Atlanta is adding another professional sports team to the list this winter as the up-and-coming RealPro Volleyball league begins its inaugural season. Named the Atlanta Vibe, the team has been practicing together for months with their impressive roster, and looks to expand the rapidly growing sport of volleyball even further.
Since the announcement of their founding in November 2022, RealPro Volleyball aims to give American volleyball players a chance to play professionally in their own country, complete with high salaries and nice facilities. The number of viewers for the NCAA volleyball season has surged over the past few seasons, even breaking a world record for attendance at a women’s sport event when Nebraska played a match in their football stadium this past August. However, in the past, standout players that wanted to move on to the next level had no option but to move overseas for opportunities. Players now have the chance to earn a spot on one of the RealPro rosters out of college, and continue their sport more easily.
The league’s substantial sponsorships and partnerships have allowed it to become a great option financially for the players involved. From Joe Burrow, quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, funding a team, to help from Franklin Sports and even a close partnership with USA Volleyball (USAV) and the US National Team, players are gaining opportunities and connections just with their involvement in the league. RealPro has also provided great facilities, locker rooms, and practice gyms, with the Vibe playing at Gas South Arena, home to the Atlanta Gladiators and Georgia Swarm, and practicing at Lakepoint sports.
As of now, Atlanta is one of eight cities in the country to get a team, though the league plans to expand to other cities as they grow. The team’s owner, Colleen Craig, is a successful Atlanta businesswoman and the owner of Rally Sports, a key part of the development of youth volleyball in Atlanta. As a former D1 volleyball player at Cornell University, she wants to continue to expand the sport and give opportunities to players from youth clubs to professional teams.
The league allotted players to each team through signing professionally and a draft straight out of college volleyball, and Atlanta gained some of the best players in the country. Morgan Hentz is a standout libero from Stanford University, where she won three national championships, and now plays on the US National Team including in the 2024 Olympics. Tori Dilfer Stringer will be the team’s standout setter, after a very successful career at the University of Louisville and a professional career in Italy for the past few years. Leah Edmond, a standout outside hitter from the University of Kentucky will help carry the offense after a professional career of her own in Puerto Rico.
Make sure to watch an Atlanta Vibe game as they help kickstart the new professional league over the next few months, and see some amazing players get a new chance to represent our city.