By Sharilyn Wells/ParaglideMay 13, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For the past three years the All-Army Volleyball team has held their training camp at Fort Bragg, this year is no exception. This will be the last year Fort Bragg will host the All-Army volleyball camp, for a while at least. Each military installation gets to bid for the chance to host and Fort Bragg's rein will come to an end. But not without professionalism and support from the Sports and Recreational office of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
The camp reflects the high expectations of the women's team this year, said first time head coach, Corey Shaffer, a sergeant stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. Shaffer said he expects 110 percent from the women and nothing less.
The All-Army women's volleyball team is comprised of 10 active-duty women from literally all over the world. Sergeant Stephanie Zavala and Capt. Jenny Combs joined the team from Fort Benning, Ga.
Sergeant Sarah Lusk traveled from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and Staff Sgt. Doreen Taumua came from Fort Jackson, S.C. Sergeant Elizabeth Thompson joined the team from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., while Sgt. Nicole Schmidt, Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Rhoads and 1st Lt. Danielle Cork traveled from three different U.S. posts in Germany. Two Soldiers from Fort Bragg also made the team, 2nd Lt. Erin Leavitt and Capt. Stephanie Vanneman.
The women went through a tryout and trial phase of the camp and became part of the team upon completion. The camp helps coaches find the women's level of talent during the tryouts and then focuses on training and enhancing the team. The typical week during the tryout camp consisted of five days of workouts, practice matches and team and individual drills. The team also scrimmages other teams around the area. On April 28, the All-Army team scrimmaged against the Fayetteville State University women's volleyball team.
This year marks Shaffer's first time coaching the women's All-Army team, but he is no stranger to volleyball or coaching. He currently coaches girl's volleyball year-round at Jordan High School in Columbus, Ga. and has both coached and participated in men's intramural volleyball teams. Shaffer is a paralegal in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Benning.
Becoming coach of the All-Army team was a surprise for Shaffer. He was scheduled to play on the men's All-Army team and be assistant coach for the women's; however, upon reaching Fort Bragg, Shaffer was asked to be head coach because the coach had another commitment.
"It was kind of bittersweet for me, because I wanted to play," Shaffer said. "But I like coaching too and I'm better at it."
Shaffer attributes the effectiveness of the camp due to the help from the Sports and Recreational office of the FMWR. Comparing the camp to professional volleyball camps. Shaffer said Fort Bragg's FMWR set the standard.
"Fort Bragg has met the challenge of hosting All Army Volleyball; the support and enthusiasm of the sports office and recreation facility staff has been tremendous," said Shaffer. "Our success on court will be directed by the professionalism of this office. They are responsible for making our mission doable."
According to Shaffer, the Army should take pride in beating the Navy, Air Force and Marines. "Fort Bragg, in particular, can take credit for fueling our athletes with a winning environment," he said. "At professional level sports, only a full coaching staff, including various support chains, can equip a team for success; this is a case of having all the right people, in all the right jobs."
The All-Army team will compete against Marine, Navy, and Air Force at the Armed Forces Championship Tournament held at Cherry Point, N.C., May 5 to 12.
"The (All-Army) team doesn't have a strong history in winning, but this year is going to be different," Shaffer said. "We're going to win it and bring home the gold."