FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A growing professional volleyball league will spike its way into the Summit City this weekend.
The National Volleyball Association Pro Tour will hold one of its tournament stops at Empowered Sports Club, 12124 Lima Road in Fort Wayne, for a series of matches. The indoor round-robin tournament features three matches Saturday afternoon and three more during the day on Sunday. Matches will follow international (FIVB) rules.
“This is the style of volleyball we’re trying to train club volleyball players to play every day,” Will Robbins, CEO of Empowered Sports Club, tells ParkviewSportsMedicine.com. “This gives them the proper perspective of what we’re looking for.”
Robbins is one of 15 men suiting up for Pineapple. Joining him are a host of former IPFW VolleyDons, namely Olympic Gold medalist Lloy Ball and original All-American Loren Gebert. The team has added several other players with Midwestern collegiate volleyball backgrounds, who are playing for the love of the game and in the spirit of competition.
“The opportunity to play at a high level with a team that I consider family is unbelievable,” Ball, the league’s 2018 MVP, says. “There are so many guys who have stayed in town. We have been together for 20 years. Then, we add younger guys. And we continue to get better as a team.” Ball runs Ball Sports Academy and Team Pineapple Volleyball Club in Angola.
Other teams competing on the tour are two Eastern Conference teams (Chicago Icemen, New York Legion) and a Western Conference cross-over team (Santa Barbara Rising Tide).
In its second season, the NVA Pro Tour’s has become an alternative for American players having to play overseas. Ball puts the league’s level of play as somewhere between collegiate volleyball Olympic competition. The Western Conference teams in Phoenix and Costa, Mesa, California, make-up a 7-team league that travels to six different tournaments during a season ending in late-July. The NVA will return to Northeast Indiana later this summer with events at Ball Sports Academy, 200 Intertek Parkway in Angola. The league championship will be played at BSA on the weekend of July 27.
Robbins and Ball worked with NVA officials to bring a pro tournament to Northeast Indiana, citing the size of the Fort Wayne, the state-of-the facilities capable of hosting such events, and the rich volleyball tradition in the region.
“This is always something we’ve always prayed for—that one day, there would a legitimate pro league in the United States,” Robbins describes the NVA. “The fact that we’re part of something that can hopefully keep American players here, where they can make a living and stay close to home, is really something special.”
Admission to the NVA Pro Tour tournament at Empowered Sports Club is $5. Players from Empowered Volleyball Academy and Team Pineapple Club, co-hosts of the event, get in free. There is also a VIP party Saturday night, allowing spectators to meet players and get autographs with an upgraded $10 admission.
Empowered Sports Club and Ball Sports Academy partner with Parkview Sports Medicine for athletic training, sports performance, athletic rehabilitation, nutrition, physical therapy and other orthopedic services for athletes. To learn more, visit ParkviewSportsMedicine.com.