Having watched countless young volleyball players around Northern Nevada with more than a passing interest for the better part of two decades, Danny McLaughlin is looking to take his involvement to a new and higher level. And his aim as the club director and head coach for the Carson City-based Capital City Volleyball Club, is to take the club and sport to new heights with the aid of a new facility he hopes to have built in the coming months.
The club is without a permanent home - the Carson Middle School and Stewart gyms are being used for the time being - but a volleyball-only facility is on the drawing board and waiting approval of permits to break ground near Empire Ranch Golf Course. If all goes well, the project will be completed sometime in mid-March.
The club already attracts age group players from Carson City, Douglas County, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Dayton and Fallon. McLaughlin hopes the privately-invested facility will bring in more players from those areas - and more.
"This is a volleyball-only facility that will have the training tools and everything that goes with it," said McLaughlin, a South Lake Tahoe resident since 1973 and the current head coach at Whittell High School. "I'd like to make a home for volleyball in Northern Nevada, something where people who love the sport can say, 'There's a place I can go play.'"
This is going to be more than a gym where just the Capital City Volleyball age group teams can train for their springtime tournaments, but a place where youth leagues, camps, clinics and after school programs can all be housed.
McLaughlin has been involved with the club (formerly known as Silver State) since its inception and has coached youth sports in the area for 20 years, including a stint as track and field coach at South Tahoe High.
Whittell recently capped off a 23-1 season by winning its third 2A state championship in five years. The Warriors were 7-0 against 4A and 3A opponents, including victories over 4A state runner-up Douglas, 3A state champion Dayton and 3A state runner-up Incline.
McLaughlin says there is an ample pool of talent in Northern Nevada and around the state as a whole.
"Nevada has all the talent in the world," McLaughlin said Saturday night while watching the Western Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals in Reno. "You can judge that by the girls who are playing in college now. Three of Nevada's starters played for our club (Teal Ericson, Tristin Adams and Carly Sorensen), Emily Haas plays for San Diego and Brittany Addeo plays for Adelphi, so our club already has a good reputation."
Those players, along with Rachael DeRiemer, now on a medical redshirt at Nevada, played for a club team that finished third in the 17-year-old division at the 2002 U.S. Junior Olympic national tournament. Haas, now playing for the No. 13 ranked University of San Diego, was named West Coast Conference co-player of the week for the week of Nov. 8.
"If you look around the state ... you have Kari Gregory (freshman from The Meadows, Las Vegas) out here now playing for No. 2 Hawai'i, you have (Kaitlin) Leck playing for No. 1 Washington and you have (Jennifer) Hucke playing for No. 7 Stanford," McLaughlin said.
He would like to help make that talent pool more visible to college recruiters.
"With the kids who are out there playing, we're on the volleyball map in this country," McLaughlin said. "and now that we're on the radar screen, this is the time to get a facility built so we can get the kids involved as a younger age."
The Capital City coaching staff is also expected to include Steve George, along with Dayton High coach Sondra McMullen, Incline coach Heidi Graber and Douglas assistant coach Cori Knight.
McLaughlin's interest in the sport was sparked on the beaches of Southern California in the 1960s. He went to U.C. Santa Barbara to compete as a high jumper on the track and field team, but it was there where he was introduced to volleyball enthusiasts such as Dave Shoji, currently the head coach at Hawai'i.
"I was a high jumper and I was looking for a way to stay in shape over the summer; running didn't sound like much fun, so I went and played beach volleyball and found that I loved the sport," he said.
McLaughlin played the sport at various levels over the years, and in 1995, he was invited by then South Tahoe coach Rich Owens to become a J.V. coach for the Vikings.
Among his goals for the future is to try and lay the groundwork for boys to play volleyball in Northern Nevada. His son, Shawn McLaughlin, is currently attending Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., on a volleyball scholarship.
Still, McLaughlin never dreamed of getting involved with the sport to the extent he is now.
"No way in the world, but this is a rare opportunity," he said. "I'm excited and I'm nervous about trying to do something like this ... what we need, though, is to get kids to buy into it and take advantage of the opportunity."
For more information about the Capital City Volleyball Club, go online to http://www.capitalcityvbc.com/ or email@example.com, or call (530) 307-2538.
Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.