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2021 Grade 3-8 Spring League Volleyball

2021 Grade 4-8 spring registration information was emailed to all returning players on the week of January 11, 2021. Information will be sent home from school for grade 3 in February, and will be posted here and the Grantsburg volleyball Facebook page.


Spring league volleyball in Grantsburg began in 2014 and has always been free and open to everyone. It is our mission to make volleyball accessible and affordable to all! This year, grade 4-8 communication was all done online, so it is possible that we missed new players who wanted to try it for the first time. Due to COVID, we cannot host our fund raiser tournament to allow everyone to play for free as usual, so we will charge grade 4-8 players $20 to cover our participation fees with the league. Grade 3 remains free. Club volleyball (established in 1993) used to be the primary way for youth to compete, but cost and Twin Cities travel were difficult for some families. The small number of young players interested in winter club now try out for area clubs, and Grantsburg rarely has young club teams unless parents get it rolling. Spring league has taken its place.


Grade 3:
Volleyball team competition begins in grade 3 with four Saturday mornings in April in Rush City (Minnesota). Information is sent home with all grade 3 girls in January or February. Once a week practices begin in March. They will be Wednesdays this year due to gym space and schedule conflicts. 

For grades 4-8:

We offer an option (or addition) to USA juniors (Crex Meadows winter club volleyball): the Wisconsin Independent Volleyball League (WIVL). This league has been in existence since 2004, but 2014 was Grantsburg's first year. For complete information, please visit the website: and click on the page at the top for “Volleyball League.” Please skim the material below for some important items and scroll to the bottom for 2019 registration materials.

MISSION. The WIVL was created to give girls an opportunity to play volleyball in the months having fewer conflicts with other youth sports, such as basketball-gymnastics-hockey in winter or soccer & softball in late spring/summer.

Grantsburg volleyball seeks to provide opportunities for skill development and competition, and encourage young athletes to try a variety of healthy activities rather than "specialize" in one sport. We want the WIVL experience to be affordable and accessible to all families. We emphasize free or low cost and local, with limited travel. 

[Side note: WHY ISN'T YOUTH VOLLEYBALL PLAYED IN THE FALL DURING THE HIGH SCHOOL SEASON? Although there are fall leagues in the Twin Cities, they began as enrichment and replacement for bigger MN districts that cut their middle school volleyball programs. Also, the high school season requires Saturday tournaments to create a full schedule for each school's multiple age level high school teams. Therefore, there is very little gym space available, and the limited supply of coaches & officials is already stretched thin.]

PHILOSOPHY. As the varsity coach, my goals for our youth teams are to get EVERYONE adequate court time. Playing time won't always be exactly equal because of variables like individual game length or, in the case of older teams, specialized positions (setter, libero, etc.), but playing time should be VERY similar for our youth teams. When I work with a team, I keep records of playing time and rotate "subs" evenly. Our emphasis at all levels of volleyball include teaching strong fundamental skills, instilling good knowledge of the game (volleyball "IQ"), and emphasizing teamwork and character/sportsmanship. We expect players to have positive attitudes and try their best. We expect coaches to be fair and encouraging to all. We want to see "pass-set-hit (attack)" combinations and will focus on skill improvement rather than winning.

Everyone matters. Children develop at different rates; some show early signs of athletic coordination, but get surpassed by late bloomers. No one can predict who will progress to a high level or stay interested. All players deserve the opportunity to learn and play and HAVE FUN!

It was never my expectation that our youth play winter club AND spring league AND play middle school volleyball, etc. Ideally, players will choose one or two of these "seasons" to build a solid volleyball foundation since each season is very short in duration (about 7-8 weeks). It is important for young athletes to enjoy a variety of sports and avoid playing the same sport year-round. If athletes choose one sport, taking breaks is essential to avoid physical & mental burnout or overuse injuries.

FLEXIBILITY. This league has a short season, is played only on Saturdays, costs less than most sports, allows teams to choose the number of tournaments they play (out of 7-8 possible) and choose the number of matches played in a day (3 to 7 possible). It offers the opportunity to host and/or travel to other WI schools generally within an hour or so. Players & coaches--with family input--choose their own schedules.

COST.  When our teams travel to other schools, there is a charge for every spectator, usually in the $3-5 range. When Grantsburg HOSTS a tournament, we do not charge parents or siblings of GRANTSBURG players who are competing that day. All other spectators pay $2 admission to Grantsburg tournaments. Beginning in 2018, fees to compete were increased to $26 per match with a $15 "hosting" credit. We have been able to let players compete for free by earning enough money at our home tournament. 

TEAM SIZE & AGE. The league offers grade 8, grade 7, grade 6, and grade 4/5 levels. Older players are not allowed to play down a grade. Younger players MAY play up. The grade 4/5 league has teams that are all grade 4, all grade 5, or combined grade 4/5. Ideally, teams will have 8-10 players. If there are fewer players, it can be tricky if more than one player is unavailable on a play date. If there are more players, individuals do not receive adequate court time. We can have more than one team at the same age level, and teams can ‘share’ players if needed. Because advanced players can get frustrated, and less experienced players can get intimidated and overwhelmed, we do our best to group players of similar age, experience, and ability level together. There might still be quite a range of ability. Skilled coaches will strive to find creative solutions so that everyone feels both challenged and confident.

Players are only allowed to be from the Grantsburg school district, or live within the district and homeschooled. This is a league rule.

COACHES: For both winter club and spring league volleyball, we have historically had parent volunteers coach the teams. We are getting to the point that there are many capable and knowledgeable parents or alumni willing to give their time to help ALL team members succeed. I am always willing to provide support, resources, and ideas to our coaches, in addition to helping run practices. Although I cannot have current GHS players assist me when I coach, some of our coaches have enjoyed their help. The girls benefit from this mentoring relationship and it gives our coaches more ideas for running practices, using a variety of drills, and teaching skills. If you feel confident to coach a team, please talk to me. When we have more than one person interested in coaching per team, we encourage "co-coaching." In the years that we charge a participation fee, we allow the daughters of our coaches to play for free as a very small "thanks" for their time.

My coaching experience is listed under "Coaching Staff" at the left.

UNIFORMS & GEAR. We have simple numbered purple jerseys that the younger teams borrow, purchased with spring league funds. We are also allowed to borrow old sets of winter club volleyball jerseys when our participation numbers are high. Players may wear black spandex or black shorts or skirts or pants of any length. Volleyball or court shoes are recommended, but clean gym shoes are fine. Kneepads are recommended. You may buy new or ask around to borrow, etc. We ask all coaches to respect the mission of this spring league to keep costs LOW and we request that NO new jerseys be purchased by individual families to use for spring league. We have plenty to borrow, and if players who do both winter club and spring league want to wear their purchased winter club jerseys, any spring league players on that team who do NOT have those jerseys will be required to borrow a similar one or the entire team will need to borrow a set of spring league jerseys. Lost or damaged jerseys will cost $20 for families to replace.

TOURNAMENTS. The WIVL play dates are eight Saturdays in March, April, May, plus a league championship. When we register each team, we list the dates that a particular team is NOT available to play. For example, some of our young teams end their season on the first Saturday of May due to soccer & softball. Technically, these are not "tournaments" with pool play, brackets, and champions. The WIVL calls them "meets" and simply offers flexible scheduling play dates with pre-arranged match times and opponents. 

PRACTICES. In March, we often host FREE Saturday morning clinics/practices. It can be difficult to find after-school practice time in the GHS or GMS gyms if our high school basketball teams are still in season or our high school spring athletic teams (softball, baseball, track) are stuck inside due to poor weather. Ideally, each team would have at least ONE practice a week, two if possible. It is good to have more practice dates than competition dates to build a solid foundation of fundamental skills. Some of these times might be after 7:30pm for grade 7-8 teams, but we strongly encourage all levels to finish by 8:00 in the evening. Grade 4-5 teams are generally done before 6pm, and often earlier. Although the floor and net are not good at the elementary school, I might be able to reserve that gym for our youngest teams from 4:30-6:00 when we struggle to get into the GMS or GHS gyms. We do not schedule practices on Wednesdays or Sundays.


January : Enrollment information became available and will be emailed the week of January 11 to grade 4-8 families who have been involved previously or who asked me for information. Check WIVL website for more info (see above), email me to ask questions (see below), and talk among yourselves to determine if there are enough interested players to create teams.

Friday, February 12: This is the deadline for collecting registration forms and indicating each player's intent to participate! I am working on an online registration form this year. No late additions will be accepted after this date UNLESS a team has fewer than 8 players and specific "recruiting" is needed.

February: Volunteer coaches are secured. Coaches meet to organize players into teams and choose play dates. 

Friday, February 19. Deb finalizes all registration materials and play dates to submit to WIVL.

Saturdays in late February/early March: MIGHT be skills clinics this day in GHS or GMS. (TO BE DETERMINED): Deb hosts FREE clinic/practices for grades 4-8. Older players are welcome to assist with younger player sessions. GHS senior volleyball players or any GHS students with past volleyball experience are welcome to assist any level community service if paperwork is pre-approved and signed. No current GHS players may assist Deb with any coaching/instruction due to WIAA rules.

2021 play dates: All Saturdays:
We will be assigned to compete on FOUR Saturdays, choosing from these dates: March 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8. We will likely avoid the early March dates to get more practice first. There is a league tournament on May 15, but we do not usually compete in that as softball is underway with a lot of participation overlap. Grade 7-8 usually ends in April. Grades 4-5-6 often play in a Rush City tournament on the second Saturday of May, which is up in the air this year due to COVID.

Saturday, May 15: WIVL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNEY.  We have generally avoided participating this weekend due to it usually falling on graduation and 8th grade Washington DC trip. If teams are interested in this, we can work something out. It looks like it is a week earlier in 2021.

Registration forms available by contacting Deb.

CLICK HERE for concussion information (only need to read, do not print)
CLICK HERE for a .pdf comparing school, club, spring league volleyball in terms of dates, costs, etc.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns! 
Deb Allaman-Johnson
Grantsburg Volleyball Coach