What is all the hoopla around these Junior Olympic Qualifiers and what does it even mean to qualify?  We throw around these terms all year long– nationals, junior olympics, qualifying, patriot, american, national, open, bids, trickledown….what does it all mean?  Don’t worry, I got your back.  By the end of this blog, you’ll be slingin’ JO vocab like you work for USA Volleyball, and you’ll be all set for Vegas this weekend.

What is Girls Junior National Championships? (JO’s)
So, as a USA Volleyball (USAV) affiliated club program, Junior Nationals (or Junior Olympics, as they are often referred to), are our end-all-be-all end of the year extravaganza we are all trying to get to.  This year, they are in Dallas for the 18’s (in 2 weeks in fact), and Minneapolis for all other age groups.  There are several different levels of play at the JO’s – Patriot, American, USA, National and Open (in order of ascending competitiveness).  The Patriot division is “sign up to play” division, where any team that wants to come to the tournament, can simply register, and come– you do not have to qualify.  In order to participate at JO’s in any of the other divisions (American, USA, National or Open), you have to be the recipient of a “bid” to one of those divisions.

How Do You Earn a Bid to GJNC’s?
Ah, now the magic question!  Why do we send all of our National teams to this tournament in Las Vegas?  The tournament in Las Vegas is our Region of USAV (Southern California)’s Junior National Qualifying tournament.  There are 12 qualifying tournaments…called so because they are where your team goes to attempt to QUALIFY for GJNC.  To earn a bid and qualify, you have to WIN (or in some cases take 2nd in) the WHOLE tournament!  The different divisions at different tournaments each have a different number of bids up for grabs.  For example, at this tourney in Las Vegas, the American division (the one we’re all playing in) for each age group, only has 1 bid available for JO’s– that means you have to WIN the tournament to earn that American bid.  Some of the more competitive divisions (like the OPEN), offer 3 bids – so if you take 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, you’re goin’ to the big show!

Teams travel all over the country to attempt to qualify for nationals.  Our teams usually only attend the Southern California JNQ, but we’ve sent teams to Chicago, Dallas, Reno and Seattle in the past!

You can also earn bids other ways:

Teams can also earn “trickle-down” bids, “reallocation” bids and “at-large” bids.

At-Large bid: A GJNC bid awarded upon the completion of the Qualifier Season (both National and Regional) by a Committee of National Staff or its Designees based on performance during that season, in relation to other non-qualified teams in that age group.

Reallocation bid: A National, USA or American division bid to the GJNC that is unused and is returned for reallocation to a Region. Reallocation is performed by the Events Department.

Trickle Down Bid: A GJNC bid awarded at a NQ to a team finishing lower than a usual bid award position. This happens in some situations when a higher finishing team has previously accepted a GJNC bid from another NQ or a region process or a bid is declined from the National, American, or USA divisions.

Ok, now you’re a professional with the GJNC lingo– what should you expect this weekend?

What to Expect at the Southern California Junior National Qualifier in Vegas

If you’ve never been to a National Qualifier before, the scene can be a bit overwhelming!  Imagine 100’s of courts, screaming girls, non-stop whistles and cheering.  This tournament is one of THE most competitive in the nation, as Southern California is such a hotbed for great volleyball.  Be prepared for heavy competition in every single match.  Be prepared to watch your team thrive, battle and sometimes struggle.

Track your team’s results and schedules using the Advanced Event Systems app!  It’s easy to favorite your team (or all of the SoCal teams)!

Don’t Forget:

Remember this is a LONG weekend and you need to take care of your body and your mind.  Take the time to step out of the convention center and do some deep breathing, or pop in your headphones and listen to some mellow, centering music.  Visualize.  Eat and sleep well…you’re going to be exhausted (players AND parents!).

  • Double check for ALL of your gear (especially 2 shoes and 2 kneepads)!
  • Bring extra spandex, sports-bras, socks, hair thingy’s, tampons for you and your teammates!
  • Music & Headphones are CLUTCH
  • Dress warmly (parents too)- the convention center is FREEZING!
  • Print your monorail passes and activate them early so you don’t have to do it in the morning before you play
  • Stay energetic and positive for your team (and the college coaches!)
  • Post cute pictures and videos to your Snapchat, Instagram and GroupMe so we can share in how much fun you’re having!OK!  You’re a Junior National Qualifier expert!! Let’s have a GREAT weekend.  See you all on the courts.  XO – Aimee