Volleyball to host alumni game fundraiser, coaches’ clinic
The benefit this weekend:
On April 21, Washington University will host a benefit for Joan Luenemann, wife of volleyball head coach Rich Luenemann, on South Campus.
The benefit is intended to raise money for the Joan M. Luenemann Benefit Fund. Joan suffered a brain hemorrhage on October 14 and has been in care at Delmar Gardens North nursing facility for recovery.
There has been an outpouring of support for Joan since her hospitalization, and volleyball assistants Paula Urbanek and Iris Wright have helped spearhead the effort to put on the benefit.
“We’ve been blown away,” Urbanek said of all of the support for the event. “We know that everybody loves the Luenemann family, but we started out thinking this would be a very simple idea.”
The event, for which donations will be requested at the door, will feature several attractions for fans and community members. One of the main highlights will be a Wash. U. alumni volleyball game, with recent graduates and four seniors from the 2011 team facing off with the rest of the 2011 squad.
There will also be serving and passing contests, raffles and a silent auction—which, Urbanek said, will feature a few dozen prizes including Cardinals tickets and free admission to a Wash. U. sports camp.
Urbanek says the people running the event have been very pleased with the support they have received and with how much the community is doing to help attract people to the event.
“It’s actually been amazing with how people have just [tried to help],” she said. “I think it’s given the family a little bit of feel-good throughout all of this. They’re excited about it, too.”
Rich Luenemann said he was thankful for the support of the Wash. U. and St. Louis communities.
“I’m incredibly appreciative that so many people see the quality of person that Joan is and are making this fundraiser benefit a reality,” Luenemann said.
The event will take place from 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The following weekend’s clinic:
A week later, from April 28-29 at the Field House, Wash. U. will be a regional host of the Art of Coaching Volleyball Clinic.
The clinic, a program that brings together coaches across all different levels of play, will feature several big-name coaches—including Russ Rose from Pennsylvania State University, John Dunning from Stanford University and Terry Liskevych from Oregon State University.
Liskevych, an Olympic coach as well, started the program years ago to help improve the quality of volleyball coaching throughout the country. Luenemann said it’s a beneficial program for a sport that doesn’t always get the most publicity.
“Volleyball is one of those sports where you don’t have great exposure on TV, and as a result, coaches don’t have that opportunity to learn,” Luenemann said. “Terry’s focus [was to] set up a coaching clinic throughout America that’s going to enhance the learning of our coaches, and why not do it with the best coaches available?”
Luenemann also explained that it’s beneficial for the school to have the chance to bring in a number of coaches from different high schools and clubs.
“We consider it to be a recruiting coup, to have all of these coaches come in, and even though it’s Rose and Liskevych and Dunning talking—and [myself] talking a bit—it’s still the opportunity to familiarize people with Washington University, for them to see the banners up there,”he said.
The program originally targeted St. Louis University as a host, but Luenemann stepped forward and offered up Wash. U. when SLU was unable to host on the desired weekend.
“When it appeared as though SLU couldn’t work, I jumped in with both feet and said that we’d love to have [it] at Washington University,” he said.
Luenemann said the groups that benefit most from the clinic are the coaches at the lower levels who may, unlike elite-program coaches such as Rose and Dunning, be a bit limited in their personnel in certain sets.
“They’ll have a middle blocker who’s 6’5”, and a high school coach will ask about his middle blocker who’s 5’6”. Or they talk about running a sophisticated set when some schools have trouble just digging and passing it up,” Luenemann said. “The people who are presenters, even though they’re high-level coaches, are able to adapt their presentations to meet the needs of the coaches who will be in attendance.”
Luenemann was impressed with the quality of coaches who agreed to come to the University, given that the closed event will receive limited press.
“It’s akin to having [men’s basketball head coaches] Mike Krzyzewski, Shaka Smart and Tom Izzo here. That’s what it’s like. You don’t have Moe, Larry and Curly coming in—you’ve got the top of the top. It doesn’t get any better than this,” he said.