A look at the Heat Volleyball Academy

The Laredo club volleyball scene has been on the rise in recent years, which local high schools have benefitted immensely from.

In a five-part series, the Laredo Morning Times will look at the club volleyball programs around the Gateway City, and the series starts with a team that is well established.

The Heat Volleyball Academy was founded by Mike Chavez in 2017 after he saw the growing need for volleyball during the offseason

Chavez, a former high school volleyball coach, fell in love with the sport during his teenage years, playing the sport and then coaching at the high school level for a few years before starting his new venture that has helped the volleyball teams in Laredo.


“I started to play club volleyball for men at the age of 17 and it just became a passion,” Chavez said. “We don’t do this as a business. We do it for a lot of pleasure. We teach them the technique. I also used to train in Mexico. So, I tried to combine the Mexican techniques and USA techniques so we can play smart.”

Chavez started his club coaching career nine years ago with We Got Game Club Volleyball at the recreation center and it grew so quickly that he opened the Heat Volleyball Academy. Volleyball players from across Laredo flocked to the Heat Volleyball Academy because of the level of excellence that has made it one of the premier programs in the Gateway City.

“Our goal at HVA is also to prepare them for life lessons. Obviously, every club’s number one goal is to take teams to nationals,” Chavez said. “The importance of dedication, work, consistency. Our girls show up every week to practice aside from their daily schedules. This prepares them in seeing the responsibility of showing up and instilling in them that hard work pays off.

“It’s important they learn to work as a team, and our teams become family. These are all small life skills that our girls take with them forever. That goal of us directing good human beings is just as important. We always strive for lessons in the losses as well just as much as in winning. At the end of the day, seeing our girls being successful on and off the court is the biggest reward to all my HVA staff and myself.”

A total of eight teams make up the Heat Volleyball Academy currently and they have been successful fielding club and national teams that battle some of the biggest club teams in Texas and out of state.

A notable alumnus that has played for the Heat Volleyball Academy is former United setter Daniela Mares, who went on to have a stellar four-year volleyball career for the Lady Longhorns.

“Playing club at a young age really helped my level of play once I got to United by being exposed to the competitive environment,” Mares said. “Having coaches like coach Mike (Chavez), Alex (Rios) and Charlie (Sencion) were crucial to my development as an athlete and person. I love them and their program and all they do for the volleyball community in Laredo.”

Mia Rose Flores who starred for St. Augustine and played for Serves You Right, a subsidiary of HVA, United’s Mia Molina — who earned District 30-6A Hitter of the Year and Laredo Morning Times Hitter of the Year this past season, Alexander’s Valeria Ortiz and United’s Krizia Perez all suited up for the academy during their playing careers.

“There are a lot of athletes that come to us, and we just keep the tradition going because it is high expectations for these kids,” Chavez said. “It is defiantly preparing them for the future, not just for competition but we try to train them a little bit up, make connections on the court, teamwork and in real life as well.”

One of the biggest prides for Chavez is seeing his former alumni battling it out on the court at their respective high schools. High school teams around Laredo are filled with Heat Volleyball Academy alumni.

“Our biggest pride at Heat, when the high school season comes upon us, is many of our Heat girls are starters on the freshman, JV and varsity teams,” he said. “That is something we are very proud to see, and they are very well prepared. These are kids that advance to a different level. It’s just amazing how they do, and we are their biggest fans. We support them during the offseason. It is usually a tradition where all my coaching staff go and support them. They see us at the games, and they get very excited. We also have a very good relationship with the parents because it a family atmosphere here at Heat.”

Heat Volleyball Academy, just like all club teams, are looking to make a push for spot at the national tournament and they were able to accomplish that last season when two of its teams earned a spot to play on the biggest stage.

“Last year, that dream came true when two of our teams, made nationals in Las Vegas,” Chavez said. “It was two of our 14’s that made it.”

Heat Volleyball Academy 11-year-old team made it to the gold bracket and won the gold medal while the 12 year old team recently took bronze at the Impact Challenge in Round Rock this past weekend as they continue to navigate through club season.

The academy coaches are Chavez, Alex Rios, Carlos (Charlie) Sencion, Diana Cadena and Kristen Ovalle.

sports@lmtonline.com

Twitter: @ClaraLMTsports

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