Volleyball community, we need your help to grow the game

It takes a lot to Grow the Game — especially when you have big dreams about what college men’s volleyball can become in this country.

As the editor of Off the Block, I have always believed in not settling for the status-quo and executing ideas to make college men’s volleyball better. Now, I am taking on my biggest men’s volleyball endeavor and need your help.

The inaugural Off the Block Grow thhhhe Game Challenge presented by MotorMVB will take place Jan. 12-14 in Nashville and features 10 NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball teams. In addition, this non-conference tournament will be the first time in the city’s history that Nashville has played host to a NCAA men’s volleyball event.

I have lived in Nashville since getting married in 2013. Despite Nashville not having a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team within a four-hour drive, I knew that one day we had to expose this booming city to men’s volleyball.

This is what we hope to accomplish with the Grow the Game Challenge. It’s an opportunity to bring men’s volleyball to a new area of the country and hopefully create an interest in the sport for people who have never seen or heard of men’s volleyball.

Events like this, though, don’t come cheap — as I have learned in my first time coordinating an event of this magnitude.

We have received some amazing support from Lipscomb University to use its facility Allen Arena for the Grow the Game Challenge. In addition, MotorMVB, USA Volleyball, Molten, Springbak, Inc., the local volleyball community and some Nashville businesses have been generous to support this tournament.

However, any tournament incurs expenses. For us, we have much needed expenses like bringing in top-notch officials for these 12 matches and having a gameday staff to provide the basic needs of players, coaches and fans.

These are necessary requirements to ensure a quality tournament, and I’m asking for help from the entire volleyball community’s to support the Grow the Game Challenge.

We created an online store where individuals can buy tickets, swag and amazing in-match experiences such as getting to perform the ceremonial first serve and determining the music played in the arena during team warmups. Even if you aren’t going to be in Nashville for the event, you have an option to buy a ticket that will be donated to a member of a the local Nashville community.

Something as simple as buying a $5 ticket will go a long way to helping the Grow the Game be a success. Plus, all proceeds will go directly towards paying for the gameday operation expenses.

Our online store is a way to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute, because not just one person can grow the game. It truly takes the entire volleyball community to grow the game. This belief in working together to grow men’s volleyball is one of the reasons why Off the Block since we launched in 2011 has put any money we made right back into the sport.

Nashville is a city filled with dreamers. I am one of those dreamers. Unlike some people in this city my dream isn’t to make it big in music, it’s to make college men’s volleyball big.

This dream of mine for the Grow the Game Challenge has been a nine-month long project.

It’s been a constant project that I have sandwiched among being a first-time father with a baby girl (the most important project in my life), holding down a regular 9-5 job and maintaining the daily operations of Off the Block. It’s been a lot for late nights to get this tournament off the ground.

All we now need is your help for this tournament be a success and get it across the finish line.

Vinnie Lopes is the editor and founder of Off the Block, a national award winning website that covers college men’s volleyball.

To get your tickets to the Grow the Game Challenge and to view the online store, click here.