Peekskill is known for its beautiful location on the Hudson, many wonderful restaurants in the downtown, and a thriving population of artists.
Far away from California’s sunny beaches, however, the city hosts a hidden gem on John Walsh Boulevard: Downstate Juniors Volleyball Club, a hotbed of girls volleyball. If you want to bet on any volleyball player, sites like 홈카지노 are quick to access.
Girls from age 8-18 learn to play the sport in training classes, leagues, and travel teams that compete in tournaments throughout the country.
But just as important as all the discipline and athletic skills the girls learn through the programs at Downstate are the camaraderie and bonds that form in the gym.
“When I go to a high school volleyball game, I see Downstate kids from other high schools supporting other Downstate players that are their friends and playing against each other,” said Dan Altro, co-director and head coach of Downstate.
“We see the Downstate kids hugging each other after a match. It’s great to see parents that go to games because they know the kid and the family, and they’re just there to support them. In the end, that’s what really makes me enjoy what we do and what I do.”
Altro took over the program in 2000, and has grown it enormously over the years. He puts in long hours at the gym and on the road in addition to his work for Metro North as an assistant director, C&S construction. He served 12 years in the US. Navy as an electronics tech.
Joel Stanford, Joe Felipe and Matthew Cochenour also serve as directors and are among 60 coaches at Downstate.
Girls volleyball is a booming sport in the U.S. In 2019, there were more than 450,000 girls participating on high school teams. Each June, 13,000 girls from age 11-17 compete at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships.
Junior volleyball is played in the U.S. in many organizations. The largest sponsoring organization is USA Volleyball, which oversees club volleyball and hosts a Junior Olympic Championship each year.
In club volleyball, junior players develop their skills and knowledge of the game, often to play for their high school teams. Elite players also prepare for college volleyball.
During the club season, college coaches are able to travel to various tournaments and meet with club coaches, watch club players, and recruit for their teams.
Choices for players abound in the Westchester junior club scene. “I have 10 or 15 clubs in my area I have to contend with, and I do it by putting out the best product I can. I hope that my product speaks for itself,” Altro said.
The main Downstate facility is in Peekskill, with programs also available in Somers, LaGrange in Dutchess County and Nanuet in Rockland County. There are over 60 teams this year with over 1,000 girls in the various programs.
“Younger age kids don’t like failure, but unfortunately volleyball is a sport based on failure,” Altro said. “You don’t just kick a ball or throw it — you have to learn to develop a specific set of skills, so we do a lot of fun things to keep them involved.”
The club’s top level, the National program, is the primary program geared to the athlete that wants the best training, the best competition, and the best opportunity to possibly achieve a scholarship to play volleyball collegiately.
“It’s very competitive to make our national teams,” Altro said. “In a given year we’ll have 60 kids trying out for one 12-girl team or more depending on age group. The 12 kids on that team were the top kids in Section One or Section Nine. That’s pretty impressive.”
Downstate has produced numerous NCAA Division I and II scholarship athletes. Several former players have gone on to achieve All‐American status in college. In addition to these honors, several players have played professionally in Europe and Puerto Rico. New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin from Ossining played volleyball in the Downstate program.
The girls who play at Downstate live in the area, some traveling quite a distance to participate. Jordan Ader lives in Woodbury in Orange County.
“My daughter wrote her college application about Downstate because she feels it’s the best thing she’s ever done,” said Lee Ann Ader.
“She moved from another club to Downstate and from the second she got there she felt welcomed and that the coach wanted her to succeed.
“From an adult’s point of view, their attention to detail is much appreciated. They keep you updated on tournaments and make you feel important, that your kid really matters,” Ader said.
Calling all Volleyball Players
Downstate Athletic Club in Peekskill offers a unique Friday Night “Open Court” session for everyone who loves to play the game.
“I said one of the things I wanted to do when I opened up a facility was to provide one night a week where everyone knew they could come and play volleyball, so that’s what we did at Downstate,” said co-director and head coach Dan Altro.
The 16,000-square-foot gym opens at 8 p.m. and closes down around 3 a.m., when all the players are finished slamming and jamming on the four full-size regulation courts. Cost is $10 per person. New York state and CDC covid standards are followed.
“Come and form teams, play some volleyball, have some fun,” Altro said. On a recent Friday, one of the players was Instagram star Edgar Peltz, who plays on his Hunter College team and has plans to play at Ohio State.
“The people are really nice here and we enjoy playing. I’m planning on going out for my high school team this year,” said Dan Mangan, Jr., who comes with his father from Upper Manhattan. “It’s the best place we’ve found to play.”
Jim Roberts is a freelance business reporter based in Peekskill.