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What is NIVA?

NIVA is a volleyball club that provides opportunities for boys and girls in 3rd-12th grade to play volleyball in the off-season.

We believe the goal of club is to help kids get better...simple as that.  Whether its for elementary, middle, high school or college, we want to help players achieve their goals.  Along the way of improving their mental and technical side of the game, they learn how to be a teammate, grow into a leader, face and deal with adversity and rise to the challenge.  We are firm believers that sports can help you in life beyond just the game!

What are the costs?

NIVA strives to keep our fees low and reasonable to give every girl an opportunity to play, no matter their financial situation. Fees vary depending on the age group and type of team you play on. Please refer to our NIVA FEES tab at the top of our welcome page for more information. 

Players often times find local business sponsors to help offset costs.  NIVA also offers fundraisers and work opportunities to help with fees, please reach out if you're interested in working some jobs for NIVA to

What do fees cover?

Fees cover paying coaches, gym time, uniforms (tops and spandex), equipment such as nets/volleyballs/ball carts, player and facility insurance and tournament entry fees. Fees do not cover shoes, knee pads, hotel accommodations (for travel players), gas, entry for parents into the tournaments (if there is one) and food at the tournament.

What is the difference between travel and rec/club teams?

Travel volleyball girls participate in tournaments out of town.  Most tournaments are within a few hour drive but some of our top travel teams will travel further .  We have varying levels of travel that you can read about on our TRAVEL INFO PAGE
Travel is for players that want to improve on an elite level and compete against the best competition in the country while gaining exposure necessary to play at the collegiate level. Coaches and players at this level should be willing to make a serious commitment to their team.  These teams are the top tier of the club and the goal is to have the best players at each age group competing for a national championship.
Rec (feeder or high school club) girls participate in our local power league that plays around the Elkhart/South Bend/Michigan City area. They practice 1-2 times a week and play in 6 one-day tournaments from January to March. Coaches and players at this level are looking for a less involved experience and to improve overall volleyball skills at a developmental level without having to make the time or financial commitment to travel. 

What does "feeder team" mean?

Feeder teams are the recreational club teams for 3rd-8th graders.  These are more developmental teams that don't require as much time for training as travel.  These are great teams for beginners or anyone that can't commit to travel.

The term "feeder" comes from the way it is set up...players play for the feeder program of the high school they will eventually attend (or "feed into").  Local high school coaches run teams under the NIVA umbrella as a way for players to practice and play for their future high school coach.  This allows each high school program to start training players the way they want them to play. The feeder head (high school varsity coach usually) organizes their own feeder in the NIVA family.  They choose tryouts, coaches, practice locations/days/times, training, etc.  

Feeder programs have teams in the 10 & under, 12 & under and 14 & under divisions and it goes by your grade level.
10U - 3rd & 4th grade
12U - 5th & 6th grade
14U - 7th & 8th grade

My daughter is in 3rd-8th grade but her future high school doesn't have a feeder program through NIVA, can we still play?

Yes!  The "Independent Feeder" is a program run by NIVA administrators and coaches that aren't necessarily linked to a specific high school.  In this program, we have girls from South Bend, Edwardsburg, Fairfield, Warsaw, Mishawaka, ICCL, private schools and Penn.  This is a way for them to play even if their high school coach doesn't run their own program (although many of the junior high and high school coaches from these programs do coach teams, they just combine with various schools)

Who can play NIVA travel?

Any girl from any school from 10-18 can play for our travel teams. We have travel teams from 12U-18U.  See the  Age Group Expectations to see what age your daughter would fit into based on her birth date.

Due to IHSAA rules, at the high school level, only 3 girls from a particular high school can play on a team. This means the travel teams are a combination of players representing various high schools. Travel is run under its own section of NIVA and does not affiliate with any particular school and works to develop players for ALL of the area programs...we want the top players in each age group to complete the most competitive teams possible.

Every year is an OPEN tryout - we do NOT offer spots on teams to anyone until tryouts are complete.  We do not keep teams together specifically either.  If it works out, that is great but every year new girls come to the club and the makeup of teams is shifted!

How do I decide between travel and rec ball? When should we switch?

This is a question that each family has to answer on their own based on financials and time but here is some information that may help guide you:

The general idea is that the more skilled players and players that want to play in college should play travel.  That is not the case 100% of the time but generally speaking, that is true.

Most girls will start in the rec/club program for the first few years and then switch to travel for more intense skill training and competition.  Again, that is different for every player and family - and what school team you are trying to make.  Some programs are way more competitive and tougher to make the team so players want the extra touches, training and time on the court to hone their skills.

Generally speaking, 6th or 7th grade is a good time to do travel.  It gives you some time to really work on skills before trying out for your high school team.  Travel teams get 3-10x the touches in the put it in perspective, most rec teams are getting 18 matches and about 30 hours of practice a season while travel teams are getting:
Purple/Black (national teams): approx 70 matches & 160 practice hours
White/Grey/Silver (elite teams): approx 45 matches & 100 practice hours
Pink teams (regional teams): 35 matches & 36 practice hours

Obviously the older you get, the more intense the training and expectations and the tougher it is to make a team without having that skill growth that others have had.  The talent level of the team, the background of the coaches and the competition is usually much higher in travel.  

We have had players as early as 4th and we have had players start travel as juniors so there is no clear cut answer but just some general thoughts to help you make that decision.  Please feel free to reach out if you have individual questions too!

How does a player get picked for a particular team?

NIVA assigns players to teams based on a combination of try-out results and team composition needs.

Try-out results are based on volleyball skill, attitude, work ethic and communication. Team composition needs are determined by each coach as far as positions and talent level needed to best compete at the designated level. The ultimate goal is to assign players to a team where they will have the best chance of individual success and be able to contribute to the team's success. We want girls to play at a level that matches or is just above their own level so they can continue to grow and gain confidence as a volleyball player. 

Does every girl make a team or do you make cuts?

Each varsity coach decides if their feeder program will make cuts after their tryouts.  Most will not make cuts if they can help it but if there are more girls than spots on a team and coaches, sometimes cuts have to be made.

Non-Travel/Feeder Teams
10U & 12U usually do not make cuts
14U teams might have cuts depending on your feeder program
High School Club makes cuts
Travel Teams
Cuts made at all age groups.  We are looking for the "elite," top players in the area to field each team.

How many players are on a team?

Team size ranges from 8-12 girls. It depends on the needs of the team, but we try to keep team sizes down so girls have more of an opportunity to contribute on the court. 

Where do teams practice?

Each program in NIVA practices at different locations.
Feeder teams will practice in their local school gyms mostly.
High School Club teams practice at Elkhart HS 
Travel teams practice anywhere we can get gyms in the Granger/Elkhart area.
We try to accommodate players and coaches and keep practices close to their area as much as possible but in order to find enough space, we take what we can get for courts until our facility is done! 

What is your philosophy on playing time?

Coaches have the discretion to play girls based on their ability, work ethic, attendance in practice, attitude, etc. We understand that playing time helps develop players but playing time is not guaranteed

At 10U, all girls should be playing close to equal playing time if they are at practices and there are no other issues.  The focus on these age level teams is for ALL girls to develop and learn the game.

At 12U, all girls should get a chance to play but it will not necessarily be equal playing time.  Stronger players or the most hard working players might see the court more often.  The focus on these teams is for girls to develop and learn the game.

At 14U, playing time will not be distributed equally.  These teams are still developmental so we try to place players based on like-ability so they all have the chance to contribute.  That being said, playing time will be based on ability and work ethic, not just guaranteed equal playing time.  

At the HS Club level, playing will will not be distributed equally.  The focus on these teams is more for playing to win and getting ready for their next high school season.

At the travel level, playing time is not guaranteed and not distributed equally.  These teams are considered "elite" teams and playing time will be at the discretion of the coach based on work ethic, attitude, hustle and ability.  Many players come to travel teams after being the "studs" at their high schools but are now on teams full of "studs" from other schools.  We will work as coaches to help every girl improve and reach her potential but at this level, if every girl is working hard and has ability, a player has to do more than just improve and work play, you have to contribute to the team and be better than the person playing in front of you.


What about conflicts with another school event or sport? Can I still play NIVA if I am involved in another sport?

The answer is yes. Many of our successful travel and club players are involved in multiple sports and activities outside of NIVA. It is the job of the player to communicate any conflicts with the coach and work out the issue. Understand that most coaches are willing to be flexible but attendance at practice is very important and absences need to be minimal. While we support athletes involved in many things, if you choose to play on a NIVA team, you need to be dedicated to be there so plan your time wisely when you choose what level to try out for.

When will we get tournament information?

Once the club tournament dates are set, you can check under the tab "Power League Info." The specific location and playing time for your team is usually up on the website the Wednesday before the play date.

Travel tournaments will be announced in October (before tryouts). Once the season gets started, for each tournament, schedules are generally posted the Wednesday or Thursday before the tournament.  Your coach and/or team parent will contact you with playing details.  Parents, DO NOT contact a tournament director for schedules.

Does NIVA offer apparel for parents?

NIVA offers apparel and other items every year.

Rec teams are outfitted through Its Tops (local business).  There is a specific time frame window for parents and players to order.  All ordering is done online and shipped to your parent rep/team parent to distribute.

Travel teams are outfitted through Under Armour at 431sports and the spirit wear store is open all year and items ship directly to you.  

Any player from any team can order through either option!


Who should I contact for questions or concerns?

Any general questions can be answered by your coach or feeder head.  If they do not have the answer, you can email

Any concerns can be directed to your specific coach first. If the question cannot be answered or the issue cannot be resolved that way, talk to the head of your program. If the question/issue still cannot be handled, it will then be brought to the directors. Please remember the 48-hour rule to talk to a coach about an issue...see the Rules/Guidelines tab for more information on this!