The A5 Difference
The Player Experience - Learning Life Lessons through Volleyball
Owing to the vision of our Founders, coupled with the selfless devotion of our leadership group, coaches and buy-in by our athletes and their parents, A5 achieved a high level of success in a very short period of time. By 2008, our third year of competition, our club was winning more Regional Championships and bids to the USAV National Championship tournaments than all other clubs in the Southern Region combined.
At that juncture the Board commissioned a five-year plan, outlining goals for the club and quantifiable metrics for measuring our progress. The following quote is taken from that document:
"A5's vision for the future is to earn a reputation on both qualitative and quantitative levels within the next five years such that we are considered by acclamation to be the finest Junior Olympic Volleyball Club in the South and one of the top ten in the nation."
With that goal in hand, commissioned a Benchmark study for the purpose of learning the Best Practices of the clubs who had already achieved national acclaim. We also put in place quantifiable metrics by which to measure our progress. From that framework, we offer the following summary of attributes that we believe differentiate A5 from most other Volleyball Clubs - "The A5 Difference".
- Consistent coaching is of course one of our core values, but its importance was reinforced during our benchmark study. Most clubs have a tryout and assign girls to a team and the coach teaches whatever he or she learned as a player. The best clubs in the land require their coaches to teach the same language, techniques, plays and culture from the time that they enter the club until they leave for college. A5 ascribes to this philosophy, and has a master coaching structure in place to help implement it. Additionally, A5 encourages and funds a variety of professional development opportunities for its coaches.
- A5 recognizes that the cost of playing club volleyball is high - out of reach for many families. So we've created revenue streams other than player fees. Indeed, 16% of the revenue generated by the club is from sources other than player fees.
- We also have a need-based financial assistance program in which we are able to help dozens of economically disadvantaged families with the cost of playing for our club. Concurrent with financial assistance, we provide multiple options for these and other families to earn money to help offset player fees.
- Eight of the twelve benchmark clubs that we studied controlled their own facility. With the development of Southern Volleyball Center, coupled with a long-term Use Agreement with the Cooler, our ability to practice consistently and uninterrupted is assured for the foreseeable future.
- For our elite teams, the cost of travel exceeds that of player fees. So we've expended significant effort to bring the competition to us. We now host seven major tournaments throughout the club season•to include the Beast of the Southeast Invitational, which attracts top teams from throughout the Southeast.
- We learned from our benchmark study that bigger doesn't always mean better, so we never actually aspired to become a 65-team organization. That said, demand for elite volleyball training in the South is enormous, and experience suggests that GMA Atlanta is big enough to support three or four nationally elite clubs. So rather than expanding to incorporate local teams on the roster, we have chosen to expand geographically, through the incorporation of sister clubs, with the goal of these clubs, too, achieving elite status. A5 now has two sisters - A5 South in Peachtree City, GA, and GA5 in Suwanee. Our goal is for the three A5 sisters to constitute three of the top five clubs in the Southern region.
Rather than simply make such a claim, A5 measures its success with quantifiable metrics. And we don't judge ourselves solely on how our best teams perform in National competition; rather we evaluate our performance in a manner that is unprecedented within the Club Volleyball Community. Some of our success is enumerated in the "accomplishments" section of this website, but we provide the following summary for your convenience.
- Our desire as a club is to peak for the Regional Championships at the end of April. All of our teams aspire to win a Regional Championship, and most go deep into the tournament. 2012 was a fairly typical year for us. An A5 team won the Regional Championship in five of the seven age brackets, and was runner-up in four. Two age brackets featured an All-A5 final.
- By the end of the season, the Southern Regional Rankings are reasonably accurate indicators of a team's competitive success. Of 80 - 120 teams in a typical age bracket, we aspire for our top two teams to finish in the top five, with our third team in the top ten of the Southern Region. We achieved this metric in 2012 in all but a few age brackets. Indeed, in 2013 all five of our u13 teams were ranked in the top ten of the region.
- One of our goals as a club is to qualify ten or more teams for the USAV National Championship tournament. We have met this goal for the past four years; indeed, no club in the country has earned more bids to the USAV National Championship tournament than A5 over this time horizon...
- Most of the athletes that play for our club aspire to play in college, and one of our goals as an organization is to help every girl find her perfect fit. Since 2008, 100% of our graduating seniors who wanted to play in college had that opportunity. In 2012, we sent 30 athletes on to play inter-collegiately (48, including GA5), and another 43 in 2013. No other club in the country is doing this year in and year out.
- Qualitative success is important too, and we measure this through mid-season and post-season surveys. We aspire to achieve a member satisfaction rating of 90% or better, and each year we receive several actionable reports of which we would not have been aware but for the existence of this anonymous tool. We use this member feedback to help the club - and our staff -improves our level of service every season.
- In addition to helping our athletes find the right opportunity to play at the next level, we are proud of the fact that we have helped our coaching staff find opportunities to coach at the college level. Eight former A5 coaches are currently coaching in college. Though we hate to lose these gifted coaches, we recognize that this dynamic is healthy, and is one of the reasons that we are successful in attracting such a talented coaching staff.