Teresa Lee: living healthy and stronger after tobacco use

Teresa Lee

By WALTER MUNDAY
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

According to a study conducted by Health.com, living healthy and longer is as easy as making a few lifestyle changes.  The study identified four unhealthy behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—that can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.

One of the leading unhealthy behaviors is the use of tobacco. Tobacco is one of the most popular carcinogens affecting humans.  Tobacco has about 70 different chemicals in it which are known to cause cancer by damaging a human’s DNA.

The good news is, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults has been reduced by more than half since 1964, yet remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. It kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. For every person who dies this year from smoking, there are over 30 Americans who continue to live with a smoking-related disease.

The goal of the Striving to Live Healthier series is to monthly highlight an employee(s) who are engaging in some form of healthy activity, or has made adjustments to their diet to live healthier.  As part of our monthly series, Louisville Parks and Recreation is proud to highlight Teresa K. Lee, Historic Site Supervisor, Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing.

Teresa was a seasonal employee from 2013 to 2014, and joined the department full-time last May.

After 25 years of smoking, Teresa decided last fall that enough was enough.  After several attempts in the past, she was confident she wasn’t going to fail this time.  Her family had long been encouraging her to quit, and recently she began noticing that smoking was taking a toll on her health.  So, she set a goal, and has stuck with it so far

“I feel so much better.  I sleep better, run faster and longer.  I have more energy, and have noticed an improvement in my skin,” said Teresa.

In addition, Teresa also sites an improvement in her oral health by her dentist, being able to laugh without coughing, and improved allergies as additional reasons why she’s done smoking.  She’s less self-conscious about smelling like smoke all the time, and admits that food tastes better.

But quitting smoking is not easy.   Teresa offers the following tips:

  • Develop a list of reasons to Quit, and use that list to keep you motivated
  • Find a support network; people to keep you encouraged
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help – patch, gum, lozenges, etc…
  • Identify/substitute smoking with healthier habits (i.e. drinking more water, walking, running, etc…)
  • Stay active!
  • Be patient with yourself!
  • Don’t Give Up!

As Teresa alluded to earlier, quitting smoking is tough.  When you have a craving for a cigarette, it’s important that you have something to redirect your attention.  According to research, the urge to smoke dissipates normally within a few moments.  For Teresa, she began doing yoga and running.  In fact, right after deciding to quit smoking, she competed in the Rugged Maniac, a 5K Obstacle Course Race at Paoli Peaks.   Below is a picture of her finishing the race.

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“Quitting smoking has been one of the most challenging experiences in my life, but the benefits to me and my family have been more than worth it,” said Teresa.

“It’s the single biggest thing anyone can do to improve their health; you will not regret it.”

Healthy People of Parks

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Louisville Parks & Rec: Improving Seniors’ Quality of Life

seniors 1By WALTER MUNDAY
Walter.Munday@louisvilleky.gov

Parks are designed to bring together people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.  Park and Recreation agencies are tasked with creating healthy communities by managing and in some cases enhancing an area’s physical environment.  On a daily basis, these agencies manage recreational facilities and landscapes, fabricated playscapes and protect natural areas to ensure its residents have a higher quality of life in which to live, work and play.

Equally as important, they also create and manage classes and programs which provide residents with opportunities to fully engage in healthy activities.  Such activities may include basketball, golf, pickleball, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, yoga, and Zumba, but there are so many others.

Many of those taking advantage of these classes are not just children and teens like in years past – they also include Baby Boomers, many of whom have reached the age of 65.  They’re registering for classes at an increased rate.   According to the 2017 Census estimates, there are 47 million seniors living in the U.S., and that population is expected to double by 2060.  People are living longer, and park and recreation agencies are adjusting to ensure its menu of programs and activities appeal to a broader age group.

SilverSneakers

One such class that has become very popular nationally over the last decade is SilverSneakers® by Tivity Health™.  This class is the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults and is available – at no cost – through many Medicare health plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans.  Louisville Parks and Recreation offers SilverSneakers® at six  locations.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit several of our sites which offer Silver Sneakers, and speak with some of the participants.   My first stop was at Beechmont Community Center where 92-year-old Ms. AB Roman is a member.  A “proud south-ender”, Ms. AB has been participating in the class for three years.  Her daughter thought it would be a good idea for her mother to get some exercise.  Ms. AB moves around on a walker these days, but don’t let that fool you.  She attends the class with her niece twice a week.

seniors 2On the day I visited the class, the regular instructor (Tonya Cowden) was on vacation, so another staff member (Deondre Wynn) led the class.  It was his first time teaching Silver Sneakers at this location.

“That young man is no Tonya; he didn’t work us out hard enough today,” said Ms. AB as she and her niece chuckled.

The participants at Beechmont take their Silver Sneakers class seriously.   At the same time, they have fun, and enjoy making new friends.  Ms. AB made it very clear that it wasn’t just about the exercise, but the opportunity to meet new people and make new “buddies”.

As mentioned earlier, Silver Sneakers is geared toward older adults.  During the class, participants use light weights, bands and fitness balls to help with increased muscle strength, range of motion and exercises to help improved their mobility.

“I can do it.  I always try to do as much as I can for myself,” as Ms. AB quickly shared with me when I tried to help her with her chair.

“Of course, I’m 92 years old, so I can’t do everything, but I sure try.”

Ms. AB lives in the Wilder Park neighborhood, and has been active with her neighborhood association for several decades.

“She’s such an inspiration to all of us here at the center,” said Tonya Cowden, the center supervisor who I spoke with later.  “We just love Ms. AB!”

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A few days later, I had the chance to travel over to the Highlands-Douglass neighborhood to check out the Douglass Community Center’s Silver Sneakers class.  Even with single-digit temps in the area, this was the largest class of those I visited with more than 30 participating.

seniors 4While taking some pictures of the class, I noticed one familiar face.  A gentleman who frequents a coffee shop I stop in every now and then.  His name is Jack Huber, a Silver Sneakers regular.

Following the class, I had a chance to meet with Mr. Jack, who has been participating in Silver Sneakers for 10 years.  At 83 years old, Mr. Jack, a retired AT&T/Bellsouth employee, walks three (3) miles a day – five (5) days a week.   In addition, he participates in yoga, and loves to dance.    I asked him what advice he’d offer to others regarding trying to stay fit, and his response was quick,

“Whatever you’re doing to stay active, never stop!”

Another Douglass participant – Kay Maurer – has been participating in Silver Sneakers for about 18 months.   A retired dietician with Baptist Floyd County Hospital, Ms. Kay recognizes that proper eating habits is important to maintaining good health, but was quick to point out that there’s more to it.   She joined the class following a surgery, and indicates that Silver Sneakers helps keep her arthritis at bay.  She said,

“Silver Sneakers keeps me going; it allows me to more mobile and move with much less pain.”

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Across town at the Berrytown Recreation Center, I met three delightful ladies; two of which are Silver Sneaker vets.   Ms. Rose (78) and Ms. Minnie (83) have been participating in Silver Sneakers for at least 10 years.  They were introduced to the program at the former Berrytown YMCA which once occupied the facility.   Ms. Rose, probably the youngest looking 78 year-old I’ve ever seen, is a regular at the class, and also utilizes the indoor walking track at the facility.

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“I love Silver Sneakers!   I also love the friendships and outings we take as a group,” said Ms. Rose.

“We’ve toured the Louisville Slugger Museum, Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, Locust Grove and several other places along with lunch.”

seniors 7Ms. Margaret (86) has been participating in Silver Sneakers for about two years.  She indicates that the class has helped strengthen her upper body, and has helped improved her mobility.

She pointed to her new Fitbit her kids purchased for her recently.  She and her family have started a family challenge to see who takes the most steps daily.

“I’m a little behind, but hey… I’m 86 years-old; I’m getting there!”

Aqua Fitness

Another physical exercise program that’s proving to improve the health of baby boomers and others is Aquatic Exercise Therapy Programs.   These programs are especially enticing to those with restricted mobility.  Exercising in water is proven to help with reducing arthritis and other joint pain.  The buoyance of the water helps to build strength without applying pressure to the joints.  An article published several years ago by Stacy Lynch points to research which recognizes the cognitive benefits of Aquatic Therapy in regard to the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Louisville Parks and Recreation offers several Aquatic Therapy and Fitness Classes at the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center including a Deep Water Exercise Class, Aquatics Bootcamp and Aqua Fitness classes.

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Lucinda Tapp is a regular participant at Mary T.  She visits the center about six days a week participating in Mary T.’s Aquatic Boot Camp, and Land Boot Camp. Ms. Lucinda, 78, was born right behind the center on Pennsylvania Avenue and remembers swimming in the old outdoor pool which closed around 1954. When asked about staying fit, she simply said,

“The more active you are, the better your blood flow and increased mobility,” said Ms. Lucinda. I tell myself daily, “Don’t give up!”

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While visiting the Mary T, I had the chance to meet and talk with two other center participants.

Al Meichler is a 92 year-old emigrate from Germany.  He and his wife Irmgard migrated to the US 65 years ago.  He has lived on Crescent Avenue since 1953.  His wife passed away in four years ago.  Soon, Mr. Al is moving to California to live with his son, but wanted to share with me how much he loves Louisville and Mary T.

Mr. Meichler has been a regular morning swimmer at Mary T for more than 25 years.  He also work out in the gym there.

Mr. Al shared his key to life which is, “Exercise and live life to the fullest!”

And the last person I spoke with was 79-year-old Versa Tucker who was participating in an Aqua Aerobics Class.  She’s been traveling from her Smoketown neighborhood to participate in the class for about six months. She points to her increased mobility as the reason why she returns week after week.

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Lessons learned from my visits to Beechmont, Douglass, Berrytown and Mary T. can be summarized easily; Exercise is good for the body as well as for the soul. The seniors I spoke with and the others I watched participate in the Silver Sneakers and Aquatic Fitness programs were smiling and full of enthusiasm. As our population continues to include escalating numbers in the post 65 age group, the importance of programs such as Silver Sneakers and Aquatic Fitness/Therapy grows.

As noted poet/philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

Exercising makes you feel better, and when you feel better and are filled with energy and enthusiasm, that helps to improve one’s quality of life which in turn, helps many live longer, more fulfilling lives.

For more information about Senior fitness programs, and other Senior activities offered by Louisville Parks and Recreation, contact BJ Levis at (502) 456-8148 or BJ.Levis@louisvilleky.gov or Jon Pilbean at (502) 964-5151 or Jon.Pilbean@louisvilleky.gov.

Douglass Community Center is Under New Leadership

IMG_5629 (2)By Walter Munday
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Charles “Chaz” Bullard
Louisville Parks and Recreation is proud to announce Charles “Chaz” Bullard as the new Center Supervisor at Douglass Community Center located at 2305 Douglass Blvd.

Chaz has a long history with our department. He started working with Louisville Parks and Recreation as a teenager in 2007, working as a Summer Seasonal at Beechmont Community Center. Two years later, he became a full-time seasonal employee. In October 2010, Chaz was promoted to a Union Permanent Part-time employee, and the following year (2011), he was promoted to Recreation Assistant.

In 2015, Chaz transferred to Douglass Community Center, where he worked for a year followed by stints at Newburg and Parkhill Community Centers. Chaz moved out of Recreation Division, and accepted a position as a Park Worker 2 in Turf Maintenance Division in 2018 before being hired as the new Recreation Supervisor at Douglass at the beginning of this year.

“Recreation is special to me. It’s the job not the salary which drives me every day,” Chaz echoed during a recent interview.

He loves helping people. Whether it’s a kid having trouble, and just needs someone to listen, or a senior citizen curious about enrolling in one of our programs; he makes it his business to help, and make everyone feel welcome.

“As the new Supervisor at Douglass, my mission is to provide the leadership which enables the center to reach its full potential,” said Chaz. We have a supportive community, great participants, and an exceptional staff.”

Chaz sites the thriving senior program, and great community partners within
the Douglass and surrounding neighborhoods, but also acknowledges the need
to strengthen the center’s youth programming and participation.

Chaz is a certified Silver Sneaker and Archery Instructor, Boy/Cub Scoutmaster, and coaches several sports including: football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. In addition, Chaz is certified in First-Aid and CPR. Chaz studied Sports Administration at University of Louisville, and is married with three wonderful children.

If you haven’t had a chance to meet Chaz, I’d encourage you to stop by the Douglass Community Center to say hi, and learn what’s happening at the center.

Bobby Wilson – Rec Leader strives to set fitness example

By WALTER MUNDAY
walter.munday@louisvilleky.gov

Our nation’s public parks and recreation agencies are leaders in improving the overall health and wellness of the nation. We’re essential partners in combating some of the most complicated challenges our country faces – poor nutrition, hunger, obesity, and physical inactivity. But many park and recreational employees, like others nationally, struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

With only so many hours in a day, finding a consistent balance between work, life, exercise and a healthy diet can seem impossible. While many pledge changes, few follow through.

This year, Louisville Parks and Recreation will be highlighting employees who are striving to live healthier lives. Our goal is to monthly highlight an employee(s) who are engaging in some form of healthy activity, or has made adjustments to their diet to live healthier.

Our first employee we’d like to highlight is Bobby Wilson. Bobby is a Recreation Leader at Sun Valley Community Center. He joined the Louisville Parks and Recreation 22 years ago, and currently works at Sun Valley Community Center.

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In his role, Bobby teaches fitness classes, such as Silver Sneakers, Get Fit, and periodically a Teen Weightlifting Class. In addition, he leads a variety of recreational activities, and coaches several recreational basketball, flag football, baseball, and other sports teams. Bobby also is involved in department special events, after school programs, summer camps, arts and crafts, and other recreational programs and activities.

About 12 years ago, Bobby noticed he was spending way too much time sitting/lying on the couch at home. He quickly began noticing his waistline expanding. Bobby immediately began walking daily, which later progressed into running. Now, 12 years later and 70 pounds lighter, he continues to run – now up to three miles daily.

“Exercise is important to ensure that your body is strong and healthy enough to meet the challenges you set for it,” said Bobby.

He offers the following advice:
 Find an activity you love and then do it daily
 Watch Your Diet
 Cut BACK not OUT on your favorite foods
 Don’t Give Up!

The outcome, according to Bobby, “You’ll feel better, have more energy, and even add years to your life. Just start small, and make the effort… you’ll amaze yourself.”

“Just start small, and make the effort… you’ll amaze yourself.”

Healthy People of Parks

Remembering A Trailblazer

Dudley SaundersIn 1974, a dedicated cadre of approximately 10 Louisville environmentalists gathered and soon afterwards formed an organization titled Wilderness Jefferson County, Inc.  The sole purpose of this organization was advocating for the responsible use and preservation of wild lands in the area.  Much of their efforts focused on the southwestern portion of the county and the expansion of Jefferson Memorial Forest (JMF).   From 1974 when the organization was formed, until the mid-1980s, nearly 2,000 acres of land was acquired boosting JMF to approximately 5,000 acres by the late 1980s.  This was a watershed era of JMF history, which now is recognized as the nation’s largest city-owned urban forest standing at approximately 6,600 acres of steep slopes covered with mature, second growth hardwood trees.

Recently, we said goodbye to Dudley Saunders, a former Louisville Arts Critic for the former Louisville Times.   What may be lesser known was his passion for nature.  Mr. Saunders was a long-time JMF Volunteer Trail Ranger and a founding member of Wilderness Jefferson County, Inc. (disbanded in the 1990s).  Mr. Saunders was a major advocate for the protection and enhancement of JMF and was instrumental in the acquisition of a key parcel of land which connects the Tom Wallace, Horine, and the Paul Yost forest areas via a trail, which according to many, is affectionately known as Dudley’s Trail. Furthermore, he was one of the first board members of the current friends group for JMF, Wilderness Louisville, Inc. whose name pays tribute the earlier group that Dudley helped found.

Otto Mock, Chair, Louisville Parks Commission, and also a Trail Volunteer at JMF, remembers Mr. Saunders as a great cheerleader for JMF, and wilderness in general.

“Dudley knew all the right people,” said Mock.  “He was the liaison between JMF and the private resources necessary to help grow and improve the forest.”

It’s no secret that public/private partnerships are a key strategy in efforts to care for our city’s forest and natural areas. But sweat equity is equally essential.  Saunders logged countless hours surveying, building, patrolling and maintaining trails throughout the forest.

“Dudley was one of the original Trail Rangers joining the ranks in the mid-1990s when the program began,” said Larry Hilton, a retired Naturist at JMF.

JMF Volunteer Trail Rangers patrol and report on conditions and issues related to the forest’s trails and natural areas.    They assist fellow trail users, when needed or requested, in areas such as trail directions, etiquette and safety.  They routinely report on trail safety as well as maintenance issues.   Volunteers are the backbone of this program.  Trail Rangers assist JMF/Natural Areas Division staff in ensuring that the forest’s extensive network of trails are accessible, safe and fun!

According to Hilton, “Dudley’s legacy will be that of a dependable volunteer who was willing to negotiate for outside resources, but more importantly, was willing to get dirty to build/repair trails.  His unwavering passion for making nature’s wonders available for others to experience is priceless.”

Saunders passed away a little more than a week ago at his home.  He was 90.

Bennett Knox, JMF Administrator, remembers Saunders as one of the most genuine and positive people that have been associated with the Forest over its long history.  “The Forest is in its 70th year and for the majority of existence it has benefited from Dudley as one of its greatest advocates.  His advocacy was in both word and deed, but more importantly he was one who brought others together in camaraderie through his personal warmth and passion.”

The family of Dudley will honor his memory with a ceremonial tree planting on Saturday, November 3rd beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Jefferson Memorial Forest Welcome Center (11311 Mitchell Hill Road).   All are welcome to celebrate Dudley’s memory.

This might sound a bit cliché, but Dudley Saunders was a JMF “trailblazer”.  His service to JMF will always be recognized and appreciated, and never forgotten.

 

New mural at Berrytown Park the brainchild of Manual junior

IMG_6392
Lilah Pudlo stands next to her newly completed mural at Berrytown Park. 

By Walter Munday
Community Outreach Manager
e-mail Walter

Art has the potential for improving our cities parks and recreational amenities.  Art enhances our appreciation for the rich history and cultural identify of our treasured greenspaces.  That’s why I was so excited to catch-up with a local high school student who chose one of our local parks to express her creative talents.

Lilah Pudlo, a junior at duPont Manual High School, reached out to BJ Levis, Louisville Parks and Recreation Administrator at the Berrytown Adaptive/Inclusive Recreation Center several months ago about the possibility of painting a mural in Berrytown Park.  Excited by the idea, Levis asked to provide a sketch of what she intended to paint, and she’d forward to the appropriate people to get the process moving.

After receiving the go ahead from the Louisville Parks Commission and the City’s Commission on Public Art, Lilah began working on the mural during the summer.   When asked why she chose Berrytown Park, she indicated that the neighborhood’s rich history lured her in as well as the fact that the park, like so many, could use a little sprucing up.  Lilah indicated that the people using the park, and those passing by were so nice, and appreciative.

“I am grateful that I had the opportunity to create this mural for the community of Berrytown,” said Lilah.

“I wanted to capture the essence of the community as well as depict some of the wonderful outreach programs that take place at the community center.”

Berrytown Park is a 24-acre park just east of Anchorage in the historic Berrytown neighborhood, named for its founder Alfred Berry.

The land on which Berrytown Park resides was originally owned by Ralph and Flora Olds, and was purchased by Jefferson County Fiscal Court on June 25, 1970, for the new Berrytown Park which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in a few years.

“Lilah’s art captures the essence of the neighborhood and the importance of the park in the Berrytown community,” said Levis.

“The mural highlights family, community, picnics, and fun in the park.  It also captures the new identity of the adjourning community center as an inclusive recreation space for everyone including those with disabilities and their family and friends.”

I had a chance to catch-up with Pudlo and her mother, Lisa, a few weeks ago at Berrytown Park.  What I quickly learned is that she’s a very service-oriented young woman.   She’s volunteered more than 100 hours at a local nursing home, spent time volunteering with her family in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, and continues to volunteer at the Louisville Visual Arts Association (LVAA).  Pudlo was a participant in the 2017 Studio2000 Program, which was a partnership between Louisville Parks and Recreation and the LVAA.

Studio 2000 allowed high school students, interested in pursuing visual arts career, an opportunity to work with professional artists in clay, fiber, mixed media, and mural art.  While not quite sure which specific art medium she intends to specialize (painting, sewing, mixed media, etc…), Lilah is positive of her plans to major in art when she goes to college in a few years.

Parks are a crucial part of any community. They have a significant impact on the development of our children and the happiness of everyone in the neighborhood.  We appreciate the generosity of Lilah and her parents.  Not only did she paint the mural, but she and her parents donated the paint (with some help from Dages Hikes Point Paint & Wallpaper).

Thanks to Lilah!

Louisville Parks and Recreation is making club/competitive volleyball accessible and affordable to area youth

volleyball

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
Contact Walter

Over the last decade or so, the evolution of club/travel sports has grown into big business. For kids who aspire to play their chosen sport at the next level, it has become almost a necessity.

That “next level” once referred mostly to college sports, but now, with club/travel sports starting with kids as young as six in some sports, that next level today may refer to high school.

According to a TIME Magazine article published in August, senior writer Sean Gregory explores the growing business of kids’ sports — a $15.3 billion industry that has nearly doubled during the past 10 years. The article indicates that between league fees, camps, equipment, training and travel, families are spending as much as 10% of their income on sports, according to survey research from Utah State University.

Some might question how parents justify such an expense. The response from many parents is…  “I want to give my child the opportunity to compete at the next level and realize their dreams.” Or, “I’m hoping the investment will pay-off with a college scholarship.”

To sports enthusiasts, their reasoning is somewhat valid.  A USA Today article published in May released the results of a NCAA survey of 21,233 current college athletes. The survey asked student athletes if they’d played club/travel sports prior to college. Athletes in a few sports overwhelmingly reported they played on a club team.  For women’s college volleyball, 91% indicated they competed on a club volleyball team.

What if a parent can’t afford for their child to play club sports, specifically club volleyball?  It’s true that lots of talented and passionate athletes are in fact being priced out of the club system.  In fact, it’s becoming increasingly harder to even make your high school team if you’re not involved in club sports during the off-season.

So what are some solutions?

One of those gaps has been filled by the Metro Parks Volleyball Academy (MPVA) in Louisville. MPVA is preparing to compete in its second year of club volleyball. Initial discussions for the program started about two years ago between Adam Barrett, Center Supervisor at Cyril Allgeier Community Center and KIVA (WHAT IS KIVA?) officials.  The purpose of the program is to break barriers preventing young ladies from playing club volleyball that include financial limitations and experience.

The team is coached by Lauren Benz, an eighth grade math teacher and volleyball coach at Highland Middle School and a passionate advocate for MPVA.

““I am so passionate about coaching for MPVA. This program gives ANY player a chance, regardless of their school, to play volleyball at a competitive level and not break their parent’s wallet,” said Benz.

Benz indicated that in some cases, it’s not always about the ability or willingness to pay, but the school the player attends. Those who follow high school volleyball in Kentucky know that Assumption, Sacred Heart and Mercy, all private Louisville schools, routinely are the top competitors in high school volleyball.

“If your name doesn’t appear on one of those rosters, your chances of playing club volleyball on some of Louisville’s top teams is a longshot” said Benz.

“I played volleyball for a small high school here in the city which didn’t have the reputation or lineage for competitive volleyball,” she said. “I strongly believed that’s part of the reason why I, unfortunately, struggled to make several club rosters.”

During the first year, MPVA went 15-17.  They participated in three tournaments, three power leagues and three organized scrimmages.   According to Barrett, who also serves as MPVA’s Club Director, and Coach Benz, the average cost for club/competitive volleyball in the Louisville area is about $2,500 annually.   MPVA costs a total of $500, which includes customized uniforms.

Mia is a 14-year-old freshman at Atherton High School.  She started playing volleyball in a recreational league at Cyril Allgeier at the age of nine.  Mia, who already stands 6’0, plays. middle or outside hitter, and would love to play volleyball in college. Her career goal is to become a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Jordan is several years younger.  She’s 11 and a 6th grader at Jefferson Tradition Middle School (JCTMS).   Jordan initially began playing volleyball at Southeast Christian Church, but later moved over to playing regularly recreational volleyball at the age of eight at Cyril Allgeier.  Jordan is a 5’7 defensive specialist.

Recently I had the chance to catch-up with Coach Benz and a few of the players and parents.  Meet Mia Tyler and Jordan Cathey.

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Mia’s parents (James and April Tyler) love MPVA, and the coaching style of Coach Benz.

“We love watching Mia play, and her ability to adapt to instruction and apply it to game situations,” said April Tyler.

Joseph Cathey agreed.  A man of a few words, Joseph said,

“At the end of the day, I want Jordan to have the opportunity play a sport she enjoys, and just have fun!”

Barrett reflected on what he felt was the most memorable moment from the first season. Adam pointed to the match against Prodigy, a well-established club team from Sellersburg, Ind.

Adam Barrett
Adam Barrett, Coach Benz and Assistant Director of Recreation Ben Johnson 

“We understood the risks of starting a junior club team,” said Barrett. “We knew why it should work, but were a little nervous as to if it would work.   On January 14, 2017, we were playing Prodigy.  We lost the first set 18-25, before coming back to win the second set 25-16, and the third set 15-12. It was right after that match when the “if” became “yes”…  It will work,” said Barrett.

With the skyrocketing costs and pressures of club sports, the element of “fun” often takes a backseat to winning.  One of the youngest players on the team last year was Savanah Scarlott, a seventh grader at Highland Middle School. When she wasn’t on the floor, Savanah danced around the sidelines while cheering for her teammates. It was that small, yet refreshing reminder that volleyball, like all sports, were meant to be fun despite all of the pressure of winning and individual performance placed on young athletes.

Several parents made it very clear that while MPVA was a more economical alternative to the larger clubs, the instruction and player advancement from Coach Benz was top notch. Others pointed to the team atmosphere and camaraderie as highlights during the first year.

Apparently, other players and parents took notice.  Interest in MPVA has grown tremendously, sparking the club to add two additional teams for this upcoming season.   MPVA will suit up three teams: 12 & under, 14 & under and a 16 & under.  Barrett and Benz indicated they’ll have three head coaches this year, and one assistant for each team.  One of the coaches will focus on strength and conditioning. Tryouts for this year’s teams were held in mid-November.

For more information about MPVA, email Adam Barrett at Adam.Barrett@louisvilleky.gov.