COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 13, 2012) – The U.S. Sitting Volleyball Program held its first open national team tryout on Nov. 8 in San Antonio, Texas, to identify and evaluate potential athletes for future training.
Eight athletes participated in the tryout, which included physical testing to measure their size and speed along with volleyball skill drills. The tryout concluded with a series of scrimmages where the eight were joined by other local able-bodied sitting volleyball players.
Army Specialist Matt Spang, lost both of his lower legs to an IED in 2011 while on patrol in Afghanistan, found the tryout inspiring.
“This is my first season playing in the sitting league, and while it’s been a lot of fun, it’s good to know that by playing and training, we can set a goal of one day playing for a national team in the sport,” Spang said. “I only hope that my abilities as an athlete are good enough to warrant that high level training.”
San Antonio was selected for the tryout because it has hosted a six-week sitting volleyball league for injured service members from the San Antonio Military Medical Center and volleyball players from the community in the spring and fall over the past two years.
Sitting Volleyball Coordinator Elliot Blake who led the tryout was pleased with the turnout and participation.
“We are always looking for ways to identify new athletes to get into our pipeline and the sitting volleyball league here in San Antonio gave us an opportunity to come in and evaluate the athletes that were already playing on a regular basis,” he said.
“Having recently been awarded a grant from the USOC’s Olympic Opportunity Fund to provide training to injured military personnel in sitting volleyball, it is great to see these guys out here playing among the volleyball community and hopefully feel challenged to train harder and pursue their now Paralympic dreams.
“I expect that we will have a couple of these guys begin training with our A2 team in the beginning of 2013,” Blake added.
The U.S. Sitting Volleyball Program, based in Edmond, Okla., expects to conduct at least three additional open national team tryouts across the country in 2013.