My wife says I don’t like criticism. Lots of it on social media now and coaches get their share. Once, reading a major tennis magazine, I saw my name in an article by a major tennis writer. He chastised me for proposing a shortening of the scoring format for college tennis. Somehow he missed that the proposal was for college tennis, not pro tennis. Since that time college (and numerous other tennis bodies) have indeed realized the need to make these suitable changes in length.
The Australian Open starts the 2019 pro season today. And with a shortened format. People have, via common sense,
realized “Isner-like” five setters may end the careers of modern pros by injury, or causes starvation from a fan. TOUCHE.
“Nothing remains the same but change.”
My first job was at a small college. While in high school I played what many did: Football, basketball, and baseball. Now, in addition to coaching varsity tennis, and running the intramural program, I was assigned eight different courses to teach. One was for physical education majors entitled TEACHING VOLLEYBALL AND SOCCER. At that time no one knew what a soccer ball looked like. Volleyball was at best a backyard game.
Now that school features sixteen varsity sports, Soccer and Volleyball for men and women included.
(Wait a minute. Mistake. There are no men’s collegiate volleyball teams in the southeast. Only the west coast and northern US field teams.)
WRONGY DONGY! The North State Conference was originally an NAIA member. After about fifty years and innumerable name changes, this league is now CONFERENCE CAROLINAS, members of NCAA Division 11. All of its eleven members field a varsity men’s volleyball team.
Why all this change? Ask anybody in the small college business in recent history. Clients! Numbers! You can have a “college” only if you have students. North Carolina may have too many small colleges. And while I believe small colleges may be the best way to become educated, two main factors compound their dilemma: They are expensive. There are 16 fine state institutions of higher learning and tons of Community colleges.
Back to volleyball and male children. Karch Kiraly led the USA in the Olympics in the 1980’s. These California boys captured sports imaginations, including mine. Why not play college men’s volleyball on the east coast. We’ve got gyms too. Courts are already lined. No brainer. The more I thought, taught, and played volleyball –the more I pushed the notion. And, while our girls slipped seamlessly into varsity play, only club, class, intramurals, and recreation were it for high school boys and college men at a varsity level.
About five years ago I heard Conference Carolinas was to become the first conference to sponsor Collegiate varsity volleyball for men in the southeast. The first match our school played in was an hour away and I was there. Upon entering the gym I was struck by the kids and families and fans. Eleven teams were entered. And while our team featured some “beginning” players who rarely scored a point, I inwardly beamed. I WAS RIGHT.
January 11, 2019 we (BARTON COLLEGE) hosted the NCAA DIVISION 1 2018 champions, Long Beach State from California. Several “old timers” came to me and asked Coach, what do you think of this? Wow – and proud of pushing the game.
I studied the roster sheets and the players. Long Beach featured 21 players. Seventeen were from California. Four were international. Fourteen players were 6’5″ or taller.
Barton had quite a different mixture of their 13 players. Seven were internationals from five different countries. Twelve were 6’3″ or better. I can tell you that to recruit that many internationals is a lot of work.
There was a good crowd who were enthusiastic and encouraged by the performance of this small school against the nation’s best. Me too.
There were several others impressions:
****American college rosters can become international very fast. This too is an evolving process.
****American coaches have to win. This puts pressure on them to find any good player.
****Basketball is also “going after internationals”. Some are concerned (see blog 337 ).
****All college sports that are played internationally will recruit more and more internationals (Volleyball, tennis, golf, soccer, swimming, basketball, etc.)
****Tennis began this kudzu like spread in the 1970’s. Recently the top six ranked men’s tennis teams in NCAA Division two combined, featured 63 roster members. Sixty two of them were international.
I still believe scholarship control, with “our kids first, is RIGHT for American college sports.
THE PREDICTED “PICKLEBALL TSUNAMI IS “RIGHT” ON COURSE.
RIGHT—since 1970 about football and head injuries. To be continued.
1998 RIGHT —-International basketball players are coming. And they want your scholarship.