However you would elect to phrase it, a birthday or an anniversary, VBLI is officially entering its 14th year of operations!
2006 feels like an entirely different world (an understatement really). Do any of you know the story of our first grass volleyball tournament? An unexpected torrential downpour of rain happened and we had to cancel it. Because of course that would happen, right?!
The next day, an overwhelmingly humid Sunday for June, is when everything changed for the better. The “Volleyball in the Park” series, as it was initially referred to as, kicked off and 126 volleyball players convened at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County, which remains a site for VBLI’s Grass Summer Series. It was fulfilling for me on many levels to host a tournament for the sport that I love and to bring together other enthusiasts from the Long Island area.
And then the last 14 years happened...VBLI became a players-first community of sorts, so much so, I credit all of you for helping mold this organization into what it has become. With your continued support and input, we were able to expand to beach and indoor formats and welcome upwards of 12,000 players from other parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and beyond (no kidding - last year, we had players visiting from Portland, OR and from as far as Italy!). We’ve launched an active club program that has sent 53 teams to USAV Nationals over the last 8 years. And amongst so many other achievements, I’m particularly fond of the fact that we raised over $500,000 cumulatively for collegiate athletic programs in the region, scholarships and several charities, such as KenYa Dig It.
It hasn’t always been easy though; any business owner will tell you a similar sentiment. But...we survived the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, to cite one example, and we will thrive again after this pandemic fades away. Let’s not dwell on this, admittedly, somber reality and instead, let’s toast to all of you.
Cheers to this community for bringing athleticism, passion and enthusiasm to the courts every weekend and for helping grow the sport of volleyball on a regional level. Cheers to coming together as teammates and friends (and friendly adversaries!) to provide life experiences and cherishable memories.
Lastly...thank you so very much for supporting a small business with big ambitions, and for allowing me the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. I am sincere when I say that I miss all of you and upon returning from hiatus, let’s celebrate the sport we love, the connections we have made and the journey ahead.
VBLI’s Founder and Managing Director