When driving home from a club volleyball game about two years ago, Ryen Campbell and Maya Martin started telling their parents how they felt excluded from the team. So, the girls and their fathers worked together to create a more diverse and welcoming volleyball club for Elmont and North Valley Stream high school students.
The girls spoke to Principal Kevin Dougherty about using Elmont Memorial High School’s facilities for the club, and their fathers, Neil Martin and Terrance Campbell, helped set it up. Neil filed the permits to establish the club as a nonprofit, and Terrance worked to get the club recognized by USA Volleyball, the national governing body of volleyball in the United States.
“I could see nothing but positives,” Terrance said of the idea to create a volleyball club, noting that there weren’t any other volleyball clubs in the area, and it provides children with an opportunity to “get out and have fun as a part of the community.”
Their first year, they had 23 girls enroll in the club, enough for one team. They met at the high school weeknights from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., where they were coached by the two fathers — despite Neil not knowing much about the sport and Terrance being exhausted from installing Verizon Wireless cables in New York City.
“You could just see that he cares about the girls,” Ryen said, noting that her father doesn’t treat her differently from the other players on the team, and rewards them to trips to Dave & Busters.
The club also offers a traveling team that teenagers have to try out for, and a developmental clinic for children and adults who want to learn about the sport. In the off-season, the club members also participate in camp outings and a beach volleyball club. “It’s an all-year round thing to get the kids involved,” Terrance said. “It’s more like a family environment.”
This past year, word of the volleyball club spread, and they had enough people sign up to form five teams, including one boys’ team. “There is a lot of interest in the Valley Stream, Elmont area,” Neil said with Terrance noting that a lot of girls had talent, but did not have an outlet to play volleyball prior to the club’s formation.
Maya also said “it was really cool to see that I had [my dad’s] support unconditionally,” and Ryen said, “It’s a great feeling to know that my parents are willing to start a nonprofit volleyball club for low-income residents.”
For more information about the Long Island Knights nonprofit volleyball club, visit its website at https://www.liknightsvbc.org.