Updates for AVP’s 2020 season and the COVID-19 implications.

From My Perspective: Laura Day

“Have you met my friend Laura Day? She is Emily Day’s sister.”

“Hi, it’s so nice to see you. How is your sister doing?”

“This is Laura. Do you know Emily Day? Yeah, that’s her sister.”

“Hey Laura! I saw Em won Hermosa. Tell her Congrats for me!”

Or my personal favorite…

When people I know act like they don’t know me because Em isn’t with me.

My name is Laura Day. And yes, you may have guessed it. I am Emily Day’s little sister. She’s a 9-time AVP champion, back-to-back MBO champ, FIVB medalist, one of the hardest-working athletes on tour, an all-around great person, and my best friend.

Growing up as Emily’s sister was a privilege, but also an obstacle. We weren’t always as close as we are today. Yes, she dropped me on my head as a baby (okay, she more like threw me on the couch because someone was ringing the doorbell). Yes, she used to gang up on me with my brother, physically kicking me and convincing me I was adopted because I didn’t have red hair like them. Yes, in high school she drove me every day, but the second we stepped out of the car in the parking lot of West Torrance High School, I wasn’t allowed to walk into school with her.

But, the perks of being Emily Day’s sister added up throughout life as well. Every classroom I walked into (elementary, middle, or high school), I was already well-liked by my teacher because Em paved the way for me. My soccer and volleyball coaches already knew my capabilities and potential based on my sister’s already-established success. College coaches were lining up on my court after hearing, “Emily Day’s sister is on Court 3.”

Being Em’s sister was a love-hate relationship growing up. Being her younger sister got me into A LOT of doors. It also gave me a built-in friend that quickly turned into the best friend I could have. But, it also brought along a self-imposed need to excel… a need to be as good as her and follow in her footsteps.

Growing up, our parents were extremely fair. Emily got her ears pierced at 10, so I was able to get them pierced at 10. Emily got a cell phone when she entered high school, so that’s when I got my cell phone. Emily got a used car at 16, so, you guessed it, my parents got me a used car at 16.

My life was following suit and I was living up to what was outlined for me (aka whatever Emily did). I made the varsity volleyball team as a sophomore, just like her. I was taking the same honors classes and getting straight A’s, just like her. I was active in student council and community service clubs, just like her.

But, when I made the decision to play collegiate volleyball over collegiate soccer (still following Em’s choices), my life started to create its own path. When Em was a junior in high school, she received multiple full-ride scholarship offers and had her pick of D1 schools. I thought the same would happen for me, but it didn’t. Em made first team All-League in the top high school league in the country. I thought I would too, but I didn’t. Emily had full-page features on the front page of our local newspaper that my parents hung up in the house. I thought I would be featured as well, but I wasn’t.

This was particularly hard in my later years of high school because I wanted to play D1 volleyball like my sister and I KNEW I could play, but I wasn’t getting noticed like Emily had. College coaches would contact me knowing I was Emily Day’s little sister but as soon as they saw I was 5’9’ instead of 6’ like Em, they would quickly lose interest (sometimes never even watching me play). More importantly, I felt like I was failing and not living up to the expectations she had set.

When everything settled, I had one full-ride to a D1 school in Tennessee called Lipscomb, a walk-on offer at LMU (where my sister was playing), a partial scholarship offer to UCSD (where they wanted me to red shirt), and a walk-on offer to Gonzaga.

I chose Gonzaga. I wanted to play at the highest level of volleyball possible and I wanted to get out of SoCal and go to a place where not a single person knew me as “Emily Day’s sister.” This decision was the greatest decision to date for more reasons than I can list out. Although our program never took home a national championship, or even a conference championship, I was a starter all 4 years (playing libero), earned a full-ride scholarship, and broke Gonzaga’s record for most digs in a match with 39 digs (the record still holds). I did more than okay for myself.

Now… who am I, why do you care, and why am I writing for AVP? Let me introduce myself again.

My name is Laura Day, Director of Marketing for Brand Knew, AVP’s creative and digital agency since 2016.

Prior to working AVP events, at tournaments you could find me at the head of Em’s Entourage, leading the crew in cheers with a cold beverage in my hand. I created the well-known #EmsEntourage group—one of my employees made the logo for me, I designed the shirts and got them printed, I took the orders and distributed them to fans, and I knew the game so I helped them understand when to cheer and when not to. Sorry other AVP pros, they are still trying to understand what a double is.

I have always been Em’s biggest fan, both on the court and off the court, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. If we were in a bar and I didn’t like the way someone talked to my sister, I was in their face. When she was on the court, I was (politely) heckling her opponents. When she won her first MBO title, I cried as if it was my own accomplishment.

Now at AVP tournaments, I swap out my teal shirt for an AVP polo and you can find me in the DJ booth glued to a computer screen, managing my team (sometimes I still have a drink in my hand 😝).

When Donald took over the AVP back in 2012, I saw the great progress and additions he was making for the tour. But I still saw a void—the tour needed better social media efforts, a well-executed marketing plan, more accessible event information and updates, and just an overall better experience online for AVP fans. And I knew I could help. My sister made the intro to AVP’s executive team (remember how I mentioned being Emily Day’s sister can get you in the door?) and the rest is history. I convinced Donald and Al that the AVP needed my team’s expertise and he gave me a chance.

Entering the AVP world as a staff member was certainly a transition for me and it meant two things:

1) I had the best job in the world because I was passionate about the sport, knew what AVP fans needed, got to travel the country watching my sister play, and spent the summer with my family (the Days frequent almost every tournament).

2) My days of being “Emily Day’s little sister” were back.

I was nervous but confident when starting my partnership with the AVP. I didn’t want athletes or staff to only see me as Emily Day’s sister; I didn’t want people to think I was only hired because I’m her sister and the AVP wanted to “keep it in the family.”

Introductions reverted back to, “Oh, have you met Laura? Her sister is Emily Day on tour. She is doing AVP’s marketing this year.”

But, I knew I was the right person to take on the job, and I had a killer team behind me with Brand Knew. Our responsibilities over the past 4 years have drastically increased since that first contract in 2016, and although there is always more to do, I’m extremely proud of what we have created and what we continue to do for the AVP.

As AVP’s creative and digital agency, we are responsible for:

-Brand development and management (protecting the brand and how it is used)
-Brand aesthetic (colors, fonts, styling, usage— and the reasons behind every decision)
-Brand messaging (what does the brand stand for, how does the brand communicate, taglines, campaigns, etc.)
-Social media strategy and management for all AVP’s channels (just because you have a personal Instagram account doesn’t mean you can do this)
-Live social media coverage (during tournaments, that’s my team running around on the courts capturing all the right moments from the right angles)
-Video production (Exhibit A and Exhibit B)
-Email marketing strategy (building a strong email database of fans and implementing strategic communication plans)
-Long-form content management and distribution (take a look at avp.com/trending)
-Paid advertising (the ultimate goal may change between campaigns, but how do we reach new people and raise awareness for the AVP)
-Athlete communication (in relation to sharing promotional assets/graphics, giving brand announcements, distributing action shots, and updating them on tournament logistics… yup, that’s us)
-Graphics (if you see any sort of graphic at an event, on Amazon, on NBC, on social media, in DIG Magazine— it was either created by our team or influenced by our brand guidelines)
-Web development (designing and building any online experience—live scoring, brackets, AVP.com, schedule, etc.)
-Website management (making sure AVP.com is working, always up-to-date, and concise for users)
-Advisor (we’re overall partners on anything and everything the AVP team needs)

And most importantly… whatever Josh (AVP’s Creative Director) tells us to do.

The work our team and I do for the AVP has been recognized, and it’s extremely rewarding. The internal AVP staff has full trust in me to make decisions and let me run with it. The athletes will send us a text every once in a while, praising us for a ‘sick video on Instagram’ or telling us that they are loving the new website homepage. AVP’s production team in the DJ booth will flash us a fist bump after scrolling through our content, nodding in agreement. Other brands are noticing how valuable the AVP is and want to mimic their efforts—Brand Knew recently received a completely unrelated RFP (request for proposal) where AVP.com was listed as one of their favorite websites they wanted to imitate. Even Em’s Entourage will send me a text after a tournament thanking us for the live stats and clear bracket schedules. And although they may not know who is responsible, the fans are noticing our work as we monitor the sentiment online, and we get frequent comments like this:

I’m proud and I’m impressed, and none of this came from being Emily Day’s little sister.

I can now say that I have finally started to create my own identity within the volleyball world, something that’s independent of my all-star sister. I am my own person within the AVP and I have proven that I’m much more than just the little sister of Emily Day. The references still come and the introductions as being her sister are still frequent, but now that’s more of a secondary talking point— not the initial one. In fact, this 2019 season Mark Schuermann introduced Emily on the mic on Stadium Court as, “She travels with her own entourage and she’s the sister of Laura Day… it’s Emily Day!” Mark, thank you, sir. Thank you.

But let’s be real here, I’m not trying to drop my connection to Emily Day—it’s a golden ticket! I get free drinks at bars, no one dislikes me upon introduction, and I get invited to a lot of places! I’m extremely proud of Emily, what she has accomplished, her work ethic, how she builds and maintains relationships, how her journey brings my family together in a special way, and how she has created an amazing community around her. Whether I work for AVP or not, I will always being Emily Day’s hype woman.

I’m proud to be her sister, but please. My name is Laura Day. Period.