When Jenna Grider-Ortega and Erica Raisor took over as co-directors of the Hope Area Volleyball Club (HAVOC) in 2016, it had two junior high and four high school teams.
The next year, HAVOC had six junior high and five high school squads. By last year, the club fielded 27 teams in total with about 260 players and 32 staff members.
Because of the growth of the club, HAVOC began looking for its own facility. On June 1, it closed on a 7,800-square-foot property on the east side of Columbus, on Eastwood Drive just north of 25th street.
“We just keep getting bigger,” Ortega said. “We were running out of room at the schools to the point where we would have to drastically cut back and make a lot of changes. This allows us to be more open.”
HAVOC, which draws players from Bartholomew and surrounding counties, mostly had been using the fieldhouse and main gym at Hauser High School. It used a temporary facility near the airport from October 2020 through April 2021 during the COVID pandemic.
In using school facilities, HAVOC had to schedule around practice times for the school teams.
“It’s awesome (now) because we can be in and out whenever we want, and it’s ours,” Ortega said. “It’s not temporary. This is our home for good, and we get to make it what we’ve wanted. It’s been a goal of ours and our vision for so long that it’s just nice that it’s coming true.”
Co-directors Erica Raisor, left, and Jenna Grider-Ortega pose for a photo in front of the new HAVOC facility on Columbus’ east side.
The facility features two full-size courts, along with a lobby area and a coaches office. Ortega, who is in her second year as Columbus North coach, had the Bull Dogs practicing there on Monday and Tuesday while the floor at North was being waxed.
“We’ve been wanting our own facility for a long time, and when COVID hit, we had a temporary home,” Ortega said. “Then last year, we went back to Hauser. It’s just trying to find a place local that we wanted to be, an area that would benefit everything that we were looking for. We’ve been looking for a long time. Erica has spent a lot of time looking, and then this just happened to pop up. It’s perfect for what we were needing as a practice facility. We’re not going to have tournaments here, but we will be able to be in here as much as we want for as long as we want without having to go through the schools and be on their schedule.”
HAVOC began in 2003 when Ortega and Raisor were in high school at Hauser. Jets coach Jeff Case and former assistant Becky Schoen ran the program until Ortega and Raisor (Case’s daughter) took over in 2016.
Hope Area Volleyball Club (HAVOC) has moved into a facility on Columbus’ east side.
Raisor currently is running a boys volleyball program twice a week and is doing weekly skills nights with girls players at the new facility.
“The large draws to having our own facility was to get our girls in the gym and our boys as much as possible so we could offer them more practice time, more touches, which helps them improve not only them as an athlete, but improves the school systems and their programs, as well,” Raisor said. “A lot of girls are athletes in general and use athletics as kind of an outlet, and us having our own place, our own home, it’s a constant, and the girls will feel more comfortable coming into a place that they feel at home at and are just able to relax and play ball and focus on getting better.”