What is a Top Gun Winter AAU Team?
Top Gun Winter AAU teams are teams the will begin practicing in December 2023 and finish in early March 2024. Each team will practice twice a week for two hours and compete in four (4) one-day tournaments within a 1-1 1/2 hour drive from the Howell/Brighton area. Each team will consist of no more than 12 athletes to maximize individual and team growth, skill development and repetitions as well as practice and play time opportunities. The number of teams per age group will be determined by interest at tryouts, facility capacity and coaching availability. Emphasis will be on individual skill development, offensive and defensive team system understanding and teamwork within a cooperative and competitive learning environment.
How are the teams selected?
With the exception of 12U age division, all Top Gun teams are created through the tryout process. No one will be considered without proper evaluation. Athletes are placed based on skill performance at tryouts as well as position played in comparison with others also trying out. The top five athletes at any given tryout may all be middle blockers, but they will not all be placed on the same team. Placement based on carpooling or friends WILL NOT be considered. Our goal is to find a team for every girl that wants to work hard, have fun, learn and improve their volleyball skills and knowledge, however, due to numbers, coaches and/or facilities, we are often unable to accommodate everyone.
When and where are tryouts?
What age should my daughter tryout for? Should I just use her age?
Current age DOES NOT always coincide with USA age divisions. The Top Gun Volleyball program and the AAU organization abide by the age definitions created by USA Volleyball. USA Volleyball and the AAU have recently changed the age cut off month to JULY. The USA Volleyball Junior Player Age Definitions for the 2024 season are as follows:
18U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2005
17U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2006
16U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2007
15U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2008
14U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2009
13U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2010
12U – Athletes born on or after JULY 1, 2011*
*There will be no tryout required for 12U athletes in the Top Gun program, however registration is required and will open in November.
Please attend the appropriate tryout for your daughter’s age classification as determined by USA Volleyball listed above, with the limited exceptions listed as follows:
What if my daughter is young, but in a higher grade?
A very small number of athletes fall under the category of being in a higher grade academically, yet qualifying for a younger age group through the USA/AAU guidelines. For example, an athlete is in 9th grade but whose birth date is listed under the 14U age group. In these situations, she will be permitted to try out with 15U age group if she chooses. Any other movement of athletes into different age groups will be made at the sole discretion of the Top Gun VBC staff. In most instances, we do not agree with athletes playing “up”. We gather athletes from many different areas and school districts onto one team, so we are able to create a challenging environment for each age level. Top Gun believes that most athletes gain the greatest growth and advantages participating with their current age level.
When and where are practices?
Winter AAU teams will practice twice a week in the evenings for two hours each beginning in early December. Specific practice times and locations have not been established yet, and will be created after tryouts. There will be no practice during Howell/Brighton school holiday breaks. There also may not be practice on Martin Luther King, Jr Day or President’s Day. Practices could be held in both the Howell and Brighton areas. A complete practice schedule will be provided at the time an invitation is extended to join a team.
Does my daughter need to attend all practices?
A most resounding ‘YES’! Attendance at all practices and tournaments is necessary and expected!
In fairness to all involved, missing practices for any reason, including but not limited to illness, homework, family vacations and/or other sports/activities, WILL affect playtime opportunities. Please think carefully if your schedule allows for this type of necessary commitment and dedication. Volleyball is a TEAM sport, with teammates needing to work together and learning from each other consistently and often. Important material is covered during each and every practice and new information is added frequently. We do not recommend those with conflicting schedules play Top Gun because of this extremely important factor. Dedication to your team and the practice/tournament schedule is expected if you are going to play! We cannot stress this enough and teams have suffered in the past from teammates who were unwilling to commit their team!
What if my daughter plays another sport?
Top Gun believes that every athlete should have the opportunity to represent their school, and every effort is made to accommodate athletes wishing to participate in other activities for their school. As stated previously, however, volleyball is a team sport and attendance to practices is crucial. A case-by-case study of the situation is usually best to insure fairness to everyone involved. Extra curricular activities outside of school are not as easily accommodated. It is important for an athlete to be committed to her team and the practice/tournament schedule. Missed practices will affect playtime.
When and where are the tournaments held?
Tournaments are generally located within a 1 – 1 ½ hour drive from the Howell/Brighton area and could occur on a Saturday or Sunday. Tournaments are usually full day affairs, with arrival around 8:00am and finishing up sometimes as late as 6:00 or 7:00pm. Athletes are responsible for transportation to and from the tournament. Since COVID, team tables have been mostly banned and in many locations and each athlete is now responsible for bringing her own food and drink for the day. Actual scheduled dates will be available with any invitation sent to join a team, however tentative tournament weekends could include any of the following weekends: January 27/28, February 3/4, February 10/11, February 24/25, March 9/10. Every effort will be made to not change schedules once they are set, but there is no guarantee!
So my daughter will play every match?
There are 10 – 12 athletes on every team and only 6 can play at a time. Every effort will be made towards fair play time, especially during tournament pool play for athletes with consistent practice attendance and effort, however joining Top Gun is to sign up for the opportunity to learn, train and practice. Equal playtime is not guaranteed. During playoffs, coaches may choose to play their most competitive lineup. Lack of attendance at practice (for any reason) poor attitude and/or effort could also negatively affect playtime. Again, your athlete is signing up to train, practice and learn through practices and tournaments although play time at tournaments may not be equal.
What is the cost?
The cost for the 2024 winter season is $700.00. This payment covers practice facility rental, equipment expenses, coaching salary, memberships and training, tournament entry fees, administrative costs, program memberships, two t-shirts, a volleyball, spandex and two jerseys. (Athletes are also required to have a valid AAU Membership at the additional cost of $14.00.)
When is this payment due?
The first payment of a minimum of $350.00 is due at TEAM DAY held in early December. The remainder will be due by January 31, 2024. If an alternate payment plan is necessary, please contact Jen for options. Full payment is appreciated at any time!
Who will coach the team?
Coaches are placed with teams after the tryout phase and before commitments are requested. You will be given information on the coach at the time an invitation is extended. Top Gun Volleyball is a competitive endeavor and our coaches are competitive individuals and although we love to win, our coaches are teachers first and we place a strong emphasis on TEACHING lessons for both inside and outside the gym. Our focus is on growth and process above outcome.
If my daughter wants to play both Winter and Spring, will everything remain the same?
Top Gun volleyball hopes that most of the teams remain essentially the same for both Winter and Spring seasons. This will allow for greater development and growth by both the team and the individuals through continuity of training and teamwork. In the past, we have found that this may not necessarily be the case. It is important to expect to have different team members, coach and practice location/schedule for each season. We will do what we can to keep teams as intact as possible throughout both seasons, however there most likely will be changes.
What about Spring Season?
Top Gun also offers Spring season teams that begin training in March! Tryouts for spring teams will be held early in February 2024. Those playing with Top Gun in the Winter season and wishing to continue with the spring season will NOT tryout again. Any different placement will be at the recommendation of the winter coach. Commitments by winter season participants for spring season will be required prior to spring tryouts. Any athlete that does not play for Top Gun in the winter will be required to tryout for spring. More information regarding tryouts for spring teams will be available at a later date.
What COVID-19 protocols will be followed to help keep my daughter and others safe?