Fall 2014 Blog – Post # 10

Fall 2014 Blog – Post # 10


Many “Senior Night” pre-match ceremonies have occurred in the last week or two. Most of you were very prepared for being behind on the scoreboard 2-11 in the first set, following the emotion-filled and much deserved recognition that you planned for your seniors.   You probably noticed that depending on the number of seniors you had and any traditions you have related to their last scheduled home match – individual seniors responded differently when it was time to perform. Some players were “in the zone”, and some took a couple of sets to get their game going.

In my humble view, all of that is secondary to the importance of publicly recognizing the significance of the dedication and contributions made by seniors. I do feel that each and every player who makes and keeps a commitment to a team for many years to play through the end of their senior year or final season of eligibility deserves a moment in the spotlight. I will have more to say about this when we get to my last blog planned in this series. The one word title for that posting will be “Banquet”.

For this week, and building towards my next blog which I intend to post within a few days, I would like to reflect on what I would call a “phenomenon” associated with seniors fighting to keep their last season alive.

Right about this time, when we approached the final regular season match, I typically started to sprinkle in some “senior-related” messages during our daily whiteboard time, which for us was when we first huddled to start practice. The first comment might be something like this: “By the way, to all of our first year players. Do you remember last year when your high school team faced the first match where a loss could end your career? Well, you are several years away from experiencing that again, but your senior teammates here are looking straight at that reality occurring in the near future. You might want to buckle your seat belts, because it could get pretty intense on the court for you when we get there”.    

Planting the idea of competing especially hard for “our seniors” was a theme that I often included as the season was coming to a close.   I was most fortunate to coach highly passionate players during my career. In fact, I heard an interesting comment a few weeks ago at a Volleyball Hall of Fame related event, from someone who had officiated for many of our Springfield teams going back “quite a few years”. Not sure how the conversation got there, but this official commented that they always enjoyed working our matches because the players played with such passion. By the way, I believe my teams at Roger Williams back in the ‘80’s were equally intense.

I certainly agreed with that assessment, but often I noticed that somehow, even some of my own highly passionate competitors found another motivational gear when there was a chance they might never put on another team jersey. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Don’t be surprised when that quiet player, who is highly regarded (if not revered) by their teammates, just takes over a time-out or the break between sets.   This player has very rarely piped in, but all of a sudden they put a charge into their teammates. Their unexpected challenge of “hey, this is not going to be my last match” with some fiery eyes blazing is way better than any comments I was about to come up with! I learned a long time ago to simply respond with “you heard her”.

A second example I have for you is about that senior who has tried your patience, and rarely seemed to fully respond to the kinds of changes you had in mind for them, whether it was technically, tactically, or emotionally. Here is a hope-filled message – every now and then, it all comes together at the end of their final season.   Their best and most focused efforts might just occur when their last career match hangs in the balance.   Just two of many examples, and I am sure many of you could share some great stories too.  

Wrapping up this week – I want to mention that I am getting comments from coaches on my blogs, and some of you share that you find yourself chuckling and nodding your head.   Some of you are probably shaking your head as well.   Just so you know – my own rule of thumb when getting coaching advice has been – try it, then keep what you like, and discard the rest.  

It’s that time of the season for big matches, and “Yes”, I do miss sitting courtside and being part of them. Today, I will be skipping from webcast to webcast watching some great match-ups. Good Luck!

Next week > Championship Play – Who owns the Comfort Zone?


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