Aug. 31, 2011
Preseason can be defined as follows:
1) eat, work, work, work, eat, work, work, work, eat, sleep repeat
2) the longest 20 days of an athlete's life
3) where the unexpected should be expected
Add an outdoor excursion and a few untimely rainstorms and you have UConn volleyball's 2011 preseason.
None of us knew what to expect when our head coach, Holly, handed us a list of things to pack and vague directions to board a bus. Little did we know we would be scaling a rock and sleeping in a tent. Yup, this year we kicked things off camping style and learned a few valuable lessons: 1) Team bonding is certainly quicker when you're forced to trust your new teammates with your life via being attached to them while schmearing up a mountain face; 2) Pitching a tent looks much easier when the guys from UConn Rec do it; 3) You cannot build a fire for s'mores during torrential downpour; and my favorite: 4) some tents leak. All in all, besides inspiring countless metaphors for our coaching staff ("schmearing" now refers to a blocking move), our trip ended up being full of laughs and a great way to bring everyone together.
Speaking of battling the elements, we felt much more back in our element in Guyer gym. And yet with a sextet of freshmen, two new coaches (Brad and Ellen) and with them, new drills, there was certainly a new vibe in the gym. Luckily not one that took much getting used to. The fifteen of us came ready to rep it out this preseason and found the new drills a fun challenge and took our practice competitiveness to a new level, thanks in part to a new "win" board that tallies individual victories throughout practice. And in true preseason-two-a-day fashion, whenever we were off the court we spent our spare time eating, sleeping, or painting our nails--you know, the essentials.
The thought of the beach and home cooking at the Fosters' house (one of our friends and sponsors) on one of our days off gave us a little extra pep in our step...until untimely rainstorm number two intervened. We were all happy to just hang out around campus (and by that I mean sleep) all day instead as our beach trip was rescheduled. Until, yup, rainstorm number three emerged. This time we chose to cook dinner for ourselves at Holly's house. Talk about teamwork. If you've never seen fifteen volleyball players cook a full-out Italian meal complete with grilled chicken cooked by grilling pros Breezy, Amy, and Sage, it's quite the ordeal. The meal was a success (much to the surprise of our coaching staff), but I think we were all glad to resume dining hall meals the next day.
The annual blue and white scrimmage was next on the agenda for us. Even though the opponent is a team we've seen many times before--ourselves--putting on a jersey and having some warm-up music blasting got us all game ready. Now with just a couple days before departure for our first tournament in my home state of Texas, we're anxious to see some new faces on the other side of the net and delve into some competition. One might say we're chomping at the bit on this one--it's been a long 18 days since preseason began and we are anxious and excited for the possibilities that lie ahead this year. And the one good thing about the drought in Texas? We know this won't get rained out.