A couple of weeks ago, Brittany Groth, Carmen Leitermann and Leah Poel travelled to Colorado Springs, CO where the Olympic Training Center is located and participated in the annual open National Team tryouts. Each of them wrote a blog about their experiences. Below is Leah's blog about the first day of their journey as well as some of the things she learned in her setting position while working with the national team coaches.
By Leah Poel
Where should I start? The trip to Colorado Springs was, well, eventful to say the least. We started our day with a big breakfast of eggs and toast made by Carmen, at the time thinking we would be in Colorado and playing volleyball by four that afternoon. Our flight was originally supposed to depart at 9am on Friday morning, needless to say that did not happen. Turned out they were having some mechanical issues with our plane which caused a major delay. During our layover in Milwaukee we were able to make a lot of new friends, most over the age of 50. While trying to figure out a way to Colorado and keep in communication with the USA volleyball, one of the other passengers entertained me by telling me his life story. I learned everything about him from his job, to his kids and their accomplishments. It definitely helped pass the time - hard to get frustrated when you are talking to someone with such a positive attitude!
Hours later we finally got our new travel plans finalized - we were now flying to Colorado Springs, CO via Dallas, TX; makes sense right? Who was on our flight you might ask? Oh no big deal, just Donald Driver (wide receiver from the Green Bay Packers for those of you who don't know). As awkward as it was, we could not let this opportunity get away from us, so got up the nerve to ask Donald and his unknown teammate for a picture. Obviously it was a race to see who would get to stand directly next to him (sorry Carmen). As we boarded the plane we plotted a way to get into first class to get more Donald time. Since we had joined this flight so late our seats were practically in the engine, so we figured we had no chance of moving up, but who was just three seats in front of us? Yep you guessed it, Donald Driver! Needless to say we had a great view of that shiny bald head the whole way to Dallas.
After arriving in Dallas things started to go a little more smoothly. Before we knew it we were finally on our way to Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, this landed us five hours late for our first session of volleyball. Lucky for us we talked to the coaches and they said it would be no problem and we could just join the next day. When we arrived in Colorado we were told to look for a white van that would be picking us up, I really want to stress the "white van". Well, Carmen, Brit, and I walk outside to look and there were white vans everywhere. We strolled over to all of them hoping we would find the one taking us to the Olympic Training Center. After ten minutes of searching we see this giant red, white, and blue bus with the words "Olympic Training Center" posted all over it with the five Olympic rings pull up. Apparently giant busses are called white vans now-a-days. We hurried onto the bus exhausted from the day of travels. We were shuttled to the training center where we had to take picture ID's for our weekend credentials. Not an hour after getting to our room we were all knocked out in our little twin beds. Hard to believe this was only day one. Let the weekend begin!
Although we didn't get on the court the first day, our first session on Saturday was more technique-oriented than the rest of the sessions. When they took the setters aside the coaches really stressed a good hand position. When you set, every finger should be touching the ball and it should be that way every single time. "Setting is all about consistency," was a phrase I heard a lot throughout the weekend. Besides hand positioning, another big point for them was to be as deceptive as possible when setting. They want their setters to look the same, whether they are setting forward or backwards so the blockers on the other side do not know which way you are going to set until the ball leaves your hands. It was a lot of fun working with setters from all over the country. I was able to spend a lot of time with setters from Michigan State and Clemson. Seeing the talent from all over and being able to play with so many great players was pretty awesome, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything!