Teaching the love of the game is a prime component of the USA Volleyball mission, and several staff members had the chance to share their passion Wednesday at Colorado Springs’ One-Year Out Celebration for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
A few hundred families descended on Memorial Park in the city’s center to let kids play, learn new skills and just have a great time. Other National Governing Bodies participating included USA Wrestling, USA Field Hockey, USA Judo and USA Triathlon, while local clubs and organizations also hosted soccer, skateboarding and gymnastics lessons. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also participated in the festivities.
Coordinator of Region Services Programs Patty Fadum organized USA Volleyball’s participation in the event, recruiting Shelley Small and Trevor Sullivan of USAV’s Coaching Education Department, Joel Wyman of the Officials Department, and International Events Assistant Emily Burlinson to meet kids and teach them skills. Of course, Director of Sport Development John Kessel was also on hand, leading the “bigger kids” on the sand volleyball courts.
Kessel said a key to piquing interest in volleyball in just a few minutes is by allowing kids to immediately serve and spike.
“The frustrations that we all encounter in volleyball are overcome by the desire to spike and serve,” he said. “Let them do that first, then you go to things that hurt, like forearm passing, or skills that are more challenging. Get them to try ‘superhero, superhero, spike,’ and then serve. The reason you focus on serving the first day is because it’s in the child’s control.”
The same philosophy was in place with the younger kids playing on grass. USA Volleyball set up three “sitting courts,” but the age of the participants shifted the focus to allowing kids to just hit the ball over the net.
The ability to have multiple balls in action kept kids from having to stand around watching a demonstration or wait for their chance to touch the ball. Because of that, some kids stayed around for a half-hour or more trying new skills.
The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo begin July 24, 2020. The U.S. Women’s National Team has its first opportunity to qualify Aug. 2-4 in Shreveport, La. The U.S. men compete for a spot in the Olympics Aug. 9-11 in the Netherlands.