May 24, 2010
Entry #2: May 31, 2010
by Bill Kauffman Manager, Media Relations and Publications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 30, 2010) – Monique Mead (Newnan, Ga.) has not shied away from her role as the youngest player within the U.S. Women’s National A2 Program for 2010.
Mead and the other 23-members of the A2 program are competing this week at the USA Volleyball Open National Championships in Phoenix. The program, divided into a Blue and Red Team, are competing in the Women’s Open Division that started on May 29 and concludes on June 2. The tournament continues through June 5.
Mead, who will be a sophomore at Georgia Tech this coming fall, has used the USA Volleyball Open National Championships as a learning experience despite being one of the youngest players competing in the tournament.
“This tournament has really showed me how many good players are out there,” Mead said. “I am trying to better myself, and by working hard around other better players is making myself better.”
On the first day of the tournament, Mead’s USA Red Team won its two matches with four-set victories over Team Minnesota and The Exterminators.
All 24 players on the U.S. Women’s National A2 Teams have needed to make some adjustments in coaching techniques and styles as the two head coaches for the Teams – Beth Launiere (University of Utah) for the Red Team and Mark Rosen (University of Michigan) for the Blue Team – do not have any players from their respective colleges on their teams.
“The coaching staff has been good with different input,” Mead said. “They have been helping me with different shot selections and passing. With the A2 Teams, we are using a lot faster, quicker tempo offense than what I am accustomed to playing and seeing. We play pin-to-pin and use the middles more often. When I go back to Georgia Tech, I will have more experience with a faster offense to make myself better.”
Mead, a 5-10 opposite hitter, helped Georgia Tech to a 21-10 overall record in her freshman season in 2009. She averaged 3.07 kills, 0.78 blocks, 1.97 digs and 0.26 aces per set in her first collegiate season. Mead was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and was an All-ACC First-Team pick.
Coming into the A2 training camp held May 24-28 and the USA Volleyball Open National Championships, Mead not only wanted to better herself as a player, but to create some lasting friendships.
“I came here to make some new friends from across the country,” Mead said. “At the same time, I am getting better as a player and seeing different styles of play.”
Mead has enjoyed her experience in Phoenix and the tournament so much that she is not hesitant to say this will not be her last time playing in the USA Volleyball Open National Championships.
“The tournament has been really exciting,” Mead said. “I definitely want to come back in future years, not only with the A2 program but after my college career is over. This will not be my last time here.”
Alison and Jordan here. We’ve been in the southern part of Africa in Windhoek, Namibia for about two weeks now, and we are having an amazing time. It is a much different world over here, but it is experience that we are sure to never forget. We spend most of our days working at a place called “Hand-in-Hand for Children”, a soup kitchen just for kids in one of the poorest regions of Namibia. We arrive bright and early every day and get to work on any chores that need to be taken care of before the kids start flooding in. We may help the cooks or sweep the floors, but when the kids get there then we are all theirs. These kids are so much fun to be around, so we probably end up having more fun playing in the yard than they do. We’ve definitely tried to leave our mark at Hand-in-Hand by introducing two of our favorite games- volleyball and limbo. The boys thought we were nuts when starting hitting around their “soccer” ball (which is really an old, half-deflated basketball) because soccer is the only sport that they seem to care about, but they soon realized that volleyball is probably the best sport ever (we might be a little biased).
Limbo was also a huge hit. We each held one end of a broomstick, taught the kids the limbo song, then the game started. After about 30 minutes of no one getting out, we decided that there might have been some cheating going on so we ended the game with a 200-way tie. When lunchtime gets closer, we are called into the kitchen to help prepare for the chaos in serving between 200-450 children out of a tiny, tiny kitchen. Some days service goes great, and we are able to hand out seconds to the children who seem to need it most, but other days are a little tougher. It really makes us realize how fortunate we are to have a guaranteed meal everyday when we have to turn away some children because the food has run out or we can only give them a bite-size piece of beef in their hands. We are learning a lot from these kids and we hope that we can leave a little mark in their worlds too.
Last week we took a three day vacation to go on a safari to Etosha. It was an unbelievable experience. We camped for two nights and went searching for animals during the day. We woke up both mornings around 5:30 to make sure we were out in the field at sunset. We spotted all sorts of animals on our trip. There were zebra, kudu, giraffes, springbok, wildebeest and many, many more animals within feet of our car. We got very lucky and saw 15 lions over the two day trip in Etosha. At one spot we were no more than 5 feet away from a lion. We were a little scared for our life, but we managed to survive. It was amazing to see such a wild animal so close. We also had a pretty dangerous encounter with a giant bull elephant. It was literally the scariest moment of our lives. Later on that night when we saw our second lion spotting, it was two huge male lions. One began to roar bringing tears to both of our eyes. It was such a moving experience, something we will definitely remember the rest of our lives. It has been an amazing trip so far, and we’re sure to have many more adventures before we head back home.
Peace from the motherland!
–Alison and Jo
P.S. – We forgot to mention that we met a very angry, African version of Scott McDonald at the gym we’ve been going to, so we will definitely be coming home in shape! We also popped our volleyball on the “African toothpick bush” while we were playing in the street one day, but don’t worry, we successfully performed surgery on it and are now able to play for about five minutes before we have to pump it up again.