Casey Jennings & Lake Tahoe Volleyball Academy
April 12, 2023 | John Crockett
Launched in 2022, the Lake Tahoe Volleyball Academy led by local coaches Casey Jennings and Tacy Kelly provides a club team experience for local female athletes seeking to develop skills on and beyond the court. The academy is the first club team in North Lake Tahoe and is a chance for Casey to pass on his decades of elite team and beach volleyball experience to a new generation of athletes.
While local middle and high schools field volleyball teams, the school season is a sprint of just over 2 months, limiting practice time and competition. After coaching the Incline High team with Tacy and observing their progress and potential, they saw the need for a local club team.
Casey says the coaching he received as a teen had the most impact on his future success. And that is what motivated him to start LTVA and work with youth. “I’m so excited to give back to that age group. The time is right and I’m excited for the future.”
A native Nevadan, Casey began playing team volleyball in his hometown of Las Vegas. Spending summers in Incline, he and his brother would play on the sand at Ski Beach from morning until dusk. As part of a state championship team, he credits high school coach Bob Kelly with instilling the discipline and accountability that set him on a path to future success.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to thank him enough for the lessons he taught me,” says Jennings. “I don’t think I would be where I am today, making a living and traveling the world, without him. Now it’s my turn to pass those lessons on.”
Jennings’s resume includes winning a Junior College Championship at Golden West Juior Colege, the 1999 NCAA National Championship at Brigham Young University, an international gold and several silver and bronze medals on the FIVB World Tour, seven Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) beach volleyball tournament wins, and AVP accolades including Best Defensive and Most Improved Player awards.
Last fall, Casey and Tacy held well-attended tryouts and fielded teams for three different age groups. The club competes throughout the region with the season culminating in late April at the Far West Qualifiers in Reno. The LTVA staff is complemented by coach Grace Hubrig who works with the under 13 and 14 teams and manager Ryan Shuff.
The LTVA coaches want to instill fundamentals in their players but also the importance of a sport, school, and life balance. “If you don’t come to practice because you have piano lessons, school work, or another sport, tell your parents, ‘Good job.’ Stay involved in multiple activities because it makes their approach to volleyball that much better,” says Jennings. The coaches can also leverage their expertise by bringing in specialists in yoga, footwork, and nutrition.
“Casey is big at teaching life lessons,” says Shuff, a friend of Casey’s for 35 years. “He is so impactful on these girls that they will remember the skills and mindset they are learning for the rest of their lives. The coaches work so well together and provide a great experience for the team.”
Nevada is home for Casey and his wife Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and they are raising their three children in Incline Village. With all of his experience, Casey must know what makes a great team work. “It’s all about trust. Every student athlete will miss a practice here and there. As a coach, you know the commitment by the consistency of showing up,” which leads to team success both on and off the court.