For first-year Genoa High School volleyball coach Amanda Cichocki, the 13th Annual Maumee Bay Summer Spiketacular, to be held July 23-25, couldn't come at a better time.
The Spiketacular features 84 varsity squads and 48 jayvee teams competing at Genoa, Springfield, Lake, Cardinal Stritch and Central Catholic high schools as well as at Owens Community College.
"I'm looking to gain some knowledge of how our girls play and their communication and working together as a team," said Cichocki, who was Genoa's junior varsity coach the past three years. "It's a helpful tournament for coaches before tryouts. When you have all the girls there you can see how they react in game situations.
"It's a nice thing for the coaches and the players. They can see some other schools and what they're going to be competing against. We're going to be seeing what they need to work on and what we do good and what we do bad."
Genoa will host five courts - at the high school, middle school and multi-purpose building. The tournament begins Thursday, July 23 from 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is free.
Cichocki said Genoa hosted open volleyball gyms in June, followed by a team camp from June 30 through July 2.
"The turnout was pretty good," she said. "For varsity we had nine juniors and three seniors come out. For the younger girls, we had seven freshmen and six sophomores. Not everyone that is trying out came to the camp because of vacation or band or something like that. I think we had a pretty good turnout of girls, especially for the varsity. We have a big junior class."
The Spiketacular will give Cichocki and other coaches from around the state a great opportunity to get a closer look at their teams.
Some of the teams scheduled to compete in the three-day event include 10 teams from Michigan, one from Indiana, and Ohio squads Norwalk St. Paul, Huron, St. Henry, Hopewell-Loudon, Sidney Lehman, Kettering Alter, Cincinnati McNicholas and defending Division IV state champion Marion Local.
Brad Morrison, who coached volleyball for 12 years at Northwood and three years at Clay, organized the tournament in the mid-1990s and remains the tournament's director.
"When I took over at Northwood we tried to chase down where the best volleyball in the state was," Morrison said. "It turned out to be in Mercer County, and they had the West Central Ohio Tournament. It was held at all the YMCAs down there. It was slightly smaller than this but it was the same set-up as this (Spiketacular).
"It was down by Grand Lake St. Marys. I decided I was going to try something up here. We hooked up at Northwood and started out with 12 teams, and every year it kind of grew. It just kept getting bigger and bigger."
Morrison said each team will play a minimum of 23 varsity matches.
"You're going to play an entire varsity season in three days," he said. "It's real laid back. I wanted something where the parents weren't in control, where the kids could have fun and the coaches could coach. It wasn't like regular-season volleyball. It was going back to the good old times where you show up and coach and the girls have fun and we play ball.
"It's kind of like a fraternity of coaches who enjoy that weekend. I have all the coaches at my house on that Friday night. We get them something to eat and the coaches set up their scrimmages. It's almost become a safe haven for coaches, where they can just go out and coach. The site directors make it go. Some of the teams that come up are very helpful, too."
Gail Bertz is in charge of the parents of the Genoa volleyball team who are raising money for the team during the tournament. The parents run the concession stand at the high school during the tournament.
Last year, Bertz said, the concession stand raised $3,000 for the Comets' varsity and jayvee teams. That money went to warm-ups for the team, shoes and T-shirts.
"We usually do very well raising money in our concession stand," Bertz said. "We're trying to do a lot of fundraisers this year to cut the costs to parents because of the tough times. Everybody loves our concession stand. We have homemade pasta salad, chicken sandwiches, tacos, Cold Stone ice cream, popcorn, chips and drinks."