Jan. 16, 2010
MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin volleyball coach Pete Waite recently returned for a six-day trip to California to watch the United States women's national team train at the team’s facility at American Sports Centers in Anaheim.
Waite sat down with UWBadgers.com to talk about his trip and how it will help his Badgers.
What was the purpose of the visit with the US teams?
There is a new staff with the women’s team and I wanted to see what they’re teaching the players. Hugh McCutcheon had been the head coach of the Olympic gold medal winning men’s team and now he is working on the women’s side of the game. Karch Kiraly is one of the assistant coaches as is Jamie Morrison, who had been on the men’s staff with Hugh. They have a lot of experience with the highest level of our sport and I spent my time observing practices and talking with the staff.
I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to soak up everything I could from the staff. Hugh is a gold-medal winning head coach and Karch may have been the best player ever in the world. How can I pass up the chance to learn some things from them?
How did you get invited to watch practice?
I had been thinking about going out to watch the team train for quite a while. Hugh was at our national coaches convention in December and he invited all of the college coaches to come out and watch Team USA train. They began training on Jan. 11 and that worked out perfectly in my schedule. It was a week before our classes and practices started, and it was a recruiting quiet period when we can’t go out and watch clubs teams compete. It was a great opportunity to learn some new drills and techniques so I could implement them with the Badgers during our spring training.
How long were you out there and how many practices/matches did you observe?
I was in California for six days and I was in the gym with them for seven practice sessions. They were going 9 a.m. to 12:30 and then another session from 3-4 p.m.
What other aspects of the national teams did you observe?
I was also able to watch the men’s national team train, they were in the same facility each day. I spoke with their head coach Alan Knipe about how they train the men.
There were 16 women in the gym and eight men right now, but they’ll be adding players as the spring continues. There are a number of players from both teams who are playing professionally overseas right now so they will be much stronger when the veterans return.
What did you pick up? (Drills, plays, etc.)
I picked up a number of new drills, techniques and key words. I was able to see the format and style of their practices along with the tempo of each drill. I saw them work with individual athletes as they were working to improve their technique in a wide variety of areas. I saw how this staff is molding this team and I could pick the brains of the coaches about why they teach things a certain way. They were very open and helpful, it was a great atmosphere to be part of.
How will this help the Badgers?
In ways it helped reinforce what we’re doing here and it let me know we’re doing a lot of great things. Our training is very similar and it lets us know that we’re right on track. Our players will enjoy some new drills now and it will help them build their skills and confidence on the court. Also, we are taking our spring break trip to the L.A. area to train and compete. We will take the team to train at the USA Olympic Training Center and our players will be able to watch Team USA themselves. This trip allowed me to scout out the area so our team can take advantage of everything it has to offer. We want to provide our players with every opportunity to improve their game through observation and training.
Even though I was less than a mile from Disneyland, I wasn’t able to see Mickey or the rest of his gang. I did have dinner at the ESPN Zone in downtown Disney one night before I went to watch the USC at UCLA men’s volleyball match at Pauley Pavilion. USC won in four and it was exciting to see two of the top men’s teams in the country play. I was also able to spend some time with a former player I coached in 1994, she is originally from L.A. and still lives there now.
Overall, it was a great experience for me and it has me excited about next season already. We’ll be in the gym soon and our players are ready to get back out there.