The Philipsburg Phanatics program has left a big impression in amateur volleyball in its short, three-year existence. So much so that a national athletic organization has taken notice, and signed the program to a year-long sponsor contract. Mizuno U.S.A. Territory Manager Timothy Peters told Philipsburg Journal the Phanatic program is a high quality club, and a great fit with the company.
The Phanatics are the ideal type of club that we associate with,\” said Peters, \”A club whose directive is to strive to be the best and carry themselves in a professional manner. We are a company who believes in Grassroots promotions, and by partnering with clubs of this caliber, it allows us to promote the name and promote our company philosophy, \”Your passion is our Obsession\”. The partnership will allow members of the Phanatic program to purchase uniforms and equipment at discount prices, and give them another avenue to show their organization is functioning at the top of their game.
\”Mizuno is the top name in volleyball,\” said Mick Dininno, program director. \”Now, the players and our community have an identity and one that they can be very proud of. When we go to other states or the bigger cities, having \’Mizuno\’ on your uniform means something. The kids earned this with hard work.\” The contract will also free up some money in the Phanatics\’ budget, which Dininno said would benefit the local school district program.
Earlier this year, P-O district leaders cut a considerable portion of funding to the program, enough to cancel the scholastic junior high program altogether. Now, there\’s a little more money that can be floated to other need areas of the program.
The relationship with Mizuno, and other companies, will allow us to continue the program under the Phanatics,\” said Dininno. \”We hope as long as we can get space and time (at a local gymnasium) for all these girls, and give all the girls who want to, the outlet to play, to compete and to make friends.\” Peters said the decision to sign the Phanatics came after a lengthy screening process, as well as plenty of discussion with Dininno and DJ Frank, program marketing director. Dininno said the two programs had been talking back and forth for the past two years.
I also read quite a few credible articles about the program and have determined that this club is going places,\” said Peters, \”and whose sole purpose is to better the players and provide a core club that players of the future can depend on.\” Mizuno sponsors six other teams in Pennsylvania, all from the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Harrisburg areas.
Dininno, along with longtime Philipsburg volleyball guru Jim Gonder, got the program off its feet a few years ago involving schools from as far away as Huntingdon and Northern Cambria. In its second year, the program took off.
\”I finally decided to go as the Phanatics and give our kids from the local area the opportunity to play volleyball and keep the cost down,\” he said. \”We have been successful at both,\” said Dininno, \”and just last season, I think the program won seven championships. They say it takes 10 to 12 years to get to that level. We have done it in three years.\” This year, 36 players will travel to play in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio tournaments. All the girls reside in the Philipsburg-Osceola or West Branch school district. There\’s an additional 20-30 girls who will play in the junior high tournaments and an Altoona League. Dininno said it\’s important that every girl who participates in the program sees plenty of time on the court.
We are giving a lot of girls the chance to play at different levels,\” said Dininno, \”but the bottom line is everyone who wants to play is playing or practicing.\” In addition to good numbers in participation, Dininno said the program is growing in other ways.
Now we have a Web page, and we\’re constructing a new one where each girl will have a file there,\” he said. \”We are sending out prospect sheets and profile letters, and soon, video files, to colleges. We want to give our local girls a chance to go to college with the opportunities we are giving them now.\” West Branch varsity girls\’ volleyball coach Terry Trude coaches the West Branch Phanatics team. Dininno, who is head coach at P-O high school, coaches a team in Philipsburg, as does Gonder, Dave Eckberg and Nate Wharton. Dininno said more coaches will be added in the near future.