Ryan Millar, middle blocker for the men’s 2008 U.S. Gold Medal Team in Beijing, recently spoke with the Arizona Region about his experience, the state of the men’s game and his upcoming player and coaches' clinics he is running in June.
Where do you see USA Men's volleyball going in the next quad, both personnel wise and system wise?
“I think with winning the World League title in Brazil and the Gold Medal in Beijing our team is now looked upon in a different light. I think teams respected us before, but we have proved to the world that the USA should never be looked past. If we have our core group of players back for 2012, I see us being one of the favorites again. Right now the biggest thing on everyone's minds is who the coach will be. I know USAV is doing a very extensive search for the right person. I am very anxious to see who that is.”
How does the men's game and USAV get more boys involved in the sport?
“Again I think the success in Beijing will help, but it really is a matter of showing young kids how great volleyball is. I really think a strategic marketing campaign could really do wonders for boy’s volleyball in the US. A creative way to show young athletes what is available to them when it comes to choosing volleyball as the sport that they want to focus on. I don't think that has really ever been done. With our recent success, it seems like now is the best time possible.”
What is the biggest difference you've seen in the Men's game, both internationally and collegiately in the past 5 years?
“The biggest difference I have seen in the last 5 years is just the overall quality of volleyball has gotten better. I think internationally the amount of countries with good programs in astounding. When that happens, the level of competition increases. That is great for the game. Collegiately I have not seen too much change apart from the fact that some of the best teams are not only in Southern California any more. I think college players are very lucky in the US because the level of coaching is very high. These players should learn and grow as much as possible to get ready for the International game.”
Now that you're doing camps and clinic, what is the common thing you see with your athletes? Positive OR negative?
“The best camps are the camps where you can genuinely see that the players at camp want to get better. They work hard, listen, are coachable, and are fun to instruct. If I am a player going to a camp, I would prepare myself to get as much out of it as possible. When you are a junior player the most important thing you can do to get better is to play as much volleyball at the highest level available to you. Camps are a great place to do this.”
Finally, what will you bring to Arizona coaches in your coaches clinic that will make them better coaches today?
“I think coaches will find my clinic interesting and informative because I bring with me an extreme amount of playing experience. I know exactly what it takes to win. I hope to inspire coaches to look at the game from different angles. To be creative and not repetitive. Keep the game fresh for their players. I look forward to helping coaches understand exactly what it takes from themselves and their players to be champions.”
You can get more information or register for Ryan Millar’s camp at www.ryanmillar.com/camps.html.