For the second straight summer, East Tennessee State volleyball coach Lindsey Devine is going to great lengths for an international experience.
Devine will leave next week to be part of the USA coaching staff for the FIVB Girls Youth World Championship in Thailand. The tournament for U19 teams begins July 26 in Nakhon Ratchasima and runs for 10 days.
Devine is one of two assistants to former Ohio State coach Jim Stone, now an influential official in USA Volleyball. She spent last summer working with Stone at the Global Challenge tournament in Croatia, where the Americans finished fourth.
“It’s always a great opportunity to see the international game and the different challenges,” said Devine. “Just being around these coaches and the girls, seeing this level of volleyball at one venue and enjoying the culture, it’s exciting and energizing.”
Devine leaves next Tuesday for a stopover in Anaheim, Calif. The U.S. team, which started with 22 girls, will be pared from 16 to 12 for the trip to Thailand.
Needless to say, it’s an elite group that any college coach can appreciate.
“All of them are verbally committed to Top 25 teams in the country,” said Devine. “It’s really a high level of athlete that represents our country. We have some tough decisions to make, but I’m sure the 12 we end up with will be very competitive.”
Twenty teams will gather for the world championships, which are held every two years. Turkey hosted the last tournament and also won it.
The U.S. has never medaled with the U19 girls, but this team is an experienced one.
“Some of these girls went to Croatia last year, maybe seven,” said Devine, “so they know what to expect at the international level. They know the coaches, our system, and I think we’ll have good team unity.
“Everyone is so appreciative just to be part of an event like this.”
Devine credits her international experience last summer with playing a role in a championship season at ETSU. The Bucs claimed their first Atlantic Sun Conference title in the fall and played in the NCAA tournament for the first time in Devine’s 10 years at the school.
“We really do follow the USA model here at ETSU,” said Devine. “That definitely impacts and reinforces things we consider important. Of course, the international game comes at you fast and strong. Serve and serve receive are so important.”
The coach won’t be the only member of the Devine household on the volleyball trail this month.
Her daughter Megan, the A-Sun player of the year as a junior, is heading to Croatia with the U.S. team for the Global Challenge. She’ll be joined by ETSU teammates Meredith Hardy and Jessica Schafer.
The Americans will train in Hungary before moving to the tournament site.
“Just the experience the three of them will gain means a lot,” said Devine. “They’ve all expressed an interest in playing after college, so this is a good way to showcase their talents. And, of course, it’s great to see another part of the world.”
Devine said the players have been trying to stay sharp this summer by playing in outdoor tournaments in the area.
“It’s all about reps and getting stronger in the weight room,” she said. “This tournament allows them to play at another level and see how their games stack up.”