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Tom Mix, Published April 28 2012

F-M hosts section of volleyball contest that has grown larger over the last decade

FARGO – The high school volleyball season has been over for five months, but this weekend the sport has returned to Fargo-Moorhead in a big way.

Fargo-Moorhead is one of nine sites that is part of the North Country Region’s area Junior Olympic volleyball championships, which began Saturday and runs through today at five different facilities. The event is split up into four groups based on age (12-year-olds, 13- and 14-year olds, 15- and 16-year olds and 17- and 18-year-olds).

Fargo-Moorhead is the NCR’s second largest site, with 121 teams competing. There are a total of 842 teams competing with other tournaments in Minnesota (Rochester, St. Cloud, Bemidji, Duluth, Marshall, Redwood Falls), North Dakota (Jamestown) and South Dakota (Huron).

In 2002, there were only 260 teams competing in the NCR area volleyball championships. Fast forward 10 years and the championships have grown at a rapid rate. The NCR is the largest Junior Olympic volleyball region in the country.

“We’re extremely excited,” said NCR executive director Judy Praska.

“The key to the growth is before 2002 the event was only held in the Twin Cities and our region covers three states. No one wanted to travel to the metro area to compete in a one-day tournament. So we got the idea to have the area reps to be our person on site and they helped manage facilities there and we do the tournament at multiple sites. It’s gone gangbusters since.”

The tournament has grown by 60 teams from a year ago and Praska said the event has seen consistent growth each of the last 10 years.

Another part of the growth has been North Dakota’s and South Dakota’s shifting of its volleyball seasons to the fall. That has allowed prep volleyball players to compete in the fall and play Junior Olympic volleyball in the offseason.

The regional growth of both the area championships and junior volleyball is something Praska said is great to see.

West Fargo High School assistant coach Twila Roemmich is the Fargo-Moorhead tournament manager responsible for making sure the championships run smoothly. She’s been working the post for four years.

The F-M site has 10 more teams competing than it did a year ago and its growth has mirrored that of the entire region.

“The junior volleyball program in general in the community has grown quite a bit the past couple of years,” Roemmich said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562