February 5, 2004, COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Following a well deserved break, some of the USA men's national Volleyball team begins preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games when it resumes training on Monday.
More than half of the players on the national team roster to begin the year are currently playing professionally overseas. Lloy Ball, Ryan Millar and Kevin Barnett are all playing in Italy, while Clay Stanley and Dave McKienzie are competing in Greece.
Riley Salmon and Erik Sullivan are both playing in Russia. Brook Billings has taken his game to Japan, Gabe Gardner is in Brazil, Rich Lambourne is playing in the Netherlands and Donald Suxho just joined a team in Turkey.
While a majority of the national team is currently playing professionally overseas, Beal still has nine players, who have been on a break since Team USA qualified for the Olympics by winning the NORCECA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Jan. 10, that will be practicing at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs beginning on Monday: Scott Bunker, Tom Hoff, Adam Naeve, Vernon Podlewski, Jim Polster, Reid Priddy, Chris Seiffert , Curt Toppel and Mac Wilson.
"If I could design the best preparation for Athens, it would not be the preparation that we have this summer," admits Team USA head coach Doug Beal. "We're not going to play enough matches; I'm sure of that. We're not going to have enough training time; I'm sure of that. But the world is the way it is, and we can't change it.
"We've got all these guys playing in different leagues abroad," he adds. "They're all going to get done at different times. They're all going to come back in different states of readiness. We certainly are keeping our fingers crossed that nobody comes back injured…that they're all healthy. We're just going to try to keep them that way."
Depending on when the overseas players return, Beal would ideally like to have all of his players in the gym by June 1.