Life is a River Blog

Salmon River Takes on BSU Varsity Volleyball Team

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August 18th & 19th we had the pleasure of spending a couple of beautifully hot, perfect days on the Lower Main Salmon River rafting with the women of  the Boise State University volleyball team, and their coaching staff!!   Their fall season had just begun, and after a week of tough practice we provided a quick hiatus from on court workouts for some on the river team bonding—Salmon River style.

Salmon River/Snake River Volleyball!

Jake hits balls at me on the beach at Geneva Bar, below the Salmon River confluence with the Snake River. Taken probably around 1994. Keepin my skills sharp.

In a way this was a trip down memory lane for Jake and I.  As I talked with these gals, it was hard to believe I was in their shoes 18 years ago (and he in the bleachers supporting me every game).  That sounds like SUCH a long time ago, and at the same time the blink of an eye.    In those days we were spending our summers guiding Snake River and Salmon River trips for our mentor outfitter Jerry Hughes. I worked out on and off the river every spare second attempting to get ready for the season to start full-fledged in early August.  I did a LOT of jumping drills over side boxes and onto boats, intervals up trails with armfuls of gear bags, and an occasional wagered race to the top of this Hells Canyon peak or that.  But no matter what I did, nothing could prepare me for 6+ hours a day of volleyball come August.

These girls said the same, even though they are playing and working out even more than we did preseason in the 90’s, you just can’t prepare yourself for that much volleyball except by playing that much volleyball!  Now most returning players go to summer school and spend their time working with strength and conditioning coaches in order to prepare for the season. That way they stay in shape, and they don’t have to carry as many credits during the main season while they are traveling or practicing 4+ hours a day.

In my college days, I thought many a time how perfect the huge Lower Salmon sand beaches would be for a sand volleyball court set.  And how perfect a river trip would be for both some out of gym training, and general time away from pressures and serious mind set of school and college athletics.  Talk about team building!!!

So, 18 years after my time on court in Bronco Gym, that idea was realized.  Coach Shawn Garus and I talked, he was sold on the idea as well, and after a little bit of planning they headed first to McCall for one night at Quaker Hill organized by camp director (and BSU alumni) Jon Walker; then the group of 20 players, coaches and a trainer (T-Money!) joined an all BSU alumni North Star crew on the Salmon River.  Jake, Chris Browne, Glenn Mabey and I ran boats, and Gracie, Claire, and Cole acted as water fight coaches and sand castle instructors.  Not that the gals needed much help.

Complete with moat, bridges, and plenty of towers. Cole gets help creating the biggest sand castle yet. I think it was the girls that won his heart, more than the castle.

We were very impressed by all these players.  They were friendly, easy going, kind to the kids, and ready to try anything—the paddle boats, the inflatable kayaks, paddle jousting, super soaker manning, “aquaneering”, and happily jumped in to help with everything from lunch prep and hauling gear to dishes.  They had the system so nailed after one night, I even got stopped putting my plate in the wrong bowl.  Apparently Brittany would not allow me to skip the prewash.   She was much taller than me, so I didn’t argue.  These girls are focused, serious about making a stellar showing on the court for BSU this fall, and off to incredible starts on their careers.  Aspiring to careers in a wide range of fields from social science to athletics to business—even being a mom. Glenn mentioned that getting to know them all is what made him a huge fan, even though this was the first time he has ever been pushed out of a raft—nice job ladies!  Although to his credit, I noticed it took some trickery on athletes’ part. We were impressed by their athletic prowess and their ability to fuel!!!! We can’t wait to see them in action on the court this fall.

Salmon River Downtime.

The gals finally flee the sun in favor of shade under the outfitter wing. Waiting on dinner: BBQ Chicken off the grill, Baked Beans, Dutch Oven Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Salad, and Brownies.

The coaching staff is one I would have loved to play under.  Serious about the sport, no nonsense, but serious about taking care of their players and coaching the absolute best out of them.   Visiting with Shawn, Candy and Breann was a treat, and it was a fascinating look into their coaching styles, and how they break down the game, and what is important to them.

I became a volleyball player in the 7th grade.  I treasure that time of focus in my life and absolutely loved playing volleyball, and am thankful for the opportunity to compete as a Division I student athlete.  But my time at BSU helped prepare me for much more.   I left BSU with a College of Business—Small Business Management degree.   Just a few years later, Jake and I started North Star River Expeditions.  Since then I have survived as a small business owner (14 years) and a full time Mom of 3 (11 years).  I told the players that those are two of the hardest jobs I could have ever taken on.  But I had to admit as we went around the raft, person to person listing our majors, job plans, and dream jobs–that as hard as it is, I got lucky.  I got my dream job.  And I told them they are all off to a good start to do the same!  I will always be a volleyball player at heart. Thanks for spending time on the river with us ladies (and Sean)!  Go Broncos!

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