Serve Up a New Opportunity & Attract a Different Age Group of Athletes

A Webinar with Jennifer McCraw, Amanda Watson, Amy Parkins, & Bri Warlick

In a recent Upward Sports webinar titled “Serve Up a New Opportunity and Attract a Different Age Group of Athletes!,” three experienced league directors shared their insights and strategies for introducing volleyball to their communities. The webinar was hosted by Jennifer McCraw, with Upward Sports, who was joined by Amy Perkins from Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Amanda Watson from North Hills Church, and Bri Warlick from Kingsway United Methodist Church.

Volleyball's Rising Popularity: The Fastest Growing Upward Sport

The webinar began by highlighting the rapid growth of volleyball as an Upward Sport since its launch in August 2021. Within the first year, over 18 leagues were established nationwide, and the following year saw a surge to over 75 leagues. This remarkable growth reflects the increasing popularity of volleyball, which was recently ranked as the top sport in 25 states across the country.

The Appeal of Volleyball

The league directors shared their perspectives on why they love the sport of volleyball. Bree Warlock praised its inclusivity, allowing players of varying skill levels to participate and enjoy healthy competition. Amanda Watson highlighted the opportunity to reach different athletes, as 70 of the players in her league did not participate in basketball the previous season. Amy Perkins emphasized volleyball’s appeal to girls and its potential as a lifetime sport.

Intentional Community Outreach: Building Relationships Through Sports

The webinar emphasized the importance of using sports as an intentional tool for community outreach and sharing the gospel. Amanda Watson shared a heartwarming story about how her church’s gymnasium serves as a safe haven for local children, providing not only a place to play but also a sense of belonging and nourishment.

Creating Welcoming Environments

Bri Warlick, in her first year as a league director, witnessed the powerful impact of volleyball in introducing families to the church and the message of Christ. Parents and grandparents expressed gratitude for the positive environment and the opportunity to learn about Jesus in a welcoming setting.

Getting Started with Volleyball

The league directors offered practical advice for churches considering adding volleyball to their sports ministry. They recommended assessing available facilities, engaging passionate volunteers, and presenting a well-researched proposal to church leadership. Upward Sports provides customized support and resources to help new partners successfully launch their programs.

Managing Practices & Gamedays

The webinar covered various aspects of running a volleyball league, including space requirements, modifications for different age groups and skill levels, volunteer recruitment, and creating an enjoyable atmosphere on game days. The directors emphasized the importance of flexibility and tailoring the experience to meet the needs of the participants.

Evaluation & Team Formation

Effective evaluations and team formation processes were discussed, with the directors sharing their strategies for assessing players’ skills and creating balanced teams. Techniques such as assigning numbers, conducting drills, and observing scrimmages were highlighted as valuable tools for successful team placement.

Throughout the webinar, the league directors encouraged potential partners to take the leap of faith and embrace volleyball as a powerful tool for community outreach and spiritual growth. With Upward Sports’ support and the collective wisdom shared, churches can confidently introduce this inclusive and fast-growing sport to their communities, attracting a diverse group of athletes and their families.

Looking to start and plan an Upward Sports Ministry at your church? We are ready to support you!

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