Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Photo from Don Norris

I post photographs (and contributions) as I receive them. I screen them to avoid what might be controversial pictures (unless they're really funny!).

Junior Kayla Wyland earned a "field promotion" as a soph last season and contributed to the team's post-season success with a big game against North Reading.

First Look

Don Norris sends over your first look at the 2011 edition of Melrose volleyball. Always click the pics to enlarge them, especially today because the photos are oversized.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teammates Matter

Usually, I republish an article about a great volleyball teammate of the past. This year, I'll look at a different angle. 

In medicine, we have a saying that “the enemy of good is better.” What that means is that if a person is doing well with a certain program, tweaking it may actually make them worse.  Life may replicate that in many situations.
One area where players and teams can improve is the concept of “the best”.  You see destructive situations where ego prevents players and teams from maximizing their ability.  Some coaches, like Dick Bennett, actively work to teach their players values along with sport. Bennett talks about humility, passion, servanthood, unity, and thankfulness.

  •  “It’s hard to be humble when you’re great.” If you are the best at something, the world and your peers will recognize it.
  • E pluribus unum.” One from many, a motto of the United States. A team can be greater than the sum of its component parts. Or one player can destroy it.
  • Great students have a passion for learning. Great players have a passion for sport, for improving their weakness and maintaining their strengths. “Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”
  • As a player or a coach, you SERVE the well-being of the team and your teammates. Teammates matter. No great player can be a bad teammate, as they are mutually  exclusive. The great player makes those around her better. In Charles Barkley’s book, “I May Be Wrong, But I Doubt It”, he writes of encountering a homeless man in Houston. He recognized him as a former NBA All-Star who had struggled with the scourge of drugs.  The player’s self-indulgent and wasteful lifestyle had brought him to ruin.
  • Thankfulness.  We appreciate our opportunity, and when we grow that into success, be thankful for those who helped us along the way.
Becoming a successful volleyball player and team presents a formidable challenge. But to get there, you have to have a set of core values and philosophies, the foundation upon which you will build your ‘house’. Working hard to be great teammates, whatever your role, can strengthen the team and help you build lifelong friendships. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coaching: Cross-Post

The coaching profession has great responsibilities and rewards. Here's a cross-post from the blog concerning coaching.

The volleyball team has enjoyed tremendous success with good measure because of outstanding coaching. Enjoy the ride.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Roster Announced Via Maxpreps

Coach Scott Celli has posted the 2011 Girls' Volleyball roster on

Looking at the list, we see it comprised of five seniors, seven juniors, and three sophomores.

New to the varsity roster are Jill MacInnes and Maeve Moriarty. Maeve joins her sister Maggie, a senior on the team.

The team continues its preparation for scrimmages Thursday (@ Newton North), Friday (home versus Chelmsford and Lynnfield), and Saturday (Medway play date), before opening on the road at Bedford on September 7th.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 2: Tryout Camp

Sixty-two enthusiastic candidates continued tryouts today for the Melrose volleyball team. Thirty-six upperclassmen and twenty-six freshmen worked out in the sweltering heat of the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Gymnasium.

The coaches complete Varsity team selection by close of business today and the JV and Frosh team selection by tomorrow.

After tryouts are completed, the players receive handouts with the scrimmage, regular season, and complete practice schedule, and the rules and requirements for participation. Players and families will also receive information on the annual "meet and greet" with the coaches. Coach Scott Celli and his staff have always set out a clear set of policies and expectations for the players and participation implies full compliance.

The coaches review the Melrose High School standards for "chemical health", hazing prohibition, and other important information for players. The coaches have high expectations for this year's teams, and with an experienced and deep squad those expectations set the bar high.

With the large numbers of girls trying out and the quality of the players participating, inevitably some will be disappointed. There is an old saying that applies, "never let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." Melrose High School provides a rich diversity of both athletic and other activities, and students have lots of opportunities to be involved.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Dance of Form and Function

Melrose has had some big hitters through the years and this year shouldn't be an exception. Sometimes the only differences between excellent and good come in small doses. The ultimate success of the 2011 team will correlate best with their  attack success. Last year Athena Ziavras finished 12th in the state in kills. Melrose has hitters that can challenge that total.

In this video, the tight form promises to deliver better function. We live in a world of process and outcome linkage. If you commit to good process, then outcome takes care of itself, in the classroom, on the court, in your personal life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Christmas Eve in August?

The Melrose volleyball 2011 version 1.0 opens up tomorrow with tryouts.  For many coaches, a new season presents the excitement and challenge of having new toys.

And for Coach Scott Celli and his staff, we're not talking about a Pet Rock, a Rubik Cube, or even an iPad. The 2011 campaign resembles a shiny new sports car more than consumer electronics or a pony.

The coaches have the enviable job of selecting a roster from among about seventy candidates looking to earn spots on the varsity, JV, and freshman squads.

I won't project a starting lineup from among Melrose's plethora of talented players, but Brooke Bell, who had the fourth highest assist total in Massachusetts as a sophomore is as close to a lock at setter as imaginable. The southpaw setter had a remarkable season serving as well, with only two service errors, and she has worked hard on improving her serve this year.

Competition abounds at every position and competition has promoted excellence in the past.

Scrimmage Update

For fans interested in attending:

Melrose has two scrimmages on Friday, Sept. 2 against very competitive teams:

vs Chelmsford @10:00
vs Lynnfield @ 3:15

Both scrimmages will be held in the Middle School Gym.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Countdown to Tryouts

Melrose volleyball has become one of the most popular sports at the high school and the most successful sport over the recent past.

The coaching staff of Scott Celli (Massachusetts Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame), Steve Wall, and Andrea Basteri have developed teams that have talented players top to bottom each season. Melrose has appeared in eight consecutive Division II North finals, winning five, and goes after its second "three-peat" with teams from 2003-2005 accomplishing the triple.

The graduation of All-State outside hitter Athena Ziavras leaves a hole in the Melrose offense, with plenty of candidates looking to fill the spot. But don't expect Middlesex League opponents to feel any sympathy for the Lady Raiders.

This season introduces the ML Large and Small divisions, and therefore Melrose faces perennial rival Reading early in the season.

Melrose returns a youthful but experienced group of players competing for both roster spots and court time.
Former Captain Athena Ziavras (left) poses with tri-captains Alyssa DiRaffaele, Brooke Bell, and Jill Slabacheski (click photo to enlarge).

Local volleyball fans look forward to another exciting season, with a group of talented, enthusiastic scholar-athletes representing Melrose. In addition to Reading, expect Stoneham to improve, and the team has an attractive nonleague schedule including AC, Central Catholic, Bishop Fenwick, Westborough, and Lincoln-Sudbury.

The rankings give us a general idea of how things stood. Obviously, strong teams like Reading and Fairhaven were underrated by their computer analysis. But you can see that Melrose will face particularly strong non-league competition this season.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Debut on LTS

Jill Slabacheski joins Let's Talk Sports as a regular contributor.

Teeing it Up

Melrose volleyball tees up tryouts at the end of the week. Here are some thoughts from a great basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski on leadership and teams.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Face on Let's Talk Sports

Let's Talk Sports gives the local broadcast on local professional and amateur sports. Tonight MHS senior and volleyballer Jill Slabacheski joined the staff as a contributor on the high school sports side. Jill has interests in sports broadcast journalism.