The Edmond Sun
Home Depot supplied wood for court sub-flooring.
Santa Fe High School football players helped with court setup.
An Edmond-based Paralympic athlete volunteered to support volleyball player-friends.
Iran’s championship-quality team was trying to make it to the event.
The upcoming 2010 Sitting Volleyball Worlds at the University of Central Oklahoma are an eclectic blend of community in the local sense and community in the global sense. UCO and Edmond will be home to about 640 athletes and coaches from across the globe through July 18. Teams will compete for slots in the 2012 London Paralympic games.
Opening ceremonies will be from 7-9 p.m. Saturday on the UCO campus at Hamilton Field House. The ceremonies will include recognition of teams from each nation and a wide variety of entertainment with an Oklahoma flair.
Wellness Center Director Mark Herrin, who was helping set up courts, said planning for the event began 3 years ago, and was coming together well thanks to the staff and volunteers.
“Right now we’re on schedule,” Herrin said. “We’ll be ready for the arrival of these teams.”
Herrin said the strong sense of community is one of the things that makes Edmond a great place to live, and community is one of UCO’s core values along with health and wellness.
“Corporately we can pull off events like this,” Herrin said. “Without the support of all the volunteers, all the businesses here in Edmond, we couldn’t do this.”
Wednesday afternoon, work was progressing on setting up the four competition courts — two in the Wellness Center and two in Hamilton Field House. Adding to the community spirit, the courts were donated by USA Volleyball, said Elliot Blake, sitting volleyball coordinator for UCO and USA Volleyball.
Following some last-minute adjustments, the courts were coming together at the Field House, Blake said. Remaining tasks to be done included readying the scorekeeper’s table and technical pieces such as the home base for the master official, he said.
“Yesterday in our initial stage, we were a little bit behind, but today we’ve been making great progress,” Blake said. “We’re catching right back up to where we’re supposed to be. We’re gonna have everything set in place and ready to go very quickly.”
Jeremy Campbell, a UCO-based athlete, was helping set up one of the courts at the Field House.
Campbell, who was born without a fibula in his right leg, and wears a prosthetic, is a medal-winning pentathlete supported by Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics. Campbell said UCO and Edmond do a lot to support athletes. He also knows most of the local volleyball players.
“If I was competing, I like it when they show up and watch me, and I want to support them and basically be a part of this,” Campbell said.
SITTING VOLLEYBALL 101
Paralympic volleyball is divided into two major disciplines — sitting and standing. Paralympic volleyball follows the same rules as its non-disabled counterpart with a few modifications to accommodate the various disabilities.
In sitting volleyball, the net is about 3.5 feet high, and the court is 10 x 6 meters with a two-meter attack line, according to information posted at usparalympics.org. Players are allowed to block serves, but one “cheek” must be in contact with the floor whenever they make contact with the ball.
Paralympic volleyball competition is open to male and female athletes with physical disabilities such as amputation or limb loss, spinal cord injury and athletes suffering from cerebral palsy, brain injury or stroke.
Event officials said spectators will come away impressed by the level and quality of competition.
For the international athletes, officials want the event to be the biggest and best they have ever experienced, Herrin said. U.S. athletes will have the home-court advantage, and see the level of home-grown support, he said.
Katrina Shaklee, director of sports and recreation at UCO, said the event will be the first of its kind in the U.S., and the competition will help raise awareness of a great Paralympic sport.
“We want people to come and cheer on these elite national teams,” Shaklee said.
Denis Le Breuilly, event competition manager, said the venues feel like they should for an event of this caliber. Sitting volleyball is commonly perceived as a “disabled sport,” a watered-down version, he said.
“It’s certainly not,” said Le Breuilly, who has experience officiating both varieties. “Sitting volleyball is very fast. And it’s not that they’ve got less skill. In fact, in many cases they have more skill because they have to have the movement around the floor.”
Herrin said spectators will be amazed by the sport.
“When they come, they’ll fall in love with it,” he said. “It’s just getting them here for the first time.”
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what you need to know
2010 Sitting Volleyball Worlds dates to remember:
July 10 — Opening ceremonies, 7-9 p.m., Hamilton Field House, University of Central Oklahoma campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission.
July 11-18 — Official competition; $5 day pass tickets will be available for children under age 12 and seniors age 60 or older; adult day pass tickets are $10. Tickets are also available on the days of the event at the Hamilton Field House ticket window. All tickets will be general admission and competition begins at 9 a.m. each day.
July 18 — Closing celebration. Festivities will begin at about 8 p.m., one hour after the medal ceremonies, at Frontier City. General admission tickets are $15.
For more information about the 2010 Sitting Volleyball Worlds, including ticket packages, visit www.2010worlds.com; to buy tickets click on “buy tickets” link at upper right corner of the home page.