Thursday, September 28, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Frank DeFord had a great commentary on high school sports yesterday. My husband is feeling the pressure as his school gears up for a new capital campaign for new and improved athletic facilities. Everybody else in the conference is building additional gyms and putting in turf fields. Here we go....

TJ did not make his select club volleyball team. I was bummed. Went to the tryout on Sunday for a bit--it was overwhelming. There were so many, maybe 60, 17 year olds trying out for 20 spots--two teams of ten. It was clear he did not have the skill level or physical prowess necessary to "hang with the big dogs". By age 17, the players on this club demonstrate a fairly high level of sport specialization AND athleticism. And it became clear to me that there is little room on these select teams for a true generalist--a decent team utility player without exceptional physical traits or capabilities.

There was nothing 2 months of basic strength, agility and movement training could've done to help. 4 of the 10 guys from the TJ's 16 y.o. B team did not make the 17 y.o. B team.

In fact, the game is much more specialized than when I played in college. If you are not a setter with sweet hands who can run the game, or a giant middle hitter, or a smokin' fast libero defensive specialist or an extremely powerful strong-side hitter who overwhelms the other teams' blockers, you are SOL.

I was told that many of the guys who did not make this team were headed immediately upon being cut to a tryout for the other major local club. One club had tryouts at from noon to 3 or so and the other club started at 3. Some guys probably spent 5 or 6 hours in the volleyball meat market that afternoon.

It all seemed a little crazy to me, but I only participated in one significant tryout in my life--that was to play on the North Team in the 1989 Olympic Festival, where I had a great time sitting on the bench with future Olympian Cammie Granato (she was 18 and I was 19). I didn't play on a select volleyball or basketball team in grade or high school, and played Division III college volleyball. Never had to face the pressure or really even the prospect of being cut from a sport in high school.

TJ will have an impact on his high school team over the next two years--and I told his father I hope he relishes that opportunity. Let's hope those tryouts are a little less intense.

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