ORANGE COUNTY ( — A volleyball program is coming to the aide of girls who want to play on a team, but are otherwise unable to due to financial limits.

The Starlings Volleyball Club started in 1996 as a single, inner-city team, and has blossomed to become one of the largest volleyball clubs in the nation.

While after-school club volleyball teams can cost a small fortune, costing anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per year, the Starlings Volley Club is ideal for low-income students, and states that it provides an opportunity for girls ages 10-18 to play, regardless of their socioeconomic background, according to the club’s website.

The club also states that, in any case that there are club dues, they are a fraction of the cost of other volleyball clubs, and that no girl is denied the ability to play due to the inability to pay.

“The money always stood in my way, like always,” mother Betty Phillips said. “My daughter wants to be in sports, and I can’t afford it. Everything is so expensive and I’m a single mom, you know, so I’m barely making it. So when she told me that it was free, I was really happy.”

Additionally, participants of the Starlings Volleyball Club are provided with occasional unique opportunities. Olympic Gold medalist Karch Kiraly coaches the USA Women’s National Volleyball team in the same gym that the Starlings train in, providing the opportunity for some of the girls to learn from the professionals.

“All these girls are so eager to learn, and I wish there was actually a program for that for me when I started playing volleyball,” USA Women’s National team member Foulke Akinradewo said. “I played basketball most of my life, and there wasn’t anything like this. And I think if there had been, I would have gone into volleyball even sooner.”

According to the club’s website, Starlings serves roughly 3,000 girls throughout over 50 clubs across the country, with each club offering room for well over a hundred girls. Some 70 girls reportedly registered for the Starlings club in Anaheim, which opened in 2012, and there is said to be room for over a hundred more participants.

“These are absolutely girls who would not have been exposed to the sport, and over the whole history of the Starlings program, probably thirty thousand girls got a chance to play this game that I, that we, love so much,” Kiraly said.

The club’s next goal is to expand their program into the fall, giving girls the opportunity to play in more months out of the year.

If you’d like to learn more about the Starlings Volleyball Club, visit their website.


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