Andrew Groveman
Belz Enterprises


Katie Wassmer
Thompson & Berry PR

Professional Volleyball Player and Memphis' Growing Volleyball Community Come Together in New State-Of-The-Art Facility

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, March 22, 2005 – For Jitka Okolicany, volleyball isn't just a game.

The former member of the Czech Republic's junior national volleyball team sees the sport as a way to show young people how to work for what they want out of life.

That is exactly what Okolicany hopes to accomplish with the opening of her brand new volleyball facility, Metro Volleyball, at 3131 Appling Road on April 29. The 16,800-square-foot state-of-the art facility will have four volleyball courts, a pro shop, an office and a concession area, with plans to add basketball courts in the future. The April 29 grand opening party will be attended by town dignitaries and all of Okolicany's volleyball teams.

Okolicany is president of the Memphis Metro Junior Olympic volleyball program, which is open to girls ages 8 to 18-years-old. She started the program in 1998 with just one team for her daughter, Katie. Now, she has 19 teams, from elite and traveling teams that play 10 to 15 tournaments across the United States each year, to local teams that play within the Delta Region, which consists of Arkansas, Northern Mississippi and West Tennessee. Memphis Metro has grown into the largest and most successful club in the region.

"Volleyball is a great way to show young people how to work together as a team and to be rewarded," said Okolicany. "Many of our players earn full athletic scholarships to college because of volleyball, so it pays off for both the players and the parents."

Metro Volleyball also offers six-week volleyball programs and private lessons for those wanting to sharpen their skills or just learn how to play the game. In addition, there are adult leagues for men and women.

"I'm excited because the volleyball community in Memphis is growing," Okolicany said. "I see players from around the world playing here, as well as people that are just becoming interested in the sport. With our new facility we will see even more people coming to play."

The volleyball facility will employ the latest in technology with three permanent cameras set up to professionally capture each game. The tapes will then be used three ways: one, for players to review after games; two, for parents to have a permanent recording of the games; and three, perhaps most importantly, for players seeking scholarships, the tapes will serve as recruiting tools for colleges.

"We are the only facility in the area to have such technology," said Okolicany.

Since the beginning of the program, Okolicany has wanted to find a permanent home for her program.

"At first, we rented space at churches and other facilities, but doing that, we were always guests," she said. "Belz really came through for us. We needed to have a year-round facility in order to grow the sport and be even more competitive. It was essential to find a good facility and we found that here."

Okolicany grew up in Czechoslovakia, where she was a member of the country's junior national volleyball team. She came to the United States in 1989 when her husband accepted a job with Cornell University in New York City. They moved to Memphis in 1992 when he was offered a position at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and have been here ever since.

In addition to her daughter, Katie, 21, Okolicany also has an 11-year-old son, Adam.

"Through this new facility, my main objective is to encourage young people to participate in sports, learn the game, or just get moving," said Okolicany. "Metro Volleyball is not only for athletes who already know how to play the game, but for anyone – young and old – who wants to learn the game or become more active."

Metro Volleyball offers weekly summer camps, volleyball clinics, private lessons, summer and fall volleyball leagues, and more. For more information on Memphis Metro Volleyball, visit

About Belz

Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., Belz is a leading innovator in real estate development with interests throughout the Southern United States. Belz develops, owns and/or manages more than 30 million square feet of industrial/warehouse/distribution centers, shopping centers, office buildings, mixed-use centers and corporate campuses. The company also owns a group of premier hotels, including The Peabody Hotels in Memphis, Orlando and Little Rock. Additional information about Belz is available at