Sunday, September 23, 2012

Home At Last!

When you start the season with three consecutive weeks of road games, you gain a totally new appreciation for playing at home!  We returned home this past weekend to play our first matches of the season in the Stephen J. Cage Center and what a homecoming it was!  Friday night started with a tailgate for our fans sponsored by Residence Life, our first 50 fans received a special Berry Athletics t-shirt, and our fans came dressed in the their "frat attire" as part of the promotional theme!  From the opening rendition of the Berry Fight Song to the crowd joining our team in singing the Berry Alma Mater after the home conference win, it could not have been more fun to play at home!  Here are just a few of the things that we like about playing at home:
  • we have the best fans in DIII volleyball
  • the Cage Center is an ideal volleyball facility that enables us to run our matches in a first class manner
  • we get to control the warm up music  :-)
  • sleeping in our own beds sure is nice
  • no stress from missed classes
  • no long bus rides
  • did I mention that we have the best fans in DIII volleyball?
  • coach's son provides ample entertainment any time there is music, and there is a lot of music at our home games
Fortunately, we get to play at home for the next two weekends!  If you are anywhere near Rome, we hope you will come and enjoy the fun as we continue on our quest for a conference championship!  So far, we are 4-1 (2-0 at home) in conference with some important match ups coming up in the next two weeks!

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what's in store!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Every year, our coaching staff seeks out individuals who we think will be a good fit athletically and, more importantly, a good fit with our team chemistry.  This past year was no exception.  This year, however, does present some interesting challenges and opportunities.  For the first time in my tenure as the head coach of Berry Volleyball, we have a full roster of 15 players.  Along with that full roster comes an incredible amount of depth and competition for positions and playing time.  Coming into the season, we challenged our players to see this depth and competition as the blessing that it is to a team who is determined to win the first ever SAA Championship.  After a week and a half of preseason, two scrimmages, and a tournament championship under our belt, I am happy to report that they have totally embraced this blessing.

This past weekend took us to our opening tournament at Clearwater Christian College.  We plowed through the competition with the composure and unity that would be expected of  a veteran team.  However, our team has five new players, no true seniors (both of our seniors medically redshirted last year), and ten of our fifteen players have a year or less of college playing experience.  I had numerous outsiders compliment our team's performance, and it truly was enjoyable to watch them go about their task of making every point count and relying on each other.  Position groups (players who all play the same position and thus compete directly for playing time) were obviously cheering for each other no matter which of them found their way to the court, accountability partners were celebrating good plays, and there were absolutely no lines between classes.  The day after the tournament ended we had the opportunity to relax at the beach, play a little sand volleyball, and just enjoy each other's company.  It was so much fun to watch the ebb and flow of their interactions as there were no consistent cliques, no individuals on the outside looking in, and everyone was included and inclusive.

Obviously, one might argue that a 4-0, tournament championship start might be the reason for all of our euphoria, but I am confident that it has much more to do with the heart of these individuals and this team.  I know we will face our challenges (we have already been faced with some injury challenges), but I know that our commitment to each other and the big picture will carry us through those challenges.

I often say that I am blessed to be the coach of Berry Volleyball and work with the amazing women who make up this team (past and present), and this year is certainly no exception!  While I might have majored in psychology, I can assure you that I know the right chemistry for a championship team when I see it, and the 2012 Berry Vikings have exactly the right ingredients!