VENICE, Fla. -- The AVP volleyball tour makes its stop in St. Petersburg this weekend, but when it does, it will have a decidedly un-Suncoast flavor.
Chara Harris is a biology teacher at Venice High School whom ABC 7 profiled a couple of years ago. Her side job is as a professional volleyball player, but she found out recently she is ineligible to play for the top league any longer.
“I had partners lined up, unfortunately, and they had purchased tickets to come out here. Then I had to call them up and tell them I couldn't play," says Harris.
Players who are not in the upper echelon for the AVP try to play as much as possible on smaller tours to keep their game sharp. "The average income of a volleyball player is under $10,000, and we have to pay our own expenses. We are really doing it for the love of the game. We don't make enough money, we are not making a salary, or making any money from the AVP so we have to play as many matches as possible."
It’s not just Harris that is affected. She is upset not only for herself, but also for the multitude of other players, including her partner Megan Wallin, who lost 2 partners for this weekend’s event due to the ruling.
"So now Megan is looking for a partner, along with a plethora of players that are being affected by this," says Harris.
Besides, being told she is no longer welcome on the AVP tour, Harris is upset that they waited so long to let her know she wasn't going to be able to play with the tour. "About a month ago, 7 or 8 months later, they made a decision to ban those players that played on the NVL."
And that they never happened to mention this possibility when they granted her permission to play elsewhere. "They didn't give me any type of a detailed response. They just said, ‘I'm sorry to give you the bad news, but you will be ineligible, and banned to play this year from the AVP'."