For two hours on
a sunny afternoon in late April, a volleyball game became the
center of a small universe.
No, Misty and Kerri
played in Tempe, delighting the throng of fans that had flocked
to see the AVP’s Arizona stop.
This game was in
a dot sized town of less than 1000 residents that sits smack
dab on the border of Arizona and Mexico called Naco.
For two hours this
sunny afternoon, residents of Naco, from both the Arizona side
and the Mexico side set up nets across a border to symbolize
the knocking down of walls and barriers.
Paul Tompkins, a
computer teacher for the local school district helped organize
the event which had been a tradition since the 1970’s
but took a year off last year. But this year’s game took
on a bigger meaning.
The controversial “Minuteman Project” has put Naco at the center
of a national debate and brought to the town its own unique set of problems.
“Our main goal
was unity and to show that we are one community even though
we have this wall here.” The wall of which Tompkins speaks
is 10-12 feet of girded steel that separates two countries.
out a drainage ditch at a low spot in the wall, and built two
volleyball courts that were big enough to handle the participants,
which numbered nearly 100. Kids from local orphanages and church
groups from the area and as far as San Diego came out and served
it up. ‘We came and we played volleyball and everybody
pretty much had a great time, “Tompkins says unassumingly.
from the San Diego group said "It's all about the spirit
of cooperation. Building bridges of communication, not fences
of separation. A great way to show we're all the same race,
the human race."
“I love it.
I’m not any good.” Chuckles Tompkins about why
he chose volleyball. “It’s just that everyone enjoys
it!” Tompkins hopes to continue the tradition next April
Sweep Storm for Second Straight Region 12's Title
AZ Sky’s 12-Tornadoz defeated Arizona Storm’s 12-1’s team
to win the Arizona Region 12’s Championships on April 2nd giving Coaches
Sean Parchmann and Denise Nasser their second straight Region 12’s crown.
AZ Sky 12-Tornadoz is the 12's Champion
“I really don’t know what to say, other than I am really proud of
the girls, we are a very solid all around team,” lauded Parchmann. “We
really pushed them this year and they responded, especially with jump serving.”
Tornadoz captain Heidi Thompson led her squad with five kills and eight aces. “It’s
really exciting, this season was really good as we lost only one set all year,” said
a grinning Thompson. Alex Willcoxson added five kills and 2 aces for the
Early in set one, AZ Sky
broke open a close match with a six point run to take a commanding
10-4 lead. Later in the set, Sky ran another five points and
swept the opening frame, 25-15. Thompson and Willcoxson had
three kills each in the first frame.
The Storm showed their resolve
in set two, leading 8-4 early on by strong serving by Nicole
Battle and the net play of Paige Pfeiffer, who led Arizona
Storm with 12 kills in their semifinal win over AZ Sky Blue
Ice. The Tornadoz found themselves down 18-13 when Parchmann
called a timeout. Willcoxson recalls that team huddle. ”We
needed to talk more and shake off our mistakes.” She
said. “We weren’t concentrating.” Parchmann
told his team to take a deep breath; smile and focus on playing
their game, looking for a little refocus time.
AZ Storm 12-1 is the Runner Up
Sky went on a six point
run and tied the score at 20-20 when Storm Coach Mindy Buhrow
called a timeout. But with Sky down 21-20, Thompson went back
and jump served four aces and a service winner for a 25-20
Tornadoz victory to set off a wild celebration by the team
Storm coach Buhrow was gracious
in defeat. “AZ Sky is a very solid team, very dynamic,” applauded
Buhrow. “I am very proud of our team as we played ball
for ball with them. Overall, I could not have asked for a better
1st year experience with a great group of girls.”
Storm’s Pfeiffer agreed. “It
feels really good (to finish 2nd), I’m really proud of
our team, it was a lot of fun,” stated Pfeiffer.
Tour Stop Leaves it’s Mark on the Region
The AVP Pro Volleyball
Beach Tour made it’s now annual stop at Tempe City Beach
Park on April 22-24th delighting casual and die hard fans with
the chance to participate, volunteer and cheer on the best
beach players in the world displaying their enormous talents.
2004 Athens’ Gold
Medalists Misty May and Kerri Walsh were pushed to the limit
by Elaine Youngs and Rachel Wacholder, but came away with their
third straight Tempe Open Women’s title. The capacity
crowd was then delighted to a nip and tuck Men’s Finals
match win for Stein Metzger and Jake Gibb over Dax Holdren
and Jeff Nygaard.
As just a fan, you
may have missed the other involvement the Arizona Region had
in this stellar event. You may have noticed bright yellow shirts
scurrying across the sand to shag balls, or change the score
boards. Chances are those were your junior players from the
Region who volunteered their time and energy for a chance to
be a part of the AVP. Most walked away with a smattering of
sharpie-stained autographs of their favorite players on their
yellow shirts and visors, and perhaps a bit of sun in the process.
In addition to the
volunteers, the region also helped to provide statisticians
and sponsor help for the three day event. And let’s not
forget the handful of local beach players who shrug off the
long odds of making a dent in the tournament’s Saturday
draw and battle Friday in the qualifying portion of the tournament.
Leanard Armato couldn’t be happier with the Tempe stop. “The
players love it. The amenities are wonderful. There’s
a great volleyball following and it’s growing by the
minute. Being in the hub of Arizona State University is also
a great draw for us. It helps bring in the next generation
of AVP players. So we’re delighted with our progress
in the market.”
Even though the tour
stop battled for sports fans that had NASCAR and the playoff
Phoenix Suns on the same weekend, Armato was still encouraged. “Maybe
next year we won’t come in when every single sporting
event is the city is happening at the same time.” He
says tongue firmly in cheek.
“ Our attendance
figures were up from last year so we were delighted with the
attendance. We had a packed stadium even after we had almost
doubled the seating this year, so we were very pleased.”
The Tempe stop is
one of the most costly for the AVP tour, as sand has to be
trucked in two weeks before the event, and then vacuumed up
after. “We have to create a real beach in a beach park,” Armato
says, “but at the same time, it’s a terrific environment.”
Tempe Mayor Hugh
Hallman said the city was thrilled to host AVP for the third
year, citing estimates that the event delivers a $2 million
direct impact to Tempe hotels, restaurants and businesses each
" Spectators and athletes alike get to soak up the sun and fun in the great
environment of Tempe Town Lake," Hallman said. "We hope to continue
this relationship for many years."
For more information
on the AVP - Go to www.avp.com
Back to Newsletter