By Kathy Dotson
From November through April, dozens of area girls spend three nights a week mastering their skills as players on the East Tampa Volleyball Club. Entering its second year, East Tampa will field teams from 14-and-under through 16-and-under for the 2010 season with one 16-and-under team, two 15-and-under teams and one 14-and-under team.Owners and co-directors, AnnMarie Blair and Shannon Talmadge, founded the club in the 2009 season. Their goal was to offer players and their families another choice that would be less expensive than any other club in the Tampa Bay area. The inaugural season brought 13 athletes to the club, eight players and five practice players, who competed in the 15-and-under division.“Besides our love for the game, our club goal is to provide excellent guidance in playing volleyball,” says Talmadge, former Bloomingdale High graduate who played collegiate basketball at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) from 1989-1991 and at the University of South Florida (USF) from 1991-1992 as well as coaching two seasons with a local volleyball club. “This includes individual skills, techniques, strategy, team bonding, sportsmanship, ambition, determination and the overall satisfaction of a job well done regardless of game and match results.”The East Tampa coaching staff of Talmadge and co-director AnnMarie Blair brings more than 25 combined years of volleyball experience to the court. Blair’s volleyball resume dates back to the 1980s where she lettered and played at Armwood High School and earned an athletic scholarship to Western Carolina University where she set several school records as a setter. “We had a successful end to our first inaugural season,” says Blair, who also assisted former Bloomingdale Senior High School volleyball coach, Bonnie Hess for eight years and served as assistant coach at summer volleyball camps with Mann Middle School and Bloomingdale High School. “The girls learned a lot and really enjoyed playing volleyball together.”The cost to play on the East Tampa Club is $1,425 for the 15’s and 16’s team. The fee for the 14’s is expected to be lower. Overall, this is a bargain compared to other club teams in the areas that have fees as high as $3,000. According to Talmadge, with finances strained in most families, this is an affordable alternative for families so their daughters can play while remaining competitive with other volleyball clubs when it comes to coaching, practice times and tournament play.“Our club tuition covers practice time, tournament entry and team jerseys,” says Talmadge. “We just want to provide great volleyball training at a reasonable cost.”Tryouts begin in November. For additional information, please e-mail the coaches at firstname.lastname@example.org.