Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FISU Summer for Women's Volleyball

Well I just arrived back from an amazing summer experience as a member of Team Canada's coaching staff for the National "B" Team Squad that competed at the 26th Summer Universiade Games held in Shenzhen, China. To tell you that the whole experience was awesome would probably sell so much of the summer short. But it was awesome and so much more.
I feel like everyday I learned something - whether it was about volleyball, about myself or about the characters of others around me I constantly felt like I had to be in a state of high awareness just to catch everything.
There were some really cool concepts that the Head Coach Alain Pelletier introduced that I will definately bring back to my program. Particularly looking at a having a young squad this season, I think the concepts we introduced to the team this summer may help us have less errors in crucial situations.
The other Assistant Coach Lee Carter has some great concepts around leadership that I have decided to introduce here as well. He has done some great work around team leadership with his university squad and he brought that forward to this team.
Me, well I became fondly known as "Big Momma" to the girls. It became my job to help bridge the gap between the coaching staff and the athletes. The girls talked, I listened then I sat down with the rest of the coaching staff to discuss. Regardless of what came out of our coaches meetings the girls all felt heard and respected and I believe that as a coaching staff we were ultimately pretty responsive.
Last but definately not least was our team therapist she kept us moving and ticking from day to day. Not to mention she was the most awesome roommate you could have when you are sharing a room in Thailand or China. I don't honestly know what I would have done without her there and I know without question the girls couldn't have survived the trip without her TLC.
From the start we got along as a coaching staff. There was no jockeying for position. We each knew how important our role was in making this team tick and accomplishing our goals for the summer. We each had the opportunity to voice our opinions and we had each other's backs forming a solid and cohesive coaching staff. Without question working with each of these individuals was an honour and so much fun.
So how did we do at the games? Well we finished in 11th place. But don't let the placing fool you. We were statistically one of the three youngest squads at the event and finished the highest of those squads. Several of the countries were using the FISU games as a preparation for 2012 Olympic qualifiers being held this fall and had sent their "A" teams in preparation.
For the top six teams in the tournament the vast majority of their squads were filled with the players that would make up their 2016 Olympic squads supported by one or two bench players for the 2012 Olympics. So 11th is pretty respectable and it qualifies us for the next FISU Games to be held in Russia.
I didn't get to see the girls play as much as I would have liked. As the third assistant my role was to scout other teams - which often meant being at a different venue while the team played. I always had the girls close in my heart though and one time called them towards the end of the fourth set vs. Sweden to see how we were doing. It was funny because I started to ask our interpreter how we were doing and she handed the phone to Lee on the bench. He was in total shock I'm sure but handled it like a champion. Anyway we were down but found a way to come back and win that set. I'd like to think my phone call gave them that little boost they needed.
So here we are let me introduce you to Team Canada "B" Squad:
But the FISU Summer is now over and I'm back at Queen's ready for the new season. We have some great athletes coming in this fall and I'm super excited to see our progress over the season.
In addition we have some fantastic returning players - Becky Billings is coming back after a summer spent with the Beach National Team and competition at the FISU Games too. She had a great summer and I know what she brings back to our program will help us grow faster this year. There is also the play of both Natalie Gray and Anna Pedjase to look forward to this season and I have no fear that the rest of the squad will also step up and let their voices be heard. It's an exciting time for us as we said goodbye to veterans last season and now open up opportunties to others.
I also have some additional good news - Colleen Ogilvie will be joining Team Canada at the Full Time Training Centre this fall. She had a terrific tryout for the team in May but needed more training time to be match ready. So for now we bid farewell to Colleen and wish her all the best as she starts to live out her dream as a member of the national team squad.
It has been some amazing kind of year for Queen's women's volleyball, it's been some years since we have had a presence at the National Team level and out of this past season we had two tryout for the indoor squad and one on the beach.
So thanks for reading and next time I'll write about the top 5 things I learned from competing at FISU.
See you soon,
Joely Christian-Macfarlane
Head Coach, Women's Volleyball
Athletics and Recreation Centre
284 Earl St.
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
613-533-6000 ext. 79190
Donate to Women's Volleyball at: www.givetoqueens.ca/w-volleyball
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