Fueled by a strong passion for volleyball and after observing a growing need for more programing in the Long Island and Tri-State areas, my volleyball website/public forum officially became a volleyball company as we held our first tournament on this exact date 15 years ago (a grass tournament in Eisenhower Park, in case you were wondering!).
What would become VBLI is still here 15 years later...and to say it has been a journey of a lifetime would be an understatement.
When asked why I started this organization, the specifics don’t really matter and instead, I find myself talking about the people that populate this community.
I’ve seen individuals further their volleyball skills and education, thus ascending through the ranks and competing in professional environments. I’ve witnessed teenagers and young adults graduate high-school, college, grad school and gone on to promising careers. I’ve noticed friendships (and friendly rivalries!) form and romances blossom, going as far as couples getting married and starting families. I’ve watched our players become instructors, coaches and heads of clubs/programs...and help usher in the next generation of volleyball enthusiasts!
In short, I’ve had the pleasure of so many amazing, talented, kind, unique individuals - the common denominator being an undying love of volleyball! - welcome us into their lives, share their stories and make VBLI their home. A kind of home where teammates can play and have fun outside of more formal settings. Where friends make our tournaments their perfect occasion or an ’excuse’ to reconvene...and it’s even been a necessity of sorts for those who may have found themselves in some rough times (like, y’know, the last 14 months) and needed an escape from the rigors of the real world.
It would be easy for me to say that this is something I anticipated, but it wasn’t. This happened because all of you took a volleyball organization with big aspirations, and made it your friendly neighborhood volleyball organization, thus allowing me to fulfill a dream in the process. To receive phone calls and texts and heartfelt letters about our tournaments over the last 15 years about what VBLI means to you, how much fun you have, that you plan your schedules around our tournaments, etc….is an overwhelming, indescribable feeling.
For what was once thought to be impossible and when I was told I wouldn’t have a year 1, 3, 5 or 10, we’re here at year 15 - emerging from the most catastrophic times in recent history, and striving to do better and more for the people that have supported us along the way.
One of the quotes that always lives rent free in my head is, “If you build it, they will come”...well...you all came. Some attend our tournaments more often than others as time and life will allow, while others have found us on social media and joined us from afar...but all that matters is that you’re here, you are important and you are a part of creating something that has exceeded my wildest dreams. That is what we will be celebrating today, throughout the rest of our Summer Series...and for many years to come.
Cheers to another 15 (30! 45!) years friends...and THANK YOU for making VBLI a part of your lives!