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Happy Volleyball Holidays

As the holiday season falls upon us, it provides time to reflect on the year and be thankful.  This year, like every year, was its own mini-roller coaster, personally and professionally.  A family member and friend both battled potentially life-threatening diseases and both have fully recovered.  It makes us realize how fragile life is and we have a better appreciation for family and friends. 

I had the opportunity to visit my best friends and their families over the summer and realize how fortunate I am to have them in my life, yet how few times we visit.  Worse, how few times we will see each other over the remaining part of our lives.  I have come to a sobering realization that when growing up, I would see these great friends at least 20o times a year, but now we are lucky to see each other once or twice a year.  At this rate, maybe we’ll all get together 50 more times?

At this year’s past AVCA Convention, I had the honor of meeting and introducing 14 Iraqi women coaches  that were part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  They were chosen to participate in an international sports exchange as a means to empower women and girls worldwide.  As I have the great fortune to coach a sport I love, in a safe environment everyday (of which I take for granted), I cannot imagine what their lives must have been like the past 10 years and even what they are like everyday.  It is awesome to know volleyball is growing in Iraq too.  As John Lennon said, “Imagine there’s no countries…   and no religion too…   and the world will live as one“.  Through volleyball, we can live as one.  To my surprise, they were a vibrant and outgoing group of women that were eager to learn and eager to flirt 😉  They were happy and liberated.

Professionally, it was a trying year, as all but one of my years as a volleyball coach have been trying.  Winthrop’s ex-Head Coach, Sally Polhamus, was offered a position she could not refuse as an Assistant Coach at the University of Florida.  This left our team in a state of flux and the Winthrop Assistant Coaches as well.  It seems like so long ago, but it was certainly a trying time for our program.  We are fortunate to have chosen or been chosen to be part of a university that believes in “good people” and kept everyone together, including the incoming recruits.  The players bonded closer and they all decided to stay over the summer to train.

Winthrop hired Julie Torbett as Head Coach, who has been in the Big South Conference for 17 years, the winningest coach of our conference and two time Big South Coach of the Year.  Coach Julie Torbett came into the program with respect, but immediately arrived at the Winthrop Coliseum with rigid and clear expectations that the team quickly adopted.  The transition could not have gone any smoother.  The coaches bonded immediately (maybe it was from the fumes of paint from our office painting party) and the team stayed the course.  Through the tumultuous spring and new coaching philosophy, the team was successful, 20 – 8 overall, 12 – 2 in conference and regular season champions.  It all worked out, but we are hungry for more.  We can be a Top 50 program in the country again…and will be.

With all this said, CoachRey.com will soon be converting to CoachRey.org.  Julie Torbett’s husband, Dave Torbett, happens to be the Executive Director of Recreation Experiences, a faith based non profit organization that “Shares Our Faith Through Home Repair”.  Dave is helping me create a non-profit organization for this website where all banner advertisement proceeds will be donated to volleyball related charities.  I hope to have CoachRey.org live by the new year.

Thank you for everyone’s support of me and my little corner of the web.  I’ve been humbled to those I have met and appreciate the shared love for our sport.  Let’s continue it’s growth in 2012.


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