Celebrating Together

By John Kessel | May 31, 2012, 6:41 p.m. (ET)

Just finished our annual meetings in Salt Lake City, where all the USAV leaders come to share their season’s experiences and best practices and plan ahead to grow the game anew. This being an Olympic year, our CEO Doug Beal shared a special powerpoint at the Congress, celebrating the achievements of volleyball in the USA, aka USA Volleyball in his State of the Game. It is shared here, since so many of you reading this blog could not be in Salt Lake, yet you are growing the game so well in your part of our nation – we wanted you to celebrate too. CLICK HERE to download and read it, you will learn a lot about how the Team behind the Team, which is all of us, is doing at USA Volleyball.

I also appreciated the Intermountain Region, not just for being great hosts, but for helping the PVL get off to great success, and for naming their team “Utah Unity” – Many moons ago I wrote a volleyball magazine article, “Unity in Volleyball,” ( CLICK HERE to download), which STILL is something we must strive for in our sport. Ricky Amon, former great from UCLA, and national team member in the early 1990s, just scanned it and sent it on to me with thanks, and thought it important to remind us about UNITY again…Thanks Ricky…

The final night of meetings before play begins, is the “Boyce Banquet” in honor of Dorothy C. Boyce. Dorothy joined USAV in 1952 as a consultant on women’s volleyball and took on many leadership roles over her 22 years of involvement, including being USAV Vice President for a decade. Traditionally, I sit at the banquet with Mike Hulett, who, if you don’t know of him…well dang it you should. I knew what was coming, as I had contributed a lot of photos of Mike, having been with him for decades as he helped head coach in our USA Paralympic programs. So take time to read the link award below, and watch the video (CLICK HERE to watch) that I took of his surprise in being honored with USA Volleyball’s highest award, the Frier (named after the USAV leader who almost singlehandedly got volleyball into the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, just one of those things that we all should know and celebrate too…). Mike’s achievements are something we ALL should celebrate in volleyball. Just another thing USA Volleyball does to help volleyball for all, including the disabled of all ages.


Mike and me at a recent US Open, where the USA Sitting Women's team was training....

I returned to celebrate with my daughter, her graduation from high school….I missed her capping ceremony, LAX team banquet, and Athlete Awards Ceremonies, to be at our USAV annual meetings. Such is life as a single dad. McKenize is named after Dave McKienzie’s father, Bill – and seeing his success in helping the USA men’s team qualify to the London Olympics was another event to celebrate (not to mention sold out crowds at the Men’s NCAA Divisions I AND III Volleyball Championships!) The chance to celebrate started at her grad party shared with the wonderful Hannah Huffman, where dessert was the “meal.” Hundreds of friends and family mingled and had fun doing the human sling shot (www.thehumanslingshot.com ), Airzookas (http://www.airzookatoys.com/ ), croquet, bocce, and taking silly group pictures in a photo booth. It ended with her graduating on Sunday, summa *** laude no less. How she found the energy to attend dozens of other friend’s grad parties, can only be answered by one word – youth.

We have talked, and I have seen the same thing happen to teams, about the breaking apart of a group, which for “Mac” as we call her, really is 13 years since kindergarten, of some wonderful friendship groups. The sports of volleyball and lacrosse (they lost in the LAX state playoffs 13-16 to Thunder Ridge earlier this month), are core to her daily life, and she was honored with the Doc Stowell award for athletics – for combining athletics and academics, and being the “kind of player everyone wants to have be part of their team…” So tears came to my eyes, as the randomness of life stole a young woman from Yale who clearly is the kind of child any parent would dream to have… Marina Keegan’s piece “The Opposite of Loneliness” is something that ALL teachers, coaches and parents should share and discuss with their students, players and family… PLEASE take the time to click thru and then read the supporting comments and links to this powerful story…


And thanks to all of you for your help in growing the game together. John.kessel@usav.org

The following comments were made on our previous web platform and have been transferred here to maintain the historical record.

On June 03, 2012, Joe Burgess wrote

Thanks for your post. Your mission is about participation and I certainly appreciate your work. I have just returned from the nationals in Salt Lake where myself and six other men on a 60's team had a somewhat shocking experience that runs counter to the USAV mission. Our team representative pulled our team mid-tournament and forfeited all of our games despite the fact that all players wanted to play. The issue was the players wanted him to coach rather than set after the first day of play. The very disappointing thing was that the USAV allowed this to occur, saying the team rep had total control, the fact that the whole team wanted to play and participate had no bearing. We are going to be following up on this on multiple fronts - obviously the time and money we spent is gone and we have already been disenfranchised. However this cannot happen to somebody else. We were told by USAV officials that it had nothing to do with them, that the team rep did not need to have a good reason to do what he did. That is an absured position that must change. At the minimum there must be a process where one individual cannot deny participation to many

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