One thing I have found in my many years observing volleyball is the well rounded nature of the athletes who compete. It starts with our own high school athletes who year in and year out perform in the classroom as well as on the court. It should surprise no one that this trend continues all the way to the top levels of the game, from the collegiate level and beyond to our National Team. Many of the members of Team USA have their own blogs, documenting the things they experience on the road and in the gym. I love reading these accounts of the day to day lives of these elite athletes.
Today, I am lucky enough to get to fire five questions at one of Team USA's sharpest minds,
Cassidy Lichtman. Cass has been a contributor on this blog(
) and has her own very interesting blog(
) in which she shares her views on any number of interesting subjects. When you have some time, check it out!
Current Location Cannes, France
Team Name Le Cannet
Position Outside Hitter
Major Bachelor's in Political Science, Master's in History
Professional Volleyball abroad includes a lot of unique challenges, beside the language, what is the hardest thing you have to adapt to?
I think the hardest thing is getting used to the isolation. You're thousands of miles away from all of your friends and family for over half of the year. You miss holidays, weddings, babies being born... That can be a tough thing to deal with and it's compounded by the fact that a lot of the people around you don't speak your language so it can be harder to form meaningful relationships wherever you are. The way I deal with this is to try to have activities or hobbies or TV shows or anything that I'm excited about to fill the free time. And Skype and FaceTime of course!
You grew up in Southern California. What advantages do you think that gave you as a player, and are there any disadvantages?
Well, Southern California has long been the hotbed of volleyball in America and I think just the fact that so many people know and love the sport is a plus. Growing up, there were so many great players in our region and playing against that competition every tournament is a huge advantage when it comes to playing at the next level. I think the only disadvantage is that there are so many players and so many clubs that it's become a huge business which I think brings a lot of drama and a lack of loyalty that isn't appealing to me. I was lucky though and got to play for a club I loved, San Diego Volleyball Club, for all eight years of my prep career.
You have been blessed to have visited many places. If you had to settle down in a country other than America, where would you go? Is there somewhere you haven't gone that you would like to visit?
Hmm, I don't know. I guess somewhere in Western Europe. I might say somewhere in the UK for language purposes and because the culture might be the most similar. I'm really liking what I've seen of France so far, though. But that's only if I had to, I love America!
I haven't been to Australia, I think that would be pretty cool.
I'm a huge fan of "Musings of a Vagabond". Does writing appeal to you as an outlet or do you see yourself doing it as a profession one day?
I like writing as an outlet because I want to have something that I think is worth saying and that I genuinely believe in. I really enjoy writing that kind of thing. If I could find a job that let me do that somehow, maybe I could be into that.
What was the last movie you saw in a theater?
Two thumbs up or panned?
What kind of movie is your favorite?
Pretty sure it was Guardians of the Galaxy and it was fantastic. I really love what Marvel is doing right now with their whole universe. I'm a nerd so I like superheroes and space and I'm excited about the new Star Wars and everything.
I also love Disney and Pixar and just think they put out such amazing products time after time.
Otherwise, it depends on my mood but I like movies with good characters, good stories and/or the ones that make you think about the world...not just blowing things up.
Bonus Question- You do a ton of clinics. Is coaching in your future?
What have you learned from each coach along your path?
I honestly don't know what's going to happen when I'm done playing. I've done the clinics and I coached some club teams when I was in college and I enjoyed that but there's also a part of me that wants to venture off the volleyball court. I'm sure I'll stay connected to the game regardless though.
My high school coach, Eric Sato, gave me a huge appreciation for defense and how that can drive the competitive fire of your team.
My club coach for three years, Kara Hanes, helped me to develop as a leader and never let me get away with anything. She pushed me to be the best athlete I could and most prepared me for college because she'd been there.
My Stanford coach, John Dunning, completely changed the way I saw the game. He taught me how to analyze it, how to make decisions and how to ask the right questions.
And as for Karch...I feel like he's taken me down into the foundation of the game and shown me the pillars that hold it up. And everything else is supported by or derived from those key principles.
He's emphasized the importance of the mental side of the game more than any coach I've ever known and brought in an amazing sports psychologist in Michael Gervais. That's informed how I see the game and how our team plays it.
I also think that we're in the process of pushing the evolution of the sport through the system that he's developed for us. And it's a really organic process where we're constantly tweaking things and experimenting until we find what we believe is the best way to do things and then we commit to it. That is such a cool thing to get to see and be a part of and I'm just so grateful that he's allowed me to do that.
Many thanks to Cassidy for taking the time to answer my questions in such detail.