I purchased a last minute ticket for $350 from Minneapolis to Miami, quite a deal, but I can only imagine the additional expense for those teams traveling from the west coast, especially in today’s economy.
I had a great time watching my little club that could, Low Country Volleyball Club that has a total of 3 teams in the entire club (not three teams per age group like many of the teams they faced). The team won its region for the second straight season in the 18s age group and played in the National division (the middle division) at the USA Volleyball National Championships. From the win/loss column, you might think the team did not play well, but overall, Low Country had their best ever showing at Nationals in the 18s age group. I’m proud of their accomplishments
As always, it was a joy to watch the teams from larger clubs and larger metropolitan areas, especially the Minnesota teams, as I have some familiarity with the players that will be moving on to the University of Minnesota. The Northern Lights 17s team with Tori Dixon and Ashley Whittman had a nice tournament as well as Minnesota Select’s 18s team with Katherine Harms. I never did get a chance to watch Briana Haugen, as our schedule always seemed to conflict. All I can say is the University of Minnesota will be stacked with great talent over the coming years. I look forward to watching them!
As for the tournament overall, I felt as if many of the players in the upper age groups (17s and 18s) played emotionless. It seemed as if the players are just going through the motions, as if they have to be there to play. Many of the players looked burned out. These girls play all year long. They don’t have a break from volleyball. I remember when I played indoor, I would get bored with it, but just as the indoor season ended, outdoor would come around and I could play on North Avenue Beach in Chicago. The mix from indoor to outdoor really kept my interest. Players today don’t have time to switch from indoor to outdoor or have time to miss the game.
Many of these players just played at AAUs in Orlando a couple weeks ago, followed-up by USAV Nationals or JVDA Championships. Next these players will visit camps to “try-out” for their respective colleges of choice. After camps, high school practices begin followed by the high school season. The never ending volleyball cycle then turns over again, as the high school season is immediately followed-up by club tryouts, then the club season…all the way until July. Its too much. Players are coming into college with over-use injuries and need surgery after their first season. Many players play in pain or are simply burned out.
I was under the impression that part of the reason for the inception of the JVDA was to help limit playing time. The JVDA could make a great impact into the schedule of these players if they moved their championship to May, but unfortunately, that has yet to happen.
Anyway, I always enjoy watching the Hawaii teams play. They prove that height doesn’t matter. And the 12 year old teams are always fun. Some of the players on those teams are so advanced already. The really good 12 year old teams look like they could step out onto the court with some of the 16 year old teams and hold their own.
Even though Miami must have been quite an expense for some, it was a great venue to host a tournament. I was able to get down to South Beach between matches and catch a few outdoor games with some old friends. As much as the game changes, it still seems to be the same.