Carl McGown in New England

Volleyball coaches in New England don’t get nearly enough credit for the work they have to do.

Since volleyball is such a small sport in this area of the country, they not only have to coach, but they have to fight battles that most coaches don’t even worry about where the sport is more popular. Hearing about the issues with facilities, playing schedules, funding, and even finding kids to play really deepened my respect for them. Coaches everywhere deal with these issues, but not to the level that exists up in New England. In fact, Vermont doesn’t even offer girl’s volleyball as a sport in their HS athletics programs, which seems ridiculously short-sighted to me.

I think as part of the above-described environment, the coaches that attend the Mass clinic are usually super-eager to learn and very appreciative of the time they get to spend in the gym with our clinicians. Virtually everyone that attended this year came up at the conclusion of the last day and shook my hand and thanked me – it sure was nice to feel like we had made a difference.

Worcester is great town, and absolutely beautiful in the summer (it was nice and cool when we got there – only about 75 degrees compared to 100+ in Utah) with a thick canopy of trees over all the roads, little lakes interspersed around town and an overall good vibe. The weekend we were there they were hosting what they called the “Summer Nationals” – essentially they closed down part of main street and held ad-hoc drag races with a different variety of overpowered cars. This brought an interesting crowd to the local hotels, and the CRVBC group was evacuated from their hotel at 2:30 in the morning due to a fire alarm. It seems that someone was burning out their tires in the parking lot and the thick smoke drifted into the hotel and set off the alarms. Yeah, thanks a lot for that. Needless to say, they were a little bleary eyed when they showed up that morning, but it was nothing a lot of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee couldn’t fix. Speaking of Dunkin’ D, it is an East Coast staple – like Starbucks up in Seattle. Given the nature of Utah’s cultural influences, we don’t really have any institutions like that, so it is interesting to see the level of devotion to Dunkin’ when we go east.

A big thanks to Bob and Gary for hosting us there at Assumption College. It is a nice little campus with good facilities and friendly campus security. The only complaint we had (and it is a problem in lots of places) is that the gym floor was recently refinished. We tell people all the time, if you want to get your kids good at playing defense on the floor, you have to get your school to refinish the floor over Christmas – AFTER the VB season, not during the summer. As always, this may be a little thing (actually probably a big thing) but it is brutal to try and get on “bellies, not butts” on some of these lacquered floors. You can for sure get 1-2% better by just having the right kind of floor in your gym during your volleyball season.

Back in Utah for a few days before our last clinic of the summer in Florida.