Frequently Asked Questions

Our Program
How do I complete payments for programming?

Welcome to PlayerFirst, 3STEP Sports’ registration platform.  In a few easy steps, you will be able to create an account, register your child for a team, league, or camp; and pay securely online.  If you pay via online check, there is no service fee.  Our user-friendly platform will enable you to complete the process in minutes, and a unique URL for each club will allow you to come back to the page to see all the programming for the year with just one click.  Registering has never been so easy and seamless!


Click here to learn more!

Who is eligible to play for USAV/Maine Juniors?

We currently have girls’ teams from 18U to 12U and boys’ teams from 16U to 14U.

Girls as young as 8 or 9 years of age can play 12U. We also have regular camps, clinics, and opportunities for younger players and those who would like to improve their game outside of the school season.

Please see below for age groups for the 2021-2022 season as described in the USAV Age Definition Chart.  As a general rule, 12U = 4th – 6th grade; 14U = 7th & 8th grade; 15U = 9th grade; 16U = 10th grade; 17U = 11th grade; 18U = 12th grade.

Players must play within their defined age group, unless they are “young” for their grade.  Example, a freshman with a July 2007 birthday may register for 15U with their grade peers, or they can choose to play 14U.  No special exception is needed in the case of “young for grade” players; please registered for the level you feel is the best fit.

Players who are “old” for their grade must play in the correct age group as defined below; players may NEVER play down.  Example, a sophomore with a June 2005 birthday must play 17U.

USA Volleyball, not Maine Juniors, sets the dates/definitions for age groups in Junior Olympic Volleyball.

What experience is needed to play for Maine Juniors?

You do not need to have prior volleyball experience for 14U and 12U teams, just a willingness to learn.  Consider attending a 14U or 12U introductory session prior to the season for exposure prior to tryouts. We avoid “cuts” at these ages.  Experience is necessary for our older traveling teams.  Most of our teams are chosen by ability and there are some teams that are very competitive (elite).

What is the difference between the level of teams? (Elite, Club Plus, Club, Local)

The level of teams that Maine Juniors offers reflects the levels that the New England Region offers. All players who accept a role on a team have a commitment to that team, no matter what the level of play.

Elite level teams, also known as Open Level in New England, include high school players in the 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U age groups.  Maine Juniors elite level teams have the labels “National,” “Gold” and “18 Regional.”  These teams are composed of experienced players, and require a higher cost to participate, have more practices each week and extended travel experiences. National & Gold teams should generally expect to participate in the most out-of-region (“National” ) travel for tournaments. The exception to this is our 18 Regional team, composed of only seniors who wish to keep playing at a high level but stay within the New England region.  The most Elite teams require a higher level of commitment from the players when accepting a position on a team.  *All players who accept a role on a team have a commitment to that team.*

Club Plus (Club+) level teams offer a bridge between the Elite/Open level and the Club level. They exist at the 18U, 16U and 14U age groups.  They straddle or combine the experiences and commitments of the Elite and Club levels.  They will participate in one or two extended tourneys in New England, such as Winterfest or the Boston Festival.  They may play either at the Club or Elite (Open) level in those 2-3 day tourneys and the 5 New England (NERVA) tourneys. They strive to be at the Elite level and, therefore, will attend Open-level Qualifiers, in the attempt to make the Elite/Open level of the 5 NERVA tourneys. They have three practices per week and the additional tourney experiences to support their growth toward the Elite level. There is greater cost and commitment to be expected at Club Plus level than one would expect at the Club level, but somewhat less than expected at the Elite level.  *All players who accept a role on a team have a commitment to that team.*

Club level teams practice once or twice a week and remain within the New England Region, participating at the Club level in the 5 NERVA tournaments.  *All players who accept a role on a team have a commitment to that team.*

Local level teams practice once or twice a week. Southern local teams do not go to the 5 NERVA tourneys. Northeast and Central Maine Local level teams generally do attend the 5 NERVAs.

All of our teams, regardless of level, attend the Maine Juniors Anniversary Tournaments (if held). These are one of the highlights of the season!

How do I know if I should try out for an “Elite” team?

National and other Elite teams are intended for players with more experience and skills/talent.  First year players do not usually have a high chance of being chosen for Elite level teams.  There are exceptions to that, though!  If you are quite tall or fast or athletic in general, maybe you should give it a try!  If you’re not sure, you can ask your school coach their opinion.  You should know that Elite teams require more cost and commitment.  If you are not selected for a team after attending Elite/Club Plus tryouts, you will be invited back to try out for Club level teams at no additional cost.

What happens if I try out for a higher level team and am not selected?

All players are contacted by coaches personally during our selection process.  If you are not offered a spot on a higher level team, you will be encouraged to return to the next tryout session for your age group.  Maine Juniors offers a variety of opportunities that have proven to be very satisfactory to those who do not make the first team(s) they try out for.  You do not need to re-register or pay an additional try out fee!

What are 17U and 15U teams?

Players who fall into the 17U age category can try out for 17U and 18U teams.  We currently have one elite 17U team (17 National) and one club 17U team (17 Sky).  All 18U teams are a combination of 18U and 17U players. 17U teams are intended for juniors.

Players who fall into the 15U age category can try out for 15U and 16U teams.  We currently have one elite 15U team (15 National) and one club 15U team (15 Sky).  All 16U teams are a combination of 16U and 15U players. 15U teams are intended for freshmen.

What is the 12U program?

Maine Juniors is proud to offer opportunities for girls in Maine to begin playing volleyball at a young age.  Girls ages 8-12 are encouraged to join the 12U program.  Our 12U program begins in early January, with team placements rather than tryouts.  Introductory sessions are held in the fall.  Open gyms may also be available for this age group.

What is the Northeast program?

Maine Juniors has three teams in the Ellsworth/MDI region to serve players from the Northeast – 14U, 16U and 18U.  These club level teams have their own local tryouts and practice schedules. Email for more information about this program and these tryouts.

What is a “Local Team”?

Local teams, previously known as Practice Squads, are an opportunity for those who prefer not to travel, or, are not selected for other teams. Local teams do not have a tournament schedule, but may scrimmage other teams.  They will participate in Maine Juniors’ in-house Anniversary Tournament (if held). Local teams are a great opportunity for players to continue to play, maintain and improve skills via strong coaching and weekly practice.

When and where are practices?

Practices for the bulk of our teams are every Sunday from late November through the end of April, except holidays and tournament weekends.  Individual teams may practice during the week as time and facilities allow.  The practice times have not been determined for this season.  Once finalized, practice schedules will be shared by coaches to their teams directly.

Most practices will be held at the Maine Sports Arena, Home of Maine Juniors Volleyball, in Saco, Maine.  Satellite teams, such as the Northeast and Central Maine teams, practice in local gyms.

What is playing up?

“Playing Up” is when a player requests to participate in an older age group. Any high school aged player may try out for the 18 National team without restrictions.  If not selected for the 18 National team, the player will be considered for teams within their own age group or an approved age group.

Any player who wishes to play in an older age group needs to contact John Razsa, Director of Maine Juniors, for permission to do so.  Of course, parents, especially in the younger age groups, may do this on the player’s behalf.  Factors to be considered will include:

  • That to not “play up” would likely hold them back in their development; and,
  • Related discussions with parents, the player and coaches as needed regarding the appropriateness of the decision. Social/emotional development should also be considered.

Maine Juniors does not generally encourage playing up.  In fact, we tend to discourage it for several reasons.

Firstly, we believe there is great value in playing with one’s age-group peers. It is a healthy situation which lends itself to bonding well with teammates.

A second reason is that the overall structure and health of the club is stronger when talented teams are formed in each and every age group, rather than collecting in the older age groups.

There is also a benefit in keeping a group of girls more or less playing together for several years so that they can mature together as players, know each other as players very well, and achieve age group success together.

Lastly, it is truly a rare player that would be held back in their development by playing with age-group peers.  Coaches tend to spot these players quickly and, therefore, they come to our attention quite naturally. It is certainly OK for a player or parent to make an inquiry to the Director for a play up exception, but please understand and consider all of the above when doing that.

A slightly different situation exists and, therefore, a different Maine Juniors policy is in effect for players who have played two or more years at the 12U level and are in 6th grade.  This is so as not to keep 12U girls who have experience in that age group “stuck” at 12U automatically for so long. The Club allows these girls to try out for 14U without a special Director’s exception. They may or may not be chosen for a 14U team. They may decide to play 12U again, until they are offered and accept a position on a 14U team.

When and where are tournaments?

The 5 NERVA tournaments, which all of our Elite, Club Plus and Club level teams attend, consist of single-day tournaments in February, March and April, with the “championship” in May.  Elite and Club Plus level teams will compete at additional tournaments.  The tournament commitment for each team can be found on our team flyers.

All teams will also participate at our Anniversary Tournaments, a home tournament hosted by Maine Juniors to celebrate our players and coaches (if held).

The location of NERVA tournaments are determined by NERVA, and not until a week before the tournament date. This delay is due to reseeding – results from the previous tournament are considered in placement of the next tournament. Our Club hosts some tournaments on each of the NERVA weekends.  This gives the strong possibility of a home tournament during the season; however most tournaments are in Southern New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts.  Club level tournaments typically have a maximum drive of 1.5 hours.  Elite level teams may travel up to three hours to sites in CT or RI on occasion.  All of our teams, except Local teams, are considered travel teams as they do travel outside of Maine.

Travel costs vary and are not included in dues and fees.  We do not provide buses.  Please view our Costs page for more information on multi-day travel tournament example costs.

typical travel arrangements for multi-day tournaments for Elite and Club Plus level teams?

Multi-day tournaments, which our Elite and Club Plus level teams attend, are referred to as “Stay & Play,” which mandates that traveling teams stay in a selected list of hotels for that specific tournament. Tournament costs are subsidized by the hotels paying a percentage back to the tournament for all the guests that stay due to the tournament. Each team has a minimum number of rooms they need to occupy as part of the tournament, so it is a requirement to stay in the designated hotel where Maine Juniors has committed to rooms

Transportation to and from the hotel to the tournament site location is coordinated individually or by team.  For some tournaments, the hotels we are staying in are within walking distance.  For others, carpooling to and from the location is encouraged.  The team parents will typically assist the coach in making sure that arrangements are all covered prior to the tournament.  Some teams may coordinate a ‘team outing’ at some of the tournaments, where they may go to dinner or another activity as time allows.  Transportation for these would also be arranged by individuals or teams.  The outings or team building activities vary per team and coach.

Hotel and travel costs are paid for by the families.  The dues that are collected for the teams covers all entry fee costs to the tournaments, but does not cover travel and hotel expenses.  Samples of these costs can be found at the bottom of our Costs page.

Please note: It is Maine Juniors policy that players cannot drive themselves to out of state tournaments, even if they are of driving age.  If a player is traveling or staying with another family that is not her own, that player’s parent/guardian must notify her coach immediately and complete some additional paperwork.

What is the cost of Maine Juniors?

Costs vary depending on the age group and level of play during the season.  Many factors come into play when calculating the costs for each group, such as number of practices a week, tournaments attending, gym costs, etc.

How are teams selected?

Team selections are complex and a lot of factors are considered while selecting teams!

Both “spotlight rating” of individual skills and drills in which the girls are observed playing are used. Individual skills are rated by our coaches to arrive at an objective, numerical value of each skill and the skills as a whole are also averaged. A rubric is used for this.

For more in-depth information about the selection process, please attend the mandatory parent meeting during tryouts.

We structure selections for teams to create a group with comparable physical skills and positional skills.  The highest skilled teams are selected first.  These teams carry a higher time and financial commitment with them. Considering player commitment/intention forms, tryout “spotlight” statistics, and qualitative observations from tryouts.

If you are not selected for an Elite or Club Plus level team, you will be encouraged to attend the tryouts for Club level teams.  Club level teams are selected in a similar fashion. The specific process for your level will be outlined in depth at the required parent meeting.

How do I buy a uniform?

Uniform packages are included in team dues for the upcoming season.  Once you are placed on a team, you will be sent a team registration link.  Following your team registration, you will receive a link to order your uniform directly online.  Please attend the New Season Open House for the only opportunity to try on sizes prior to ordering!  Questions:

What is the background to Maine Juniors?

The Portland North JO club was started by John Razsa in 1991 as a boys’ volleyball club and existed through 1998 as such.  In 2001 it was begun again, but as a girl’s club.  That year there were 22 players on two teams, 14U and 16U.  The number of players and teams has grown since 2001, as well as the level of play.  Last season we served over 350 players.  This includes our Northeast and Central Maine teams.  For this reason, and due to our general growth across the State of Maine, our name was changed to Maine Juniors Volleyball Club in October of 2010.

What is NERVA?

NERVA stands for New England Regional Volleyball Association. This is the region of Junior Olympic (“JO”) volleyball of which Maine Juniors is a member. NERVA is a division of USA Volleyball (USAV), the overarching group that manages JO volleyball as well as High Performance, the USA Volleyball adult play and Olympic teams.  Each player becomes a member of NERVA and USA Volleyball when joining Maine Juniors.  NERVA schedules the tournament dates and locations.  It also helps to provide training for coaches.

How do I know if practice is cancelled due to inclement weather?

Practice may be cancelled due to snow or other weather happenings. Check this website or our social media accounts for the most current news.  Coaches will also email players and parents when they are alerted to a cancellation.

We know that weather is different everywhere, and the weather may be worse where you live than at our practice facility!  If you ever feel uncomfortable driving to a practice due to weather, please stay home and let your coach know you will be absent that night.  Safety is important!

Who do I contact for more information?

Still have questions?  Please email us at

More in depth information about Maine Juniors and teams will be provided and discussed at the required parent meeting during tryouts.

We have participants from nearly every town in southern Maine, and also in many other locations throughout the state.  Please ask your friends and teammates about us!  Friends who have participated have tons of information about how the club works.

Join our mailing list on our home page – scroll down and join on the right side of the page.