Tryout FAQ’s

Why can’t Northern Lights hold its tryout on a different date?

Northern Lights is the oldest running club in the Region and has always held its tryouts on the first available date permitted by the Region and the MSHSL. This year that date is October 25th for age groups 10’s-14’s and November 1st for age groups 15’s-18’s. Our tryout dates were set and given to the Region for publication in August. We have no control over other clubs choosing to run their tryouts on the same day that we have traditionally used.

What if I come late or leave early?

In order to protect the rights and interests of all players at the tryouts, Northern Lights will make its decisions about the teams based on who is at the tryout at the time the decisions are made.  This means that if you come late it may already be done. If you leave early without signing the USAV Binding Commitment Letter we will understand this to mean that you are not interested in playing with Northern Lights.  We have no other choice but to enforce this since a player’s attendance or lack of it affects other players and their decisions.

Can I “play down” because of the new age definitions?

The new age date cutoffs were established by USA Volleyball to help eliminate the problem of players being forced to play outside of their normal grade level.  The intent of the rule is to keep most players grouped by grade.  It is not the intent of the rule to allow or encourage players to play at a lower age level than their normal grade level would permit.

Northern Lights does not intend to allow players to participate in lower age divisions.  With very few exceptions, we will ensure players are kept within their normal grade level.  To request permission to register for a lower age division, you must email with the following:  name of player, team they were on last year, position they played, full birth date including year, grade they are currently in at school, school they attend, reason for wanting to play down an age group.  After reviewing your daughter’s information, we will reply with a decision.

Can I tryout for a higher age level team?

We have a policy on allowing players to “play up” an age group. You can read it by clicking here.

Northern Lights teams are always at the top of their age division nationally.  Because of this we encourage all players to stay in their respective age divisions.  If a player wants to tryout in a higher age level, they should first contact our office to discuss this.  Generally players who tryout in a higher age level must be “impact” players at that higher age level, or we will not select them.  Players who tryout for a higher age level run the risk of not being selected for the higher age level, and then by that time the lower age level is already selected and full.  (It is not possible for us to wait until a higher age level is completed before selecting a lower age level as this is unfair to the lower age players and we would be there all day & night.)

I am a 7th/8th grader who is currently playing high school volleyball during the tryout.  Can I still tryout for Northern Lights?

Tryouts for 10’s – 14’s take place after all high school teams except varsity are done for the season.  If you are a 7th/8th grader who is listed on your school’s varsity roster AND your varsity team is still playing in sections or state, please e-mail us at to let us know.  You will still be required to be present at the October 25, 2020 tryout date.

I am an 18’s player this year.  How do tryouts work for me?

18’s are allowed to sign their 2021 commitment letter as early as August 1, 2020.  Because of this, the number of 18’s teams we offer will be fixed pretty early.  We also expect those teams to fill early as well.  If you are 18 and want to play for Northern Lights, please send an e-mail to to inquire.  18’s players are still expected to attend the November 15, 2020 tryout date mainly for paperwork and sizing of gear.

I am going to be gone on October 25th or November 1st, can I tryout early?

With the new signing of the USAV Binding Commitment Letter, we need to have all players at the tryout for their age group. North Country Region rules do not permit the Commitment Letter to be signed prior to October 25th or November 1st depending on your age division. Thus there is no time “earlier” for a tryout.

I am going to be gone on October 25th or November 1st, can I tryout after that date?

Northern Lights will be selecting its athletes on October 25th and November 1st.  All players selected will be required to sign the USAV Binding Commitment Letter so we will know the status of each of our teams by the end of tryouts.  At that time we may or may not have space available on a team.  If space is available in the club we will be happy to schedule you for a tryout.

Do my parents need to be at the entire tryout?

Any player under the age of 18 who is selected must have a parent/legal guardian available at the time of selection to sign the required paperwork.  Without a parent/legal guardian there to sign the papers we will not be able to accept you for a team.  This year players will be selected at various times during the tryouts starting as quickly as 1 hour after the start of tryouts.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, parent involvement and presence at the tryout may need to be changed for the 2021 tryout only.  More details will be provided at a later time.

What is needed at the tryout?

A print-out of your registration form.  We prefer online payment before the tryout, so it should be marked “PAID”.  Wear appropriate volleyball gear and bring a water bottle for the tryout itself.  If you are selected, you will be asked to make a deposit for the season and fill out quite a few forms – bring a checkbook and the players’s medical insurance card with you.

How many players will be on a team?

We attempt to have 10 players on each team.  Depending on the skill levels that number can vary to as low as 9 and as high as 11, but our goal is always 10.  We want each player to have a good experience and loading a team with more than 10 players can have a negative impact.  So if our teams are full with 10 players after our tryout, it is unlikely that we will accept additional players unless they were to fill a very specific role.  We also will not run a team with less than 9 players, we know from experience that problems will result.  This means that if on the tryout date not enough players commit a team may not be formed at certain age levels.  For the past 10+ years we have not dropped a team at the tryouts.

How often and when do the teams practice? How often do the teams play?

Northern Lights Teams will practice 2 – 4 times per week.  The schedule will vary depending on the team, court availability, and coach’s schedule.  A practice schedule will be available after tryouts.  Generally our teams practice on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from either 5:30-7:30pm or 7:30-9:30 pm.  Our 18-1, 17-1, 16-1, & 15-1 teams may have fewer practices on weeknights and an additional practice on Saturday. We do understand that many players in grades 7, 8, & 9 have confirmation on Wednesday nights, so we do our best not schedule practice for most of those age levels on Wednesdays.  All practices will be held at Midwest Volleyball Warehouse in Burnsville. Tournaments will be held approximately 2-3 weekends a month.  The season runs through the end of May for younger players, and through June for older players. All players who are on teams that play in National Qualification events are required to be in attendance at those events.

I am a multiple-sport athlete and I participate in other activities outside of club volleyball, can I still play for Northern Lights?

Playing for Northern Lights will require athletes to commit and work hard throughout the entire club season. Missing excessive practices or competition days may have an adverse effect your growth and development as a player.  Many of our athletes are committed to additional sports and activities and have still found a way to successfully participate in our club program. Our coaches and club philosophy will continue to support players who participate in multiple sports – however it is up to those players to be able to maintain their volleyball development.

My high school banquet conflicts with a Northern Lights practice.  What should I do?

We encourage all players to attend their high school banquets.  As a club we have expectations that our players will follow through with commitments to their club team, and this should be reflected in their decision to attend their high school banquet as well. If you miss a practice due to your high school banquet, it will not influence team placement decisions or playing time.

With the returning players from last year, is there really room for me?

Every year, approximately 25-33% of the players are brand new to the club.  These new players can be found across all age groups.