It is my plan to attempt to really blog my journey through the AVCA Convention in Seattle. Mom is always interested in what I’m doing, and this will keep her up to date for when I don’t always call. And I’m already feeling a little guilty leaving the volleyball-loving Fiancé in snowy-cold Oxford, OH, especially after she just relocated from sunny-warm Austin, TX. Seattle is not a cheap ticket this time of year and we have this wedding to plan and save for, so we thought it best to save a little money so we can feed a few extra people at the wedding. The sacrifices she makes for me is incredible. I’m a lucky guy.
My first stop enroute to Seattle is Minneapolis. The flight is already delayed because of inclement weather (surprise, surprise). I find it ironic to be flying through a city I was a volunteer
assistant coach 5 years ago and I was driving to Nebraska (literally on my own dime) to the AVCA Convention in Omaha (probably the worst snow storm I have ever driven through too). The irony of life is that when you don’t have much money, you have to pay for everything, now that I have a paying job, the school is paying for my trip.
Reminiscing about Minneapolis, I traveled to Lexington, KY last weekend to watch Minnesota play in the region match against Stanford. Last I saw Tori Dixon and Ashley Whitmann play was when they were seniors in high school at the U of MN camp. Ashley Whitmann was named Gatorade High School Player of the Year and Misty May visited her high school to present the award. Tori finished her career that night as she started her career, in beast-mode and Ashley the always smart player. I think she may have had more tip kills than swings because she sees the court so well. Dunning even played a rotation defense, and was still frustrated by Ashley finding the smallest of holes in the court.
Mike Hebert was still coaching at Minnesota and little did I know that 5 years later, he would be retired, finish writing another book, and he would quote me in his book from my ramblings of 3 pages of notes I took when I was a volunteer under this legendary head coach. This game still continues to humble me.
Laura Bush is still at Minnesota, Scott Swanson headed to the state I started coaching volleyball as the Head Coach of South Carolina, and gold and silver medal winning coach Hugh McCutcheon is now at Minnesota. And I’m glad he kept Nao Ikeda as Director of Operations. She always gave me the best Japanese tea on those blustery MN winter days.
Ironically, Erich Hinterstocker is now Assistant Coach at Minnesota. Erich left a very successful program at North Dakota State to spend more time with family (as volleyball coaching is cruel to coaches with families) and I even said in a previous post that he would never return to coaching. Never say never.
Some insight about my and Erich’s coaching friendship started when I drove up to NDSU to interview with him. He told me that we were too much alike and that we wouldn’t be a good coaching team. It’s tough to hear those words when you are a volunteer begging for any job, but looking back, he was right. Bond Shymansky, now at Marquette told me the same thing at AVCA in Nebraska. I take these then rejections as compliments. They both contacted me shortly after interviews and gave me the lead about the Winthrop position opening up. The irony is that I was about to fly down to Houston to interview with Kaddie Platt, but turned down the interview to be back in South Carolina with Winthrop. I felt awful to have to give Kaddie that news. Since that time, the interviews turned into excellent coaching relationships. The good man upstairs knew my path long before I knew where I would live next.
Well, I am ‘thankful’ for my delayed flight to at least finish this blog. I am looking forward to seeing the who’s
who of Minnesota volleyball will be on my flight.