Presidents hated us raising the bar

When the volleyball circuit moved
to El Salvador last weekend, the buzz was still on how enjoyable the opening
round had been in Grand Cayman earlier on.

The North, Central America and
Caribbean Volleyball Confederation knew what it was doing by giving Cayman the
first round of its 2010 competition for the second time.

Even Premier McKeeva Bush and some
of his party colleagues came to watch the finals two weeks ago. That impressed
NORCECA’s beach volleyball president Arnaldo Sanchez.

It went even more smoothly than
last year’s inaugural NORCECA tournament at Public Beach and now looks set to
be a permanent fixture on Seven Mile Beach.

After the San Salvador event last
weekend, the third round is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, this weekend.

Noel Williams, president of
Cayman’s volleyball association, will be there campaigning for Cayman to get a
bigger share of the lucrative pie in the future.

Williams goes to Italy in September
hoping to secure a place on the World Tour. Now that would really put Cayman on
the volleyball map.

“NORCECA is still congratulating us
on how well we staged it,” said Williams. “The number of phone calls, texts and
emails I received is phenomenal.

“Now presidents of other countries
are moaning that we’re setting the bar too high because NORCECA is using Cayman
as an example of how to do things.”

Williams did his homework before
bidding for one of the 14 rounds of the NORCECA series, each one contributing
to Olympic ranking points.

He went to places like Puerto Rico,
Guatemala and Dominican Republic and observed good and bad points alike. For
example, in most other countries, players have to make their own way to a
venue.

Williams ensured that transport was
provided every time for them, which was much appreciated. Players were also
invited to Osetra Bay restaurant in West Bay on the first night which was a
lovely touch because it is one of the classiest diners on the island.

Visitors also liked the fact that
Williams was constantly available to sort out any problems immediately, unlike
some other presidents who are distant and virtually unapproachable.

The extra effort and personal touch
evidently worked.

Cayman will have two teams playing
this weekend. The top men’s side of Shervin Rankin and Olney ‘OT’ Thompson and
the unfamiliar pairing of Jennifer Bily and Cristin Alexander.

Experienced Bily normally pairs up
with Wanda Brenton who could not make the trip. Alexander made her major tournament
debut here two weeks ago with another novice, Tarasa Barnett.

“It’s nice to have more than one
woman player to choose from,” Williams said. “Although not familiar with each
other, the beauty is that they’ve been training on the beach together and
worked well.

“Cristin is so willing to learn,
Tarasa too. JB and Wanda are giving them a lot of coaching and support.”

“Last year in the Dominican
Republic, Shervin and OT reached the quarter-finals. They did better than here
so maybe it was because there was less pressure and they were more relaxed. By
next year I hope they’ll have learnt how to deal better with the media exposure
and expectations.”

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