Miyashiro Recaps China Tour With Team USA
Washington continues on through spring practice, and last week the Huskies had a couple special guests, with 2009 grads Jill Collymore and Tamari Miyashiro both stopping by to workout with and observe their old teammates in action. Both players just recently finished up a training period with Team USA at the national training center in Anaheim, California. The next period begins again this week and will continue all through the summer and fall, with a larger roster as the national coaches begin to sort out rosters for a number of international competitions this year. Miyashiro, the school record-holder in digs and a three-time All-American, expects to be one of three liberos in training. During a UW practice on the east court in Hec-Ed last week, Miyashiro talked about what it's like competing for a spot on one of the best teams in the world.
GoHuskies.com: Are you starting to feel like a professional athlete now with school behind you and just focusing on volleyball?
Tamari Miyashiro: For sure it's different. We go down there and we train and practice a little bit more. I don't have to worry about school anymore so it's a lot easier. You spend a lot of your energy on just becoming a better player. There's more time to work out and get in better shape and not having to deal with the stress of schoolwork and going to class obviously. Volleyball-wise I feel like I've gotten better since my last time playing as a collegiate athlete, but I think you have to get better naturally if you want to survive in that gym. I think I've also become a little more consistent with everything I have to do at least for my position. So I'm getting close; I wouldn't say necessarily I'm a professional athlete but it kind of is getting closer. It's my life now, I haven't played in a pro league yet, but for sure I'll start competing against them from here on out. I'm still kind of learning what it means to be an athlete of that caliber and to have just that as your life for once.
GH: How long does this next training period go?
TM: It will go `til November. There's a bunch of tournaments that Jill and I are hoping to make the traveling squads for, and we have several opportunities, so hopefully that will work out well for us. Even if it doesn't I think just the fact of training with these athletes we're about to train with is a good thing in itself. It's a long training block, and I think it's actually normal for a lot of these girls because they're used to playing in these seasons. It will be our first long training block so we're excited.
GH: What are some of the tournaments you're hoping to make the squad for?
TM: There's a tournament in June in Switzerland [the Montreux VolleyMasters]. At least Courtney is on the preliminary roster, so she has a pretty good chance I think. But we're just trying to make any roster. There are a couple other tournaments. I know the big one is the World Championships in November. It's about a month long so it's pretty intense. By that time hopefully we can make that roster. That's one of our goals. But it will play itself out and we'll compete hard. We're just excited to just be available and eligible and in the scene to be able to be considered for one of these tournaments.
GH: Now Airial and Courtney and even Christal Morrison have been playing on the same team in Puerto Rico. Did you consider playing professionally over the past few months and what led you to stay at the training facility?
TM: It did cross my mind but at the same time I kind of knew that I needed to go train under Hugh (McCutcheon) and Karch (Kiraly) and Jamie (Morrison). I knew I could benefit from that more than playing overseas. Granted I'm not making a lot of money, but just the payoff I think it will have for me being able to train with them and the girls, just was a little more beneficial. It's hard to turn down money, but I didn't even really approach it at all. It wasn't like I wanted to see how much I could make and then decide. For (Airial and Courtney) it was the right thing to do at their time and where they were with volleyball, and for me it was just better to stay.
GH: How many liberos will be training with the team during the next session?
TM: There will be at least three of us. The other two liberos are really good. They've gone to the Olympics and they've been playing for a while. They're veterans. For sure they're working on things too and I'm working on things and we're all just going to compete our hearts out and see what happens. For me that's the only way I can approach it since it's my first time around.
GH: Is it tough being teammates but also competing against each other for roster spots? Would you feel comfortable asking them for advice or tips even though you're in competition?
TM: I don't think I would hesitate at all. When I was there in the summer I thought they were very helpful. Being part of the national team, you've made a commitment to being the best team in the world. We've put ourselves out there and we just want to become the best team, no matter what that means. We all just want to become better volleyball players and in turn make the team better. I don't feel at all like they're doing their own thing and I'm doing mine. It's a good vibe and I think that will be good for what we're trying to do as a country.
GH: How nice was it to have Jill there at the training center with you going through the same new experiences and challenges?
TM: It was awesome. We come from a program that is well sought after and a great coach and great staff. They do things pretty well here. It's the right way to do things. Of course there are differences, but I think for the level we're at and the athletes we're trying to be I think they do a good job (in Anaheim) too. So you can't really compare the two. But it's awesome, Jill is competing well right now. We're both trying to make changes even though we both come from a program like this. That's been fun, going through it with her, those new expectations and the hard parts where you just feel uncomfortable because you're so new. It was fun having someone that I knew around. I've known her for now five years and we know a lot about each other and how we work and think and play.
GH: Were there any surprises or anything you weren't really expecting in the training and practices with the national team? Was it much different than what you were used to here?
TM: A lot of it is pretty similar. The structure of practice is really similar. I can't say we're doing the exact same drills, but the objective of what we're trying to do at practice is we try to get better individually, and then we work as a team and we try to figure things out and get better collectively over time. We all know it's a process. Even though there's a lot of great players in the program, everyone is at a point where they need to make changes. I know the intensity is getting there. We compete a lot here and we are starting to compete a lot at USA. It's a wonderful thing I think to be able to have those things at both places. The only other thing would be I think players at the next level have a lot of skill everywhere. They're good at doing a lot of things. We talk about being generalized specialists at USA. In college you're sometimes able to be good at one thing and not so good at another and it's okay, it doesn't really hurt the team. But the focus is on becoming good everywhere, and that's definitely what Jim's trying to do here as well.