COLUMBIA, Mo. – Former Mizzou Volleyball libero Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.) has continued to impact the sport she loves well after her playing days inside the Hearnes Center. Vann, a four-year starter for the Tigers from 2007-10, appeared in two NCAA Tournaments, including one of the program's four all-time trips to the Sweet 16.
The talented defensive specialist left her mark on the Tiger record books over her tenure, ranking second in all-time career digs (1,997) and digs per set (4.34). Vann concluded her standout career with a phenomenal 2010 senior campaign, as her 637 digs and 5.35 digs per set re-established Mizzou's all-time single-season record.
Now eight years removed from her time as a student-athlete at the University of Missouri, Vann has played a pivotal role with the up-and-coming DIG it! Volleyball program out of St. Louis, Missouri. DIG it!, an acronym for "Developing the Inner Girl", is a free after-school volleyball program for low-income girls that aims to inspire participants to lead healthy and confident lives.
Currently, DIG it! is currently the only organization in the nation that provides free volleyball instruction and character development training for low-income girls in grades 4th-8th. In partnership with public schools and the Boys & Girls Club, over 150 at-risk girls at 11 St. Louis public schools have been positively influenced by the program.
"This program was originally started by David Bosch, who after working with 4th and 5th graders through Teach for America, realized there was an alarming need for quality after-school programming for inner city girls enrolled in public schools," Vann said. "In 2012, public school districts across the country were forced to eliminate extracurricular sports and after-school programs. DIG it! Volleyball was created as a way to fulfill this need and provide low-income girls an opportunity to participate in a female empowerment program that focuses on physical activity and wellness education."
Vann, the Executive Director for the DIG it! Volleyball Program, focuses on a four-part system with its participants: Volleyball training, healthy living, character development and a school-based model. With hard work and proper implementation, the lives of hundreds of children will be positively impacted for years to come.
"We've found our four-part model to be very effective, because it allows us to make an impact on these young girls long after they've stopped playing volleyball," Vann noted. "In practices they are learning the valuable life lessons that occur naturally by participating on an organized sports team for the first time in their lives, and the wellness and character development sessions give them tools that carry over into the classroom and everyday life."
Overall, the DIG it! Volleyball program has resulted in nearly 85-percent of participants improving their focus on exercise and nutrition, 84-percent increasing their confidence, 98-percent of improving their communication skills and 97-percent improving their mental health.
"These are all areas that are far more important than just learning the sport of volleyball and are exactly why the DIG it! Volleyball four-part model is so important to these kids' development."
For more information on the DIG it! Volleyball Program, visit www.digitvb.com. Additionally, for opportunities to join the DIG it! team, become a sponsor or donation options, contact Caitlyn Vann at firstname.lastname@example.org. DIG it! is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
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