MILWAUKEE -- The goal is to be the best on the court, and players at the Revolution Volleyball Academy are chasing the dream, but that's just part of what these girls are learning, as something known as RVA Cares is also being taught.
"It teaches the girls life lessons. There's more than just on the court," Heather Curley said.
Curley founded the club five years ago. She and other coaches, like Shell DeLisle, see giving back to others just as important as giving your all in athletics.
"We tell our players and we tell our parents at the start of the season that we are building players of character both on and off the court, so we are about the whole athlete," DeLisle said.
One of the ways they do that is by creating something called "Birthdays in a Box."
"So we got plates, napkins, cups, streamers, party blowers, table cloths, cake mix, and for each area, we did different party favors, depending on whether it was for a girl or a boy or gender neutral," Barrett Poetker, who plays for RVA said.
The boxes, also filled with presents, come with many different themes.
"They imagine what it would be like if they were to have the perfect birthday party and they bring all the pieces together," DeLisle said.
"It's a good bonding experience, because they get to know each other by doing them together and they have a lot of fun with it too," Curley said.
The boxes are delivered to a number of food banks and other organizations that will, in turn, give them to families in need.
"What they're doing is, they are blessing us," Pastor Steve Kielly said.
One of the charities involved is the Abundant Life Food Pantry in Oconomowoc. Pastor Kielly said he sees firsthand how appreciative the families on the receiving end of these gifts are.
"Parents get excited because they are wondering how they're going to do a birthday party. There's so many things involved in it, and then they can come and get their food and they get a party in a box too," Kielly said.
Curley has an emotional connection to this project.
"I love seeing my kids when we have our themed birthday parties and how they wake up in the morning and they come downstairs and they see the balloons and they know it's a party for them and they get all excited and it's great to know that there is other kids that are feeling that too," Curley said.
And the giving ends up going both ways.
"As you see, the girls seem to love it and it builds camaraderie, but it also lets them see that there is something outside of themselves and something bigger than volleyball," DeLisle said.