Los Angeles has been the epicenter for some of the greatest sports teams and athletes that the world has seen, with teams participating in every major league in the United States. Between the MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, MLS, and NFL, the city holds 31 Championship titles. Its players have also greatly influenced pop culture throughout every generation in the last 50 years. The city of angels’ greatness comes from not only its sheer size of their fanbase but from its great pride of life long die-hard Angelites. LA has carried this sports culture of success into Men’s volleyball as Anaheim has been the home for USA Volleyball at the American Sports Center since 2006. Now that professional volleyball is gaining steam in the United States with the National Volleyball Association, Los Angeles’ own LA Blaze to carry on the tradition of greatness.
Led by Manager/Coach Cynthia Buggs (alumni player at both the University of Tennessee and CAL State Long Beach), the team has been in great hands after their first season with the NVA. Her leadership on and off the court has been a fantastic asset to the LA Blaze. Hailing from Compton, California, her roots run deep with the city making her a perfect fit for the team.
“You know, it’s been pretty fun and straightforward taking on this team. The players have all been so talented and knew each other before the team was conceived, which has made recruitment of players an absolute breeze.” – Cynthia Buggs.
The team is comprised of a core group of local players from surrounding schools such as Cal State Northridge, CAL State Long Beach, Concordia University, and Hope International, and some strong pickups from the Puerto Rican National team. Going into last year’s NVA Championships, the team had everything they needed in skill, size, and power. Still, it lacked rhythm as a cohesive unit as a new team in the league. As Cynthia put, “there isn’t a need for any skill development for these guys, just more chances to play together as a team.” Thankfully that opportunity has presented itself to the Blaze this offseason as they’ve joined joint training sessions with Matadors, Ramblers, and Stunners in Costa Mesa. A safety measure to help control the spread of COVID-19 in the league has allowed for constant practice against competitors in the NVA.
LA Blaze has also picked up some recruits who are guaranteed to take the team to the next level this season. George Mason Alumni Travis O’Gorman returns to the west coast to reproduce his success as a state champion with Long Beach City College. The team has also picked up Long Beach State Libero, Jordan Molina, who was part of the national championship team in 2018 and 2019. Having a player who was born in Los Angeles but has had so much success in both high school and university staying within the area is such a great honor for the team!
The NVA and LA Blaze have high expectations for their season and hope every sports fan in Los Angeles can catch all the action that is to come! To get weekly social media updates, you can check out the NVA (@nvausa) and LA Blaze (@la_blazevbc) on Instagram and Facebook as well as their website (https://blaze.nvausa.com/). As always, fans can check out the NVA on YouTube to catch reruns of LA’s 2020 Championship performances as well as live-stream coverage of the upcoming events starting April 23rd.