CLEMSON, S.C. – First-year Director of Volleyball Operations Ciara Jones has been named a recipient of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Diversity Award. The award recognizes professionals within the volleyball community executing the organization’s diversity initiatives and minority coaching development programming.
“I want to thank Michaela [Franklin]. She told me this would a good thing for me to do in order to get my feet wet in the AVCA and in college volleyball,” said Jones. “I’m excited to learn more, meet new coaches, and especially being minority in the sport – being both a woman and African American – it’s important to me that I do things the right way.”
Jones, who played for Marquette from 2008-12 during Franklin's time as an assistant coach with the Golden Eagles, was named Clemson’s Director of Volleyball Operations on May 9, 2017. The Orlando, Fla., native was a four-year letterwinner for Marquette volleyball from 2008-12, during which time she helped lead the Golden Eagles to the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011, a season in which she was named a Big East First Team All-American. Jones earned Marquette Athletics' Outstanding Female Leadership & Service Award in 2012 and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2011-12.
The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) is dedicated to placing coaches at the epicenter of leadership, advocacy, and professional development. The AVCA Diversity Awards are a tangible example of the value placed on assisting aspiring coaches, advancing the coaching profession for the next generation of coaches, and promoting inclusiveness within the sport of volleyball.
The Diversity Awards program is the next phase in the evolution of the organization’s diversity initiatives and minority coach development programming. Since 2002, the AVCA has been intentional in fostering diversity initiatives and minority coach development programming designed to assist ethnic minority coaches in gaining access to the volleyball coaching profession and advance in their coaching careers.
The program through an online application or nomination (sponsor) process looks to identify 10-12 volleyball coach recipients who will be awarded complimentary full registration to the AVCA Convention and 5 nights of lodging at the AVCA Convention headquarters hotel. Female and male ethnic minority club, high school, and collegiate (indoor and beach) volleyball coaches are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to first-time AVCA Convention attendees. After the application and nomination process the Diversity Development Team will oversee the review of the submissions and the selection of up to 12 award winners. The recipients will have an agenda of coaching education programming, mentoring, and networking functions specifically targeted to them during their time at the convention. These sessions will be facilitated by veteran volleyball coaches and industry leaders. The objective of these sessions being to provide relevant and timely information and best practices to empower and assist in the recipients’ development as on-court tacticians and off-the-court managers and mentors.
The overarching objective of this program is to integrate each of the selected recipients into a career trajectory of sustained engagement in the larger volleyball community that includes demonstrated involvement with their national coaches’ association (the AVCA) and a commitment to continuous learning and professional development that results in being teachers and champions of the game. It is important that as a result of this program the sport see tangible and quantitative evidence of the increase in opportunities for ethnic minorities at all levels of the sport (notably “A5” and NCAA D-I women’s volleyball programs) to experience successful and enjoyable coaching careers.
“2017 brought the deepest pool of talented aspiring coaches in the history of the award,” said AVCA Diversity Development Team Chair and Butler University Head Coach Sharon Clark. “The Diversity Team had a tough task during the selection process with so many worthy candidates. We are thrilled with this year’s awardees and look forward to them experiencing an informative and invigorating convention.”