When I remember my childhood, I see my parents’ bedroom. In the middle of the large bed, there is a “net”, made of pillows, piled one on top of the other. My father constructed it. Somewhere nearby there lies a balloon, which imitates the ball. I played my first volleyball games in the bedroom, wanting, most of all, to beat dad. I was four years old, when my dad started teaching me the rules of volleyball. I treated those playing ball mornings seriously. (Anna Więcek, Świat Siatkówki)
I became a setter not only because I turned out to be a champion at hitting the balloon over the pillows. My father was a setter and I always looked up to him and wanted to be like him. The rule was simple: when the team loses, it is usually the fault of the setter. When the team wins, the attacker is the hero. You have to have a strong personality to become a setter. I do. Thanks to my father.
When the Americans won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in basketball in the 80s, I was sitting on the sofa with my dad, in our home, in Indiana. We were watching the final game together and I opened my eyes wider and wider with every minute. I told him then, that when I grow up I want to be a basketball player and go to the Olympic games. I wanted to jump into the TV and rejoice with our basketball players. I wanted to experience the type of emotions that sportsmen competing in the Olympic Games experience. My father made me realize that the all America plays basketball, every little boy knows how to dribble the ball, how to shoot baskets. Joining the representation was, according to him, practically impossible, the chances were one to a million. Volleyball was an easier solution. The effort of training was the same, but the statistical chance to get into a national team – much bigger. My father’s arguments seemed to me strong enough to accept them and I chose playing over the net.
Indiana, where I come from, is famous for the popularity of basketball. At my school nobody had heard of volleyball. In order to play for a school team, I had to choose from typical American sports: basketball or baseball. As I was tall, and deep in my heart I still remembered the sofa, Olympic finals and my emotions, I started to play basketball. Just as I thought – I started to love this sport with all my heart. There is no net in basketball , but you also have to block the player. Both disciplines are similar. Playmakers, who run the team, appear in both disciplines. Moments of thought about the future appeared again. I decided I wanted to be like my father, so I started treating basketball as a hobby. Even now if I have a choice between watching a volleyball and a basketball game on TV, I choose basketball. Whenever I have a free moment, I take my ball out of the closet and I go play, of course being careful not to hurt myself and eliminate myself from playing volleyball. When people hear such declarations, they ask why I did not become a second Jordan. And I answer, that my father has always been a role model for me. I wanted to be like him.
My father – the coach
My father is a fairly short man. He used to play volleyball as a setter. Then height did not matter so much as it does now. Tall setters came along with my generation. Peter Blange, the present Dutch coach was the precursor.
My dad used to take me to the games. He never persuaded me to play volleyball, but he did show me all the beauty of this sport. He did not insist that I follow this path. If I had become one of the millions of American basketball players, I could also count on his support. One day, when I die and I will be able to look at my life from the other side, I will be most proud of the fact that it was a good life, because I could be like my father.
Michal Jordan, Tiger Woods are the idols of American children. My father has always been my idol. Not only because thanks to him, I am such a person and no other. He is a wonderful dad for me and my sisters, a perfect husband for my mum. He is simply a good man. When he played volleyball, he did it 100%, but when he returned home, he took part in our upbringing the same way.
Some people ask me if the fact that my father was also my coach made it more difficult. I answer, on the contrary, it was easier. He treated me the same way as any other boy from the team. He did not expect of me more, but he did not favour me either. When we returned home I was his son once again.
I have many memories of my home. Eating dinner together was our family tradition. We gathered around the table everyday at 6 p.m. It was very important for us to spend a few moments together, to talk about school, work, problems. During the fifteen years that I lived with my parents, I never saw them fight. I try to build my family on the same foundations. I have been married to my wife for ten years and whenever we have a problem – we talk, even if it takes two hours. I never allow a moment, where we could start arguing. I want my children to say one day, that I was a good father. I come from the old American school, in which it is most important for every father to raise his children to be good people. If they make a mistake, it is my obligation to tell them what was wrong.
I look at sport in a similar way. In every good team, talking is the base of success. A good atmosphere is essential in order to win. For it to be good, we have to talk with each other during the game, in the locker room and during training.