Friday, March 21, 2014

Seasons Endings

Since my arrival to Sweden, I have been given the unique opportunity to assist Daniel as a volunteer coach with Ljungby Volleyboll Klubb in the second-half of their season, where they would play in the Vårtvåan South-West. The bottom two teams would move down to Division 2, and the top four teams would remain in Division I. The first-half of the season, Ljungby struggled to compete against their Division 1 South opponents, taking only two sets of their eight total matches.

Initially, progress was slow, but steady, and as the weeks rolled on, the athletes' improvements became more and more evident to the few fans we had. Practices often started sluggish, but by increasing the demands and pace of the drills, we were able to get a lot accomplished. The girls' skills and expectations of themselves increased every month as well. Initially, the team was satisfied with a single-set victory, which they had achieved two additional times in January's matches against VK Veddige (16-25, 25-17, 9-25, 20-25) and Eneryda Nsf (19-25, 19-25, 25-21, 18-25). By February, winning one set was no longer enough. After 5 weeks of focused practices and dedication, they were able to secure their first 5-set match, falling to Tuve VK 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 16-18. Despite the loss, the girls, parents, and club were rejuvenated, feeling as though their commitment to the team had begun to pay off. It was big step in the right direction, but still, we wanted more.

One month later, Ljungby faced Eneryda Nsf on their home court, and pulled off their first and only win of the season: 25-21, 10-25, 25-15, 25-14. This match also marked the first time Ljungby had been victorious in the first set of a match this year. Mentally, the girls had overcome the fears, doubts, and worries they had been plagued with since the club's decision to have this former U17 team as the new LVBK A-team competing in Division I. They initially met this challenge with hesitation and uncertainty, but with their newfound success, their confidence was growing. It was a turning point in the season.

Although we qualified down to Division 2 for the next season in a tough 4-set loss against Tuve (26-24, 26-28, 23-25, 13-25), Ljungby continued to impress spectators and opponents alike. Our final match was against nearby rival Gislaved. Again, we experienced another nail-biting 5-set match: 20-25, 25-21, 25-19, 21-25, 12-15. With loss comes disappointment, yet the players were happy with all they had accomplished in this season. Each player had stepped up to the task in front of them, and left all they had on the court. It is a great day in athletics to see such a vast improvement in this short amount of time. I am so glad to have had this opportunity to help make a difference in this team. I cannot have imagined a better and more inspiring group of athletes to coach. Each day coming to the gym, they were eager and willing to learn. They challenged me to create technical but fun drills. I cannot express my thanks to the club for welcoming me back into their organization. I hope that I can continue to give back to the sport of volleyball. Until next season...

No comments:

Post a Comment