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• Interview 1

Interview 1

Date: 2011-10-30
Location: Longueuil, Quebec.
Subjects: Melanie (M) and Gerry (G) - parents of a MARC Volleyball women's team player.
Interviewer: Andres Toke (A)


Melanie, Gerry and their two children have recently moved to Montreal from Edmonton and were looking for a suitable volleyball club or team where their 16-year old daughter, who was learning and playing volleyball in Edmonton, can continue her involvement with her chosen sport. The interview took place during their attendance of their daughter's first competitive tournament with MARC.

A: How did you find MARC - after arriving from Edmonton, how did you come upon the club?
G: Melanie was still in Edmonton and I was already here working and looking for activities for the children. Our daughter is a volleyball player and so I was searching online and one of the things I found was the website for MARC.
A: Was our website helpful?
G: Very helpful. I was searching for women's volleyball doing research and the ones that came up were McGill (University) and MARC - McGill was for a camp.
M: What we wanted was coaching - somebody who had something to teach. So that was what we saw - a head coach - somebody who had a system and was teaching. We did not want just recreational. So we E-mailed, and right away, we got a reply - Louise (MARC team captain and coach) replied and said she could come out and practice. That's how our communication started. It was a couple of months before we actually got out here, so we E-mailed that she's here, and received an invitation to come on up. We went by [Trenholme Centre] and visited, and talked personally with Ants (MARC head coach) and we just had a wonderful conversation - it was very easy - very open.
G: Yes. No obstacles. You didn't have to stand on your head.
A: Have you found that to be the case with other sports or...?
G: Very many regulations...
M: And "fill this in" and "fill that in". Here it was "we train, and we train really hard" - and I think that's where a lot of people walk away [laughs] - but we liked that. The people who are coming to MARC are people who like training, and they are willing to do the hard work, and they're willing to listen and are coach-able, so you get the right people coming.

A: I was going to ask why you chose MARC but I think you answered that already.
M: It was the communication, and the coaching, and we read what [Ants] wrote on the website...
A: The articles by the head coach? What did they communicate to you?
M: Yes. What they communicate is that there is a coach that has something to offer, and that he is knowledgeable.
A: Do you think that is something that is lacking elsewhere - in schools or...?
M: Definitely in the schools.
A: Just not enough depth?
M: In school, when our daughter started, the phys-ed teacher was coaching from a book, and would say [opening book] "Umm - volleyball. OK." So, when she got to the club level, she was wishing that she had more skills - that she had spent the years developing her skills, not just playing volleyball. She was really not happy that her teacher...
G: And the other kids at different high schools knew more...
A: She didn't feel that she was getting the type of training she needed...?
M: That she wanted. She didn't know. You don't know, as a kid, until you get into competition and then you go "Hmmm! There's more out there. There's stuff to learn." We just thought "volleyball is volleyball."

A: You looked for volleyball because your daughter played it before, but is there any particular reason why you or your daughter like volleyball?
G: She definitely has a passion for it, and she saw a path for herself to go from high school to university, and maybe get a scholarship, and she felt that she had the physical attributes and the interest to put it together.
M: A real passion.

A: What are some of the differences you see between volleyball with MARC and how it was in Edmonton?
M: Receiving a serve with a set - in Alberta, it was against the rules - the refs would call it, and going down low to receive - the roll - I've never seen that - it was always the dive.
A: You never saw anyone roll before?
G: Not like that.
M: I saw one university student stand on her head once, but not on purpose - you know, just to get it!
G: Some of the differences between the teachings at MARC and the teachings our daughter had before, is definitely the focus on fitness first. Strength and fitness and core, and conditioning, and then the skills. Pure individual skills. That's a really strong focus for MARC - the individual skills. In the previous place it was all about the team. It wasn't really taught as individual skills, it was all game-play. The practices were mostly game-play.
M: She had tests on court position and movement and foot position, and it was all very intricate. The captain has to know where everyone has to go and then they call for [set plays] - it's very technical from the point of view of communication amongst the players. Here, the fitness... we, our kids, would wear out in a tournament - the fitness just wasn't there.
G: It wasn't the focus.
M: Yes. Here, it's all broken down into skill-sets, position under the ball, bumping with your legs, and everything that he does - you can put it all together to get a fantastic hit or position on the court.
G: We've already noticed today, that every single thing that he practices, the girls do in the game, so it's not something that really doesn't matter.

A: How does MARC look to the newcomer? What were your first impressions?
G: The facilities surprised me. They are not part of a school - they are in a [city] park.
M: Fully dedicated to volleyball. Beautiful. The lighting, and just the space and the time. That was very impressive to us. Having a head coach. Having strong leaders - like the captain of the team. As newcomers, we were so welcomed. It was incredible how welcomed we were and our daughter was. There was no ignoring. It was "Ready to run? Let's go!" It was very friendly and welcoming, but it was clear that hard work was expected. And the difference, in the training, is that you don't hear the girls chatting and ignoring - the coach does not have to have a whistle - doesn't have to yell - doesn't have to get mad...
G: Everyone who is there wants to be there.
A: I guess all coaches deserve that respect.
M: Well, that's what you have at MARC. That's what you attract. It's the people that want to work hard, that want to be coached and want to learn, and want to learn volleyball.

A: I guess the only other thing I would like to know is if there is anything you like best or perhaps least about MARC or the way it was in Edmonton?
M: You know, how we were looking at it - our daughter really had to struggle with deciding if she was going to forget everything that she had learned and leave it and take on belief and trust in what Ants is teaching her - to forget what her other coaches had drilled into her. So what we talked about was, maybe this is all like dancing, and maybe that was one type of dance, and this is another type of dance, and you can learn those steps and then learn these steps, and maybe you'll be a better player for it - for having all of these experiences. So we're not looking at either place as better or worse - they are both valuable experiences for her in our opinion. I think that she's here for a reason - training with Ants.
G: He's definitely one of the best coaches I've ever seen.
M: Yes. There's a book called The Talent Code, and if you read it, you'll see Ants in there. In the book, they describe a master coach, and it's him.

A: Thank-you very much for talking with me today.  

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