Where did my vacation go?
Yes, like the lemmings to the sea, I was swimming in the warm waters of college volleyball recruiting this weekend.
Some random (and very random) observations on my weekend of looking important while at the Tour of Texas Qualifier in San Antonio:
* I am going to wear a hat with my school name on it just to save the burden of parents/players having to bounce their eyes from my face to my chest to figure out who I represent.
* The Alamodome seems like it would be a nice place to watch a football game, as it did not have a bad seat in the space and seats were relatively close to the floor. Amazingly, the floor space only held about 25 courts, which when initially considering the Alamodome as a site, you would think it would hold many more than that.
* The Mexican food was so good and close to the Alamodome that there needs to be a post-lunch nap room for college coaches. After lunch, I was in such a state of sleepy gastronomic bliss that I just stood at the end of one random court with a glazed look in my eyes - Logan Tom's 17 year old sister could have been trying to verbally commit to my school and I would have not even seen her in front of me.
* Those kid's shoes with the wheel in the heel are really cool.
* I still cannot fathom Liberos who will not go after the ball. Amazes me the number of balls that hit the floor and the Liberos just watch it fall and shrug their shoulders - "my bad" - Amazing.
* Without fail, the great grandma with the glasses is going to get pegged by the ricochet warm-up ball that bounces over two courts before connecting with her right in the nose. I have reached the point that I can spot the upcoming victim before it happens.
* Fans cannot stick their feet halfway out on the playing surface and then scream interference to the referee when their team can't chase down a dig on the edge of the court.
* I see club coaches going berserk; veins popping out of their face, net, head, eyeballs and think to myself - Wow, I gotta mellow out when I coach my team because it is just a game.
* If the setter's feet are not stopped, the sets are not going to be consistent. Saw a bunch of setters flinging balls around with lazy feet - The tough thing about these kind of sets is that they look good coming out of the setter's hands, but usually don't end up having the same visual when the hitter gets ready to swing.
* It would be nice to see club coaches 'coach' during tournaments - Yelling "why did you do that" or "what are you doing" is not coaching. Rally score volleyball is about making small adjustments to the usual protocol of how your team/players perform, i.e. Try to get a little wider on your approach, get your feet stopped when you set the ball, keep your point of contact high on your swing, let's release for the tip early, let's double block the middle and go solo on their OH, work hard to finish the dig, don't release your base until after the set, etc.
* By and large, referee's are not calling anything to do with touching the ball - everything goes and it is ugly, way ugly. I understand that officiating game after game, in two day format must lead to a certain autopilot when blowing the whistle, but this was just silly. It was to the point that something must have come down the Officiating Official Pipeline saying let it all go. FIVB rules are different than NCAA rules, so I can't comment on the specific interpretations, but something is amiss. I say this because I have recruited internationally, and when I watch international youth matches, the FIVB rules are the same FIVB rules being used by USA Volleyball. In these international matches, unacceptable ball contacts are called; lifts are ALWAYS called (lifts calls in Club ball are as rare as a player calling their own touch on the block) and double contacts are ONLY allowed when the physical action immediately before contact is deemed very athletic (taking two steps to set the ball is not an athletic play internationally). It is actually refreshing to see FIVB international officiating because it does not allow for the slop volleyball that club teams are allowed to engage in.
* Parent's need to use the Drop and Loop technique when coming to a tournament. The Alamodome parking was $10.00 with no in/out privileges - that is just nuts. Parking charges are reimbursed for me, but I still could not bring myself to pay the charge and ended up just parking in the neighborhood across the street for free. Back to the parents, at most sites, if you spend a couple of minutes Looping around the facility, after Dropping everyone off, you many times can find a free or greatly reduced spot to park. I remember one time at the USA JO's in Dallas, on the back side of the Convention Center parking was $1.25 versus $8.00 at the front!
* I strongly encourage parents to not CHEER the mistakes of the opposing teams. With rally score, points are awarded on every play, but when player makes a bad play, an embarrassing mistake, it only makes a young player feel even worse to hear the CHEERS of the opposing families. By all means, clap when fortune rewards your team with a point; clapping is so much more appropriate than CHEERING the gift point. I guess I just don't want to see volleyball turn into one of those obnoxious, loud sports where opponent's mistakes are cheered with more enthusiasm than the home team's brilliant plays.
* By the way, if you are not a middle blocker or setter, college coaches want to see you pass as much as we want to see you do anything else. Having too many good passers is like having too much money - no such thing.
* I think the host club/organization should charge college coaches $25.00 per day to enter the tournament and not charge families anything. That admission fee is not coming out of my pocket, it comes out of the budget, while the parents are digging in once more (team dues, tourney entry fee, hotel, food, gas, parking and now admission to see their child play in something which they have already paid to make happen).
Hope everyone had a nice weekend of the greatest sport on earth!