As the country starts to lift restrictions and begin returning daily life to some normalcy, sports fans have seen their favorite teams back on the court again. However, this reopening has only taken place for professional sports leagues, while many collegiate and high school sports are still struggling to get back fully. To provide some insight into the country’s struggle with collegiate sports, OJ Catalan (General Manager of Southern Exposure) spoke about his coaching at the University of Florida and Youth Camps. OJ has developed an impressive coaching resume at the college level with names such as the University of Florida, LIU Brooklyn, University of Oklahoma, Embry Riddle University, and Warner University.
For those who are aware of the timeline of the NCAA women’s volleyball season, it is about this time when training is in full effect after having an intense summer preseason, getting their recruits ready for the season. However, the Florida Gators have only returned to school in the last three weeks, planning to only play in 8 matches this fall with the rest of the season taking place in the spring. Compared to how the women’s season typically goes, OJ shared how much he has enjoyed the change in the format.
“Just like the men’s side, we now have a lot more time before the season starts to get our freshman up to speed where before we had to bring our players in before school starts. It may take some getting used to for some of the returning players” he went on to state, “Still, the longer seasons will be a helpful experience for players who are planning to go on to the national team or play on a professional team over in Europe.”
For the younger age groups, OJ has also had a successful history running the Florida Youth High-Performance teams as well as some top clubs such as Orlando Gold VBC and Aviator Volleyball Club. OJ discussed the current struggle for many high school seniors who have missed out on many recruiting opportunities due to postponed or canceled club tournaments. Also, the dead period for when college coaches are not able to contact players has extended, creating an awkward time for players starting to get attention. To help combat the current issue, OJ has begun to have college showcase camps to help get those players an additional opportunity to get noticed by college recruits.
As for the NVA season, things felt weird not having the chance for his team to compete, waiting for a safe time to start again. As he explained, “It’s been a long break, but I’m a firm believer in the benefits of rest for players, which means our guys will be fresh for the tourney in November. The process has been a big one getting the season and league going, but the NVA has had some great programming which has helped to keep the dream alive and the wait well worth it.”