This week we hear from Delaney Mewhirter (Pepperdine Graduate), Emily Stockman (Wichita State Graduate), and Zana Muno (UCLA Graduate).
What tip would you share with junior athletes and/or coaches when returning to play based on your recent experiences?
Delaney: You know your body better than anyone, don't try to mimic anyone else's return to play. If you've been able to do strength & conditioning work somewhere to stay fit during all of this then maybe you can push yourself a little harder physically. If you haven't, DON'T rush to keep up with anyone else, the last thing you want is to get hurt coming out of this long break. And be patient with your touches, you're going to have a certain number of rusty touches before you feel comfortable again. It's hard that you don't know what that number is, but every time you touch a ball you're knocking one off the list!
Emily: Make sure to ease back into things. Don’t try to push it too hard those first couple weeks, that is when injuries will happen if you aren’t careful. I would say the best thing to do is break down all the skills, get a ton of reps in while working on the correct technique. Both coaches and players need to be smart and mindful in this situation.
Zana: Have fun! Being away from the game is such a great reminder as to why we play our sport because it’s fun! Use that and remember to enjoy it.
As we are returning to play what expectations do you have of event promoters when traveling to compete in an event?
Delaney: I have greatly appreciated the efforts that certain event promoters have taken to figure out all their options for this season before blanket canceling everything. Communication throughout the process is the best so that we can make plans for travel/training with confidence.
Emily: To be honest I don’t have expectations. I’m happy events are being able to happen and I trust promoters will do what they can to create a safe and fun playing field.
Zana: I hope they can be sensitive to the athletes and not run it strictly as a business but instead more of a family.
What pumps you up the most from fans and supporters at tournaments and off the beach?
Delaney: Noise is the best ever at tournaments. Whether it's positive cheering or even loud trash talk, I love feeling the energy of an engaged crowd. That pumps me up big. Off the beach, what fires me up the most is seeing athletes working hard without any sense of entitlement. Heads down, grinding, it reminds me that I've gotta do the same, nothing is guaranteed because once you make it anywhere, whether it's winning the MBO, finally qualifying for the Main Draw, or even just winning your first CBVA, there's someone on your heels trying to take your place.
Emily: It’s great when the fans/supporters are just encouraging and excited to cheer for great volleyball!
Zana: I love it when fans are excited to watch good volleyball. When they cheer regardless of who gets a point when it’s a good rally.
As you head back to the sand what are essential items in your bag?
Delaney: The list of essential items has increased significantly this month now that the beaches are open but the nets aren't up. Every time I head down to the beach I have a net, straps, lines, antennas, and balls. On top of that I usually have sunscreen, water and snacks...keyword is usually, lol nobody's perfect. And if it's a morning practice I'm usually finishing up the last couple bites of my breakfast oatmeal as I step on the sand.
Emily: Lots of sunscreen, electrolyte drinks, and my PowerDot unit for recovery!!
Zana: Sunscreen, this body hasn’t seen much sun in quarantine.
What city or country would you like to compete at on the FIVB World Tour in the next year (appreciating it would run)?
Delaney: I don't think I'd be partial to any particular city or country, I love any opportunity to travel and compete. But my ideal would be a location where they host both men and women so I could travel with the hubby ☺️
Emily: Gstaad is always a favorite! It would also be nice to have an event in the US!!
Who did you look up to in playing beach at any stage of your career and why?
Delaney: Throughout my career, I've looked up to my grandpa, my dad's dad, with gratitude for the love of the game that he fostered in his family that has made its way down 3 generations. It's a family passion and I hope to carry on that legacy of volley-obsession!
Emily: I looked up to Misty May. She was a fierce, yet humble competitor that carried herself very well on and off the court!
Zana: Mike and Patty Dodd