Did you get to Meadowbank last weekend to see the volleyball?

GBR v CROIf not, where on earth were you?! It was an amazing weekend of top class volleyball that was definitely not to be missed!

For me, there are three stages in these types of events.

Stage 1: Planning, Preparation and Panic (I like to call this “Get Busy” Stage)
Stage 2: Excitement, Energy and Enthusiasm (this is the “Don’t Panic” Stage)
Stage 3: Satisfaction, Sleepy and Sad (the “Sleep Time” Stage)

Stage 1 – Operation “Get Busy” – started months ago for me. Recruiting Volunteers, Organising the equipment and preparing to ensure that Scotland hosted this event with style. The Local Organising Committee (LOC) met twice in the build up to the event and every member involved was enthusiastic and helpful in making sure all the plans could be carried out effectively. Scottish Volleyball came out in force as email please went out for volunteers and it really made me happy that all the volunteer positions were filled quickly and filled with the right people.

MeadowbankThe long awaited Day 1 of the event arrived and the Thursday morning went by quickly for me (though I’m sure my pupils won’t see it like that). Arriving at Meadowbank, there was excitement tinged with a slight nervousness, but I was greeted by an enthusiastic group of people, all with their sleeves rolled up ready to lay some Taraflex! Jets VC had generously cancelled their club AGM in order to supply volunteers for laying the floor and this was a huge assistance in getting it laid so quickly. The ever-enthusiastic Laura McReady kept everyone laughing while laying the floor and Su Ragazzi’s Dave Cormie wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty as the floor went down and the venue began to take shape.

It was a late night for us that night – we really did “Get Busy” and it wasn’t until midnight when we left the hall, happier after seeing the Taraflex down and the posts in place! I tell you though; it’s not easy to get food in Edinburgh after midnight when you’ve barely eaten all day!

Operation “Get Busy” continued through Friday where the eternally young Steve Evans, who had travelled from England, helped me lay the volleyball court. We had tape stuck to our legs, chalk dust on our trousers and measuring tapes round our ankles, but it was with great pleasure that when we did a final measurement of the lines, we were able to do our dance of joy at how good the court looked!

Ball RetrieversThorsten Endres – the Technical Delegate, arrived to check the venue, already smiling at how well he had been looked after by our very own Colin McGinlay and was happy with the way the venue looked. This left the last half of the day for the teams to train, and test out our fabulous court. It looked great! With a little dram of whisky for everyone at the Technical Meeting, Day 2 closed with smiles and more food at midnight for us! (This time Pizza!)

Match Day 1 and Operation “Don’t Panic” turned on. No matter how well you plan, there is still that little feeling of apprehension but my worries were completely wiped out when the hoards of volunteers turned up. Troon VC supplied the stewards and they all looked great in their red t-shirts – very official (I wouldn’t have like to have tried to get past them without my accreditation!). They were ably led by the wonderful Scott Gavin.

The ball kids and floor moppers turned out from Marr College and they were fabulous. They listened to what they had to do and they did it. Gail Campbell was a wonderful manager to them.

Graeme EastonThose vital seconds, just before the start of the protocol, when you hold your breath and pray that everything will be fine, passed quickly and soon I was standing for the GB anthem with tears in my eyes! Seeing the GB women and men on court was fantastic, especially with the women being led by Lynne Beattie. It was wonderful to see the players be able to concentrate solely on the game with a marvellous atmosphere created by the Scottish public and enthused by announcer Graeme Easton and DJ Keith!

Saturday and Sunday match days were just simply outstanding. Everyone worked together to make sure that the event ran seamlessly, and it did. The GB men excelled themselves with two well-deserved wins over Croatia. The women really showed a high standard of play and in my opinion, were deeply unlucky not to have a better score line. It was great to see Lynne Marshall and Michael McConville getting round and taking those marvellous pictures – balancing on whatever furniture they could to make the shot!

It takes a lot of wonderful and enthusiastic people to make an event like this run and to say thank you to everyone just doesn’t seem enough. To everyone that helped out, that volunteered – who’s smiles shone through the whole event, thank you from the bottom of my heart. We really couldn’t have done any of this without your help. It would take up too much room to mention everyone who helped but you really should be proud of yourselves for how amazing you made this event and Scottish Volleyball and British Volleyball showed that they make a good team!

Operation “Sleep Time” is now in order for me – far too many late night and early mornings this weekend. But, do you know what, I wouldn’t have changed the tiredness, the stress for anything. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it and feel the Post Event Blues are hitting me now!

Well Done everyone once again. I’m off to the next leg in Norwich next week and I guess Stage 1 will be kicking back in again!

Jen Downs

Photographs © Lynne Marshall & Michael McConville