Netting the rewards at last

The Cayman Islands has some of the
world’s loveliest beaches, ideal for playing volleyball but it’s only in the
last couple of years the sport has begun to realise its potential.

Since the island hosted the opening
of the 2010 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tour at Public Beach in March, the Cayman
Islands has seen more and more volleyball enthusiasts make it out to the beach.
From a super Sunday league to national team repeating drills for hours, players
are at the courts at Public Beach every day. 

It has greatly added to the energy
within the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation and the national teams
themselves. With the goal to improve their performances at the 2011 Cayman
NORCECA tournament, the players, with the help of Cayman Airways and the CIVF,
have travelled to several tournaments this season as part of their preparation.

Women’s national team member Jen
Bily said: “We have found that attending regular competitive tournaments is
incredibly helpful in improving our standard of play, but also look to attract
visitors here who can discover the great beaches, but also serve as training
partners and coaches.”

In addition to travelling, the
athletes hope their on going fund-raising efforts will prove successful so they
can bring in top coaches and athletes to the island during the off-season, to
aid the developing national and junior programmes.

The beginning of a new school year
will resume many youth programmes, some like the after-school indoor volleyball
program initiated by CIVF member Curtis Richards. The new players to the beach
continue to learn the lessons of time management.

Maintaining balance while attending
international tournaments, maintaining sound training, fitness and nutritional
regimens, preparing for missed (and make-up) time from work and family, in
addition to the new commitment of making time for community service and the
CAYS Foundation, takes a lot of practice too.

Being a team member with these
priorities in addition to being a 2010 contestant of Ms Cayman, Cristin
Alexander believes that the initial success she has had in the sport has
improved her discipline and confidence in all other areas of her life.

“Like so many things in life, the
season has presented us with challenges, both in competition & in training
but our love of the sport and our great support has allowed us to overcome them
successfully,” said Alexander.

Bily and Alexander recently gained
fifth place out of 23 teams in a tournament in Fort Lauderdale. It was their
best finish to date. “I am pleased that Jen and I have continued to improve as
a team and have become more cohesive and I am truly excited for our future as
teammates,” said Alexander.

Top men’s team of Shervin Rankin
and Olney ‘OT’ Thompsom missed the quarter-finals by a narrow margin at the
Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico last month.

Additional and newer team members
too, like Duncan Hamann, Andrew Gordan, Richard Campbell and Anthony Bodden
have all been training consistently to improve their game and fitness level.
With the valued support of the community, sponsors and the volleyball federation,
the teams want to maintain a solid presence on the NORCECA tour, promote the
Cayman Islands, assist up and coming junior athletes, and attract in-training
international athletes and more big tournaments to our beaches which boast perfect
beach volleyball conditions.

Several more men’s and women’s
tournaments remain this season which runs until November which include Florida,
California and Mexico. Some of these competitions will contribute international
ranking points or improved records, and others will offer growing pains. Either
way, the athletes recognise that each new day brings an opportunity for
experience and growth, and a welcomed new day to sweat in the sun.

Bily said: “If you embrace the
beach lifestyle and are between the ages of 12-25, have yet to be put in touch
with a volleyball federation member and have a sincere desire to learn beach
volleyball, please email [email protected]

Last week, the Play, Love, Serve
Beach Lifestyle Party fundraiser at Margaritaville was a lot of fun, with MC
Furius and two great fashion shows from OneTREEFourFive and Funky Monkey. To
build on the silent auction bidding that took place, the committee chose to
extend the auction until 21 August and has decided to give 100 per cent of the
profits from its online silent auction to Frances Bodden Girls Home Renovation
Project. Go to www.island500.com click on forums, sports, and go to the silent
auction topic to place bids. Some of the great items include Westin Hotel and
Sunshine Suites ‘staycations’, photography sessions, Pure Health gift basket,
brunch for two, swim and tennis lessons, boat charter, fashions and more.

SPORTSshervinmon16STORY

Rankine and Thompson are Cayman’s best men’s team.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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