International Flavor For Pac-12 Volleyball
On Saturday, almost 200 volleyball coaches from around the world will be in attendance for The Art of Coaching Volleyball clinic at Stanford University.
Included in this group is a contingent of 24 coaches from the Chinese University Volleyball Association, who will be stateside to learn more about the sport of volleyball in the United States.
"Because of globalization and television and the Internet and the Olympics, they've seen the way we do things, and so they want to see what's happening here," says Terry Liskevych, head volleyball coach at Oregon State and co-founder of The Art of Volleyball Coaching. "And because they're crazy about volleyball [in China], they want to see how it's done in the United States. So, not only will they be attending our clinic, I think they're going to want to go see some universities and their facilities, and they also want to go see the club programs."
In December 2011, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott made his first official visit to China on behalf of the Conference's 12 universities to begin exploring athletic, academic and cultural exchanges.
The Art of Coaching Volleyball was formed as a result of a common vision of several college and international coaches, including the Pac-12's own Liskevych and Stanford head coach John Dunning and Penn State head coach Russ Rose.
In addition to the clinics - there are three scheduled for 2012 - The Art of Volleyball Coaching also has a website - TheArtOfCoachingVolleyball.com - that is essentially a coaching library. The site currently houses content from collegiate, high school and club coaches, and there are plans to add content from international coaches.
The Pac-12's longtime success in volleyball is one of the main reasons that this event has attracted such a large contingent of Chinese coaches.
"Pac-12 volleyball is unbelievable simply because of what we've accomplished as a conference - more Final Fours, more Elite Eights, more NCAA Championships and more runner-up [finishes] that anyone in the country," says Liskevych. "We know it's a great conference, not only because of the quality of the teams, but also the great coaches in this conference."
Liskevych, who spent 12 years as the head coach of the USA National Women's Volleyball Team, said that for many years, China was the world's powerhouse in women's volleyball. A memorable story of his comes from his first trip for the national team, which was to China in 1985.
"We were coming to our practice gym, and there was a line outside that was two blocks long of people that were waiting to get in to see the practice of Chinese women's volleyball. They had 5,000 people at practice," says Liskevych. "And then when we played [in competition], we never had a crowd of less than 20,000."
Volleyball is still an extremely popular sport in China, and also in the rest of the world.
"I [coached the national team] for 12 years, I traveled 150 to 160 days a year, and it allowed me to see parts of the world that I would have never seen, but also how big of a sport volleyball is internationally," says Liskevych.
At this weekend's clinic, the Chinese coaches won't just be learning, they'll also be doing some teaching themselves.
"For us, we want to hear from them, 'What is their system like?,' 'What are they doing?,' and 'How do we work towards some types of exchanges in the future?'" says Liskevych, who says the group is in the planning stages of hosting a clinic in China in 2013.
Liskevych has also suggested that Pac-12 volleyball teams compete against teams from China, perhaps in a match-up of All-Stars from each league.
During his visit to China, Scott met with government officials, Chinese and U.S. sports leagues, event promoters and media companies interested in partnering on events and sports and culture exchange as well as distributing Pac-12 content.
For all of the coaches involved, it's a win-win situation, according to Liskevych.
"What we gain from it is just sharing our knowledge with people from a country where volleyball is important, and having them see that, in my mind, the top coaches in the United States have always been [collegiate coaches]," says Liskevych. "So, they're seeing the best volleyball coaches in America."
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