BMost of the instructors are “open minded” and adventurous as well. With these basic criteria, volleyball coach Benedict Frank describes the five American players on his team. It is true that the 41-year-old attaches great importance to concern for the privacy of each individual. But a certain deal can already be determined, “American Style” has found its way to VC Wiesbaden ahead of the first leg in Schwerin on Friday (8pm).
Setter Gina Potts of Pennsylvania and setter Jameson Lee of Texas are the latest additions to the Hessian Bundesliga side. Both joined VCW mid-season after the club had to add its squad due to several injuries. There were already three more Americans, including Justin Wong Orantes, who won gold with the US team at this summer’s Olympics.
No professional league in America
What they all have in common is that they played volleyball in college before looking for their way to Europe after graduating at the age of 22 or 23 – since there was no professional league in America they could continue with. A system that works quite differently from Germany, but that is exactly why the Bundesliga is so popular. American college graduates are “well-trained” on the one hand, Coach Frank said, and on the other hand they come from abroad with the humble basic idea of being just a “talent” to begin with. They are as ambitious as they are willing to learn, but also see a year or two as professional volleyball players in Europe as an adventure and a chance to see a piece of the world.
Gina Potts revealed her background to her research before joining VCW: “She asked a little.” She also explained that she “talked to Molly,” and highly recommended her to VCW. “Molly” refers to Mallory Grace McKeig, who was the center hurdle center in Wiesbaden in the 2016/17 season before moving to Stuttgart. There McKeig won the German Championship and matured into a US National Player.
US national coach Kirsch Kiraly – an Olympic champion in indoor and beach volleyball who is himself a legend of his sport – makes the virtue of not having his own league in the country. The 61-year-old now watches what’s happening in Europe, stays in touch with his players, and brings the best together on a team in the summer – with the American women not only topping the world rankings, but also becoming the 2014 world champions and Olympic champions of the year. 2021.
Gina Potts went her own way. She played in Germany and France for a while, even with McCaig for a year, before returning to America and pursuing a classic career. But the projects in a marketing agency did not fill the 1.91-meter athlete as much as the desire for another sports adventure. Since she had always kept fit, Hessen’s tip came exactly as requested. She’s only been in Wiesbaden for eight days, “My contract is only valid for the season,” the 27-year-old said with a beaming smile. What comes next? “Wait and watch.”
Already established Libera Justine Wong-Orantes describes its return to Wiesbaden from the Olympic Games in Tokyo as “coming home”. A feeling, according to the 26-year-old Californian, who, far from his hometown, is in the “beautiful city” fueled the desire to add a second season here and pushed the idea of awarding a gold medal at a bigger club to the background.
In light of this decision, it looks almost stable, since most players only stay on the site for a year. During the 17 seasons that VC Wiesbaden has now been in the Bundesliga, 23 Americans have already worn the blue jersey. A number that surprised even General Manager Christopher Fitting. The location of the army in Wiesbaden can play a role, because 16,000 American citizens live in the state capital, which is well known in the United States.
However, Fetting credits this more to the reputation the club and city have earned over the years with the community for reliability and ability to integrate. In line with this, new designer Jamison Lee explains that “human culture and sport are important to her.” I found this understanding of values in Frank and Fetting in Wiesbaden.
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