Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Volleyball league finds itself a home

'Beautiful new facility' to open at Better Bodies Fitness in Ft. Mitchell

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — Leaders of a girls youth volleyball club are pumped about courts being developed at a Fort Mitchell health club.

        Better Bodies Fitness Center, a privately owned facility on Grandview Drive, has agreed to lease the gymnasium it is building to the Northern Kentucky Junior Volleyball League.

        The league is a select volleyball club of 220 girls, ages 12 to 18. They will use the gym for practices and games, league director Jen Woolf said.

        “We're a tournament-driven league, so our matches are all tournaments,” she said.

        “But we need a place to practice. Right now, we have to find and schedule time at area high schools for 220 girls on about 22 teams. And coordinating all of that is a lot of work, and we're always moving around.

        “This will give us a home court in a beautiful new facility,” she said.

        The gymnasium, on the third floor of the health club, will stretch 10,000 square feet and have a 24-foot ceiling. It will be finished before year's end and have enough room for two basketball courts and three volleyball courts.

        Better Bodies is owned and operated by two longtime friends who were football stars at Dixie Heights High School in the early 1980s: Mark Pike, who recently retired after a long career with the NFL's Buffalo Bills, and Chris Derry, who played fullback for the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

        “We're doing it right,” Mr. Pike said. “A lot of facilities like this have hard-plastic, multipurpose floors, but we're doing wood like the floors you find in high school gyms.”

        He also promises state-of-the-art lighting, “because when we were researching this project we found a lot of gyms and facilities with very poor lighting.”

        They had plans to develop the health club's third floor, but when they were approached by the volleyball league they moved those plans forward.

        Rachelle Margolen, a Better Bodies manager, said health club customers will be able to work out in the gym, but much of the time it will be occupied by the volleyball teams.

        The volleyball club is open to girls from Northern Kentucky. Many of its coaches are active in high school volleyball, including Ms. Woolf, head coach at Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria, and Matt Long, head coach at Beechwood High School in Fort Mitchell.

        Select volleyball is growing in Northern Kentucky, Ms. Woolf said, with the number of teams doubling in the last four years.

        High school volleyball teams play in the fall. The club's games are in the spring, and tryouts begin this Saturday.

        Information: Call (859) 635-6558.


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