February 27, 2012

My Favorite Things, Part 1

With no insult intended towards The Sound of Music, a few of my favorite things (College Volleyball influenced).

Favorite App

Tiny Wings - Simple game, groovy music, and just like a Volleyball match, all about building and keeping momentum.

Favorite Shoes

New Balance - At one of my coaching stops, we were provided shoes for our team by the local New Balance store (many thanks to Kip Keller!!!).  New Balance is great because they are built for the female foot and come in  varying widths, so it allowed our players to get a custom fit on their court and running shoes!

Favorite Clothing

Nike - My teams have never been 'sponsored' by Nike, and we paid the team rate which Waxahachee Junior high would pay, but the Nike stuff just consistently looks the best to me.  From basic sweats to high end custom created uniforms, their stuff just looks sharp.

Favorite Volleyball Arena

The Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii - Maybe it had something to do with 6,000 plus fans being very supportive of the volleyball match (cheering for the opposing team when a great rally concluded) or that before the match I went surfing, but this gym is the died and gone to volleyball heaven gym.   The Center itself has a great layout with it being of circular orientation, so the seats feel very close to the floor.  Oh, and did I mention 6k great fans?

Favorite Volleyball Region

Puerto Rico - I had a chance to truly experience volleyball in Puerto Rico when I coached for the Guaynabo Mets of the Women's Professional League and I relished every minute of it.  Puerto Rico loves Volleyball and what I loved about being in Puerto Rico was that the sport I loved was the sport for women on the island, and the #2 sport for men (behind baseball).  Volleyball is front page in the island newspapers, on the sports talk radio, on television.....not even Hawaii brought the groundswell of Volleyball love which Puerto Rico does (and as any reader knows, I am a Hawaii homer!).

Favorite Volleyball Beach

Hermosa Beach - Even though I never finished well in the pro beach volleyball tour events held at Hermosa Beach, this is a wonderful beach for playing volleyball.  The sand is soft and deep (some feel it is too deep), the courts are in excellent shape, there are restroom facilities adjacent and many outside showers, and most important in SoCal, there is a solid amount of nearby parking.  When you are done playing, there are numerous establishments to get a gatorade (or stronger) and a bite to eat with an ocean view!

Favorite Mexican Food Restaurant 

Habaneros Fresh Mexican Food - I know you have never heard of this place unless you live in Las Cruces, New Mexico or maybe travel frequently to the city (like the Western Athletic Conference does), but this place is beyond good and keep in mind, this review is coming from the guy who grew up on Tex Mex in Houston.  It is the definition of the 'hole in the wall' - Daughter takes your order, Dad cooks the meal and Mom delivers it to your table.  It is one of those places where you feel lucky to have found it, and all you want to do is keep eating because the food tastes so good, even when you are stuffed!

Favorite Team Travel Airline

Continental - I say this even though all my frequent flier miles are with American Airlines.  In my travel the last couple of years, Continental was just a better and more consistent experience.  The worst part of Continental is their old facility in Houston for their smaller planes.  The best part is that I found their aircraft to be newer and in better condition, they had TV's in the headrests on the longer flights (longs flights are common in the WAC), they provided something other than a cup of soda and peanuts on flights, the flight attendants actually were nice and for the most part, everything ran on time.

Favorite Camp Experience

Vision Quest of Greenwood High School - A little background; I have been conducting a Volleyball Road Camp in Greenwood, Arkansas for a number of years.  It has been an absolute pleasure watching this program grow into the current State Champion, inclusive of creating their own Volleyball specific playing and practice facility.  They are blessed with invested and talented coaches, along with hard working and positive players.   The first Road Camp I did with them was in an older gym, with no air conditioning, built into the side of a hill and the heat index that camp was well over 100 degrees.  But, that was not the worst part......during the initial camp, the school was pouring asphalt on the parking lot outside the gym, so the only air ventilation we had was coming directly off the newly poured black top.  It was so hot, that I changed every article of clothing over lunch and was sucking down water like crazy to stay away from the light!  Hence the name, the Vision Quest camp!  

Part II coming soon!


  1. I have to agree with you on playing at University of Hawaii. A few years ago, my daughter's college team opened the season playing UH at Stan Sheriff. UH was ranked #10, DD's team was un-ranked and ended up upsetting UH in 5 on opening day. The next day at the beach, a little Hawaiian boy ran up to DD's teammate & said "Hey aren't you #2?"? (she was!). Daughter said they felt like celebrities the whole time they were there (they ended up winning the tournament).

  2. The "Vision Quest" camp was a brutal camp but it's been camps like this that Coach Sonnichsen has conducted for us that have allowed our program, players, and coaches to grow into the current 5A Arkansas state champions. His knowledge and experience that he has shared with us over the years have allowed us, as coaches, to optimize our lineups and get the most out of our teams. If you have never had him conduct a camp at your school/club then you are missing out.
    Tim Golden
    Greenwood Volleyball


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