Archive for December, 2010

AVSC 2010

December 12, 2010

AVSC is done and dusted for another year. This year I trained a bunch of Willunga High School teams as well as a Concordia College Open Honours Boys team (who were also competing in the event for the first time ever). Trying to ride multiple horses with one behind definitely made it a busy week.

The teams didn’t go too well. Willunga had 3 honours teams and 2 div 1 teams (including an open girls div 1 team, which we haven’t had since 2005). With most of our teams playing in higher divisions, we won very few games, although i suspect we got the highest points finish we’ve ever had. This is quite a shock to the school program and the question will be whether they want to be more of a performance oriented program that has to put in more work to compete at a higher level, or if they want to go back to being more participation oriented and finding more success at an easier level. there’s no right or wrong and AVSC has plenty of schools on either side of the scale.

The Concordia boys struggled too and didn’t win a match until their wooden spoon playoff on the last day. Concordia has never been to this event. The team was made up of a bunch of guys who played for norwood from teams ranging from League men to div 2 junior boys. It was a good effort.

Even though my teams didn’t win too many games, it was good to get the chance to work with 4 teams that were all playing honours. The other enjoyable part of the trip was seeing willunga high coached by 6 ex-scholars who i had put a lot of time into in the past. They all did great jobs under difficult circumstances.

In the end, Heathfield High School put in a fantastic effort to reclaim the School’s Cup from Brighton Secondary School who had held it for a number of years. It’s a fitting way to finish Eldo’s ast “full” year at the helm – next year Eldo is on long service leave and has indicated he will retire after (although he’s been saying he’d retire for years!).

Heathfield won the Open Honours Girls and Open Honours Boys titles in dramatic style. The Girls finished a semi-final match at 1:30am Friday morning and beat a star-studded Brighton team in 5 sets after being 2:0 down. The Brighton team had an AIS athlete and most of the starting 6 of the state U19 women’s team, 3 AVL players and a Brazillian exchange student. The Boys beat tournament favourites Billanook in the semi-final then beat Lake Ginninderra for the Gold Medal.

With the cup being decided on 6 best results, and Brighton and Heathfield being the only 2 teams with consistently 8 honours teams, the cup has always been the same 2-horse race with the SIV school with the better honours results claiming the prize. This year Heathfield outperformed Brighton in 5/8 honours events to clinch the cup. Had Brighton won the Open Honours Girls title it may have been a different result!

Some other notable wins: My sentimental favourite school, Tin Can Bay P-10, took 3 teams this year and made the Gold Medal Game in all three events. Since 2005 they have had the highest medal strike rate in AVSC; for at least the second year in a row, U14 Girls Division 2 was won by a primary school team – West Beach Primary (SA) coached by a parent who is an Austral legend, with some kids that have been playing for Henley Hawks for a while. Last year’s winners were Marryatvile Primary; Brighton had 4 Open Boys teams in Honours, Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3. Each team played off for a medal, with only the Div 3 boys missing out, losing the bronze medal to Tynedale; The Open Girls Division 1 title was “won” by Riccarton (NZ). They played well, had players with great technique, and were the nicest girls who made a huge effort to be friendly with all the teams in the competition. They couldn’t “win” the medal being from NZ, but were truly “deserving” winners.

The funniest thing that happened to me must have been the abuse i copped from a 19-year-old coach of an U14 div 2 Girls team when I was supervising a duty in a match to determine the last spot in the semi finals (although to be fair, most of the abuse was probably copped by the 15-year-old guy who top-refereed the match). The funny part being that at one stage i was questioned whether i had ever coached volleyball before. I thought I took this event seriously, but this coach took it to a new level! The team was clearly coached badly and 1-dimensional. We had to play them the next day. I wasn’t there, but from all accounts, it was hardly a pleasant experience, in which we lost and received a lot of smugness at the end of the match. Although, the coach got fined for wearing flip flops. What is the world coming to?

Another year is over and I’m definitely looking forward to a 6-week break.

George W. Bush had a bad platform…

December 2, 2010

…on many things, like foreign policy and domestic policy etc etc. But when it came to volleyball, he also had a bad passing platform. As seen in this photo, not even 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist Misty May could help him find the flat part of his forearms. That clasping of the hands is doing him no favours!

Still kind of cool he turned up to support the team and promote volleyball. More photos at Volleywood.

The Invention of Winning

December 2, 2010

Further on the theme of winning v “deserving to win”, the buddhist in me likes to think that winning is a human invention and far less meaningful than the spiritual journey of becoming “deserving to win”. We put so much weight on what a “winner” and “loser” looks like but we neglect to notice that how we determine the difference is usually cosmetic.

Recently, Rick Reilly wrote an article about the Boise State University Broncos, a college football team, in the Football Bowl Subdivision, who despite having a high performing team, will not have much of a chance to win the “national championship” over teams they could actually beat. The odd thing about all this, is in the Football Bowl Subdivision of NCAA division 1 football, the National Championship is decided by a series of polls run by third party organisations! teams don’t actually play each other! It’s basically a bunch of guys playing fantasy football! Can’t we take that kind of “champion” seriously?

Denis Pagan writes on his website about winning a premiership: “The best team of the year doesn’t win the grand final. The best team on the day does.” For AFL fans, the idea of being champions is ubiquitous with winning the big game on the last saturday in September at the MCG. But that notion only came after years of faffing around. Originally, the VFL used a round robin system for finals to determine a “Premier”. Sadly, Ross Lyon and St Kilda would be considered “losers” while Collingwood and Geelong would be regarded as “winners”. What would the premiership recods look like if it was the team that won the most games over the season? Does a “grand final” have more to do with determing who is “best”, or more with creating a giant spectacle that promotes the game?

Most team sports in Europe have a League (home and away) and a Cup (knockout). By process of induction, the winner of a Cup is the best because they beat the teams that beat the teams that beat the teams… The “premiership” for winning the league competition is usually more prestigious because it requires more consistency. But the home and away league system was only really devised so that teams could make money from a guaranteed 38 matches a year instead of the speculation of getting knocked out early in the cup.

The NBA probably has a best-of-7 championship series instead of a single play-off so they can sell more games to TV.

The opposite logic seems true too, with the Italian League in volleyball changing from a play-off series to a winner-takes-all playoff to create one big event (like the superbowl).

Deserving to win is a function of hard work. Winning is a function of marketing.