One of the defining features of our clinics is the amount of court time that we try to give the attendees. We are proud of the fact that we don’t just spend three days talking, but that we get on the court and the coaches get a chance to actually put into practice some of the concepts we teach.

In each clinic group we almost always have guys and girls playing on the same court, and we put the net at women’s height to make it easy for everyone. And in every group, we have a few guys that decide to swing for the fences on the girls net. What this results in is that by the end of three days more than one coach gets hit in the chest or head, usually one of the girls. And the staff always thinks the same thing – oh jeez, we’ve got one of “those guys”. The one who doesn’t know enough to ease up, quit showing off, and just be cool.

At a clinic I did in Virginia this weekend we were delightfully absent “that guy”. Everyone was well-behaved, took it easy, and were generally cool. So it turns out that by the last day nobody got hit. Until that is, we started the last drill – Doug’s Scramble. This drill is pretty straight-forward: game to 15 points (or whatever you want) – if you win the rally, you get another free ball. The free balls keep coming until one team gets to 15. The point of the drill is to promote pursuit and fitness, so the coach typically doesn’t just give easy free balls. It’s fun as a coach to throw some off the walls, off the ceiling, throw a few balls they have to dive for, and hit a few balls they have to dig.

So with the score about 12 all, I was entering balls to the teams when I decided to hit a shot at a coach in the middle back for him to dig. It ended up being a little bit of a side-hand mis-hit – the one that doesn’t lose much pace but ends up going to the right of where you wanted. And to the right of where I wanted, about 10 feet away (and in no way expecting to dig a ball) was a another coach. A girl coach. You know how this ends of course: the ball ends up hitting her right in the side of the head, a direct hit.

The whole gym stops, everyone pauses for a second, and I want to find a hole to crawl into. Instead of giving me dirty looks and asking me to leave, everyone laughs (including the poor victim) and I sheepishly go give her a hug and apologize profusely. I am, at that moment, that guy.

With the exception of that incident, we had a great weekend. Thanks again to Ian and BK for coming down from UMBC to assist with the clinic, and a huge thanks to Seng, Dean, and the rest of the staff at NVVA for having us out. They have a great group of coaches that are committed to their teams, willing to work hard, and anxious to get better as teachers of the game. Missy, sorry again about that shot – when I am out there again, dinner is on me.