Thunder Bay Girls Club alumni Brianna Chin (left) and Terra Brooks (right) back in the gym with their former volleyball coach, Javier Fortuno. (Photo courtesy of Linda Chion.)

By Linda Chion

Back on the court are Thunder Bay Girls Club alumni Brianna Chin and Terra Brooks, graduates of Newsome and Strawberry Crest High Schools, respectively, who shared with today’s players the value of a club set to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

Under the banner of the nonprofit Thunder Bay Volleyball Academy, the girls club is set to enter its 10th season in the fall, one of a field of academy offerings for players ages 6-18, including private lessons; summer camps and intensives; upcoming beach, boys, mini club and Circuit Club programs; and Saturday Thunder Sprouts and Thunder Bay Junior Club.

Thunder Bay was co-founded by Walter Perkins III, who also founded the Brandon Bolts basketball program, now in its 22nd year as the Bay Area/Brandon Bolts. Ronnie Shamberger also co-founded Thunder Bay.

At Immanuel Lutheran School’s gymnasium off John Moore Rd. in Brandon, Chin and Brooks discussed with junior club players what is needed to take it to the next level, as the alumni learned through their ‘Thunder Bay Way’ skills-building and team-building experiences.

“One of the best things I did to prepare me for playing college volleyball was coming to Thunder Bay,” said Chin, an Oglethorpe University graduate. “When I went to college, there wasn’t a coach that could break me down, work me harder, than what I found here. When your parents take you here and sacrifice for you to be here, don’t take that for granted.”

Now a Thunder Bay coach herself, “It’s nice being a coach next to your old coaches,” said Brooks, an Alabama A&M University graduate. “It’s like you never stop learning.”

To the players, she added, “We can’t teach you to want to play the game, to put effort into the game. You guys should want to do that for each other. So, think about that while you’re in practice, because this is where it starts.”

Set to expand further in Southeastern Hillsborough County, Thunder Bay currently uses gym space at Immanuel Lutheran, New Hope United Methodist Church and High 5 Inc. For more information, visit, email or call 813-331-5388.

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