California Dreamin

Article. California Dreamin'

The USA women's volleyball team rose from nothing to an Olympic medal contender after its stay in Colorado Springs for over two years at the Olympic Training Center.

The Olympian

Published on Friday, May 1, 1981 by Laurel Brassey



by Laurel Brassey

(Miss Brassey was a member of the U.S. National Team and 1980 Olympic Volleyball Team)

The USA women’s volleyball team rose from nothing to an Olympic medal contender after its stay in Colorado Springs for over two years at the Olympic Training Center. They feel they’ll be as strong in 1984.

Although the 1984 Olympic Games are still somewhat distant, the Men’s and Women’s National Volleyball Teams aren’t wasting any time getting started training. As 1980 Olympian Rita Crockett put it, “Three years and four months to be exact. Somehow that makes it seem easier.”

The women have already begun practicing at their new facility at Coto de Caza, California. After an extended vacation, the women regrouped in early January. The team is quite a bit different because of the retirement of seven members of the 1980 Olympic team. But with the seven returning members providing a strong nucleus and six new members, it looks as though the team will continue its amazing progress.

Coto de Caza is a small private community of about two hundred homes tucked away in the hills just east of Mission Viejo, California. Most of the homes are built in close proximity to the club house complex which adjoins the main lobby and restaurant, men’s and women’s locker and shower rooms, saunas, gymnasium for volleyball and basketball, and a small weight room. There is also a twenty-five-meter swimming pool and seventeen tennis courts.

The women are living a different life from that at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where they lived in 197980. They have their own apartments or share with other members of the team. Manv are attending school either at U.C. Irvine or Orange Coast Community College. Others have taken part-time jobs. In the next two years most of them should be able to finish school so that as 1984 draws nearer they can devote more time to training. Presently, practices are three days a week for the entire team and two additional days for the new players.

Head Coach Dr. Arie Selinger, who has been rehired as the National Women’s Coach, sees a promising future for the new team. “The transition periods a always the hardest,” says Selinger. “The team is so far away fr, its goals at this point. Nothing seems close enough to grasp. They have to readjust to new lifestyles, new techniques, new players, new systems of offense and defense and cope with the frustration of losing during this period. Once they can assimilat, all of this, it’s just a matter of tir until they come together as a ur This new group has all the tools height (averaging 6′-1″) strengt quickness and intelligence.” Thi staff is rounded out by Toshi Yoshida, the team’s expert Japanese trainer, his new bride, Shoko, who was a member of th 1976 Gold medal-winning Japanese Women’s Volleyball Team, and manager Ruth Becker.

The team has a full summer o! competition in Japan, China, Europe, Mexico, and then some fall tours in the U.S.

All of the members and staff c the l Q80 Olympic Women’s Vol leyball Team will never forget ti people of Colorado Springs and the U.S.O.C. for theircontinuec support, and for making their st, in the Springs a memorable one. The team will be back in Colorac Springs at some time in the futu for training and competition before heading to Mexico City.

Meanwhile, about fifty miles south of Cotode Caza in San Diego, the Men’s National Volleyball Team is setting up headquarters for its new training cen ter. Don Sammis, owner of a major real estate developing con pany in San Diego, worked for about six months to put the project together. Sammis has been a volleyball enthusiast for years ai recently owned a franchise in a professional Volleyball League.

From 1977-1980 the men’s team training center was located in Dayton Ohio. Many of the to; young players attended colleges or universities on the West Coast on athletic scholarships and it ha



The new training base for the U.S. women’s volleyball team is this lush setting at Coto de Caza in Southern California, where hopes are high for another run at an Olympic medal in 1984.

athletics without compensation from private sponsors, corporations, scholarships, or by allowing the athlete to work part-time.

Sammis, along with businessman Chuck Rolles, is coordinating a job placement program based on the USOC’s Olympic Job Opportunities Program, whereby an employercontributes by hiring an athlete to work four hours a day but pays him for full time, the salaries commensurate with the type of job. An athlete will also receive broken time payment while he is away from his job traveling with the team. The older members of the team will be placed in career oriented jobs so that when they finish their careers in volleyball they will have training in another field. The athletes still in college will be placed in non-career oriented jobs such as work in restaurants, unless they want career opportunities. The program proved very successful in Dayton. A P lard of Directors will be established for the program including civic leaders and businessmen of San Diego.

The U.S. Volleyball Association has hired 33-year-old Doug Beal as head coach for the quadrennial. Doug was a member of the National Team for 9 years and previously coached the team from 19771979. Doug selected Bill Neville, currently of Montana State University at Bozeman, to be the assistant coach.

The San Diego training center will operate on a nine month, full time schedule with a three month alternate activity such as a youth league and clinics. It will directly benefit from the USOC’s programs of the National Sports Festival, U.S. Olympic Training Center, and Sports Medicine Program. Also a major contribution are the USVBA’s fundraising programs and contracts with business corporations.

The staff has high hopes for the men’s program and the team. The junior level and college programs in the U.S. are showing great pro gress. The Men’s Jr. Team finished seventh in the Jr. Worlds and won the Pacific Rim Tourna ment in 1979. “We’re making a strong move forward in U.S. volleyball,” says Beal. “There are lotsa` of young talented athletes.” Ma of the best athletes are getting into volleyball, as is evident whe one considers 6′-9″ Craig Buck c Pepperdine. He’s tall, strong any quick and has lots of potential. When asked what he has in mini for the new team Beal had this to say: “We want to have sixty inte national matches a year with at least half of those inside the Sta so we can promote the sport. Wi also like to develop an annual international tournament in Sa: Diego and continue our junior program in the summer months with the possibility of an additional Christmas competition fc them. I plan to use two setters instead of one, which is differen from American teams of the pa=I expect us to be very strong at t net. We’ll be relatively young compared to the other teams. W expect to be contenders for an Olympic medal in 1984.”

The members of the team beg gathering in late April with thei first competition set for early Ju in Southern California against t Brazilian National Team. Like tl women’s team, the men have a busy summer full of travel and competition.

It looks as though both our men’s and women’s national vol leyball teams have all the ingredients they need to pick up some medals in 1984. With a little luck on our side they could indeed be gold ones.

been difficult in the past to draw these players away from the coast to train for the Olympics. The players wouldn’t come to the training centers so the training center has come to them.

The 1977 findings of the President’s Commission on Olympic Sports, which criticized the shortcomings of amateur sports in the U.S. today, were; insufficient funds, lack of community support, facilities and equipment, organization and other problem areas. The San Diego program has been put together as a response to many of these issues. As a continuation of the Dayton program, players will be encouraged and aided in pursuing educational goals or career possibilities and at the same time to pursue their athletic goal of excellence. It is unrealistic in today’s American society to expect young people to totally devote all their time toHope has replaced the tears that were shed by Debbie Landreth (left), Laurel Brassey and Debbie Green when the team played its final match in Colorado Springs in 1980.

Photo by Bruce Harper The “new” U.S. National Women’s Volleyball team gathers for an Informal portrait with head coach Dr. Arie Selinger (left) at its new home in California. Seven members of the 1980 Olympic team have retired.

Photo by Laurel Brassey