Rockawave Volleyball is proving that “teamwork makes the dreamwork” and the success of this team of young female athletes is taking on a life of its own in the volleyball training and club world. Rockawave Volleyball Training Academy (RVT), in its inaugural season, has proven itself to be not only an affordable training experience, but also one of the most successful in developing all around talent, athletic intelligence, and a healthy winning spirit, on and off the court!
The program is run by Marie McGoldrick-Raico, her longtime assistant Lauren Ganun, Brian Bagley, her sister Regina Sellitto, and an extraordinarily talented youth-filled coaching staff whose volleyball resumes are loaded with success on all levels. Nearly the entire staff was raised playing volleyball on the peninsula. McGoldrick-Raico brings 38 years of player and coaching experience at the highest level to the gym. She is a former three sport High School varsity athlete, Division I – two sport Hall of Fame college athlete, Division I college coach, and winning club volleyball coach. McGoldrick-Raico is also the Head Coach of Xaverian High School’s undefeated City champions and State finalist varsity and junior varsity City champion volleyball teams. She is the founder of Sand Sistas (West End) Volleyball training that has been working with young ladies on their sand and indoor game for eight years.
McGoldrick-Raico is most proud of the staff she has built with equally impressive resumes, and athletes she says, “she feels privileged to work with every day”. Four current Division I athletes began their careers training with Coach Raico. Countless athletes who have trained are also committed to their academic success. “Playing multiple sports at the highest level was a true gift, and it left me with the greatest friends, memories and lessons to last a lifetime,” she said. “The desire to build a culture that nurtures the student and the athlete on and off the court, while sharing some of the greatest lessons that I have learned, is the founding principle of training, which is rooted in teamwork every time an athlete steps in the gym.”
The volleyball world can be expensive and intense. “The running joke is that parents shouldn’t have to sell their kidney for a meaningful learning and competitive experience. We created a highly competitive and relatively affordable experience for athletes who wanted to grow their volleyball skill set, while allowing time to cross-train in other sports. Our mission was to train the technical aspects of the game while enhancing a volleyball ‘IQ’ that would strengthen the athletes’ individual strategic and psychological approach to winning, on and off the court. We pride ourselves on being a program rooted in the love for teamwork, and an appreciation and understanding of the parental sacrifices that are made so that each athlete can grow and reach their greatest potential!” While some athletes and parents chose the training-only option, McGoldrick-Raico was able to create five competitive teams to travel—the 12U SURF, 13U SURF and 13U SWIM, 15U SURF, and 17U SURF teams.
Like anything new, it came with a certain level of trepidation. While some days were two steps forward and one step back, the coaching staff knew they had a great group of athletes to work with and they were thrilled to set the bar high. Starting with regional tournaments in early January, the “new club” experience provided RVT with wonderful lessons. All teams saw a measured level of success, learning and growing from that experience. With a great taste of what was needed to succeed, when they returned from that tournament, they hit the gym ready to work harder than ever.
The teams began the local Garden Empire Volleyball Association (GEVA) tournaments with a winning attitude that never stopped! So far, the 12U SURF team has won all three of their GEVA tournaments and has a record of 15-0, which places them among top five teams in the region; the 13U SWIM is 19-0 and 13U SURF is 16-3 which places them both top ten in the region. Between the two, they competed in three “All Rockawave Finals.” Team SWIM has four GEVA tournament first place finishes, and SURF has one finals victory. The 13U SURF team had a dominant scrimmage win over SWIM in an intrasquad competition that is not reflected in overall GEVA record; 15U SURF has a current record of 16-5, which is good for top 15 in the region; 17U SURF, of which nearly the entire team plays up a full age group, finished the season 10-6 in all tightly contested matches, and places them 23rd in the entire region.
What’s up next for RVT? The entire club will descend on Atlantic City to compete in the Boardwalk Block Party tournament on April 21. From there, Sand Sistas will begin training and travel in 2 vs. 2 National Qualifying tournaments. One exciting addition to the training experience is in conjunction with Brian Bagley, Chris Scandole and Greg Gentile, Raico has created an opportunity for young boys to begin training. Sand Brohs will hit the sand in early May.
Perhaps Raico is most proud of what the RVT community has committed to doing off the court. “Our mission is ‘To be Good at Volleyball, but Great at Life.’ The girls poured the same energy and intensity to this cause that they do on the court in their game plans. Together, with the help and support of Father Jim, we created a service project called ‘Seniors See the World.'” They hope to use the power of teamwork to raise enough money to send two senior citizens, one from Rockaway and from Breezy Point, on a trip of a lifetime with Father Jim Cunningham to England and Scotland in March of 2024. Additional funds will be donated to The Mickey and Dee Charitable Foundation, which supports and affects change for the entire senior community. Look for the RVT girls around town working hard to achieve their goal.
If you have any interest in indoor training with RVT or training on the sand with the Sistas or the Brohs, or are interested in joining the coaching staff, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.