Over the last decade, more than 35 young women athletes have been placed in colleges around the country as a result of their involvement with the South Dade Volleyball Club program.
Begun December 2005 to provide a winter and spring activity for young women who display above average volleyball skills and to prepare them for the sport at the collegiate level, the club began modestly with only five teams. Since it came under the leadership of club director and Coach William Gonzalez seven years ago, that number has tripled and he has taken his team to the state championship twice.
“I try to instill sacrifice, motivation, perseverance and leadership, among other qualities, by establishing the expectations I have for each of my players and by the quality of work that is taught,” Gonzalez says. “I look for desire, passion and dedication to the sport and for players to maintain a level of progress through the season by helping them recognize what their goals are and how much commitment it takes to reach them.”
Gonzalez, a three-time recipient of the Miami Herald’s All-Dade Coach of the Year award, has been the head coach at Palmer Trinity School for seven years. He graduated from the ISCF Higher Institute of Physical Culture in Havana with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and later earned a master’s in sporting science and games at the University of Matanzas. Before coming to the U.S. in 2001, he was the head coach of the men’s and women’s teams at the University of Havana.
“Since I was a child, it’s been the sport I have always played,” he says. “I’ve been teaching and coaching since ’91 when I graduated college. I do it because it’s my passion; I love teaching and watching the kids improve. For me, what distinguishes volleyball from other sports is the interaction between the players, the level of communication needed to play the game and how you must come up with different solutions for different situations in a matter of seconds.”
This year the organization has an exciting new addition: Sand volleyball. Aside from the conditional differences it has from the traditional format (sand versus floor and outdoor versus indoor), sand volleyball differs in number of players per team and touches per set. Like its indoor counterpart, it is now recognized by the NCAA as an emerging sport for women. “It’s exciting because it offers another recruiting possibility for our players who want to play in college,” says Gonzalez. “It can also be a solution for players who don’t necessarily fit the indoor setting.” All South Dade Volleyball coaches are registered and certified by USA Volleyball and submit to background checks before every season. Several current coaches were once participating athletes who came back to support the association. According to Gonzalez, their organization is more than just a club or a business, it’s a family; and the most important goal is the improvement of their athletes, not only as players but as people. “The ability and mentality needed to play in South Dade Volleyball can be achieved by anyone who desires to learn, no matter what their level of conditioning or skill is, because we pride ourselves on helping our athletes play better in their middle schools, high schools, colleges or even those who simply want to pick up a healthy activity,” Gonzalez says. Club tryouts are Nov. 15-17 at the Robert Morgan Educational Center, 18180 SW 122 Ave. For more information, call 786-223- 4306 or go to <www.southdadevolleyballclub. com>.