Matsumoto, Japan, October 30, 2010 – As a veteran of two Summer Olympics, Lindsey Berg must know a little about passing the torch in the long relay of runners toward the cauldron, a tradition that began during the Berlin Games in 1936.
Lindsey Berg (R) is back with the USA as second setter and mentor to young Alisha Glass (L) for the FIVB Women's World Championship
Now she is using the same concept to transmit her vast knowledge of volleyball to a new generation of USA players and, more specifically, to her heir apparent in the role of team setter.
The Hawaiian native is in Japan taking part in her first FIVB Women's World Championship, the only major tournament she had missed in her long international career. And at 30, she still is not only one valuable piece of the puzzle for coach Hugh McCutcheon, but a veteran capable of providing experience and stability to the young American squad.
"She is here because she made the team and, of course, she brings her experience and can be a factor to stabilise our young team," says McCutcheon.
For many years, including the Athens and Beijing Olympics, Berg shared the setter position in the USA Team with Robin Ah Mow-Santos. Now she is helping in the development of Alisha Glass, 22, who made her international debut this year at the Pan American Cup in Tijuana, Mexico.
"About two months ago I rejoined the team and competed my way back onto the roster and here I am in Japan happy to be back and trying to contribute to the success of our group," says Berg, a silver medallist in Beijing.
A key factor in the United States's prospects of World Championship success is how Glass responds under pressure. "Alisha is great," says Berg, the US National Female Player of the Year in 2008. "She needs more international experience but she is very talented and I want to help in her development as much as I can."
McCutcheon, who accepted the position of head coach of the US Women's Team for the 2009-2012 quadrennial after winning the men's gold medal in Beijing, can foresee a big future for his young setter who stands at 184cm.
"Some of her setting fundamentals need work but she's able to create at the net and really do things that are special," says the native of New Zealand who received a master degree from Brigham Young University in Exercise Science. "I think she has a big future for us in our team."
McCutcheon made reference to the job done by Glass during this year's FIVB World Grand Prix where USA Team took the gold medal.
"You can tell when she plays she's a first-year setter, but was able to lead us to some nice performances in the World Grand Prix. I expect her to keep improving every day, but it's her first World Championship and I'm sure she is a little anxious."
When those moments of anxiety arise, McCutcheon has an ace card under his sleeve. That is Lindsey Berg, who nowadays is content to be back with the team while passing the torch to the next runner, Alisha Glass.