Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Notes from the U.S. and Netherlands

I recently had the opportunity to visit both the United States and the Netherlands, immersing myself in the rich history and vibrant cultures of these two countries. From reflecting on the sacrifices made during World War II to witnessing inspiring moments in the world of sports, my journey was filled with unforgettable experiences.

Honoring the Past

During my time in Amsterdam, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for the courage and resilience displayed by the Dutch Underground during World War II. As I stood in the very places where history was made, it struck me how far we have come in terms of travel and accessibility. What once took weeks by boat can now be covered in a matter of hours by air. Even when faced with a delay in my flight, I couldn’t help but appreciate the relative ease of modern travel.

A Father’s Tale

One of the main reasons for my visit was to honor my father, a captain in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He rarely spoke about his experiences, but there was one story that always brought tears to his eyes. It involved two Dutch captains who had become his close friends during a shared convoy in the South Pacific. As they approached the final leg of their journey towards Japan, the Dutch captains made the difficult decision to rush ahead to provide much-needed supplies and assistance to their troops. Tragically, both ships were torpedoed and sunk, with no survivors. My father carried the weight of that loss with him for the rest of his life, and it deepened my admiration and support for the Dutch people.

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Inspiring Moments

Back in the United States, I had the privilege of attending the USA Volleyball Boyce Banquet in Minneapolis. It was a night filled with stories of resilience and dedication as we celebrated the achievements of Olympians Kim & Elaine Oden, Paralympic Coach Bill Hamiter, and the late Gary Colberg, whose wife shared their incredible story. It was also a special moment for my colleague Margie Mara, who retired and received the prestigious Frier Award, a testament to her years of service and commitment to the sport.

Connecting with Dutch Coaches

Returning to the Netherlands, I had the opportunity to speak at the NVVO, the Dutch coaches’ association, during their 35th annual clinic. Many of the coaches in attendance had heard me speak years before, and it was a humbling experience to see how my teachings had resonated with them. One coach shared his focus on keeping things game-like, while another asked about my journey of continuous learning. I shared with them the concept of “Ancora Imparo,” which means “I am still learning.” It was a reminder that no matter how experienced we become, there is always room to grow.

Embracing the Game

One of the highlights of my time in the Netherlands was working with the Dutch youth national boys’ teams. I challenged them to step away from the traditional training methods and introduced them to dynamic and engaging drills. The energy and enthusiasm they brought to the court were infectious, and it reminded me why I fell in love with coaching in the first place. I also had the opportunity to spend time with Jamie Morrison, former U.S. assistant coach, who had just taken on the role of the Dutch women’s head coach. It was inspiring to witness his passion for the game and his commitment to guiding the next generation of players.

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Lessons from the Court

Throughout my time in the Netherlands, I had the chance to connect with coaches and players from around the world. One coach, Arjen Schimmel, reminded me of the importance of knowledge and sharing it with others. He referred to a post on my daughter’s Instagram that highlighted the value of learning through teaching. It served as a reminder that we never stop learning, and the best way to deepen our understanding is by passing on our knowledge to others.

Evolving the Game

At a coaching seminar, Joop Alberda, the Olympic men’s gold medal coach in 1996, shared how they overcame fear in the locker room before the gold medal match against Italy. This match was a grueling three-hour battle and ultimately led to the introduction of rally scoring in 1997 to ensure matches were completed within a reasonable timeframe. This change revolutionized the sport, particularly in the United States, where junior matches no longer spanned multiple days. While there are ongoing experiments by the FIVB to further enhance the game, such as playing best 4 of 7 sets to 15 points, the focus remains on creating more exciting and competitive matches while keeping tournaments on schedule.

Gratitude and Farewell

As my journey came to an end, I felt a deep sense of gratitude towards the incredible hosts who made my trip possible. From Judy Praska and the North Country RVA to Shanee Boyle and Gateway RVA, and Jaap Boom and Marous of the NVVO, their hospitality and support were truly appreciated. While I regretted missing out on watching my son play in the U.S. National team Red/Blue Scrimmage and seeing friends compete in the U.S. Open, I realized that sometimes we have to make choices and prioritize what matters most.

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FAQs

Q: What inspired the Dutch captains to rush ahead, despite the risks?
A: The two Dutch captains made the difficult decision to leave the shared convoy and rush ahead to provide much-needed supplies and help to their troops. Their dedication to their comrades and their sense of duty drove them to take this selfless action.

Q: How did the introduction of rally scoring revolutionize the sport?
A: Rally scoring, which was implemented in 1997, played a significant role in transforming the game of volleyball. It ensured that matches were completed within a reasonable timeframe, making the sport more accessible and exciting for players and spectators alike.

Q: How did the Dutch youth national boys’ teams respond to the new training methods?
A: The Dutch youth national boys’ teams embraced the dynamic and engaging training methods. They brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm to the court, demonstrating their eagerness to learn and improve their skills.

Summary

In this article, we explored my recent journey from the U.S. to the Netherlands. From honoring the past to witnessing inspiring moments in the world of sports, the trip was filled with meaningful experiences and valuable lessons. Connecting with coaches and players, both young and experienced, reminded me of the power of knowledge and the importance of continuous learning. The introduction of rally scoring and the evolution of the game have made volleyball more accessible and exciting for players around the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to have embarked on this journey and look forward to sharing more insights and experiences with the volleyball community. To learn more about my adventures and stay informed about the latest developments in the sport, visit Alpinetgheep.com.