Aug. 13, 2002
PRESCOTT, Ariz.-For the tenth consecutive season the Arizona volleyball program kicked off its season with a four-day retreat to Prescott, Ariz. The 2002 team departed Tucson promptly at 7 am Monday morning and made their way north. The journey to camp was certainly less memorable this year as opposed to last season's trip delaying tire blowout on the way up. The two passenger vans, one cargo van and one car all made the journey up with little trouble.
The team stays at a Christian church camp called Chapel Rock. The location, the solitude and the lack of normal "creature comforts" makes the spot an ideal place to begin preparations for the upcoming season (although the lack of a phone line in the rooms will certainly add to the difficulty in getting these season opening note packets out).
Arrival When the two 15-paasenger vans arrived at the St. Barnadas Lodge, the home of the Wildcats for the next three nights, the race was on. Those who have traveled to Chapel Rock before already had their eye on the prized rooms, while those who are new to the experience learned a valuable lesson in taking the leftover rooms. The arrival conveniently coincided with a lunch of lasagna and garlic bread.
The Opening Practice of Camp Although the Wildcats began training on Sunday at home in McKale Center, the opening practice at Yavapai Junior College in Prescott certainly had the feeling of the first practice of the season. Head coach David Rubio spent a good portion of the early part of the session explaining the pre-practice and match warms ups to the newcomers and veterans alike. After sufficient warm-up time the team broke into groups by position and began to learn the drills for their respective spots. The Wildcats finished the day working on defensive alignments and drops. The whole session lasted three hours before it was time to head home for a dinner of B.B.Q Chicken, green beans, salad and mashed potatoes.
In the Evening: The coaching staff gathered the players for the first of what will be many team meetings this season. Coach Rubio went over goal setting with the team and the importance of making themselves better and more complete players. The trait of competitiveness was emphasized as well as the importance in the player's mental habits. The team then watched video from the end of today's practice before playing a game and heading off to bed.
The Roster Arizona, which lost a pair of All-Americans off of last season's Final Four team, will enter the 2002 season with a roster loaded with 10 underclassmen, five freshmen and five sophomores. To counteract the underclass-heavy team is the experience of five seniors and one redshirt junior.
Freshmen Report The 2002 top-ranked freshmen recruiting class reported for duty along with the rest of the team and early indications show that they are very worthy of the hype. The class includes the top two of Volleyball Magazine's Fab 50 for 2002 and three of the top six players on the list. Jennifer Abernathy, Meghan Cumpston, Kim Glass and Bre Ladd compose the most highly touted class in school history. All four of the freshmen are long and athletic and have already showed flashes of their potential in the early practice. Glass and Ladd worked with the middle blockers on the first day, while Abernathy and Cumpston worked with the outside hitters.
Some New Faces: In addition to the four freshman newcomers there are also two more new faces on the Arizona roster as well. Senior setter Laurie Gardner and sophomore libero/DS Cassidy Crum both transferred in and will be eligible to play in 2002. Gardner joins the Wildcats from Indiana University, while Crum, who hails from Phoenix, returns west after spending a year at Duke.
Some Old Faces: Joining the Arizona coaching staff on a volunteer basis this season in two-time All-American Dana Burkholder. The former Wildcat great, just one season removed from guiding Arizona to the Final Four, will help setters Laurie Gardner and Rochelle Ruen replace her in the starting lineup.
The Schedule For Tuesday: The Wildcats will have an early day on Tuesday, beginning with a 7:30 breakfast call before a three-hour practice session at 8:30, a break for lunch and a second practice 2:30.