 for instance, the only thing that stopped 14-Red from sweeping undefeated thru a big tournament in Moscow was a single loss to Columbia 14-Black... while the toughest challenges to 14-Black often came from the Red team during the week in practices. In many seasons, Columbia teams routinely met each other in tournament championships at every age level, and Red teams win some of those championships too!)
When do I find out if I made a team?
Columbia coaches & staff attempt to call each and every player following tryouts. It takes time to talk to each girl, but we believe it is important to talk directly to each of them. This means that while we may start calling as early as immediately following tryouts, we may not finish for 2-3 days. If you don't get a call the first or second night, this doesn't mean we haven't chosen you for a team. Players are free to contact coaches as well... players sometimes give phone numbers that make them hard for us to reach.
When do I commit to a team? (currently being revised for 2015-16 tryouts) - commit times are being revised by the region for this year
In the Evergreen Region, no player may be required to accept nor shall accept an offer to commit to a team prior to the Monday following the 1st day of tryouts, after 3:00 p.m. If someone affiliated with a club is pressuring you prior to the commit date, you may contact the Evergreen Region's Ethics and Compliance Advisory Board member. This contact information is available on the Board of Directors page of the region website.
What is included in club dues, and what does it cost to play for Columbia?
2015-16 Club dues information will be available at the Parent/Player information meeting and posted to our website that day. Club dues are paid in monthly installments over the first few months of the season (beginning at December's first practice.) There are no fund-raising requirements with Columbia, but individual teams sometimes do fund-raising on their own and players keep ALL the money they raise this way.
Club dues include uniforms, warm-ups, Evergreen Region fees, equipment costs, insurance, team bags, and some travel assistance for coaches. (Columbia coaches are all volunteers and are not paid for their time.) Dues do not include player travel costs to tournaments or practice. Families of players are encouraged to share travel expenses. Players are responsible for shoes, socks, & kneepads, but special pricing is often available directly from the manufacturers via Columbia.
Dues are different for each team to reflect differences in tournament schedules, and players can sometimes reduce dues by using team bags or warm-ups from previous years if they choose.
How many tournaments will my team play? ... and how long is the season?
Different teams play different schedules (the tournament schedules are set in December), but Columbia teams can expect to play (on average) 2-3 tournaments per month from January thru April and usually at least 10 tournaments by Memorial Weekend. Teams will usually play their last tournament in May or early June, except for those players who participate on teams that play post season tournaments at the end of June. Post season (June) costs are in addition to regular season dues (unless you are assigned to a team with a pre-season commitment to post season, then an initial payment towards the post season is included - this will show on your dues breakdown sheet.) Columbia may choose a different post-season tournament by team. Columbia teams play a bigger, more competitive schedule than other clubs in our area.
Players should expect Sunday practices each week (unless they are on the road for a tournament) and will usually have a weeknight practice(s) as well.