June 1, 2023

Adding volleyball “a no-brainer” for Suxho, IMG Academy

A opportunity experience with a corridor-of-fame tennis player place former United states of america Volleyball setter Donald Suxho at the helm of what guarantees to be a person of the world’s premier volleyball academies.

In July, IMG Academy hired the two-time Olympian to oversee its new women volleyball program. IMG Academy, a private boarding athletics academy in Bradenton, Florida, Suxho claimed, had been discussing techniques to boost the female population on its 600-acre campus.

Volleyball was seen as the reasonable decision.

“Because of the reputation and the development (of volleyball), they reported this is a no-brainer,” Suxho, 46, explained. “Girls volleyball is the fastest increasing youth activity in America.”

IMG Academy began in 1978 as the Nick Bolletteri Tennis Academy. The accomplishment of the tennis application led to the academy increasing to incorporate golfing. For the subsequent 30 years, much more sporting activities were being included, and the inception of the women volleyball program delivers IMG Academy’s roster of sports activities to 15.

IMG has students from center university by way of substantial university (age 19). Pupils can go to “day” university there but not take part in sporting activities, opt for boarding college but no sports activities, do both equally boarding university and sports or just appear for the sporting activities applications with no boarding.

The school draws from all more than the environment. Of the roughly 1,400 college students who show up at, Suxho explained, about 30% appear from outdoors the United states.

And although IMG Academy accepts students from just about everywhere, it doesn’t acknowledge everybody.

“There are particular specifications in phrases of grades and amount,” Suxho reported. “If young children have red flags at university or in athletics or there are difficulties, it doesn’t make a difference if you are the son of LeBron James. If your kid is receiving arrested or kicked out of school, you will not get in listed here.

“The over-all society at IMG is we prepare the finest college student-athletes for the subsequent period of their life. Apart from the (education) curriculum we have, we have management education, we have mental education, we have yoga, nutrition teaching, peak performance instruction. We produce genuinely effective human beings on and off the court docket.

“For positive the No. 1 objective is to go to university, the finest higher education attainable, and get paid a degree. But some of these young ones want to go professional. Basketball, football, they want to go pro, so we do that as well.”

The prepare for the girls volleyball method was to open in 2023, introducing it to the listing of the Academy’s women sports activities that also features basketball, golfing, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and monitor and discipline. But IMG wanted a person to oversee volleyball.

Enter Lindsay Davenport, previous planet No. 1 women’s tennis player and winner of three Grand Slam tournaments. Though she created her mark on a various courtroom, Davenport arrived from a volleyball family members.

Her father, Wink Davenport, played volleyball for Group Usa in the 1968 Mexico Town Games. Her mom, Ann, was the head of the Southern California Volleyball Association, and her two more mature sisters were being higher education volleyball gamers.

Suxho, who performed collegiately at USC, was in the Los Angeles area coaching his son’s club crew, and, he stated, he often visited the Emerald Bay community in Laguna Seashore, in which quite a few of his mates lived. A single of those people close friends introduced him to Davenport, who happened to be wanting for another person to mentor her daughter, an aspiring setter.

“So I was coaching her daughter. She actually preferred it. They truly appreciated me,” Suxho reported. “We became close friends. (Davenport’s) son goes to IMG for tennis, so she reported, ‘Donnie, IMG is commencing volleyball. They’re hiring a director. You really should truly set your title in the hat.’

“I utilized and went by means of 6 months of interviews, so I guess they appreciated me.”

IMG Academy, which is owned by sporting activities advertising and marketing organization Endeavor, has preparations for volleyball in significant equipment. Suxho reported a facility that will home a championship court docket and 10 to 12 follow courts is under development.

The facility will be full with LED lighting, a coaching middle and “all the whistles and bells.” Suxho said he can foresee the facility web hosting tournaments and, probably, having Group Usa arrive in for a match.

There also will be sand volleyball courts outside the new setting up.

“We very own 600 acres,” Suxho stated. “So my leadership said, ‘How numerous (sand courts) do you want? 6? Twelve? 30?’ ”

Suxho will oversee the entirety of the volleyball plan. Although each and every activity at IMG is under the Academy’s observe, each and every activity has a diploma of autonomy, so Suxho will retain the services of a cadre of supervisors and coaches for the program. There will be a program supervisor, who studies instantly to Suxho, a college student-athlete advisor, coaches, assistant coaches, and so forth.

All are full-time posts.

“I was shocked that they hired me this far in advance, a year in progress,” Suxho reported. “It’s variety of a honeymoon. They on-boarded me slowly but surely. There’s a lot of departments right here. It’s sort of mastering just about every working day, shadowing other departments, how they do it.

“It’s likely fantastic. I enjoy it. They are who they say they are. What they say, they do, and that is hard to discover these days.”

The volleyball groups will compete at the club amount, and Suxho hopes to start a few teams when the software commences future fall. Inevitably, beach front teams will be added, and boys volleyball also could be on the horizon.

Suxho stated he has been impressed by IMG’s commitment to volleyball. It was not just an add-on for the sake of window dressing. He explained the Academy is “very invested and committed” to the sports. So, too, is Beneath Armour, a major sponsor of IMG Academy that also is seriously invested in volleyball.

In the lengthy operate, Suxho wishes to produce elite club teams that will contend for countrywide championships as well as have improvement teams for area gamers. How big volleyball receives, he mentioned, is even now to be viewed, but he is optimistic the application will be a enormous success.

“For me, when they were being interviewing me, they requested, ‘What is your vision?’ ” Suxho reported. “I want this to develop into the greatest education middle in the planet, the place persons from all about the environment can occur and teach and create below and attain their whole possible.

“We have the details. We have the products and services. We have the technological innovation. We have the amenities. We have the staffing. I want IMG to become the heart of volleyball in the earth for education and for occasions and discovering and sharing.

“Basketball commenced with 20 children. Ideal now they have 20 groups, so the sky is the limit.”