SPRING HILL — In a crowded gym along a quiet Pasco County road, aspiring college volleyball players are polishing their skills under the tutelage of Doug Chinchar.
The No Name Volleyball Club is Chinchar's creation, and it allows him to relish the opportunity to coach, something he nearly lost a decade ago. A successful coaching career at major universities led him to recruit nationally as he regularly took teams to the biggest college volleyball competitions the sport has to offer. Then a car accident as he left for a 1998 recruiting trip nearly cost him everything.
Chinchar, then the coach of Wichita State, was hit by a drunken driver who ran a red light. Chinchar's back was broken.
"The accident took me out of coaching the college game," he said. "I came down here to rehab and then I met my wife, Sarah, who was an incredible player at (the University of South Florida), and off we went. I was able to jump into the volleyball scene here and I love it. I love warm weather and fishing, so naturally I like Florida a lot. Everywhere I've ever gone I stayed involved with volleyball. The sport has been good to me."
More than a decade after he moved to Florida, Chinchar and his wife found themselves helping the now-defunct Hernando Juniors program. After it folded, the couple decided to create the No Name Volleyball Club. Last year, all seven of the high school seniors in the club landed a college scholarship package.
"Our goal is to make sure these kids go to college on a scholarship, and it's not that hard in women's volleyball if they know how the game is played," Chinchar said. "In other areas, like South Tampa, the girls grow up playing. We want to do the same thing up here. I think this area has been waiting for this for a long time, because these kids need a place to fine-tune their skills with coaches who have been in the big games."
The No Name Volleyball Club plays against other teams in the United States Volleyball Association, traveling around the state and even attending national tournaments in Atlanta and Kansas City. The cost is $1,850 for a season.
Players who make the No Name squad tend to be serious athletes. A prime example is standout Alyssa Mathis, 15, a player Chinchar is developing both at the club and high school level as head coach at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School. Mathis is only a sophomore, but is being recruited by schools such as the University of Illinois and the University of Tennessee.
"It's pretty crazy to have all these different schools looking at me, but it's a good thing," Mathis said. "I can learn a lot playing with a club like this because I've only been playing for a few years. I tried out other sports like softball, but when I finally got to try volleyball I just fell in love with it, and now with this team I can play consistently."
The Chinchars and assistant Craig Collins held an open tryout Sunday, welcoming players from around the area to develop skills that could someday put them on a college court, or maybe even the Olympics. By the end of the day, the squad was picked.
"I just want to see my daughter play somewhere she can enjoy herself and be competitive, which has always come naturally to her," said Linda Filipelli, whose daughter Shayna tried out Sunday and made the squad. "She's comfortable in any volleyball setting, but if she can make this team, it gives her a real chance at a scholarship, so we're hoping for the best."