In recent years David Carrasco has seen quite a spike in youth volleyball participation, and he’s hoping to give those numbers even more of a bump with the new facility he’s built in Surrey.
Academy Volleyball was recently opened in 18,000 square feet of business park space on 52nd Avenue, in the southeast corner of Cloverdale, after three years of planning.
The six-court facility includes a custom blue playing surface imported from Italy at a cost of $200,000, according to Carrasco. “It’s the same type they use at the Olympics, with a couple of layers of foam under it, and it’s really good to prevent concussions and elbow injuries,” he said.
“Those are carbon-fibre poles that can be easily moved around,” Carrasco added. “Some of the school poles are 70 pounds, really heavy, and these are really light. These are the lightest poles you can get.”
Following delays in geting permits and final inspection, Academy opened just as the COVID-19 pandemic became a real concern.
“I’m super happy it’s up and running now, but it’s been a bit of a slower start than we wanted,” Carrasco said. “It is a bit of bad timing with that, but we’re starting some programs we couldn’t do before.”
A volleyball house league, for one.
“That has been a passion of mine, to allow all kids to play if they want,” Carrasco said. “It’s painful, and I got an email in December saying, ‘My daughter tried out for four teams and didn’t make any of them,’ and that’s who we can get involved. Volleyball is one sport where not everyone can just go play anywhere.”
A South Surrey resident, Carrasco grew up in Winnipeg and got involved in coaching at the University of Manitoba from 2007 to 2012. That’s where he met his wife, volleyball player Lauren O’Reilly, who went on to play on the national team and pro in the Netherlands. The couple eventually settled in her native Langley to start a family.
“I’ve coached at all levels,” Carrasco said, “but coaching youth is what I love. My father taught martial arts for 35 years, and I kind of followed that path of working with youth. I just love working with kids and helping them grow as athletes, and particularly with girls volleyball there’s such an opportunity for them to get their education paid for down the line.”
Carrsaco said the first volleyball camp he ran locally, in 2012, attracted just four kids to a rented gym in Abbotsford. Slowly, he built Academy from there, by word of mouth and also an Instagram account that now boasts 15,000 followers.
“The biggest struggle for all the clubs is facilities, right,” he said. “So many people are moving here and they’re putting portables on school property, and they still have just the one gym, and they need more. So everyone is trying to rent, and it’s a real crunch. A couple of years ago I wanted to expand programs but couldn’t because there was just no space. That’s when we decided to build this.
“It’s a great location because of the zoning, with lots of parking,” he continued. “It’d be cheaper for me to go to Port Kells or Newton, but this is better. We’re just off Highway 10, the new hospital will be built right over there, lots more happening around here.”
Today he and Lauren, a teacher at White Rock Christian Academy, have three kids, with a fourth on the way.
“They’re just getting started playing volleyball, but they’re pretty young still. They’ll be bouncing around here soon enough.”