Club season is well into its craziness and in my travels for NCSA Athletic Recruiting, I have been to my fair share of club volleyball tournaments, recruiting combines, with travel, and recruiting observations...
• For those events which charge an admission fee (kudos to the Heart of America region not charging for their MLK Tournament and ShowMe National Qualifiers!), there should be free admission for grandma and grandpa (and great grandparents). I can't tell you how many questions I have had to answer from confused and irritated grandparents about how to gain admission to watch their grand daughter or great grand daughter play. Just as the young'ins are let in for free, the goldies should also be let in for free. We are all going down this one way street, and I know that when I am magnificently aged, I would appreciate not having to pay $15.00 per day to go watch my family play volleyball. Yes, stick it to my adult children, but don't stick it to me to watch my grandchildren or great grandchildren.
• I have been stunned at seeing what club players are eating during a tournament - Nachos, cheese fries, hot dogs, cupcakes, etc. What is more stunning, is seeing their parents sitting next to them when they consume these foods. I wish I could say this was a random, one tournament observation but unfortunately it is a common occurrence. Parents, if you wonder why the team played terrible it is because they ate terrible. An athlete's performance is directly impacted by what they have eaten - Day of, day before, post match or a week before. If you eat garbage then you will play like garbage and you will feel like garbage. Pack fruit, bring fruit bars or balanced energy bars (which are complex carbohydrate based, not sugar based), make a sandwich, etc. Then, be aware of what your athlete is eating at night - When I head out after a tournament day in search of something to eat/drink and I see a whole team eating at a restaurant I know has zero healthy food alternatives because I don't eat there (sports on TV and waitresses in not much clothing is not the vehicle towards a healthy meal). Volleyball is an athletic, dynamic sport where the players must engage in explosive movements and consuming 5K counterproductive calories is not going to support these movements. AND, if the player is wanting to play college volleyball, then this diet will always and only hurt you.
• I speak about this during my NCSA RecruitingEducation Talks, but always good to reinforce this to my millions of readers…..players must reach out to college coaches to 'get noticed' in the recruiting process. Too many families are operating under yester-year's recruiting mindset which was, if you are good enough the coach will find you. This mindset is dead because there are thousands of good enough athletes, but not that many roster openings; simple supply and demand has shifted in favor of the college coaches and the odds are, your player is not the elite DI stud which does not have to manage this economic recruiting situation. You have to make college coaches find you by reaching out and point blank telling them you are a great player and they should recruit you!
• The level of selfish obliviousness (nice way of saying being rude) in airports and airplanes has become stunning. Unfortunately, we will soon see people start to snap and get into scuffles on the plane. Stopping to talk in the isle for a few minutes during boarding; stopping in the middle of the airport walk way to text, check Facebook, "let me take a selfie" or just think about the meaning of life; putting your jacket in the overhead and then getting mad when someone moves it for their roll on; folks bringing a roll on bag (the size of Texas), a huge back pack and a purse/briefcase and then getting all agitated when they can't get all of it into an overhead bin (even though they could check at least one of their bags or more for free); packing/unpacking your bag before putting into the overhead when in the isle, not showering or eating a pungent meal before (come on people, it is not like we can open a window!). I have been flying for many many years and witnessed some stunning changes to airline travel (which are not reflected by airlines in other countries); just because the airline corporations treat us poorly is no excuse to be disrespectful towards each other.
• I believe the weakest component of youth volleyball (anything younger than 22, including college volleyball) is the officiating. Everyone complains about referees, and this complaining is not limited to just volleyball, but officials in youth volleyball are affecting the outcomes of the contest. I often question if select officials have a grasp of the rules for which they are applying in a match. I have seen this at the club level, the high school level and the collegiate level. I am not sure what the fix is - better screening of a referee's background (like have they ever peppered, much less actually played volleyball), matching a talented official with a learning official, better compensation for the officials (in all seriousness, I can't imagine they get paid enough to deal with crazy coaches/players/parents), removing officials who have not demonstrated the ability to improve their abilities, etc.
• STOP saying "Grow the Game", it is counterproductive. I will expand upon my correct reasoning in a later post.
• Either I am getting taller or airlines are removing more space between the seats. On the bigger airlines, especially American (who I am within 1,200 miles of flying a million miles and who continues to disappoint more and more), I will sit with my lower back firmly planted against the setback and my knees are touching the seat in front of me. If I still had eligibility, I would rejoice at getting taller but since this will only mean an even larger surfboard needed (already on a 10'2"), I am somewhat believing that the leg space inches are vanishing.
• Continuing this rant, can we argue that by airlines charging "extra" to sit where there is more room between the seats, when in fact they removed said seat space in other seat locations, that they are discriminating against tall people? If a 5'6" person sits in an economy seat, it may not be large, but they will have leg room. A 6'5" person sits in the seat and is afraid to go to sleep in fear of the person in front reclining their seat; nothing better than waking up because pain is shooting through both knee caps courtesy of a slammed back seat recline (how hard is it to recline slowly…..again, let's be courteous towards each other). I would like a volleyball parent and litigator, please start a class action suit against the airlines for their discriminatory seat pricing policies.
- Parents, let your children play. Don't be that parent. Don't believe that you are Neo. Let the coach do their job and let your children play. Parents should be seen and not heard when it comes to youth volleyball (I can't stress this enough; you don't know more than the coach on game day even if you do, you should not be coaching/evaluating your child between matches, you should not be loud/obnoxious during the match as there is a difference between cheering for a good play and jeering the other team; let's not lose the quality sportsmanship that I believe our sport has always enjoyed) . If your child is not in physical danger, then you should not say anything - If your child is not happy about their playing time, then they can pull up their knee pads and go talk to the coach. Then, and this is most important, then they need to apply what is told to them. It may not garner them the court time they want, but it will make them better for their next court appearance and/or team.