MoJo Tournaments bring club volleyball to Newman

Feb 21, 2019
volleyball tournament

Associate Athletic Directors Maureen “Mo” Rohleder and Joanna “Jo” Pryor decided to bring club volleyball to Newman about eight years ago — and the MoJo Tournament was born.

The 2019 tournament season saw five different one-day tournaments, held on either a Saturday or Sunday, beginning Jan. 20 and ending Feb. 17. The annual event brings club volleyball teams with players ages 12-18 to the Newman University campus.

Medals for first and second place are given after each tournament.

When they started the tournament, Rohleder and Pryor wanted to keep volleyball in their lives after leaving the coaching world and they saw a need in the local community for competitive teams at the club level.

“We wanted to still be involved in the sport, so hosting tournaments seemed to be a good way to keep our foot in the door,” explained Rohleder.

She added the tournament provides a place for club volleyball teams, all from the Heart of America volleyball organization, to compete in their age group, and it exposes players and families to the Newman campus.

Since its inception, the tournament has not had a shortage of teams.

“We have always been able to fill our tournaments,” added Rohleder, “and we offer some things that other tournament directors don’t have, such as the ability to bring food and have campout areas and tables assigned for each team as well as organized warm-up times.”

Pryor said they “never have to search for teams, but we are limited to a certain amount per tournament.”

“The tournaments take place in Fugate Gymnasium but we have also used the Bishop Carroll High School gyms in the past for overflow teams,” Rohleder explained. “We have held as many as 11 tournaments a season.”

Rohleder said she hopes to continue the tournament, although no dates have been set for 2020. She added once the gym availability is set for next year, they will decide when the tournaments, and how many, will be scheduled.

Both said their favorite part of the tournament is always about the kids.

“Seeing the level of play at each of the age groups and watching them improve over the years is one of my favorite parts of the experience,” said Rohleder.

Pryor enjoys the mentorship aspect, adding, “I just love seeing kids enjoy what I grew up doing.”