By Courtney Clark
To join the Florida High Performance boys national select volleyball team, male teens from all over the state of Florida try out for a position. The process is competitive and consists of a week-long championship tournament with international and domestic teams. The High Performance team is prestigious, offering an opportunity to reach Olympic teams.
Despite the immense challenge, Creekside High School student Jake Vorburger made the team as a middle hitter and will be competing in the 2016 High Performance Championship. The 14-year-old lives life large – literally. Already at 6’6” and 230 pounds, the teen is the largest athlete on the team.
Vorburger hasn’t always played volleyball. In fact, he started his athletic career as a baseball player.
“I started playing baseball at age five and played throughout middle school,” Vorburger said.
In eighth grade, he tried out for the Fruit Cove Middle School volleyball team, coached by Rob Holley (the current head coach of the High Performance team). The Fruit Cove team went undefeated and won the county championship.
“That experience was where I discovered my love for volleyball,” Vorburger said. He transitioned to the Jacksonville Junior Volleyball Association and has been excelling ever since.
“I was a little nervous at first,” he said about tryouts. “This is only my second season playing volleyball and the majority of boys trying out have played for years.”
For tryouts, teen boys from all over Florida were rated by three coaches over the course of two days in Daytona Beach.
The USA Volleyball 2016 High Performance Championships, an event with more than 100 teams (including international teams), are held in Fort Lauderdale from July 19 – 23. To prepare, Vorburger plays almost every day with some of his local club teammates at the sand volleyball court in Julington Creek Plantation.
“It’s weird because the team is made up of kids all over the state of Florida, so we can’t get together to practice prior to the tournament,” Vorburger said. “Even though the Championship is not a beach volleyball tournament…beach volleyball helps to keep me active and keeps muscle memory alive.”
Vorburger wants volleyball to remain a part of his life. His goal is to play with a Division 1 college, a national team and eventually to join a professional team.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Vorburger