COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Oct. 24, 2017) – After a year of learning and working to improve, the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team is anxious for a test to find out how it is doing.
That test comes this week at the ParaVolley Pan American Zone Sitting Volleyball Championships in Montreal. The top two finishers will qualify for the 2018 World Championships in Amsterdam.
The U.S. Men, ranked No. 8 in the world, will face Brazil (No. 2), Canada (No. 14) and Costa Rica (No. 31) from Oct. 26-29. It will be the first time the team has played international competition since the 2016 Paralympic Games, where the U.S. placed eighth.
“I feel pretty good heading into the tournament,” U.S. Head Coach Greg Walker said. “I know the guys are itching to see somebody different.”
The United States placed second to Brazil at this event in 2015 and qualified for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. It was the fourth-straight, second-place finish in the zone for the U.S. Men.
Since Rio, Walker has been observing other sitting and standing team programs, including the U.S. Men’s National Team, to see how he can improve with his squad.
“It’s been nice to see what our indoor teams are doing and comparing what we do to how they do it,” Walker said. “It has been validating to see we are on the right track. Our athletes feel the same way.”
Nine players who competed at the Paralympics are on the roster for Montreal: Eric Duda, Roderick Green, John Kremer, J. Dee Marinko, Jese Schag, Chris Seilkop, Josh Smith, James Stuck and Charlie Swearingen.
Newcomers include military veterans Patrick Young and Nicholas Dadgostar, who were scouted from the Wounded Warriors program. Finally, there is 17-year-old, 6-foot-5 Zach Upp, who has been playing standing volleyball for his high school and club teams with a prosthetic arm.
Prior to leaving for Montreal, the U.S. Men had training camp at their home base of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and welcomed the men’s club team from Oklahoma State University to help them train.
“We want to scrimmage with them so our guys can hit against a bigger block,” Walker said before the camp. “When our guys see different competition, we want them to still be the players they are in practice. In Rio, guys left their comfort zone and it affected who they were on the court.”
ParaVolley Pan America Zone Championship
For Sitting Volleyball
U.S. Men’s Sitting National Team
No. Name (Position, Height, Hometown)
3. Nicholas Dadgostar (OH/S/DS, 6-0, Sidney, Neb.)
5. Eric Duda (OH, 6-5, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
6. Jese Schag (S, 6-2, Norway, Ill.)
8. James Stuck (MB, 6-5, New Kensington, Pa.)
11. Roderick Green (MB, 6-3, West Monroe, La.)
12. Patrick Young (OH, 6-4, Albuquerque, N.M.)
13. Charlie Swearingen (OH, 6-3, Gulfport, Miss.)
14. John Kremer (L, 5-9, Buford, Ga.)
15. Chris Seilkop (OH/MB, 6-6 DeLand, Fla.)
16. Josh Smith (Opp, 6-2, Riverside, Calif.)
17. Zach Upp (Opp, 6-5, Bartlett, Ill.)
18. J. Dee Marinko (OH, 6-4, Norman, Okla.)
Head Coach: Greg Walker
Assistant Coach: Joe Skinner
Assistant Coach: Michael Hobson
Team Leader: Dixie Collins
Athletic Trainer: Katherine Mathes
Technical Coordinator: Galen Dodd
Match Schedule (all times ET)
9 a.m. Brazil v Costa Rica
10 a.m. Canada v USA
4:30 p.m. Brazil v USA
9 a.m. Canada v Costa Rica
3 p.m. USA v Costa Rica
4:30 p.m. Canada v Brazil
Noon: Semifinal 2 v 3
2:30 p.m. Semifinal 1 v 4
10 a.m. Third-place match
11:45 a.m. Gold-medal match