RECAP: AAU Girls' Junior National Championship
World's largest volleyball event comes to a close
ORLANDO, Fla (June 28, 2017)-The 44th AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships came to a close Monday after 12 days of intense volleyball in the Central Florida area.
Lauren Sands, Director and Coach for Atlanta Extreme Volleyball Club said, “It’s really awesome! Not only is it just a friendly and happy place, I mean who doesn’t love to come to Orlando? But the atmosphere is really exciting too with all the music and everything. Just being here is a lot of fun!”
AAU National Championship, the largest volleyball event in the world, had a total of 2,438 teams that played 13,154 matches across 172 courts.
Before any matches were played, the Championship was kicked off with a thrilling opening ceremony featuring a speech from 9-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Carl Lewis. Lewis was accompanied by a speech from the AAU’s President and CEO Dr. Roger Goudy as well as an appearance from everyone’s favorite couple, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and a firework show.
Coaches, players and families were able to unwind and attend a private Water Park Party at Disney’s awesome Typhoon Lagoon. Guests had the whole park to themselves with a DJ and dance party.
On the court the competition was second to none. Elizabeth McKisson of champion OTVA Red Sox was eager about opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the country in the AAU National Championship, she said “I like the hard competition and how all the girls were out to win.”
With a tournament of this magnitude there is a certainty for more exposure. With 600 college coaches in attendance, there are plenty of opportunities to be noticed.
Mica Allison of the 17 Open National Champion Illini Elite, winner of the Most Outstanding Player award and Auburn University commit said about the different opportunities AAU and this event provide, “I’ve been playing AAU since I was 13 years old. It has gotten me the opportunity to play at a high level in college. “
With this many teams and matches there were multiple venues used. A majority of games were played in the Orange County Convention Center. Many of the championships and televised matches by WatchESPN.com were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. The AAU Boys’ Junior National Volleyball Championships were held at nearby Orlando Sports Center as well.
Michelle Erins, the head coach of the 17 Open Champion Illini Elite said about the event overall, “It’s been a great week, it’s been a great experience,” Erins continued “The tournament is set up so well and all the facilities are done really well. So all the kids have a great experience at all the different places that we play.”
This much passion and excitement in the world’s favorite family vacation destination makes for a truly unique environment.
This event also had an International division with seven teams representing six countries. These teams were from the Dominican Republic, Germany, China, Slovenia, Israel and two teams from Colombia. The Dominican Republic defeated 18 Open Champion Munciana in three sets to be crowned World Champions. This is the second consecutive year the Dominican Republic advanced to the finals, while being runner-up last year.
The AAU could not be more excited to give these International teams the opportunity come and compete here in the United States. Also to give American teams the chance to face some of the best teams from around the world.
The AAU Volleyball National Championship also had an impact off the court as well. For the second year, the AAU has partnered with Feeding Children Everywhere, organization is committed to providing healthy meals to those in need, in conjunction with its AAU Cares initiative. On June 16th, players, coaches, referees, families and other volunteers helped pack 80,000 healthy meals for under privileged youth across the country. This amount of meals was double what as packed the year before. Joe Gura, the AAU Cares Chair said about the experience, “Oh the event is fantastic! My favorite part is watching the kids have fun packing these meals knowing that they’re going to these children across the United States.” A player who volunteered also added, “It was super fun and I’d definitely do it again!”
As well as Feeding Children Everywhere, AAU Cares also partnered with The Side-Out Foundation for the first time. The Side-Out Foundation raises money for breast cancer research. The sport of volleyball raises more money for breast cancer research than any other professional sport and at the AAU we try to bring that same type of support to our AAU volleyball events. Attendees of the AAU Volleyball National Championship were encouraged to wear pink in support of stage IV breast cancer patients.
Results and Photos from the 44th AAU Girls’ National Volleyball Championship
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