Saturday, May 28, 2005

Origins of the Volleyblog (volleyball)

I've spent more of my time on various internet message boards than I'd care to admit to non font-based lifeforms. In fact, some of my earliest posts were on the Volleyball magazine bulletin board which sadly fell apart partly because there was a very enthusiastic volleyball poster there named "Shephard" who didn't actually do anything wrong, but who seemed to provoke other posters somehow. I'm not even sure what name I used for posting on that board. At one point, there was a thread on that board about the Hawaii setting situation and how the setter at the time came to be Da Wahine setter. I sent a private message to Shephard about what I knew about that story. The Volleyball magazine board eventually shut down in a flame war. Apparently the magazine never did realize the potential of the web for volleynews vs. monthly paper-based publishing.

A couple months later, my stepdaughter was at a tournament in California and some internet based volleyball guy asked to interview her. It seemed a little odd, because she while she was a good college player, she was hardly famous and she had sprained her ankle the week before and wasn't even playing in the tournament. The site, "" . then imploded sevral months later. The proprietor of Rollshot then revealed that groundbreaking site's strange life in a couple farewell posts. It turned out that Rollshot=Shephard and my step daughter's recruiting story of how she spent two months of her senior year of high school waiting for a call from the University of Hawaii had played a small part in inspiring that site.

At roughly the same time, internet volleyball message boards had sprung up in two other places. One was the board that became , sort of like a volleyball version of the show Lost composed of refugees from the original volleyball newsgroups back when most of the web was text-based and the asbestos suited survivors of the Volleyball Magazine board, and the other was over at where a volleyball board had started getting overrun by Indiana parents anxious to talk about their sport. The moderator of the volleyball board at high school sports was John Tawa. Tawa realized that there might be an actual market for news about junior volleyball and that became

I was a regular, though not necessarily a frequent or notorious poster in both places. After rolled over, Shephard seemed to reappear at under so many names that he became the Sybil of the web volleyball world. Synchronicity has always played a role in my life. Shephard took his sceen name partly after his dog. Chancelucky happens to be the name of two border collies. The other odd coincidence is that Jtawa, Shephard (he of the rollover screen name), and Chancelucky all happen to be members of the California Bar. The strangest fact of all though is that none of the three of us played high school or college volleyball. My older volleychild's life had played a role in Rollshot and very obliquely at Volleytalk. I began posting about the younger volleychild's adventures at Prepvolleyball.

For whatever reason, the posts slipped from being message board posts to full length volleyblogs that often went longer than the above the fold articles on the site. Some people liked them. Some complained that they didn't like to read long posts with big words. Others found my insistence on commenting about non-volleyball matters in the blogs annoying. I was having fun and since my kids complain that I'm not a very good photographer, one thing I learned is that consumer digital cameras don' mix easily with an indoor high motion sport like volleyball, it occured to me that it was a way to remember this stretch of family history. Most of my adult life, I had written in other forms but strangely more people were reading and responding to my blogs than almost anything I wrote.

In any case, posts on most busy message boards are transitory. At some point, the proprietor in the interest of bandwidth lets them fade out. I was a little shocked though to learn that one poster had archived every article that ever appeared on, if Rick Kern's site is the great achievement of the objective approach to web-based volleyball information Rollshot was the first good off the wall approach to web volleyball (something I always appreciated and still miss) . It occured to me that it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a small space to archive some of my longer volleyball posts so they might have a life a little bit longer than the couple weeks they have on message boards. I also figured that it wouldn't be a terrible place to also post some other things that I write and no one other than a friend or two and an occasional slushpile intern ever had an opportunity to read.

If you do happen to check out my site. I was thrilled to get a comment here from an old friend btw. Please hold me to a couple things on my volleyball posts. One reason I started posting the way I do is that I've felt there are two things that make volleyball message boards kind of pathetic places. Most volleyparents, including me, have a simple agenda. They want to brag about their kids or they want to complain about any impediments in the junior volleyball world that keep them from having concrete ways to brag about their kids. Why else would you spend tens of thousands of dollars and all your winter/spring weekends driving to places like Fresno to hang out in a gym or sport court covered convention center? Second, most posts about tournaments are written so perfunctorily that they couldn't possibly be of interest to anyone whose own kid wasn't in the same tournament or about to play teams in that tournament. So, if my bragging gets too transparent, please send me a note or post a comment to let me know that. If any of you have read V.S. Naiapaul's A Bend in the River, there's a moment where the narrator realizes that the old history professor is less of a true scholar than he thought when he reads the professor's history of the obscure African country they both live in and realizes it is nothing but dates, places, and names of battles. If my own Bend in the Junior Volleyball world devolves into that, just warn me because it'll mean that something essential about being a volleyball parent is about to die inside me. That's the one other thing I share with Rollshot and Jtawa, we all believed the world of American volleyball was worth putting into words.



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