I love having conversations with my coach over here. He’s around the same age as my dad and for some reason that generation loves to talk (and talk and talk some more). I’m not complaining! It’s very entertaining as well as very informative! The stories range from Serbian mafia to different president/player relationships he has had to deal with in the past.
The most recent conversation that we had was about the history of volleyball. When he played, there were a lot more rules than that of today. He was a setter and he talked about all of the famous players he’s gotten to play with and against. We actually ended up talking about Karch (he pronounced his last name as if he was speaking Hungarian and if he hadn’t of said “Karch,” I’m not sure I would’ve known who Keer-a-lee was) and how he was the most selfless and best all-around player he’s ever played against. Coach told me stories of when they were playing against each other in Italy and how he made just one mistake the entire match! I laughed and said that there aren’t any players this day in age who are anywhere close to being like him. And I believe that wholeheartedly. Realistically, there won’t be another player for a long time to even come close in comparison with Karch.
However, with all of that being said, what has happened to the all-around players? Has the game evolved that dramatically? Players who had everything: the ball control to be an outside, the strength and power to be an opposite, the intelligence to be a setter, (the cardio to be a middle)…in a world of specialization, have we managed to get players to underperform? Have we created rules to make the game easier to understand or to make the game uglier? With the increase in athleticism over the years, have we covered up their true potential with the increase of substitutions?
For all of the lovely coaches around the globe reading this, I would be honored if you would answer this simple question: Do you think that the game of volleyball has improved/progressed and why? (ok that’s two questions). If you need the definition of progression, it is a movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state. I know the sport has changed, that’s obvious, but has it gotten better? Anyone can point out a problem (if there even is a problem)…that’s not my goal here. I want to know what people are thinking. Consider this a research project that a future coach (me) is conducting that could possibly help to grow the sport that we love. Any and all comments, concerns, and suggestions are welcomed! Leave them below or email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this with any of your coaching friends! Thank you 🙂
After our weight session today, my coach and I were talking about how productive our afternoon team practice was yesterday. Even though yesterday was physically exhausting for me (setting over 1,000 balls in our morning technique practice…feeling like I’m at a Sports Performance camp), the evening practice showed how much we, the girls who participated in the morning practice, had learned and we were actually doing things very well. When coach says there is a morning practice and only a handful of girls show up, you can imagine my surprise. We had both setters there, all three middles, and one outside. That’s it; six girls showed up to practice. I say “that’s it” in kind of a negative voice because it was very frustrating to be there with only half of our team when there’s so much to work on and improve. Of course half of the team is under 18 years old, so a few had school lessons and a couple had big girl jobs to go to. However, it’s very tough for me to think differently about this subject because for as long as I can remember, all throughout my 23 years of living, I’ve made volleyball a priority. Partially because it was the one thing I loved more than donuts and my late cat (may he rest in peace), Goober. Ok, it’s probably like a three way tie. Another reason was because it’s a team sport and that’s where all of my friends were (didn’t have many school friends…because of volleyball). I loved working hard and competing. When people would miss tournaments because of prom, I would always ask why? Just like last year in Sweden, we had some girls not show up for practice because they had to study…when they had all day to study. Or in college when people would want to go home during the summer for a whole month when everyone knew that’s what set us apart from the rest of the country: commitment. I just never understood it because that’s how I’m wired. If you want to get better, you have to put in the time. And it can’t just be one person…the time must be put in together as a team. That is the only way you will improve.
For the past four weeks, we have been practicing a lot of individual training, basic technique drills and conditioning (and I mean a lot of conditioning). When you have such a young team, it’s kind of essential for these things to happen in the beginning. It’s also taken some time to adjust to everyone on the team because let’s be honest…there isn’t one team in the world who didn’t graduate someone, transfer anyone, or gain a player to their team. There’s not one team that’s the same from the previous year and my team was not used to anyone. I mean if you come to our practice you’ll hear Greek, Serbian, English, Portuguese and Engleekerbinese…also known as broken English. I get it though. We need time to become a team. However with some girls not showing up to practices and our first match in a couple weeks, some things need to change.
Now knowing, and thanking The Lord, that there are not many people in this world like me, I need to step back. First off, I need to respect their decisions because people have different priorities. I’m here for my job (gosh that’s so cool to say). Secondly, I am faced with two choices: not worry about it and just go on with the slower progress, or figure out a solution. Since I’m not one to just sit back and let things happen, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and create some opportunities where my teammates and I can get more repetitions and get better. A little adversity never really hurt anyone, right? Gotta keep finding ways to continue living that dream.
Just like everything else my sister has done in life (besides the whole kids and marriage thing), I’m following my big sisters footsteps (I have bigger feet and let’s be honest, neither of us got bit by the “tall” bug but I got her by a few inches) and starting a blog. Warning: it won’t be as funny, entertaining, or interesting because she has those kids who are hilarious and well, her life is a lot more complicated and eventful than mine. Oh yeah, and she’s awesome. I figured though, while I’m living in Greece, I might as well write about it….so here goes nothing.
I’ve been here for about three weeks now. It’s hot. It’s 98% sunny (the 2% is when it downpours like the first rain scene in Jurassic Park but instead of a dinosaur coming out of nowhere, flooding occurs in the streets within five minutes because of the lack of drainage system). On a happy note, it’s not very humid! Even without high humidity, I’ve notice that I sweat a lot more than the average human. When my body even thinks about diving on the volleyball court for a ball, there’s an automatic baby pool of sweat that appears. It definitely brings back fond memories of Club South, or for those who graduated before 2012: South Gym
Speaking of volleyball (the whole reason I’m here), it’s great! My team is young but with that being said, it creates a lot of coachable moments throughout practice and gives me opportunities to practice my future profession. The scary part about that is I’m beginning to sound like my father (not as long winded) with a side of Russ Rose (censored of course). My coach on the other hand is a brilliant Serbian man with lots of experience with this wonderful sport. I consider myself extremely lucky to have a guy who cares a lot about us and who is so knowledgable coaching this team…though sometimes I can’t understand him, and all of the Greek girls are looking to me to translate Englerbian. That’s not very pretty.
Besides being most people’s honeymoon destination because of the gorgeous scenery, my favorite part so far is the food. That’s a very bold statement, I know, but everything is sooooooo fresh. Since it is so warm still, people are continuing to harvest their gardens and vines and they give some of that fresh produce to ME! It’s like a free paleo plan (minus the obsession of feta cheese that they have).
Of course some things haven’t gone as planned, like the broken washing machine that four different people have “fixed,” or not having a light in my room besides the moon when the sun goes down. A couple of cold showers because the water heater was broken never really hurt anybody either. Project mosquito was at first a success but now I’m having to rethink my plan of action. I’ve also learned how unnecessary TV is and have read three books already. I have a great bed, fresh food in my belly, amazing support from near and far and clothes to change in and out of during practice (they also got me a sweat towel which was very nice)….seems to me I’m still living the dream!