June 24, 2010

AAU Volleyball Championship Observations

Just a few thoughts after being at the AAU Volleyball Championships.

  • There were 500 more television/video displays this year versus last year when the facility was the Disney Wide World of Sports. With ESPN as the new name on the venue, it definitely had a bit more of a edge. I kinda liked the old feel with just Disney; more relaxed, softer stance and cleaner (the physical site).
  • I like that Disney/ESPN did not charge for parking and the walk was not too long to get into the gym.
  • The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) was a healthy $9.00 to park, but at least that was cheaper than the $11.00 the lot was charging for the Technology show. I guess the tech geeks can afford two more dollars than VolleyFolk.
  • Looked like the whole Alex Rodriquez steroid use is not an issue to Disney/ESPN as he had the aircraft carrier size banner in the Milk Arena with the obligatory 'milk' frosting on his upper lip. Rather makes sense, when you consider many folks accuse the milk industry of pumping up the cows with steroids to increase milk production!
  • When did the 16 year old group get so good? Back not to long ago, the 16 year olds were rather like Bambi trying to get their legs under them. It was always interesting see this age because you could literally watch the pieces coming together in ability, see the distant future of players. But now, you are seeing the future right there - These kids can pass, move, attack, recover!
  • Must give the award for most interesting uniform to the 16 Open team from Puerto Rico. When I first saw the uniform, I thought every player had a strained hamstring and elbow. It took me a second to realize that they were not wearing neoprene sleeves, but rather it was actually the uniform which was designed to have one arm in a full sleeve and one leg covered down to the knee. Can't really say I can see my team in this outfit, but I compliment them for being creatively brave.
  • By the way, that same fashion forward team had a libero that was 2 feet tall and looked like she was 10 years old, but she was the real deal. Heck, the bow in her hair was wider than her shoulders, but she got it done with excellence.
  • Speaking of Puerto Rico, the AAU tourney is where you can see a ton of Puerto Rican teams. What I like about the PR teams is they have a great intuition about the game and play with sincere passion, and they are supported by very vocal and knowledgeable fans. One of the best matches I saw all tourney was between a Puerto Rican team and a Hawaii team.
  • The OCCC had the courts nice and spread out - plenty of room to wander and watch. I remember a few years ago, when USAV Championships were in Dallas and the courts were stacked tight, that was not good.
  • Still can't fathom the organizers supporting double digit per person admission charge for families. Just financial salt on the wound of Club Volleyball.
  • My impression was of many more elite upper midwest teams attending this year; probably due to the fact the JVDA/JVA (boo to the AVCA) folded their championship into the AAU Volleyball Championship. There were still great teams from every region there, but a larger number of upper midwest teams now play.
Off to the next Championship - Never enough Championships.

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