Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And So It Begins

As I sit here planning for the annual selection process for men's volleyball, I can't help but get a bit nostalgic. I also can't believe it is my 25th season! The years have flown by, and while one might think it gets easier with time, I can assure you, the tryout process is never easy.

You would think that with 13 returning players and a solid handful of recruited rookies, we would be set and everything would be straight forward. Ahh, if it were only that easy! We have several players who are managing injuries and are 'uncertain' at this point. We are optimistic that when it really matters they will be in the mix and ready to challenge, but only time will tell. We also have a few players who have been going really hard all summer. Joren Zeeman spent almost 4 months doing 2-a-day sessions with the FISU team. It certainly paid off, as his team earned a 4th place finish in those games. Will Sidgwick is away at the U21 World Beach Championships right now and has put up some fantastic results all summer long.
In-coming rookie, Aaron Nusbaum has also been going hard on the sand - earning a bronze medal in the U19 World Championships. All three of these athletes will need a recovery period in the early fall.

I have always believed that one person's struggles are another person's opportunity - that good comes from bad - and with that in mind - our focus will be twofold, in the next 4-6 weeks.

First, we will pick the team. Some think this is a formality at this level, but believe me it isn't. It is something I lose sleep over, every year. My assistant coaches (Greg Stevenson and Gabriel DeGroot) and I will meet endlessly to talk about selections and more traumatically, cuts!

I hate closing doors for people; but there are only so many spots within the program. The veterans have to come back in great shape and ready to be put to the test. The old adage 'you can't be a good rookie in third year' rings true. The bar rises as one progresses through the ranks in seniority. Over the years, there have been some huge surprises in walk-ons and some occasional disappointments in returnees. I remember back in the late 90s, Mike Hartel walked on and ended up competing in the World University Games several years later. More recently, Chris Vandyk showed up in tryouts after a year of Lacrosse and we ultimately won an OUA Championship with him as a main middle for us. That is what the tryout process is. Five days to put it out there and earn your way into the squad, for what poses to be a very exciting year.

Our second focus is around building the base - with several new players there will be lots of work to do in creating a foundation of excellence. Supplementary training to bridge the gap between the rookies and the 4th-5th year crew is a priority. The other piece of that, of course, is to ensure that there is no gap, in terms of team. Strong leadership and a commitment to being one unit, regardless of year or experience, will be a key ingredient in building the path to achieve our goals.

For those looking for information on tryouts, it is pretty simple: we start Tuesday - the day after labour day. September 6th - and every day that week at 5:30pm (Tuesday to Saturday inclusive).

Tuesday the 6th is an informal night - so you can come out and get your timing back and handle a ball without the stress of selections. It is also a good chance to check out the level and see whether you want to give it a shot, if you are uncertain.

Wednesday the 7th is the open tryout. One night to show what you can do - and earn and invitation to the rest of the process. Anyone new, who wants to have a shot MUST attend that evening - 5:30 to 7:30pm in the Practice Gym on Level 3 (top floor) of the ARC.

We expect the team to be named by Monday September 12th.

This time of year is exciting and stressful. I look forward to the 13th!

Welcome back and here we go again!

Brenda Wills
Head Coach, Men's Volleyball
Queen's Athletics and Recreation
284 Earl Street
Kingston, Ont
K7L 3N6
Off: 613 533-6289
Fax: 613 533-6324
Facebook: Queen's University Men's Volleyball
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Home of the CIS Men's Volleyball Championships - March 2-4, 2012