Northeast Portland Youth Volleyball is a talented group of girls competing in the U-14 and U-12 categories, led by coach Tony Melson. I first noticed their exceptional training while my daughter was competing for Chief Joseph Elementary's newly formed volleyball team. I asked one of the mothers where they played, and discovered they practice right in my neighborhood in North Portland, and travel year round to compete!
My daughter tried out for the team a few weeks later, and the drills and training were exceptional. One of Coach Tony Melson's former players returned to help with try-outs and shared her personal rise in volleyball, and her eventual scholarship to play volleyball at university.
Tony and his assistant coach, Nnenna Lewis, shared with me that many of the girls that play on their teams have limited funds, and so Tony and Nnenna personally subsidize the athletes, paying thousands of dollars a year for them to register, travel and compete. One item they have noticed comes up consistently are the shoes the girls have to compete in - not all of the children have the shoes they need to practice and compete, allowing them to keep up with the better subsidized programs/families around the state and region.
Having been a low-income athlete myself, there were times that I did not have the funds needed to practice, to travel, or sometimes even the funds needed to eat while I lived away from home training. My parents, at times, had to sell family valuables to send me money, or I would have to win money at the world cups I competed in... but much of my career, and eventual successes and scholarship to college, were with the assistance of the many people that saw my dedication and donated money for my club fees, tournaments, travel and equipment. I was able to accomplish great things by standing on the shoulders of others, and so I told Tony and Nnenna that I would like to help relieve some pressure from their personal bank accounts to help these kids compete by reaching out to my network and raise funds for these dedicated little girls. We need to lift these girls up and let them stand on our shoulders.
We are raising $3,000 for 20 girls (ten girls on the U-12 team and ten girls on the U-14 team) to receive proper shoes to play volleyball, as well as warm ups for their first tournament December 30th in Beaverton (because nothing bonds a team like warm ups)!
This holiday season, I've discovered that no matter the cause, people are truly generous, and we want to help, we just need to know how. I would love for you to help these young girls see how committed we are to their futures, and sometimes all it takes is a pair of shoes and a team warm up to show that they are part of something, and that they are special.
We are trying to raise money by December 29th, and if we can get 30 people to donate $100, we are set! And feel free to donate more than $100 if you are able... we will reach our goal all the faster. :)
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