Happysnap: WASP-Ball and Catholic-Ball

WASP-Ball at Seymour College

Catholic Girls School comp at St Dom’s

More volleyball from off the beaten track. Summer time is when the schools run their competitions: There’s traditionally a private school boys comp run by the Independent School Sports Association (Rostrevor ran it for years); a (protestant) private school girls comp run by the Independent Girls School Sports Association; and another comp for the catholic girls schools.

I’ve coached 3 schools in the boys comp, 2 girls schools in the “WASP” comp, and this summer I’m coaching a team in the catholic girls comp (filling in for a friend who usually takes them but is overseas). For the amateur coach, these are among the few paying gigs. It is laid back. you have to referee your own games; the courts are sometimes oudoors or not full-size; they don’t always have antennas; no one really seems to care if you win or lose; there doesn’t really seem to be a trophy (i have no idea if we are playing for anything); uniforms don’t need numbers; rules can be weird (the comp i’m in has sets that go to 21 points); exams, exeats, forfeits and hot weather policy cancellations means that sometimes the season is shortened to less than 5 games etc etc.

Because it’s paying, the standard of coaches is surprisingly high. sprinkled among the old scholars that aren’t really volleyball folk, you can see a lot of current and ex national team players earning some extra pocket money. As well as some ex-national team coaches around too (I used to see Harley Simpson and John Olesk coach D-grade girls matches on the grass courts across he road from annesley college). Not that the kids really notice. I sometimes think the collective CVs of the coaches in these comps are better than those in State League.

Sport at these schools is compulsory. Sometimes kids pick volleyball because it’s a bludge. They come to trainings and games without much motivation and it’s a soul destroying experience to coach it (even the thought of getting paid doesn’t make it bearable). other times, the school has gotten the sort of coaches that get kids really enjoying playing and the number of teams has grown with really keen kids. I’m lucky it’s a case of the latter for me this year. I stopped coaching private schools for a number of years but i’m starting to enjoy it again.

These schools are unlikely to play AVSC. It falls in that week where their valedictory activities are firmly locked in. So you can’t quite get the best of both worlds. There are more private schools from the other states playing now. These schools will have the money to attract some of the best coaches, and you have to wonder what will happen to the public schools that traditionally had strong programmes. A friend of mine is in a dilemma of having to choose between a private school that wants to pay him to coach a team in div 2 and a public school team that wants him to coach honours but can’t pay him.

A wise coach told me that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. what it does is provide an incentive for people who would have otherwise dropped out to stay involved with the sport.

* * *

My St Ignatius girls won today, against the only non-private school team, Marryatville (if Marryatville fielded a team made up of all their players who played juniors for norwood we would surely have lost). We played at St Dominic’s in the city. The court was 9m wide, but only 7.5 metres long. We lost last week, and the girls reckon it was because they were used to playing the ball deeper. They readjusted this week but are still complaining about the length. I don’t really care. its the same length for our opponents too, and if anything the smaller space means more contacts per hour and more rallies.

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