On Wednesday June 28th, 2017 I was part of the staff of Next Level Camps assisting, World Famous USWNT Brandi Chastain. Brandi Gold Medal Olympic winner and World Cup Champion was conducting a book signing and a clinic. There were over 100 girls present and approximately 60 parents on hand. I was on hand initially to promote my invention The Volley King Jr. The youth version of the Volley King for ages 5 to 14.
Brandi was early and so was I. It was not supposed to be so easy for me to walk up to someone unbeknownst and have such an easy rapport. I could understand why my past coach and Brandi’s, had given her that responsibility and told her to take a “Left footed penalty”. She had previously missed in a big game, ” she used me in front of the girls” to demonstrate how the Chinese National Goalkeeper had intimidated her previously. She spoke to me with ease and candor and I explained to her that I had my invention and would like her to demo it. She said she would ” it should not have been that easy”.
Many players with big names frown upon newborn general alliances/ friendships, they have an air of “stuckupness”. Not Brandi, even though we had a lot of numbers she had about 2 coaches/4 high school players, 2 of her volunteers/ a female USWNT under 20 National player. She set up the clinic as quickly as I would with kids in the Caribbean. Six stations and rotations easy. I volunteered for passing and receiving, Tickie Tackie!!
After an hour of working hard Brandi ended the session and spoke and mentored the girls for an hour and spent another hour signing autographs. Now, I begin understand why the Women’s Team will always be better than the Men’s. Brandi’s kindness with the smallest clinician, her kind words of advice for the teen players. This will solidify a base for women’s soccer over and over again.
Well after three hours of constant activity I was hard pressed to ask this veteran to do a demo. She worked as hard as I do with the campers in SVG. Non stop, positive coaching always, in spite of constant mental concentration to do:
Interviews Channel 12; constant interaction with parents and kids; a lot of mental exertion – now this guy wants to do a VK demo. For Brandi!! It was ” No problem Man, easy squeezie”.
I proceeded to demo the VK Jr. There were over 10 kids milling around the VK Jr. I had left it on the field and un-supervised. A seven year old girl who never left the VK Jr, demonstrated, she was awesome. Brandi in the meantime totally understood the concept of “why Volleys” because of the high technical aspect. She even found other ways to use it as she explained to me. What a scientific player! I understood why she would dare take a decisive penalty shot in front of millions of people when she had never taken one with that foot ever. I understood why she took off her shirt!! To relieve the stress the pressure. It must have been hot too!!
In any event Brandi was ready around hit some Volleys. Most people whiff, even though they are professionals. .
I had demonstrated to her that the Volley covered the spectrum of all Volleys.
Brandi was ready she” Zonked three side Volleys and a lunge Volley like that, babadibam!! I was impressed I had told folks that she would “whiff “ it, no way. This was now about 4 hours in. I realized that she was tired and I was too. Finally, I presented the professional VK to her with the markings:
From Touch and Volley King LLc,
One Love, One Game!!”
Amazingly, as I looked away because some kids were still using the VK Jr., she snatched the box up – all 25 lbs of steel. So, I said “hey Brandi, Let me help with that to the car.” She said “no way Desmond this is my work out.” A true Champion always working hard even if off the field.
The good thing is that even though Brandi was busy at the clinic we were still able to interact and speak about what Tony did for me personally in my life . He kept me going with the VK, he endorsed it, wrote recommendation letters for me. He would always take my calls, reply to my emails even when he was busy. Tony was not mad that I transferred from CCSU to go to Davis and Elkins he helped me on my path. I now understand he was teaching his players for the future. Not only that, their integrity, dedication to the sport, high standard of excellence is what sets them apart. Born to win.
As per the interaction, the popularity, the mystifying attraction of the Volley King. This was evident by the mere fact that 5 and 7 year old kids did not leave the training tool. There were over 30 kids waiting to use the VK. What was most impressive is that when I stepped way for 30 minutes there were able to maneuver and play with it unsupervised. The allure and interest is there, the VK has arrived and it’s popularity is obvious from various interactions of camps and demos.
I cannot say enough of how appreciative I am that Brandi was so open, receptive, friendly, kind and humble. They say humility will take you in front of Kings. She graciously interacted with my sister and mentor Stacia Morris. I just hope that now I can invent a Volley Queen.
And big respect To Tony Di Cicco, a great Man, who loved everyone.
Touch a Touch.