John Forman’s 2020 European Tour Blog

The 2020 Technical Director European Tour

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Day 1: Arrival

Well, I made it to England intact, arriving in London just about 24 hours after I woke up on Sunday morning. Went straight from Heathrow to ACS Cobham where the Volleyball Development Camp I’m attending this week is taking place. It’s a 12-person camp with 8 boys and 4 girls among the better juniors level players in England. The camp staff comprises a former England youth national team coach and a current professional one from Poland. I talked a lot with folks, but by mid-afternoon was mainly struggling with my lack of sleep. My primary goal right for Night #1 is trying to get something like a normal night’s sleep.

Day 2

Yes, they have Mexican food in England. No, it is not the same as in the US. ?

Jetlag = waking up at 3:00AM, which is what I did this morning. Managed to have a good day, though, even on the limited sleep. My second day at the camp here featured meeting one of the volleyball commentators who works matches for the FIVB. If you watched the world feed coverage from VNL and/or the recent Olympic qualifications you may have heard him at work. He also coaches in England, especially on the beach side at the international level. We had a wide-ranging conversation.

By the way, I found out on Monday that the session I agreed to present at the Volleyball England coaching conference next month has turned into a 3-hour workshop. The focus will be developing the middle offense. Got me some work to do!

Day 3

It’s only fair that I also talk about some good food in England after yesterday’s post. Behold the Cornish pasty! Definitely something I’ve missed since leaving England.

Managed to sleep until about 5:15 today, so we’re making progress!

I decided to take a day out of the gym today to get some much needed work done. Doesn’t look like I’ll have chance of that for a little while, so I took the opportunity while I had it. A lot of it involved working out the details for later in the trip. Most of that I’ll share in future updates. One interesting development, however, is that it looks like I’ll be going to watch the Hungarian national team play on Saturday against Greece. I’m going to meet up with my friend Ruben in the city of Szombathely, which is where the match is happening as part of what I believe is a 5-team friendly preparation tournament for the upcoming Euros. That will be about a 2.5 hour train ride for me from Budapest.

Day 4

It’s not often you get to meet a 3-time Olympian (though I’ve met a 5-timer). Today Brazilian Erika Coimbra took part in the camp session to give the players a bit of extra motivation. Cody Kessel was also going to stop by the camp this week, but other commitments kept it from happening.

For the soccer fans out there, I found out today that Chelsea have their training ground nearby. That means Christian Pulisic probably lives around here somewhere.

Day 5

After one last morning with the good folks at Volleyball Development Camps, I’ve left the English shores and landed in Budapest, Hungary. Just an overnight stay before hopping a morning train to Szombathely over near the Austrian border. There I’ll meet up with my coaching friend Ruben Wolochin, and I believe the coach he is replacing at his club Fino Kaposvar who has moved into the management side of things. We’re going to watch Hungary play in a European Championship preparation event. Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture.

Day 6

Arrived in Szombathely and met up with my friend Ruben. We watched European Championships preparation matches between France and Slovenia, and Hungary and Greece. Got to meet Hungarian coach Jan De Brandt, who is someone my partner Mark Lebedew interviewed for the Volleyball Coaching Wizards project.

Day 7

First day going to training at Fino Kaposvar. The team had an AM workout session then an afternoon practice.

Day 8

The Kaposvar women’s team was on court before us today (different club, but use the same facility). First chance for me to see then. To be honest, they didn’t do much of interest.

Day 9

The outside of the arena Fino Kaposvar plays in (along with women’s volleyball and men’s basketball). I’m basically there twice a day.

Day 10

After another hard day’s work in Kaposvar, @ruben_wolochin is helping me fortify for tomorrow and the days still to come.

Day 11

György Demeter is the former coach of FINO Kaposvar who is now sporting director. He’s a legend in Hungarian coaching. I gave him a copy of the second Volleyball Coaching Wizards book today at training.

Day 11

A view from up in the seats as the FINO Kaposvar guys get some play in during training.

Day 13

Back to work after a day off. Here’s what the players get to see every time they go for weight training. Inspiration from Arnold!

Day 14

Public holiday here in Hungary, so no training today. A chance to catch up on some work and enjoy the nice day. This is the view from Ruben‘s deck

Day 15

These are just some of the trophies in the volleyball office at Fino Kaposvar. Much for Ruben to live up to.

Day 16

We have a Polish friend joining us in Kaposvar this week. During the first training today Ruben used him as a setting target.

Day 17

Apparently, when Polish guests come they bring vodka and chocolates.

Day 18

A tour of the house the club secured for Ruben. The owner used to coach the local soccer team before moving on 5 years ago. It had been closed up since and still has a bunch of his old stuff, as you can see. Some interesting features, though.

Day 19

One more shot from Kaposvar town center. Lazy day for us today. We’d thought to be in Budapest to watch some European Championship action this weekend, but Ruben had a gallstone issue the other night. So we are watching the matches online instead. On the plus side, we can flip around and watch action from all the pools.

Day 20

Beware of this man. If he gets his hands on you he can make you feel all kinds of pain! Though you will probably feel better when he’s done. He’s the Fino Kaposvar team masseur. Today he worked over one of my legs. At least he said, “Sorry” before he started.

Day 21

Open practice session for basketball before volleyball training today. The supporters even did one of their chants at the end.

Day 22

Budapest early today. Here’s a few snaps from near the hotel.

Day 23

Got a view of Budapest along the Danube while out seeing the sights this morning. Last full day in Hungary. Fly back to England tomorrow afternoon.

Day 24

This time in England not starting off so well. Being 2 hours late getting to London from Budapest caused me to miss my train, and I only got to St. Pancras station in time to just miss the last train to Kettering. Now I have to do a train-to-bus connection that’ll get me in after 1am.

In Kettering on familiar ground for England Cadet (Youth) and Junior National Team camp. Spent quite a bit of time here for Student Cup and coaching events back in the day. Cadet girls are warming up in the foreground. Cadet boys have the two courts on the other side of the curtains. Juniors have the alternating wave.

Day 25

Done in England again. Back in the familiar confines of Heathrow Terminal 5 awaiting my flight to Venice for the next stage of the trip.

Day 26

Back at it with the volleyball tomorrow in Conegliano, but took the opportunity to explore Venice today.

Day 27

Conegliano. The real target of my trip to Italy. I am here to observe the local girls’ juniors club at work, plus some of the women’s team (Serie C). The picture is my first attempt at a panorama on my phone. If you look closely, you’ll see VNL banners from when the Italian women hosted the USA, Serbia, and the Dominican Republic over the summer. Of course they put down Teraflex for that.

Three courts, three age groups in action again in Conegliano tonight. This time 14, 15, 17 I think. Earlier we had U12 and Little’s.

Day 28

The hurricane may be shutting things down in Charleston, but the volleyball goes on in Conegliano. Last training session for me here before heading to England once more tomorrow. Tonight it’s U16s and U18s practicing, plus a friendly match for one of the other teams.

Day 29

Greetings from Loughborough (pronounced LUFF-bruh) in the English Midlands. Autumn is not far off, but there are still flowers in bloom. Tomorrow I present at the Volleyball England coaches conference. Last time I was here I was coaching the Exeter University women against their counterparts from Loughborough University in the BUCS (rough UK equivalent of the NCAA) Round of 16. We lost 3-0, but that experience set the stage for us making the national semifinals the next season.