New JVDA Director of Marketing and Public Relations Returns to Volleyball
by Cheryl Simpson
Hello. In case we haven't met, I'm Cheryl Simpson, the new Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Junior Volleyball Directors Association (JVDA). This is my answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
In a former life, I was a Corporate Manager for Meeting Planning/Trade Shows/Facilities Planning and a Global Customer Service - 24/7 Help Desk. This was a 14-year career that took me all over the United States and around the world several times.
Then my only daughter, who had been involved in organized sports since the age of 5, discovered "CLUB VOLLEYBALL!" Yes, I was one of those dreaded club parents who was chauffer, medic, cheerleader, club travel coordinator and fundraiser.
My daughter played club ball for five exciting years introducing me to the sport of volleyball and what would become close family friends. One of the highlights of our club experience was a trip to China, which was probably more fun for the parents. The parents would go off site seeing, unlike the kids and coaches who were training in the gym for eight days. We did get to watch some practices and matches, and it was amazing to see how young athletes train and play in another country!
Once we got past the recruiting phase of my daughter's volleyball life, it was time for her to go away to college. I soon realized I was not ready to give up watching her play the sport I had now come to love, so by working numerous part time jobs, I had the flexibility to travel and follow her collegiate team.
I'm proud to say I never missed a match in four years and saw some awesome volleyball in the process. Part of the excitement was to see so many of the players and their families we had met over the years of club ball. This past December as I watched my daughter play the last match of her collegiate career, the thought that ran through my mind was: Now what?
That's when the opportunity to work with the JVDA presented itself. It would allow me to combine my past corporate experience with my love of the sport of volleyball!
My first indoctrination to my new job was to jump in head first into the last phases of the planning of the inaugural JVDA Championship in Louisville, Ky. While most of the planning had taken place over the previous months, I'd like to think I added some small contributions at the end of process.
It was 7:00 a.m. on June 27, when the doors opened to the exhibit hall in the Kentucky Expo Center. There were almost 5,000 young athletes entering to warm up on 74 courts and begin the very first JVDA Championships. As the national anthems for the United States, Japan and Puerto Rico played that morning, a shiver ran up my spine. Here we go!
The next four days unveiled top level competition that would be played in front of family, friends and fans of all ages, not to mention over 200 college coaches. To add to the excitement in the air, there were many sightings of Karch Kiraly and TV cameras throughout the gym, as he was there to capture all the action. This footage will be included in a half hour special for the CBS College Sports Network set to air sometime in early August.
At the end of the four days, I felt I had been part of a junior volleyball event like no other I had ever attended. International teams, fans standing 10 deep around courts for first day pool play, TV cameras, and last, but not least, Karch in the gym! Now I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up ... part of the JVDA.
My hope for the JVDA is that we continue to grow the sport of volleyball so it becomes the number one sport in the U.S. that kids want to play. I know I'll be watching.
See you courtside.