Coaching Volleyball Magazine October / November 2015 - Page 20

Luke gave me the contact info for the Svedala Sports Director, and within a few weeks I was hired. Now here I am, preparing a team for the start of the 2015-16 Elitserie season, which kicks off in October. My squad currently comprises 10 players, though we may add a couple more before all is said and done. The Swedish league rules allow clubs to field three foreign players. In the last two seasons, those spots were all filled by former U.S. collegiate players. From the club’s perspective, the appeal of hiring Americans is the fairly easy cultural transition (because most people here speak English) and the competitiveness of American athletes. Also, the U.S. players tend to have lower salary expectations – especially just out of school – than experienced European and South American professional players. Sweden is not one of the stronger, more financially supported leagues. Players can be assured they will get paid, which isn’t always the case in other leagues, but the salaries are entry level. Think of it as a good stepping stone for players looking to start or explore a professional career Though we did look at a number of players from a variety of different countries over the summer months, we once again signed three players from the States – Camryn Irwin and Chesley Bettinson, who both played at Washington State, and Mo Simmons from Clemson. Camryn actually played half a season in Austria during the 2013-14 campaign, but this is the first professional experience for both Chelsey and Mo. The remainder of the team is Swedish. The youngest are only 18 and still in high school, though the two of them have come up through the Sweden youth teams, and one of them earned a call-up to the full national team earlier this year. The rest are in their early 20s and do a combination of work and school as their “day jobs.” As I understand it, this is a pretty standard situation, not just in Sweden but also in many of the leagues below the very top ones. Our primary training schedule is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. Sessions are between two and three hours in length. There is a one-hour team weight training session on Wednesday before practice, but mainly the players do their strength and conditioning work on their own schedule. The Elitserie has a 20-match regular season schedule, which runs October to early March. Many matches are on weekends, but some of the fixtures between geographically 18 | October/November 2015 | COACHING VOLLEYBALL close teams are done midweek. After that it’s play-offs, which are done on a series basis (e.g. best of three) rather than a single match, as is done in the NCAA tournament. That sees the season run into April overall. On top of the regular season, there are a couple other competitions in the mix. One is the annual Gran Prix in early January. That’s a semifinal/final two-day weekend “cup” type of event for the top four teams in the standings at the holiday break. Svedala won the Gran Prix in 2014. The other competition is something new. Three of the southern Swedish teams, including Svedala, have joined with three Danish teams from the Copenhagen area to create the Oresund Liga (oresundliga.com). Some of our Swedish league matches will count toward the standings for this league, and we’ll play home and away against the Danish clubs to round out the competition. So that’s what I’m getting the team ready for at the moment. We’re only a week into pre-season at this writing, with a Saturday scrimmage against one of our Swedish rivals and a weekend tournament in Copenhagen upcoming as part of our preparations. Check in next time and we’ll see how things go as we begin the season! SVEDALA VOLLEYKLUBB SVEDALA VOLLEYKLUBB INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES www.avca.org