The Vegas Aces Green have been awarded a bid to the National division of USA Volleyball’s Girl’s Junior National Championships (GJNC) to be held in New Orleans from June 27 to 30.
No other Nevada team has placed this high in more than 20 years or ever received a bid at a Junior National Qualifier. Only 48 bids are awarded out of more than 2,000 club teams who compete across the country. The Vegas Aces 12U (12-and-under) is currently ranked No. 1 in the Southern California region amongst 162 teams and is the only Nevada 12U team ever to achieve that ranking.
“The potential of these girls is tremendous and the opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience at this age, especially since USA Volleyball is the governing body over the U.S. Olympic team. The sky is the limit,” says Angela Edgeworth, club director, Vegas Aces Volleyball.
There are nine girls on Vegas Aces Volleyball team, ranging from ages 9 to 12; six are from Henderson and three are from Summerlin. They attend Foothills Montessori School and Las Vegas Day School and are in 3rd through 6th grade. As opposed to being a team comprised of “the very best” who try out for a club team and are usually the same age and the oldest, this is a combined group of childhood friends and sisters of mixed ages.
The team consists of Reni Ajayi (12 years old, 6th grade, Foothills Montessori), Keji Ajayi (12 years old, 6th grade, Foothills Montessori), Caroline Edgeworth (11 years old, 5th grade, Foothills Montessori), Lauren Edgeworth (10 years old, 4th grade, Foothills Montessori), Sidra Wohlwend (12 years old, 6th grade, Foothills Montessori), Anjelina Starck (11 years old, 6th grade, Las Vegas Day School), Isabella Starck (9 years old, 3rd grade, Las Vegas Day School), Lauren Soong (12 years old, 6th grade, Las Vegas Day School) and Megan Soong (12 years old, 6th grade, Las Vegas Day School).
HOW IT BEGAN
Most of these girls began playing volleyball recreationally three years ago and fell in love with the sport after being introduced to it by two Montessori parents, Tim and Vicky Smits Van Oyen. After repeated success on a recreational level, the parents sought out a higher level of competition for the kids in order for them to progress.
Angela Edgeworth and her husband, Brian, served as team parents and quickly discovered there were no gym spaces available for the kids to practice. Their team was practicing on squash courts and rented space whenever there was availability, which wasn’t often. In 2013, Brian Edgeworth started the volleyball club, Vegas Aces Volleyball, and built a volleyball gym named The Edge at his office warehouse, currently located behind the international children’s footwear business, pediped. Today, The Edge is a non-profit, private training facility catering to individuals pursuing the game of volleyball at its highest level and is provided free of charge to teams. The Edgeworths wanted to share the facility with the community and quickly discovered there was a strong need for training facilities and skillful coaching. They are currently seeking additional acres of land to build a complete training facility off the 215 corridor.
Today, Vegas Aces Volleyball is home to eight teams from 10U through 17U including two travel teams that commute to California every two weeks for tournament play.
Under the guidance of their Head Coach, Ruben Herrera, the Vegas Aces Volleyball 12U Green girls may realize their dreams in just a few more months. Herrera brings college coaching experience as prior Head Coach at the University of New Orleans and as former Assistant Coach of the UNLV Rebels. Assistant Coach, Tessa Felise, has been six of the girl’s’ recreational coach over the past three years and continues to coach the team. The girls have attended many clinics with current UNLV Assistant Coach Mashallah Farokhmanesh which has helped establish excellent fundamentals. Stephanie Thielen, former setter for UNLV Rebels, has also assisted in camps and training. In addition, the girls also have the benefit of being assisted by team parents Errica and Doug Starck, both former Division 1 college players at University of Texas at Austin and Ball State.
Concludes Edgeworth, “The girls have learned hard work, perseverance and team work pay off. If they continue to dream big, we believe they can achieve all their goals.”
To learn more about the Vegas Aces, go to www.vegasacesvolleyball.com.