A very delayed volleyball update

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 21, 2005, 12:55 AM | comments: 0

Well, the J.O. season ended in May. We did OK at regionals, but honestly that was just about getting one last hurrah in as a group. Such a great team, very close. We actually ended the season with the highest point average I've ever had, but because of the asinine ranking system that OVR had this year, we ended up being like 25 out of 38 or something like that. Granted, in 17 open you've got the best teams, most better than the 100+ club teams anyway, so just competing at that level is a big deal. We actually made the gold bracket in every single tournament other than the big multi-day events, which is another first for me.

It was a strong team overall that kind of lacked strong personalities (although that's probably why we had no team meltdowns or fights). On the other hand, so many of them had such strong skills. I really have been missing them this summer.

Meanwhile, one of my former players that went to a tiny high school in Akron called Our Lady of The Elms encouraged me to coach there. By tiny, I mean they have fewer than 125 kids in this all-girls school. Literally one-fifth of the school plays volleyball. I didn't think I was going to do it, but after running just one open gym, I was hooked. They have a core group of really talented kids, and they all learn so fast. Lots of unlearning to do, but they're getting it.

I've said for a long time that I wouldn't coach in high school again, but being a private school with outstanding support from the AD and principal, it's the right environment to do so. The only real negative is the OHSAA. Wow, they're at least a decade behind in volleyball, and worse in general rules. My biggest complaint is that they're still messing around with the national H.S. federation's rules. Come on... you overlap with the biggest region of USA Volleyball, and arguably one of the most competitive regions in the country. Why would they not just adopt the FIVB rules like everyone else? If it's good enough for the Olympics, international play, USA Volleyball and the NCAA (mostly, anyway), then why aren't they being used for high school?

For example, last year they finally moved to rally scoring and using a libero, which they're still calling "experimental." And what's most funny is that some coaches hate it. Perhaps they need to get with the times and learn why it makes the sport so much better. The thing that killed me the most is that the coach had to be seated most of the time. That's intolerable. In FIVB, you can stand right up to the side line the entire time, and that's generally what I do. This year they're doing another "experiment" that lets you stand during dead balls, which is a step in the right direction, but not enough. If some obnoxious basketball coach can walk up and down the line (and personality wise they're about as far from mellow volleyball coaches as can be), then I think we should be able to do the same.

Don't even get me started on eligibility and playing sports during the off-season. They've moved well-beyond protecting the kids and into a total lack of common sense.

So it should be interesting. Playing among the small schools, I would think that there's more potential to go far in the state tournament if you know what you're doing. Seeing as how high school volleyball has become so much of a joke in this state, I'm down with that potential. (Ask recruiters if they bother screwing around watching high school games when they can hit a big J.O. tournament and see hundreds of choice kids.) It's a damn shame what the sport has become at that level. A lack of good coaches and the OHSAA are really holding back the high school game.

Off I go into another adventure this fall...


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