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March 2005

Coaching Education a Priority with Volleyball Commish

The Commissioner of the Arizona Region of USA Volleyball is focusing efforts on making his coaches the best educated in the country. And with the actions the Region is taking this summer, he is well on his way to achieving that goal.

Region Commissioner Harold Cranswick confirms that the education of coaches is critical to the success of club volleyball in Arizona and across the country. "Because of the fact that coaches spend as much or more time with players than parents each week, the coaches play a significant role in the development of these young people." Cranswick notes.

"Coaches are expected to help players improve their volleyball skills but they are also expected to serve as role models who typify behavior that is socially acceptable, both on and off the court."the Commissioner states. "As a result, it is imperative that coaches and the Region take our roles seriously and do everything we can to provide the education for our coaches that will increase their knowledge about volleyball issues as well as their ability to provide the kind of leadership and guidance that junior athletes can benefit from both on and off the court."

In a government study called "Youth Sports in America: An Overview" done by Michigan State University in 2003, the report states, "There is a common agreement that the quality of the youth sports experience depends on the competence of the adult leaders, most specifically the coach. Thus, educational programs for volunteer coaches would seem to be in demand, but such is not the case."

The report goes on to say, "The vast majority of youth sports coaches, estimated to be as high as 90%, have no formal education in coaching techniques, first aid, injury prevention or emergency care."

To stem that tide, Cranswick is pleased to see some high profile coaching education opportunities descend into Arizona this summer:

The Arizona Region is sponsoring a two day coaching clinic in early June featuring University and Junior College Coaches from across the state that will touch on several different subjects.

In July, noted USA Volleyball educator John Kessel with come to Prescott to teach a 3-day USA Volleyball Coaches Accreditation Course that can lead to bigger opportunities in the coaching field, including national team coaching positions.

In August, a three day camp featuring USA Olympic volleyball icons Doug Beal, Carl McGown and Marv Dunphy will be held at Arizona State University.

Information on all these camps is available on the Arizona Region website at under the Coaches link.

In his eighth year as Commissioner, Cranswick has seen the increase in problems that youth sports can breed. "Volleyball, like so many other sports, is facing a variety of issues that are of serious concern including players who are being asked to specialize in one sport, coaches who are pushing players to win at all costs, and some parents who are more interested in showcasing their own child's talents than learning how to win and lose gracefully."

   Cranswick's intention is to provide several educational opportunities for the Region’s coaches to assist them as they work on these issues.  "Hopefully, the efforts of the Arizona Region will be seen as a good first step toward helping all sports provide participants with a positive and enjoyable atmosphere.  If it works, perhaps other sports will see the value in doing something similar." He says.

The Region currently requires all coaches go through a four hour coaching clinic every three years, which is a faster recertification than the USA Volleyball requirements of four years. But Cranswick encourages Region coaches look beyond the basic requirement and further their education. A trend he wants not only from his coaches, but from region players, parents and officials as well.

"The tremendous growth that our Region and our sport is experiencing has demanded that we look for new and interesting opportunities to provide information to our members." Cranswick says. To that end, the Region encourages members to attend workshops and clinics outside of the state by offering continuing educational credits to coaches for pre-approved offerings and works with the national office of USA Volleyball to provide a variety of coaching and officiating clinics and workshops. The Region also works with local organizations to provide opportunities for the members. 

Rachel Mittelstaedt

Mittelstaedt Chosen for U.S. Junior National Team

Arizona State University freshman setter Rachel Mittlestaedt has been selected to the United States Junior National team that will train in Lake Placid, New York in early summer and travel to Turkey in July.

“I’m so excited.” Said Mittelstaedt excitedly. “It’s such a great opportunity to go and compete with all those great players from all across the country.”

Rachel competed against 30 other hopefuls in Reno at a four hour tryout on April 21st. Other tryouts were held over the past few months across the country.

Tom Pingel, the director of the High Performance program for USA Volleyball called Mittelstaedt’s ASU coach, Brad Saindon, and said that the National team wanted to take a look at the 6-1 setter, prompting her to attend the Reno tryout.

“Although Rachel has been in the ‘Pipeline’ for the past few years, this will be her first stint at the National Team level.” Explained Pingel. “Her game has been steadily improving and I’m not sure we really know her top end. Her having been through a PAC- 10 season coupled with her athleticism will bring a different look to the setting position.” Pingel suggested.

Eighteen players were chosen and will go and train under Junior National team coach Shelton Collier in early July. Of those 18, only 12 will be chosen to compete against other Junior National teams from around the globe in Turkey the week of July 23rd.
“ Rachel is an athletic, high potential setter.” Coach Collier lauds. “She is receiving some excellent training with Brad Saindon at ASU, and I am excited about seeing what she can do with us with the USA Junior team.” He added, “It is a challenge to find setters who can put up a strong block, which is critical at the international level, and Rachel provides this unique aspect. She has a legitimate shot at making the World championship travel team.”

March 2005

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