To provide the equal opportunity for girls from diverse, lower socioeconomic environments to train and compete at USA Volleyball’s Junior Olympic level; to encourage teamwork, health, positive life skills, and academic achievement; to establish member clubs throughout the nation that are community-based and self-sustaining.
Starlings co-founder and Olympian Kim Oden speaks to players.
It began with a single inner-city club in 1996. Today, Starlings is the nation's largest junior volleyball club with teams in more than 50 cities and Native American reservations throughout the U.S. Approximately 2,500 girls currently participate in the program.
Starlings is the brainchild of Byron Shewman, a former USA Men's Volleyball Team member, who sought to establish a volleyball/academic program that would largely serve girls from lower socioeconomic groups. Olympian Kim Oden joined Shewman, and they co-founded the first club in San Diego, California, in 1996.
Financial donations from Nike, USA Volleyball, Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, the Amateur Athletic Foundation, and generous individuals allowed Starlings to expand.
By July of 1998, 24 Starlings teams from across the country participated in the first annual Starlings National Championship in Dallas, Texas, as part of USA Volleyball’s Junior National Championship. The competition now draws more than 100 teams.
Just over two decades since it began, Starlings Volleyball Clubs, USA has brought club volleyball to more than 30,000 girls.
Starlings believes the sport of volleyball is ideal for the inner cities and rural areas of America — inexpensive, noncontact and inherently a social game requiring communication and cooperation. Girls playing volleyball in the United States outnumber boys 15-1. It is truly the “girl’s game” of America.
While junior club volleyball dues around the nation are often exclusionary, Starlings club dues are dramatically minimized and some girls are provided work opportunities in exchange for monthly dues. Additionally, Starlings clubs raise part of their budget through fundraising. The goal is that no girl is excluded due to financial hardship.
Each individual Starlings club is also encouraged to adopt a mentoring program. The aim is not just to provide an opportunity to play a sport, but to nurture personal growth and educational achievement. With that emphasis in mind, Starlings also hosts an annual Literary/Art Contest.
A pair of Starlings await the serve at the 2009 National Tournament.
A Starlings player proudly displays her medal.
Starlings Volleyball USA, Inc. is an IRS-registered, 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit organization. U.S.-based donations are tax-deductible. All donations go to support Starlings volleyball programs.