Sophomore libero Alyssa Warren participated in United States National Team open tryouts for the third-straight year. She joined a record 210 student-athletes from across the nation at the three-day tryout session, held from Feb. 10-12, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Below is an account of her trip.
I traveled to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs on February 9. Last, year I was with Meghan Matusiak, so it was a little bit different being on my own this time. I had a stop in Chicago, which was weird because every time I fly to Chicago I am going home, before I flew into Colorado Springs. The Olympic Training Center had a driver there waiting to pick me up and took me to the center where I checked in.
My roommates were both really nice. They were Olivia Brand from Missouri State and Zoe Nightingale, who won the 2011 National Championship with UCLA. After dinner, which was really good (as always), I headed back to my room and unpacked my things. Since there was a two-hour time difference, I did everything I could to stay awake so that I could adjust to the time change and got ready for what the next day would bring.
The next morning when I was checking in, I received number 9, which I thought was interesting because it reminded me of Mutt, who wore #9, and it was my Dad's old softball number. We had a chance meet up with Mackenzie Dagostino and Bethany Yeager, who were my teammates from last year and were in the "red group" with me this year. Mackenzie is still in high school, but will be attending Maryland in the fall and Bethany goes to the University of Iowa. Along the way, I saw a few of my old club teammates and friends. Reuniting with people you don't necessarily get to see very often is one of the coolest things about coming to these tryouts. It was great to see them again and to catch up, but then we had to get back to our rooms to get ready for our first session that afternoon.
Our session included a bunch of scrimmage drills, which were exhausting. With the amount of talented players out there, you have to compete from the moment you step on the court until the moment you leave. The coaches are watching and keeping stats on everything you do, so it is important to be consistent throughout the tryout.
I was happy with the way I played in the first session. Having experience from last year really helped me and I did a lot better the first day than last year. After our session, we went to dinner and then had to go back for a quick meeting. They explained to us how the tryout would go, rules and regulations and when we would find out the results. They introduced us to all of the coaches and staff too.
I had to wake up early on Saturday since my session was at 8:00 a.m. and I needed to go to breakfast. Once I arrived at the gym and got warmed up and stretched, we were paired off and did passing drills for a very long time. They instructed us on how they wanted us to pass the ball and went around helping people if necessary. It was refreshing to hear another coach's perspective on my technique and what I needed to work on. The biggest difference in the philosophy was that they were stressing to use more of my arms.
After more drills and warm-ups, we went into a serving vs. passing competition. I started out a little shaky, but ended well. I was happy with the way I picked myself up during this part of the tryout and ended the session strong.
With some free time, I went with some friends to the USA Shop and bought some gear. It was a little different from last year because they have pictures and memorabilia set up for the London summer Olympics this year.
They divided us up into new groups for the afternoon session, and I found out the time my group was practicing. We did a lot of scrimmaging and I really enjoyed playing again.
I had another early morning on Sunday because of a 9:00 a.m. session time and I had to eat breakfast and pack to go home. On this day, we were put on teams and played a miniature tournament. My team did okay. We won some games and lost some. I'm always frustrated when I lose, but I made sure that I had fun playing because it was the last day and I had nothing to lose.
After the session, they thanked us for coming and told us the results would be posted in a few weeks. I took some pictures with some of my old teammates and with past Olympian Karch Kiraly. It is funny because I got a picture with him at nationals when I was 16 and now I took a picture with him when I am older and trying out for him. Then, it was time to head home. I had another layover in Chicago before coming back to Newark and Seton Hall.
Overall, I think the tryout was another awesome experience. It is very humbling to be able to compete at such a high level in such a prestigious place. The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind from the tryouts is the coaches told us that we should strive to make those around us better. I think it is necessary to communicate to your teammates and help make them better to improve the team as a whole. During the tryout, I did my best to do this and will incorporate this into volleyball back at SHU and in life. I also have learned that it doesn't matter how good you might be, there is always someone better than you or that is working to be better than you. I feel like I played much better this year and am excited to see the results. I want to make the team, but if I don't I will always have the experience and memories. I am so happy God blessed me with this opportunity and feel very fortunate that I was able to participate in the tryout. I want to thank God, my parents, the Seton Hall Athletics Department, my coaches, my teammates and friends who have supported me and USA volleyball for everything they have done.