A new volleyball club has recently emerged in Collingwood, spiking interest among the sport's enthusiasts.
Founded by Jonathan Hillis, the Collingwood Volleyball Club was created to bring together players of all ages and skill levels, promote the sport of volleyball in the community and provide a welcoming and competitive environment for all.
“There’s enough room for everybody, there’s enough opportunity,” said Hillis. “It’s really about growing the game and making sure people have access to it.”
Volleyball has always been a large part of Hillis’s life. After high school, he was recruited to play on the varsity team at the University of Saskatchewan and afterwards went on to work as an assistant coach at Mohawk College for eight years.
When Hillis and his family moved to Collingwood last summer, he was surprised to learn that there was a shortage of organized and accessible volleyball programs. So he decided to create one.
Hillis had hosted volleyball tournaments and skills clinics in the past as a way to give back to communities he’s lived in, so he had a good idea of what it would take to create a volleyball club in Collingwood.
“I’ve always loved volleyball and especially loved coaching, and I am always looking for ways to give back to the community and get more people playing,” he said. “So I figured I might as well start something here and see what happens.”
The planning process started to take shape over the Christmas holidays, and by the end of January Hillis had filled enough spots to set up a league. The club started by offering recreational and competitive leagues once a week during the winter season.
Now, as the summer approaches, the club has announced it will be launching its first beach leagues. The leagues will kick off in June, with a recreational league taking place on Monday nights and a competitive one on Tuesdays.
The club is currently accepting registrations for teams and individuals interested in participating.
The addition of beach leagues to the club's offerings will hopefully attract even more players of all skill levels and ages to the club, Hillis said. He has also announced that he will run an adult volleyball clinic to help anyone get back up to speed and improve their game before the season.
“I really want to make it more of a social league,” he said. “Maybe we can even find a place to go after and deepen those connections with the community.”
Both leagues will be coed and will take place from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Sunset Point beach courts.
Hillis purposely focused on connecting with adults in the club’s first year to see if it would stick. “I am a firm believer that you have to start with adults,” he said. “Start with parents first.”
By doing so and giving them a space to play has quickly shown Hillis that there is a need and desire for youth programs as well. He said that will be his next step, although he wants to introduce programs in a meaningful and impactful way, so any formal programming likely won’t take place until the fall.
The club also officially became a not-for-profit, with all of the money from registration fees getting filtered back into the club to cover costs and then ultimately develop more programming.
Looking forward, Hillis also wants to find ways to utilize the club to connect with businesses in the community. He has plans to host multi-day tournaments in the off season and invite teams from around Southern Ontario to come spend the weekend in Collingwood. He said he welcomes the idea of partnering with local businesses for group discounts and social events on league nights.
“Let’s support this community,” he said. “Let’s support local families and businesses and do it through volleyball, a sport I love.”
The Collingwood Volleyball Club is open to players of all ages and skill levels. For more information on the club and its programs, visit their website at collingwoodvolleyball.com.