The USA women’s sitting team won the World Super 6 gold medal this past Sunday in Tokyo, capping a tournament in which the Americans went 7-0.
The USA beat Russia 25-12, 25-18, 25-22 in the gold-medal match (the USA rosters and results follow)
Jon Aharoni was one of the team’s assistant coaches and is also the p1440 director of adaptive player development.
I’ve been coaching this sport for a long, long time. Sitting volleyball, beach volleyball, standing volleyball, and now para beach.
I’ve seen champions at every age group and every level from the Paralympic and Olympic, all the way to the fifth grade team at my daughter’s school. I have won medals in international tournaments in so many countries that I needed new pages added to my passport. I can say from experience, winning feels great, and win we did when I traveled to Tokyo, Japan, with Team USA for the World Super Six of Women’s Sitting Volleyball last week.
The USA Woman’s Sitting Team is on fire!
We won 51 out of 52 games in the past few years and have gone undefeated for 2019. We are doing amazing things and the players have worked hard and deserve the praise. At the Super Six we did not drop a single set on our way to winning the tournament and were very well represented on the all-tournament team!
This article could easily be your standard victory lap, but the tournament was about so much more than just the win.
Long after the medals collect dust in a drawer, long after the prize money is spent and forgotten, something survives. That something is the connections that are made with the people. It’s usually obvious that the bonds we weave with our teammates will last forever, but what about the referees, the organizers, and the volunteers?
During this Tokyo competition we made a very special connection with a volunteer named Taiki. Before the match we needed to warm up our libero and I asked a volunteer for some help. We were running a simple triangle setting drill and at first all he did was catch balls. As the tournament progressed, we let him set and eventually hit. He surprised us all by being a great volleyball player and the warmup started being centered around him!
As Taiki became more and more comfortable with the warm-up, I noticed that the crowd was cheering him on. He was being interviewed by the media, and everyone wanted to take photos with him. He even ended up being appointed as flag bearer during the award ceremony and won an award for best volunteer!
His newfound celebrity status was a joy to see, but of equal importance, our new friend Taiki has been invited to visit us in the USA.
Long after the shine has diminished from our medals and the money is spent, the friendships will live on and that is one of the real treasures of this sport.
To all the people who plan the tournaments, drive the busses, pick up the trash, set up the gym and all of the others that have been forgotten too often to count, know that our experience with Taiki is what I wish for each of you to have. We couldn’t do what we do without your selfless volunteerism and I hope I get to thank each of you in person one day. But until then, know that you are deeply appreciated.
Gassho Tokyo … I’ll see you for the Paralympics. We are coming for gold!
The team included Bethany Zummo, Lexi Shifflet, Katie Holloway, Heather Erickson, Monique Burkland, Jillian Williams, Emma Schieck, Nichole Millage, Kaleo Kanahele Maclay, Annie Flood, Nicole Nieves and Tia Edwards.
The coaching staff included head coach Bill Hamiter and assistants Michelle Goodall and Aharoni.
Maclay was named MVP and best setter. Erickson was best attacker, Zummo best libero and Burkland best server.
Click here for the complete USA Volleyball recap of the event.