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Fusion 2.0

For those that don’t know me, my name is Tony Lien, the original owner and founder of Fusion Volleyball. Fusion began like so many others around the country, a place for kids to play club volleyball that was both affordable and focused on their needs to become good people. My journey with the club has been one of life, love, and that teaches, challenges and ultimately brings you home. A home composed of a community that shares the joys of volleyball and cares for each other’s well being first. Fusion 2.0 has taken many years to build through my experiences hard earned as both a coach and a person.

My journey however did not initially begin with Fusion Volleyball. It began in 2005 where a much younger version of me helped build and run a club based in Campbell, CA. A club called Cyclone Volleyball Club.

There were six years at Cyclone. So many memories, experiences, and many life lessons afforded to that younger version of myself. In the beginning, the intent of the club was to have an organization where money was not the focus. However, I learned if you choose to charge money, money becomes a factor and is unavoidable. The second thing I learned, while some things come and go, the people you gained along the way are invaluable. Reminding me whichever direction in life you go with, it's always about the people you gain along the way. My time at Cyclone would come to an end.

Leaving Cyclone however brought forth the next chapter in my life that would span the next 10 years: Being the volleyball program director at Pioneer High School.

After parting with Cyclone, one of my former player’s families asked if I would be interested in coaching high school as their school had an opening. I was really bad at saying no to things back then, so before I knew it, I was the head coach at Pioneer High School. When I arrived, the program was in the lowest tier of the leagues and backhandedly called perennial C League contenders. To help the program, I felt my players deserved a chance to play at the club level to continue to grow as athletes and as people. Leading to the creation of Fusion 1.0.

Fusion 1.0 was created to help C League contenders find a home to improve in the sport they love. Bringing opportunities to players who loved the game and wished to compete in their respective leagues. In the beginning, as Fusion’s owner and club director, I learned to never be afraid to help those who share your values or believe in the same things as you. In this case, giving young volleyball players a chance to discover their potential in this sport. As I reflect on this club’s humble beginnings, I remember one of my favorite quotes: “Roads are meant for journeys not destinations” and “The journey is more impressive than the inn”. Every day, I remember the journey thus far has been unforgettable and the people along the way have made the difference. Fusion 1.0 continued to grow. However, an event would play a critical role in the latter part of the club’s history. One that forced me to close the club for what I thought would be indefinitely.

In the fall of 2017, California fire season hit a new level of intensity and complexity. Forcing me to cancel tryouts due to the health risks for the players. In that time we were shut down, families had to find other clubs to call their new homes. Even with attempts to have tryouts the following year, we were not able to find the kids to start a season and ultimately shut down. As the club's founder and owner, I had various emotions that entangled with each other during this time. I even questioned if protecting our families was the wrong decision at that time. Of all the feelings, I felt that I failed the families, players, and coaches that chose to call Fusion Volleyball their home. It was a tough few years for me, but a few things echoed in my head. In particular something a former coach would tell my team often. “It's not that you fail that matters, it's how you respond in which history will judge you.” I spent the next few years becoming a better coach and used every minute to make the most out of my time given.

Then COVID hit.

As with all historical global events, we all have our own personal connection and memory to this one moment in time. My generation has had a few, but this one would force an unprecedented pause in life. Most of us at some point took too much time to contemplate our futures. We had the time to dream and let our brain meander and sort things we took for granted. We had to embrace the pause in time and question if we were whole we wanted to be as a human being. We also had to come to terms with the fact that there is a true definition of close friends vs acquaintances as some faded into the background. Fusion came into my mind too often for me to ignore, especially when the Fusion Family kept in contact. Lesson, when things get hard, we find out who and what are important.

During my COVID pondering, I found a job opening in the midwest that offered the ability for me to see and feel what a super large club does and more importantly how they do it. The Academy Volleyball Club in Indianapolis, IN has three volleyball facilities with a total of 32 dedicated volleyball courts. For the last two years I was the Director of Youth Volleyball. My programs serviced thousands of athletes from the ages of 4 to 14 years old. Fusion has always dreamed of having its own facility and this invaluable experience opened my eyes to the different ways to get this accomplished. Big lesson, sometimes we must take time away from what we love to come back better and more prepared.

This brings us to today. How am I now the Executive Director of Fusion as I still reside in Indianapolis, IN? Fusion will always be home no matter where I am and proud to be a part of this family. All the lessons I’ve learned continue to culminate here at Fusion. A club that does nothing but work hard to take care of each other and those in our care. I have attended plenty of Fusion weddings, reunions, parties, baby showers, etc, with many events still to come. This place has been a home where loyalty stays true, love holds steady, and sport is a place where lessons are learned to achieve great things.

So what is Fusion 2.0? Fusion 2.0 is about Family, Love, and Sport where everyone is welcomed. It is about the journey that is filled with stories from the past and stories to come. Ultimately it is about a place where the people create our space, and have a good time. Welcome to Fusion Volleyball.

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