October 9, 2010

College Volleyball and other Stuff

1. Road trips are boring for me, and probably many other college coaches. As a player, I remember road trips as a time to hang out with my team mates, have some fun, stay in nice hotels and eat something other than dorm food or what I could afford via the grocery store. As a coach, it is not the same; there is only so many times you can watch match video, there is not much on television Thursday at 10 a.m. other than to realize The Price is Right is still going strong, game day practices are not full go training time but rather something to keep the team from sleeping all day and I can't go to the beach because there is no beach to go to!

2. College Football is on ALL the time. I like college football as much as the next person and try to watch my alma mater, along with any of the 'big' games/rivalries. Yet, I am constantly amazed by the sheer number of college football games on per week. I would go so far as to say that college football is the MOST popular sport in the country (number of games on television, size of stadiums, salaries of coaches, budgets for teams, influence upon national conference memberships, etc.). This week, ESPN has a NCAA football game on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and when Saturday comes, there is the usual 500 games on television. In addition to the 'live' games, ESPN Classic routinely shows re-runs all week of college football.

3. I read an interesting article in the USA Today Sports section last week (Friday, October 1st, 2010, Page 3C) titled "Women soon will get an ESPN of their own" by Michael Hiestand. This short piece just talks about ESPN exploring the potential of creating a channel geared towards female audiences. What caught my attention was that ESPN was hosting a retreat to "...toss around ideas for espnW..."; this retreat "...includes athletes such as Shannon Miller, Jennie Finch Laila Ali, Julie Foudy and Marion Jones, as well as lots of sports marketers...". Did it catch your eye? Where is the Volleyball person? Shannon Miller - Gymnastics. Jennie Finch - Softball. Laila Ali - Boxing. Julie Foudy - Soccer. Marion Jones - Track and Field and Basketball. Where is Volleyball? How can a boxer or an athlete who used steroids and served a prison sentence for perjury be highlighted but not a volleyball player? If you look at the roster of invited players, every national sport was represented (even though Basketball could not have been pleased) except Volleyball.

4. In staying with the television theme - I counted (and please give me a margin for error) in this same Friday USA Today Sports section, in the television listings for the weekend, 14 football games to be televised and 1 Volleyball match.

5. The new philosophy of the AVCA (American Volleyball Cash Association) is to bury their heads in the sand. If they stick their heads far enough into the sand, they won't have to take an objective look at their failings and can pretend that everything is OK. Just a few years ago, the BIG PUSH was to get College Volleyball on television and to this end, the NCAA Division I Head Coaches agreed to significantly increase their membership dues to support this. Everything we heard from the AVCA was to make College Volleyball more television friendly; the scoring format was changed to bring Volleyball matches more in line with the programing protocol that television wanted, the rules were changed to allow for longer, more entertaining rallies, the rules were changed as simplify our game for the lay viewer, etc. And, and, and, when our television numbers did not increase over the trend, then the AVCA found a new distraction - College Sand Volleyball. Before the Sand Volleyball enthusiasts get all upset with me, I love playing sand volleyball and played it for a living. Even right now, this very moment, I would rather go play Beach (there is a difference and any true player who plays the game on a sand surface can tell you this) Volleyball than Indoor. But, it is FOOLISH to think that Indoor Volleyball will EVER benefit from the addition of SandyBeach Volleyball. The Powers That Be (the NCAA and Athletic Directors) will NEVER fund SandyBeach Volleyball beyond securing the needed equity counts, and these funds/labor/resources will come from Indoor Volleyball to a certain, if not, entire degree. The AVCA has become a willing accomplice in the efforts of the NCAA and Athletic Departments to subvert true equity, while creating more work for college volleyball coaches. Just think about that - The national organization of college volleyball coaches, our representative body, has willing supported adding more work hours to our employment without securing corresponding salary or benefits. I think we need another organization; like maybe one which advocates for contracts, increased salary, increased staffing support, increased marketing and promotions, etc.

6. The toughest thing for me about losing is not being able to sleep. When my team wins, I sleep like a baby after warm bottle. But, with losing comes a night of no rest. This is big difference from being a player; win or lose, sleep came when I wore a uniform. Maybe that was because I had the physical outlet of playing and did not internalize the stress or because I was just young and dumb!

7. Many times it is only the mental pain of a poorly played match to clearly illustrate what we did not achieve in practice. Maybe this why the saying of you learn more from losing than from winning is around.

8. Best advice I can give high school outsides hitters who want, or have the ability, to play in college is to learn to consistently hit line (and pass really well). This is doubly true if you are not 6'2" and touch 9'10" - Hitting line opens up so many positive outcomes versus hitting angle. If any of my yet to be committed PSA's are reading this, please hit line, please hit line and 3rd time is the charm, please hit line.

Eight is great and it is late and I should really try to go to sleep - Was a losing night, so I guess I will just channel surf until my eyelids are too heavy to keep open.

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