GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids has been announced as the first city to host a women’s volleyball team under the new Professional Volleyball Federation.

The as-yet unnamed team will begin its first season at Van Andel Arena downtown in February 2024, organizers announced Monday at a news conference.

The new Pro Volleyball Federation is aiming to create between eight and 10 teams for its inaugural season. Grand Rapids’ was the first to be announced. The goal is to announce all of them by February 2023.

The creation of the league opens a new door for women’s volleyball players — right now, there aren’t any professional options for them in the United States and they have to go overseas to play. Cecile Reynaud, one of the league’s founding members and a Hall of Fame coach, said more than 300 of the nation’s best volleyball players leave the country to pursue the sport at a professional level.

“When you look at any of the websites internationally, every country has you click on has a professional league except for the United States,” Reynaud said.

The logo for the West Michigan Pro Volleyball team, which has not yet been named. (Courtesy)
The logo for the West Michigan Pro Volleyball team, which has not yet been named. (Courtesy)

The Grand Rapids team is backed by DP Fox Sports & Entertainment, which is run by Dan DeVos, who also co-owns the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team.

Jen Spicher, CEO of the Professional Volleyball Federation, said West Michigan is an ideal location for a franchise, with the Midwest already a volleyball powerhouse.

“This is an amazing sport,” Spicher said. “It’s probably the one sport that doesn’t take a backseat to the men’s. It’s exciting. These women are beautiful and smart. They’re athletic. That’s what women’s volleyball is, it’s exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, because fans are going crazy for it.”

Professional volleyball was played in Grand Rapids in the early 2000s under the United States Professional Volleyball League, but the league ended up dissolving. Team USA volleyball veteran Jenna Rosenthal said bringing back a professional franchise is a huge step for the sport.

“Now little girls can watch our league, and say, ‘Oh, I want to do that with my friends.’ It’s giving the idea and planting that seed in their head that volleyball is strong, it’s beautiful, it’s a wonderful expression, it’s a wonderful sport, and we get to share that with so many more people,” Rosenthal said.