Coach Inspires Volleyball Athletes With National Team Experience

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. -- Meg Riley (St. Louis, Mo.) and Maya Midzick (Brookline, Mass.) are members of the U.S. Women's Junior Continental Team competing in the 2010 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships located in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., from July 26-30.

These two young ladies feel honored to have the unique opportunity of having Tracy Stalls (Denver, Colo.), a member of the U.S. Women's National team since 2003, as their assistant coach.

"When I found out who my coach was going to be, I called my parents and started screaming with excitement," Riley said.

Stalls is equally thankful for the opportunity to be coaching in the 2010 HP Championships and finds the most rewarding part of coaching to be working with the youth and helping them accomplish their dreams through the process.

"I have really enjoyed working with this group," Stalls said. "The most exciting part of the experience is the chance to work with young women. I love engaging with these ladies through their process of growing and building a career and seeing who they are going to be at the end of it all. Volleyball is a great teacher in the game of life. It is a nice analogy for how you're going to react when it's tough. It is a great sport and has a lot of unique opportunities for these young ladies."

Riley is thankful for the opportunity of playing under a role model such as Stalls and learning more techniques.

"It has been a great experience and an honor to play for such a great player," Riley said. "She is so knowledgeable and has been coached by a lot of great coaches. She has been soaking in all of the great techniques and is now passing it on to us. Tracy even taught us the warmup that the National team does, and that is the one we have been doing."

Riley has also taken pride in competing in the HP Championships while representing her country and has hopes of following Stalls' footsteps.

"To be on the national team and represent your country is what we all aspire to do," Riley said. "It's what we compete for. There is something that feels really legitimate about this tournament and having USA on your back."

Midzik has been inspired to work hard and push herself with Stalls' vocals in warm-ups and play.

"You can see her incredible work ethic in the way she coaches," Midzik said. "She is always yelling 'max out!' to us when we are warming up and to leave everything we have on the floor."

Seeing Stalls accomplish her dreams through USA Volleyball, Midzik hopes to take the same route in working toward achieving her personal goals. Tracy Stalls is serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women's Junior Continental Team at the 2010 USAV HP Championships.

"Coach Stalls brings experiences that a lot of coaches can't," Midzik said. "She has played at such a high level. She has made her way through the High Performance pipeline so it's really inspiring to us and makes our dreams feel reachable. Tracy knows the modern game, she has progressed through her career and is still playing, which is different than what I have experienced from other coaches."

Stalls feels that the element of being a player and a coach under USA is an incredible honor as well.

"It's interesting because I am still a player and I am stepping into this opportunity to be on the other side of it," Stalls said. "It's an incredible honor to wear USA, however it comes. I love the responsibility and the factor of respecting that USA is on my back. It allows me to look at my career and look back on what it truly means to be a U.S. National Team player. These kids are aspiring to accomplish the dream that I have accomplished. It has been really rewarding. I have enjoyed being a part of that."

While assistant coaching in the tournament, Stalls has enjoyed working with the elite level of athletes and seeing them compete and strive to constantly improve.

"It impacts me as well to see these young people that are here pursuing after something that they want," Stalls said. "I love working with hungry athletes, and there is something unique about USA Volleyball -- the heightened hunger these athletes possess to extract everything possible from their talent. That's what it takes. It's neat to work with that demographic of volleyball players."

Stalls has also thoroughly enjoyed working and coaching aside the same individuals that have helped her through her playing career.

"I am really thankful for the opportunity to come out and work with Todd Dagenais (assistant coach) and meet Blaine Tendler (head coach)," Stalls said. "It is great to work with them and learn from them. It's an honor, and is crazy and beautiful to work alongside coaches and people that have helped me through my career. A lot of people that have invested in me from when I was in the youth national team to now and I'm getting to coach with them."

Stalls believes that a unique opportunity for the participants is to compete with the best and learn from the people they are playing with.

"A tournament like this creates a reality check and humbles players," Stalls said. "A lot of these kids are the best in their club and at their high school. It's wonderful for them to be able to be surrounded by the best of the best and to be coached by the best in an environment with competitive tension while still making each other better. It's all about accelerating and maximizing their road to potential."

Stalls believes that regardless of the outcome, athletes should keep the right mindset and give all that they have to their dreams.

"The best advice I can give is whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart." Stalls said. "There is so much at this arena that you cannot control. How you go after each drill and that is the measurement of success. By giving everything of your mind and body, you will shift into gears that you didn't even know you had."

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