Charlie Swearingen is a member of the U.S. Men's Sitting Volleyball Team, which is playing in the Central American Games for Sitting Volleyball in Costa Rica
SAN JUAN, Costa Rica (April 20, 2013) – It feels like we just got out of a really tough fight, but our bruises were dispensed by our own hand versus our opponents. Last night (April 19), we played and beat Team Mexico in the semis in the Central American Games for Siting Volleyball. The self-destructive nature that is possible when you fail to clear your head from a bad play, or series of bad plays, is an incredibly dangerous phenomenon. We got off to a rocky start in our first set and had too many errors. We finally pulled our wits together and fought ourselves, as well as Mexico, for the win.
Edgar Laforest, alternative team captain, basically amid some bad play around him put on a clinic on how to score points. His vision of the court, and where the opponents aren't, is extraordinary. Laforest has a strong and extensive volleyball history and was the obvious choice for team captain in Eric Duda's absence. Laforest put his knowledge on display last night as he disagreed with a call, called a captain’s time out, went to discuss it with the referee and had the call overturned. The Mexican players and coaching staff were quite displeased, and it was an absolute pleasure to watch it unfold. Globally, Laforest did an outstanding job and absolutely kept this team together on the court last night despite our wrestling efforts with ourselves.
We all succumbed to negative thoughts last night, well except maybe Edgar (please see: above paragraph). J Dee and Dan, however, woke up in the second and third sets and began blasting volleyballs on the court and blocking the Mexican offensive at the net.
Thomas and Rejy learned a valuable lesson in sport psychology last night as they saw most of us plagued at one point or another by the anti-focus bug. It is a scary thing for a newcomer to first realize that despite confidence in a player, each of us is fallible and we can, at times, fail to focus and correspondingly not play to par. Coach Hamiter even mentioned our global lack of focus in mid-match during a second set technical timeout. However, he didn't give us longer than a moment to dwell on it before adding some calming words of encouragement and directly asking us in persuasive form, "are you going to win this?" There was a resounding yes, and while we didn't play the crispest volleyball I've seen us execute, we found the will to win, got out of our own way, and took the victory.
Tonight we play for the gold against a Colombian team who wants to thwart that effort. We will focus today on just that: focus. We will spend the day relaxing, having some good food, perhaps talking to the ones we love stateside: all calming activities input effort to cultivate a strong mental attitude for play tonight. We cannot dwell on some lack of execution problems from yesterday, but rather engineer new memories of the time we came to Costa Rica and reminded Team Colombia that while they have improved since Guadalajara 2011, we are still Team USA this is our time.
Boston won last night. We will summon all our physical and mental strength to do the same tonight in Costa Rica.
Charles F. Swearingen, BS, NREMTP, FPC
Flight Paramedic; OU MediFlight
#13 United States National Volleyball Team