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Fusion Volleyball to host tryouts at LAHS this weekend

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By Phil Scherer

For many people in Los Alamos County, volleyball is more than a sport. It is a lifelong passion.

For more than 20 years, the volleyball community in Los Alamos has run and organized Fusion Volleyball, a competitive youth club affiliated nationally with USA volleyball.

“It is such a great opportunity for local kids to learn the game,” said Cheryl Bell, the club’s director.

The organization is run completely by volunteers.

Many of them have been around the sport their entire lives, coaching and playing at various levels.

The number of teams the club puts together varies from year-to-year, based on the interest from the community.

This year, that will be determined at the club’s tryouts, scheduled for Sunday.

Last year, the team organized two 12-and-under teams, as well as teams in the 11-and-under, 13-and-under and 14-and-under groups.

In past years, the number of teams has varied between two and six.

Bell encouraged anyone in those age groups to come to the tryouts, which will be at the Los Alamos High School Auxiliary Gymnasium at 11:30 a.m. for children 12 and under, and at 1 p.m. for 13 and 14 year olds.

The tryout will cost $20 and includes a T-shirt from the club.

Based on early interest, Bell expects to have teams in all four age groups again this year.

Though volleyball is a girls-only sport at the high school level, boys are welcome to join Fusion Volleyball until they reach the 14-and-under age group. At that point, the teams are only open to girls.

Bell said the club has had boys join in the past, and that playing on co-ed teams can help the boys and girls grow as players.

Once teams are determined, the club’s volunteer coaches begin working with them.

These coaches include former LAHS head coaches Sharleen Espinoza and Tina Varela, as well as former French coach and player Thierry Thelliez.

Espinoza was named District 2-5A Coach of the Year in 2015, and Varela was the team’s head coach for four seasons, beginning in 2006.

In total, the team has seven coaches dedicated to the club, many of whom have been involved for years.

The seasons for the teams vary in length, depending on how many teams are organized, but generally run from December until April.

The club travels around New Mexico, Texas and Colorado to compete each year. Bell said that generally the younger age groups compete in five tournaments per season, and the older age groups compete in eight tournaments.

Each tournament lasts two or three days, and provides the athletes with a high level of competition.

In addition to the indoor season, Thelliez started a sand volleyball team last summer, with six girls participating.

The club hopes interest will continue to grow in that team into the future.

Fusion Volleyball has proven to be a great resource for athletes in the area, with several former members of the club earning spots on the LAHS varsity team, including Elodie Thelliez, Kyla Sandoval, Emme Segler and Janessa Gonzales.

Anyone with questions about the team can email Bell at lafusionvolleyball@gmail.com and visit fusionvolleyball.org.