Monday, October 02, 2006

NCVA4All (parent group faq) volleyball

(photo courtesy of the arctic ferret, who has nothing to do with Norcal volleyball)

Here at last is the Faq that tries to explain where things are with the NCVA and what we're seeking. Again, to be clear, I didn't write this myself. Several members of the group did the heavy lifting. We are also in the process of opening up a dedicated website for the NCVA4all group so it'll be easier to follow the issues, developments, etc. without having to sort through my other posts.

Once that happens, I'll continue to link new postings here, but will also have a referrer to the NCVA4all site. These next few weeks should be interesting.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q:     Are all coaches and adults who have NCVA-sanctioned contact with our kids screened?

A:     Who knows? We are told this is a private matter for the Board and that our kids are safe. If you'd like to see how other regions deal with this issue, look at this web page: and click on "2006 Background Check Cleared List".

Q:     Who is the NCVA? I thought we were all members through club participation.

A:     You are not a member of the NCVA, and neither are any of the volleyball players! Only the Board of Directors are members; currently 5 people. This includes the Commissioner, who theoretically answers to the Board -- but she is also on the Board. USAV avoids  this potential conflict of interest by stating in its by-laws that no paid staff person may serve on the BOD. NCVA does not follow this practice.

Q:     I thought the NCVA was a non-profit 501(c).3 public-benefit organization.

A:     They are. We are making an effort to determine if they comply with the accompanying requirements.

Q.  Aren’t board meetings supposed to be open except for special closed sessions?

A:      The NCVA Board states they are always open to communication, that there are empty seats at NCVA board meetings, and that anyone can come see one for them. However, the last board meeting was not publicized in advance. The meeting before that, in June, included a presentation by our group. The rest of the meeting was closed.

Q:     Have you actually tried to attend a board meeting?

A:     Yes. We approached the NCVA in the spring of 2006 to ask to observe a board meeting. The Commissioner (who screens all calls and communications for the Board) asked us why we wanted to do that, and suggested that we meet with her instead. We did, on two occasions, and it was useful. However, we felt that it was important to speak directly with the Board in order to have our concerns communicated clearly.

Q:     What if every crackpot disgruntled parent went to every meeting of the Board to complain about lack of toilet paper in the bathrooms? Nothing would ever get done!

A:     Those of us concerned with the chronic safety and security issues affecting players at NCVA-sanctioned events and facilities feel that their repeated requests for info and clarification about these issues from the commissioner have gone unanswered. We firmly believe in open and constructive communications with the NCVA, which would include a way to communicate with the Board without being screened by the Commissioner.

Q:     Has any interested party who is not an NCVA Board member observed any board discussions or deliberations about these issues yet?

A:     No one knows, except the Board. When this group was finally granted permission to attend a board meeting, after multiple communications and two face-to-face meetings with the Commissioner, they were limited to 4 attendees, given 30 minutes to present, and then asked to leave. To see the content of our presentation to the NCVA Board, click on this link:

Q:     So, what happened?

A:     The group who presented their concerns and recommendations to the board did not hear anything from the board for over three months. After a couple of months went by with no response, three individual members of the group each sent a short, polite email to the Chairperson of the Board, Diane Mazzei, requesting information.

Q:     And then what happened?

A:     After another month we received a letter from her which largely stated that all our questions had already been answered multiple times by other people, including USAV staff, or were addressed in the newly-revised 2006/2007 Junior Handbook.

Q:     Well, have your questions actually been answered by the Board or the Commissioner?

A:     No, not the important ones. Some specific yes-or-no questions have been answered in a general manner. There is a complete chronological accounting of all communications back and forth between the group of concerned parents and the NCVA at this link:

Q:     Who are you guys?

A:     NCVA 4 ALL started as a group of parents of players from a number of clubs throughout the NorCal region who share a common concern about the safety and security of our kids. We were galvanized into action by the conditions at the 17/18’s qualifier in San Jose for the 2006 season (the notorious "tent"). Our ranks have expanded beyond parents to include other stakeholders in northern California volleyball.

Q:     Whatever happened with the San Jose fiasco? Did the NCVA get their money back?

A:     The Commissioner indicated that she was vigorously pursuing the San Jose Convention Center (SJCC) to force them to give back to the NCVA a substantial refund of the rental fee for the substandard conditions which the Commissioner claims was the fault of the SJCC.

Q:     Was there ever a refund, and did it go back to the clubs and players who were actually inconvenienced in some form or suffered ankle sprains while landing in a pothole?

A: No one in the group of concerned constituents who asked about it has heard anything further.  

Q:     Did anyone ask how this allegedly unsafe and inadequate facility (20+ sport-courts on a wavy, unpaved pothole-filled parking lot under a giant tent) could have been reviewed and approved by NCVA staff prior to the tournament?

A:     Yes, and there has never been an answer to that question, other than, "We are all doing the best that we can."

Q:     So what does "NCVA 4 ALL" really want?  How are your efforts going to go beyond complaining and whining?

A:  We want the NCVA to thrive, and the following actions are necessary to this end:
*Enforcement of USAV Health and safety standards and procedures as outlined in USAV documents.
*Published NCVA Board agendas, meeting times, and minutes.
*A representative board system where members are nominated and voted on by the constituents.
*Financial accountability.
*Improved communication.

Q: So, where do we stand?

A:     The NCVA has made no commitment to adopt or enforce specific health and safety standards and procedures. They have clarified some matters in their handbooks and have once again changed the tryout system (perhaps in response to our requests, but not in any way we recommended). They have said they will continue to address and consider suggestions and input from all stakeholders within the region.

Thus far, nothing prevents the repeat of some of the most egregious incidents of the last few years. The board informed this constituent group that there has been no use of the due process procedures with respect to background checks. USAV minutes (right there on the USAV website) reflect a concern raised in the NorCal region about an individual who was involved with a club who is a convicted sex offender. It’s quite likely that the person in question never asked for “due process” with NCVA, however.

The Board is on record as saying it does not share meeting minutes, agendas, or meeting times and locations. It has not clarified whether the public may attend board meetings, but as a practical matter they discourage it. The Chair's only letter to us did indicate that they might consider the possibility in the future, but it is current policy not to share these basic records of what the NCVA, a non-profit corporation, does. The USAV and many large regional volleyball associations post all of this information on their websites for the world to see, but NCVA has not chosen to follow that example.

Under the current system, only existing board members may nominate new board members. NCVA has confirmed that it has a non-representative Board and that the only legal members of NCVA are the 5 Board members. The 10,000+ people who pay for "membership" in NCVA each year have no rights or standing as members within the organization itself.

The Board now says that it plans to add a "parent board member." In fact, they met in August, unannounced, and had an individual unknown to us (presumably their chosen candidate "parent") attend their unannounced meeting.  

The constituent group had already identified several candidate parents for nomination to the Board and made known its desire to process these nominations. In her September letter to us, Ms. Mazzei declined to nominate any of these parents and said she had passed the request on to other members of the Board. We have received no further indications of action.

Our recommendation for independent financial audits has been completely ignored to date.

The NCVA has promised an “open letter” to the NorCal region about communications. Other than that and the slightly revised tryout policy, there have been no publicly-acknowledged measures to explain any specific incidents, respond to itemized recommendations we have made, or make any other changes to the way NCVA operates.  

Link to my other volleyball articles


At 10/02/2006 07:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job, Boris! Really appreciate the concise approach to get through to more parents that this really is something that can be addressed by the group. Just wish I had 8 more hours in a day!

At 10/03/2006 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Thanks ms....

I hope the faq does help keep it simple.

the group's demands really are pretty basic.
1) tell us what's going on.
2) make sure the kids play in safe-healthy environments.


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