Former Division 1 volleyball players share playing and recruitment skills
By Randy Angel
When Nikki Jagd and Leah Hinkey first met at SoHo Yoga in Hermosa Beach a bond quickly formed between the two former NCAA Division 1 indoor volleyball players. The two shared a dream of passing on their experience and knowledge to younger players.
Jagd was a setter/serving specialist at UCLA after having been an All-Bay League selection and two-time team MVP at Peninsula High School. Her mother Kim was a coach at UCLA for more than 20 years and her father Mike has over 30 years of coaching experience and is the head coach of the girls volleyball team at Peninsula High School.
Hinkey, who hails from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was a two-time All-American middle blocker at the University of Tennessee. She moved to the South Bay in 2011 to live with her brother Trevor and focus on playing beach volleyball.
“We had conversation at the yoga studio and were on the same page, wanting to do something we love that involved kids while staying active and not sitting behind a desk all day,” Jagd said. “So we started a beach volleyball program call MB 17 named after 17th Street in Manhattan Beach.”
When a father of one of their clients mentioned he had a warehouse in El Segundo with extra space, Jagd and Hinkey jumped at the opportunity and opened VIBE Volleyball Lab in July 2016.
The Manhattan Beach residents have created a full-service volleyball training facility. VIBE offers private, semi-private, small group clinics for indoor and beach volleyball. Its sports performance workouts are designed to improve jump training, agility, speed, mobility and injury prevention, and nutrition. For prep athletes, it offers help in college recruitment.
“Vibe is the perfect place to work on your volleyball skills,” said Ella Pereira, a sophomore outside hitter for Palos Verdes High School. “I always look forward to my workouts there because the trainers are so knowledgeable.”
The majority of the approximately 500 kids who train at VIBE are ages 9-15 live in the beach cities. Club teams also train at VIBE.
VIBE also offers VIBE Babes for younger players. Mom Workouts and an Adult Open Gym Night are every Monday from 7:30-9 p.m. with 6-on-6 round robin play for intermediate and advanced levels.
“Adults have a hard time finding a court so the Monday night activity is very popular,” Jagd said. “Some professional players come in to brush up on their skills before heading off to compete international competition.”
Among the pros utilizing the facility is Olympic silver medalist and AVP star April Ross.
“I love the atmosphere at VIBE. It’s a place to work hard, but also have fun and they’ve formed a really great community there,” Ross said. “I’ve had an awesome time playing in their open gym nights. The competition can get really heated. It’s cool how well all the different levels mix together, just a great group of people to hang with at the end of the day.”
VIBE mascot Marlie is a 10-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever who attended classes with Jagd at UCLA and has her own instagram account @MarlieProblems.
“The kids just don’t run in and run out. They take the classes and then hang out with their friends,” Hinkey said. “We’ve been really lucky to have great trainers who have become a part of the community, which really developed on it own because Nikki and I were so busy getting things up and running.”
Trainers include Katie Charles, Cam Green, Natalie Hagglund, Ryan Mason, Riley McKibbin, Vinnie Rios, Ian Satterfield and Matt Thobe.
Charles is in charge of VIBE’s College Counseling and Athletic Recruitment program. She has more than 12 years of college coaching, counseling, and admissions experience.
Her free, 30-minute introductory consultation creates a recruiting plan for each individual.
Packages offered include: Creating a college list based on needs/wants of the athlete and academics, tracking coaches contact information/email correspondence, a monthly plan for information to send out, schedule of time to contact coaches, college recruiting video, pre-tournament preparation and a signing party at VIBE.
“College recruiting is so different than when Nikki and I went through it,” Hinkey said. “The rules and policies change all the time and Katie is on top of everything.”
Jagd and Hinkey credit their trainers for making VIBE a success.
“Our trainers are awesome. They are very professional and driven,” Jagd said. “It’s a fun workday everyday. Hanging out with the kids and seeing their level of confidence being raised is very exciting for us.”
VIBE is located at 110 Eucalyptus Dr., El Segundo. For more information call (424) 277-0907 or visit Vibevolleyballlab.com.
by Randy Angel