This past weekend I had a peaceful hike at nearby Crowders Mountain, a North Carolina State Park about 30 minutes from Winthrop University and equidistant to Charlotte, NC. At each school I have been fortunate to coach, I’ve always found little get-a-ways to recharge. So I have put together my coaching biography by geography (little places of solitude to escape the man-made world).
Crowders Mountain, North Carolina
University of Minnesota
A weekend escape made me realize I made the right choice to move to Minneapolis for the opportunity to volunteer at the University of Minnesota.
Magnolia Springs State Park, Millen, GA
Georgia Southern University
Magnolia Springs State Park is known for its crystal-clear springs flowing 7 to 9 million gallons of water per day. The times I would visit the park the spring would be flowing, but I was able to walk out hundreds of yards on an adjacent dry lake bed. It was during the drought of Georgia and the water levels of lakes were scary low. You could see fish congregating in the middle of the lake and alligators feasting.
Hilton Head Island, SC
Low Country Volleyball Club & Bluffton High School
The beach. What more needs to be said as a way to escape? But three pictures down is Old Mike’s House. Anybody who is everybody who is nobody that has traveled up the east coast to South Carolina has played at Old Mike’s House. Some days are local games of 4s, others are serious King-of-the-Beach Tournaments. A few AVP players have played on this man-made sand court in front of Old Mike’s hand-crafted log cabin house. Classic and peaceful days.
Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona State University, East Valley Juniors, & Saguaro High School
A run up Camelback Mountain was a way I started many weekends at Arizona State University. A great way to train, even though it was in the middle of a sprawling metropolis. I spent many days and some nights atop Camelback.
Gilson Beach, Willmette, IL & North Avenue Beach, Chicago, IL
New Trier High School
I did spend many summers coaching the underclassmen at New Trier High School during summer volleyball class. From 8:00 – 10:00 am each morning the upperclassmen had volleyball class, followed by 10:00 – 12:00 for the underclassmen. After class, many days were spent either at Gilson Beach or a trip down to North Avenue Beach (mostly on weekends for tournaments).
Harms Woods, Glenview, IL
My passion for volleyball began while living on Arbor Lane, across from Harms Woods, in Glenview, IL. When I was just barely tall enough to walk, my stepfather would take me each Wednesday to watch him play with a group of guys at a local church (followed by the best french fries at Burger King!). I learned a lot about the game while watching and looked forward to being able to play with the guys. It never happened at the church, but it gave me the knowledge to make the first team at New Trier High School (126 guys tried out!).
Harms Woods was my first natural place of refuge while growing up. My best friends (who are still my best friends today) and I would ride bikes on the trails all the way to downtown Chicago, or bike up to the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe, IL or we would hike through the woods, or we had bottle-rocket wars (I sometimes wonder how we didn’t lose an eye), or paintball wars, or we would watch beavers build a dam in the stream, kick-back and let the world pass, in peace.
The beauty, calm, quiet of nature is a powerful place for me. I was fortunate to be able to run across Harms Road (don’t tell Mom!), explore, and be a kid. This past weekend at Crowders Mountain, I was a kid again, just as I have been at all the places I have explored on my incredible volleyball journey.