Title: Volleyball team travels to Australia
Flipping hamburgers for 10 hours a day during the past few weeks wasn't Ed Allen's idea of fun, but the effort is now well worth the work. Allen is currently traveling with 11 Anderson University volleyball players and six support staff on a preseason trip to Sydney, Australia, for the next two weeks. During the trip, which will run through Aug. 12, Allen and his team will do a variety of things, including playing six volleyball matches.
"They are going to get a chance to learn about a country that they have only read about in textbooks or seen on television," said Allen, who has amassed a 189-89 record in eight years at AU. "We hope to develop unity being in a place where we have to rely on each other a little more. We want to improve socially, culturally and competitively. We are excited about the experience this trip will give to our student-athletes. "
The trip started to take shape in February when Allen and National Youth for Christ director Art Dayo sent out e-mails to various countries. A representative from Cross Sports responded and came to stay with Allen for nine days as they worked out various details of the trip. Cross Sports is an organization that facilitates international trips for colleges and universities. It was finalized in May, and the team started raising money.
Tri-S, which sponsors several AU work trips each year, arranged the flights for the trip, and a representative from Cross Sports took care of the transportation, lodging and scheduling while in Australia.
While in Sydney, AU will be playing two university volleyball teams and four club teams, including a game when they arrive on Tuesday. The better club teams will be similar to Division I volleyball teams.
"Their educational system is different than ours," Allen said. "Their universities will not be as strong as the clubs. The high end of competition would be the club teams in which they are developing the athletes for Junior Olympic and Olympic opportunities. They are feeding into the national team. There will be a couple of teams that it will be a challenge mentally and physically."
Along with playing matches, the athletes will be doing volleyball clinics for kids, visiting juvenile centers to counsel kids and going into schools to give testimonies after games. They will also spent four or five days touring the
Olympic facility in Sydney.
This is the first time that an AU volleyball team has traveled out of the country, and under NCAA rules, one trip is allowed every four years.
Once the Ravens return to the states, they will open the season Sept. 1-2 at the Kalamazoo Invitational. AU finished last season with a school-record 31 wins and finished second in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. During Allen's tenure as head coach, the Ravens have become one of the top NCAA Division III programs in the nation, sporting a .661 winning percentage.
----JUSTIN BATES is a staff reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin