‘We trying to get to the top’: College Park volleyball team beats the odds
COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - To the unsuspecting eye, the practice area where a group of 14-to-16 years olds play volleyball in College Park looks and feels like a basketball gym. The bells and whistles that come with more established volleyball clubs north of Atlanta, are absent in College Park.
Dreamchasers Master Coach Catherine Murray picked this location because of it.
“I took it upon myself to open up this establishment which caters to the underdevelopment of volleyball in our community,” said Murray.
Murray, who is self-taught, agreed to bring volleyball, into an area some call – a volleyball desert.
“We’re here to expose our girls to volleyball. There’s a lot of benefits for the girls in this sport,” she said.
Most athletes in College Park, according to Murray, play basketball or run track. She says volleyball is new but is exploding in popularity.
Both the Pro Volleyball Federation and League One Volleyball recently announced Atlanta will be home to its new professional volleyball teams. Murray says it’s time College Park athletes jump in the game.
“We just wanna give them the best chance. The best opportunity, you know, to create more opportunities for our girls,” Murray said.
Murray says her long-term goal is to get her athletes ready for college and compete among the best.
“Oh, we trying to get to the top”, added Murray.
The Dreamchasers are mostly 1st-generation volleyball players. They have limited resources but loads of talent. They have never competed on a national level, until now.
Athlete Laila Brown says the experience was awesome. “It was pretty special.”
Brown, an outside and middle hitter recalls the moment she noticed the Dreamchasers were the only all-Black volleyball team among 5,194 entrants in the Amateur Athletic Unions Nationals also called the AAUs. It’s one of the largest volleyball tournaments in the world.
Murray insists, “Representation is everything. Representation matters.”
Teammate and setter Khloe Rainey now wants to play volleyball professionally.
“I would like to play college and overseas,” says Rainey.
The Dreamchasers entered the AAUs with a 23-1 record.
But the team’s diversity is what’s making crowds take notice.
In 2015, only 13.9% of NCAA women’s volleyball players were African-American.
Murray says competing teams were awestruck.
“The experience was overwhelming,” said Murray. “Their reaction to what they saw was that’s a talented group of Black girls. Nope sorry, they didn’t use Black, they said that’s a talented group of girls.”
The girls finished AAU’s second place in the nation. Not bad for a group of dreamers.
Murray sat back, took a sigh of relief and made a promise. “It means that now the community and also on the national level they have to take us serious.”
Tryouts for Dreamchasers start July 7.
Copyright 2023 WANF. All rights reserved.