FAMU Volleyball Coach has Mixed Feeling About Benefits of International Competition
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Despite all of the hoopla over the world-class experience that three FAMU volleyball players bring to this year’s Rattlers team, coach Tony Trifonov has mixed feelings about the affects of summertime competition on his players.
The upside is that the players get to compete against some of the best of their peers, Trifonov said. But he’s concerned about the players’ readiness when the college season begins.
Just two weeks before the Rattlers opened their season in Miami a week ago, team captain Pamela Soriano represented the Dominican Republic, while Ginna Lopez-Chavez played for Peru in the same International Federation of Volleyball under-23 World Championship. At the same time, freshman Valentina Carrasco played in the IFV’s under-18 World Championships.
The verdict is still out among college coaches on whether the risk is worth the reward when their players participate in a major tournament during the summer, Trifonov said. The concerns are fatigue and injuries.
“The bodies of those athletes need a break,” Trifonov said. “The kids are faster, bigger and the load on the body is a lot heavier so they need the summer months to weight train and rest. When you put them on those hardwood floors every day for the duration of the summer, a lot of them get injured.”
Two of the three FAMU players returned fatigued and are still trying to get 100 percent healthy, as the Rattlers look to begin the third weekend of their season. They have matches slated against Coastal Carolina, FSU and Xavier in a tournament that the Rattlers will co-host with FSU at the Lawson Center.
FAMU is going into the tournament without a win in eight matches.
Soriano, voted the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference pre-season player of the year, agreed that the fatigue of international competition has affected her effectiveness. She’s eager to begin delivering for the Rattlers, though.
“I just have to get myself in a place to know I had a responsibility back home that’s different than it is here,” said Soriano, a sophomore outside hitter. “Back home, I was there if they needed me, but here they need me all the time. You are going to see me on the court because here I have the freedom to play. I need to play to all of my capacity.”
Elaborating even farther about his concerns, Trifonov said the use of monitors that track a player’s activity is becoming common in practice so that players don’t overwork. Some players are even forgoing international competition until the end of their college careers, he said.
The idea is to keep them healthy, as they hone their skills and develop their physicality.
“You’ve got to give them a break because you want to have them for the long run,” he said. “When you give them a break, you’re putting the team together and having them scrimmage and get used to a certain rotation.”
Pre-season scrimmaging was limited for the Rattlers because they opened practice at about the same time that the floor at Lawson Center was being used for back to school registrations. They managed to work around that with early-morning practices.
The Rattlers are back to their usual routine now and while Soriano, Lopez-Chavez and Carrasco heal, they’re impacting the team, said junior middle blocker Deija Martin.
“These girls bring us a new sense of hope,” she said. “They come back from being successful and they bring that air onto the team. They bring this vibe that we have each other and we can do this.”
Especially now that the Rattlers are playing a top-heavy schedule of matches against several perennial volleyball powers. Being exposed to that and the experience that her teammates bring is helping her to up her game, she said.
“I’m a middle blocker and going up against these players that have won All-American and all those things, I’m becoming a better player,” Martin said. “I’m growing by playing against these hard teams.”