From the time the beach pools were announced in May to the last ball hitting the floor on Sunday in Tokyo, we covered the heck out of the volleyball leading up to and throughout the Olympics.
VolleyballMag.com co-publisher and photo editor Ed Chan was in Tokyo and we hope you enjoyed not only his great shots in our stories, but also his daily photo galleries.
For that matter, we need one more story from Ed about his travel to and his time in Tokyo. It’s been quite an adventure, from the nearly 24 hours he stayed in the airport on his arrival in Japan almost three weeks ago — after his 11-hour flight — to more bus rides than can be possibly be imagined. And he took 22 COVID tests in Tokyo, coming up negative — whew — each time.
From our end, this was the greatest month in page-view history here at VolleyballMag.com. We had stories about things other than Olympic Volleyball during that time, but we know our readers wanted coverage about what was happening in Tokyo.
Certainly we wish our men had done better, but the gold medals won by April Ross and Alix Klineman on the beach and what our USA women did indoors was simply fantastic.
All of it combined added up to something great for those of us who are a part of and care about American volleyball on all levels. From little girls playing club to the growing sport of boys volleyball, to high schools and college, we all hope there’s a big boost for our sport from these Olympics. We are optimistic that advertisers, sponsors, and, most important, the TV networks were paying attention.
There were so many stories …
The USA women’s team was announced June 7 while the Americans were in Italy playing in the Volleyball Nations League. Said coach Karch Kiraly that day, “This collection of special people who are elite volleyball players is poised to make a fierce Olympic run. We can’t wait to watch them ‘Let It Rip’ in Tokyo.”
Two days later, our Rob Espero interviewed Kiraly at length as he explained his roster decisions and looked forward to the Olympics.
The next week, coach John Speraw announced his USA men’s team.
Rob interviewed USA women Justine Wong-Orantes and middle Chiaka Ogbogu, both first-time Olympians.
We featured two men’s players, Taylor Sander and Garrett Muagututia.
And we were on the money with a wonderful piece by Travis Mewhirter on Klineman, his in-depth feature on Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, and my feature on April Ross.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Ross told me.
She was right.
Also in there we had Ed’s stories on two American officials, Pati Rolf, and Brig Beatie, who were set to officiate in the Olympics, and his story on Wong-Orantes. And I got to profile Jen Kessy, the former coach for Ross and Klineman. She now lives in Maine managing a trout farm and had a lot of insight into the Olympics.
I previewed the women’s team by visiting with USA assistant coach Luka Slabe, who told me, “I think we got a little bit better and I think we’re ready for Tokyo.”
He was right.
Before the Games started, all hell broke loose when Taylor Crabb tested positive for COVID and was replaced by Tri Bourne. We were scrambing as we wrote those stories.
We broke down all six USA teams headed to Tokyo, the two women’s beach teams, the two men’s beach teams, and the two indoor teams. Our analysis, as it turned out, was spot on.
And then the Games began and we recapped every match the Americans played on the beach Shiokaze Park and in the gym at Ariake Arena.
Missed any of it?
Here are all our stories and photo galleries from when the Olympics started, in chronological order:
That list includes, of course, the wonderful recap by Travis Mewhirter of when the A Team won gold, and my story when the USA women finally broke through and won gold.
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The Olympics were thrilling, but now it’s time begin our NCAA women’s coverage and cover some more pro beach volleyball. Thanks for being a VolleyballMag.com reader.
Good stuff, Lee. Thanks for the thorough coverage. We needed it. The wire and SM blurbs can only tell us so much. The international game is fascinating, with great dramas and fascinating characters. Always has been. TV coverage helped to introduce some of the themes to casual viewers, but you have the enthusiasts seeking your stories, so you can offer even better, more sophisticated reports. It’s hard to cover the international events, though the web helps. Worse, it’s expensive, especially to be there covering those lengthy events. Continued good luck from one who used to do this stuff and who still admires good coverage.