The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) was incorporated as a private non-profit educational corporation named the Collegiate Volleyball Coaches Association (CVCA) in 1981. The original Board of Directors consisted of eight NCAA Division I collegiate coaches. A part-time executive director administered awards programs and advocacy efforts.
As the CVCA began to grow a full time executive director, Sandy Vivas, was hired in July 1983 and the association held its first Convention in Lexington, KY in December of that year. Programming grew to include clinics, publications, polls, & statistics, After rapid growth throughout the collegiate volleyball coaching ranks, the CVCA renamed itself the AVCA in 1986 and opened up membership to high school and club volleyball coaches. Following this rebranding, the Board was increased to 13 members, and membership doubled by 1988.
The Association moved from San Mateo, Calif., to Colorado Springs, Colorado in August of 1992. Staff positions were added to manage membership, convention services, media relations, sponsorships and financial matters. Due to the skills of Sandy Vivas the AVCA was a leader among coaches associations in developing technological tools for both program management and to serve members, a distinction it holds to this day.
In 2000 Sandy Vivas retired as executive director and was replaced by Lindy Binn who was succeeded in 2003 by Katherine O’Connell. This was a time of transition for both the sport and the association. While participation at the youth levels was increasing steadily, investment in volleyball at the college level had stalled. These leaders succeeded in spite of this challenge. The Convention continued to be a professionally-run, ‘must attend’ event and the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase generated both exposure for the sport and resources for the association.
Kathy DeBoer was hired as executive director in February 2006, and in March the AVCA Board voted to change from a self-managed association model to a management company model. This lead to the relocation of the headquarters from Colorado Springs to Lexington, Kentucky in July of 2006, and a partnership with Host Communications, a sports marketing and association management company. Host Communications was subsequently sold to IMG and the association management division was then sold to Associations International.
The change in management structure stimulated another round of dramatic growth as the AVCA grew from 3200 members to over 7000 between 2006 and 2016. During this same time period the sport enjoyed a decade of success in both participation and investment: volleyball grew to the top team sport for girls in U.S. high schools surpassing basketball for the first time in 2014-15; participation in junior programs increased by 50%; growth in college sponsorship warranted the addition by the NCAA of a DIII Men’s National Championship; and, beach volleyball grew from an NCAA emerging sport to a championship sport in just five years, the fastest transition in NCAA history.
The AVCA Board of Directors now numbers 17 and the core staff has grown to 10. Revenues are generated primarily by the convention and other events, membership dues, and sponsorship and advertising. Convention attendance has surpassed 2200 four of the last five years making this event the largest gathering of volleyball coaches in the world. The AVCA also has active partnerships with coaches groups in Japan, Canada, Poland and Australia.