London Log-In - August 11, 2012
UCLA athletes, coaches, alumni and staff share their experiences at the 2012 Olympics. UCLA Men's Volleyball head coach John Speraw shares some of his thoughts as the Games wrap up.
Aug. 11, 2012
There is a spot in the Village down at the corner of our apartment building with some nice patio furniture. A coffee shop is around the corner, so it is a nice place to grab a drink, sit down and relax for a bit. During the course of the Games, there weren't many people there. I only had a chance to sit down a couple times over the last few weeks. But the Games are coming to a close, and the Village has taken on a new feel. More people are sitting on the sofas. Athletes and coaches have brought beach chairs out onto the grass park in the middle of the Village and sit in the sun. Everyone is walking at a slower pace, chatting easily on their way to the cafeteria.
As Rob Browning and I made our way back from brunch, we saw Tim Perlot, our strength and conditioning coach, sitting with a cup of coffee. Rob and I decided to join him. Only meant to be there for a minute, but the hours passed. Dan Klatt wandered by and chatted briefly about the gold medal celebrations of the women's water polo team before heading on. Jake Gibb, our men's beach player, sat down with us for a time. We talked about the future of the beach game. Some other women's water polo players passed by. Jamie Morrison had a brief 10 minutes to join us. He is an assistant for the women's volleyball team. They play tonight for the gold. The game plan is done. One last minute to breathe before heading out for the final battle. Alan Knipe passed by as he was leaving for a flight to Belfast to see his relatives. We all gave him a hug goodbye. David Lee, our middle blocker, walked over to ask about the closing ceremony. Then he sat down, too. Nothing really urgent to attend to anymore.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to what happens next. Where does your career go? Do you have a professional contract? Can you make it to Rio? Can your body make it? Do you want to?
The single-minded focus required to compete at this level leaves little room for thoughts of the future. It takes incredible competitive drive to peak for a single Olympic moment. But now that moment is suddenly ending. The questions get asked. Few know the answer.
Underneath the celebrations and joys of the Olympic experience and behind the relaxed meander among the Village residents is a melancholic uncertainty. This special experience, this special drive, this special purpose is ending. It is a time of deep reflection. And, for many, the world is not the same.
For me? I have a new purpose. I have a new job at UCLA. Periodically I shift to thinking about new action plans, recruiting calls and that email to the team I've been needing to write. But I think I'll put it off for just a little while longer. I think I'll stay here on the couch for just a bit more. Enjoy the last minute of the Olympic time. See who passes by to sit down and join me.
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