LONDON CALLING: Marcio Sicoli's Olympic Blog
Stay tuned to PepperdineSports.com where assistant indoor and sand volleyball coach Marcio Sicoli will be keeping Waves fans updated on the Olympic Games in London.
April 13, 2012
With last night’s Closing Ceremonies, the Olympics are officially over. So with that, here is my final blog entry:
After the semifinal match against the Chinese we were really excited. We won an incredible battle against Xi Zhang and Chen Xue. We were down, we were up, and Kerri and Misty made unbelievable plays when it mattered most! We were excited and ready to play in the gold medal match. All our work on technique and tactics and our daily conversations about challenges, character and our three Bs (Believe, Breathe, Battle) has paid off.
Right after the semifinals, media was going crazy anticipating a USA vs. Brazil final. We were focused, however, on playing an opponent the next day, not a country or a flag. I personally was happy with the possibility of an all-USA final, because you can’t ask for anything better for our sport (not to mention a chance to be part of history). It would only be the second time in Olympic history that the same country reached the finals of the women’s beach volleyball tournament (There was an all-Brazil final in 1996). Our focus was on the few hours we would have to prepare for our final opponent.
And of course as you know, Jen (Kessy) and April (Ross) pulled off the upset over the top-seeded Brazilians! USA! USA! USA!
I had a long night of video. When you are at Olympics sleep deprivation is normal and the coffee machine is like your assistant coach. After watching all their (Jen and April’s) matches at the Olympics, I focused on getting ready for something out of the ordinary. In the finals, you never know what a team will throw at you and I wanted to make sure we were prepared for everything!
We had a great practice the morning of the finals, really relaxed and focused. I reminded Misty and Kerri to just continue executing what they have been doing, and to rely on all the work they have put in over the last four years. No one has worked harder than those two, especially over the last two weeks. We practiced 13 times in preparation of seven matches. We were ready!
The result of the match was unbelievable. The girls were really focused and never let Jen and April get comfortable in their offense. Our compatriots had a great run and showed how good USA Beach Volleyball is.
The time in London seemed to fly by, but it also feels like I was there for a life time. I didn’t have much time to watch other sports. My last day in London I was able to get tickets to the women’s indoor volleyball semifinal match with Pepperdine alumni Gary Moy. I do wish that it could be different, and that there was time to watch more of the events. I really wanted to the sailing competition. It is one of my passions and would have been awesome to support the American sailing crew. Misty and I were planning on going to the BMX races, but we failed in our attempt because I scheduled practice. Whoops! Sorry Misty!
There wasn’t much time for sightseeing in London, but I was lucky enough to see Big Ben from outside my hotel window. The beach volleyball venue itself was in a historically important part of London, near Buckingham Palace and Parliament. We would routinely walk right by those place, as well as Westminster Abby where Prince William and Kate got married last year. The court was located in Horse Guards Parade, where the Household Calvary Museum resides.
Despite the big stage of the Olympics, it was good for me to see the level of beach skills from around the world and connect them with the collegiate level. I was able to meet a phenomenal group of coaches, and exchange experiences about training and just talk about the sport of beach volleyball in general. I have learned so much from other athletes and coaches of all sports and I’m excited to apply those things back at Pepperdine. One of my goals in London was to identify areas to work on with the Waves, in order to help them prepare for life after college. We are so lucky to have been a part of the inaugural collegiate sand volleyball season. If any of them decide to pursue a professional playing career, their training at a college institution will give them a huge advantage in helping them get there. Many coaches around the world were thrilled to know girls can earn their university degree while playing competitive beach volleyball. Even more players were “jealous” that they didn’t have the opportunity to play sand volleyball during their college days.
Now that the Games are over, and I have had time to reflect on everything, I know that I will cherish these memories forever. What an incredible journey this has been, and I am so grateful to be a part it!
I hope everyone enjoyed the Olympics! Now it’s time to shift the focus to indoor volleyball. Pepperdine’s first match is less than two weeks away. Hope to see you at our matches at Firestone Fieldhouse!
April 8, 2012
Hi Pepperdine Fans!!
I have been receiving so many emails and texts of support -- I really appreciate them and Misty and Kerri do as well. OBIRGADO!! It has been a crazy and fast week. After a slow-pace start with one match every other day, the single elimination round is harder, faster and more nerve racking! We are really focused on our mission: “Conquer the summit!”
After a really good match versus the Netherlands we were excited to play Italy and take everything one match at a time. The last time we played against Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari was in Rome. At the time, Misty and Kerri were still trying to re-establish their identity as a team and the Italians crushed us in straight sets. This was also the first time we had to play on back-to-back days the entire Olympics. As my roommate Bob Alejo – Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers’ strength coach – said, it would be a test of our psyche and body. When I got the Olympic schedule, I saw the possibility of playing back-to-back in the final phases. Despite being called crazy by many, including Kerri and Misty, the first week in London we had two double days (of practice) in a row, right before the opening ceremonies. Although it seemed crazy at the time, it helped prepare us for these final grueling days!
Quarterfinals vs. Marta Menegatti/Greta Cicolari (Italy)
The day of quarterfinals started with practice in the morning. It was also the day of the marathon, and with several road closures it took us 40 minutes to get to the venue (normally takes about half of that). On top of that it was raining! I had the chance to cancel practice and do something else, but decided to stick with the plan. It has been our mentality to work on being comfortable in the uncomfortable situations. The car had to drop us off pretty far away and the walk to the venue was brutal. During practice, Kerri and Misty weren’t exactly in the greatest of moods (sorry girls!). The attitude was: Why do I have to go through this? I’m two-time gold medalist, why do I need the extra repetition? Well here is what we learned: It isn’t about the reps, but it’s about sticking together, working through the tough times and being the best. If you can make it through the hard times, you can certainly make it through the good times as a unified team. Well we made it through practice, perhaps a bit rain soaked, but mentally stronger than ever before. The team is getting on the right path to “attack the summit!” Later on in the day, we had a great warm-up before the match. The team was focused and the mindset wasn’t to weather storm... but BE THE STORM! Kerri and Misty won 21-13, 21-13.
Semifinals vs. Chen Xue/Xi Zhang (China)
We watched the Chinese team play well during their quarterfinal match, so we knew it would be a battle. After our quarterfinal, we had a full day off. It was mandatory to have one treatment in the afternoon to re-focus and start the whole cycle of preparation for the match. We kept our same routine and at 10 a.m. the next day we were out there getting some reps in. The girls were excited and ready to play. Actually really ready, anxious to get there and have a chance to battle to be in an Olympic final again. Practice went well with Misty and Kerri and both were playing phenomenally on defense. Before the match, we met as a team to talk about the game plan. As we finished, I reminded them of all their hard work and character they’ve shown though out this entire process. For today’s match, we decided to remember what Casey Jennings said before we left for London: “THE THREE Bs - BELIEVE - BREATH - BATTLE!” Well believe, breath and battle is exactly what we had to do. We fell behind by six points in the first set, but were able to fight out way back and win 22-20, 22-20.
To top it all off Jennifer Kessy and April Ross upset Larissa França and Juliana Felisberta Da Silva -- the top-seeded team from Brazil -- 15-21, 21-19, 15-12. One way or another, the United States will win a gold medal on Wednesday!
August 3, 2012
The Olympics continue to be a whirlwind of excitement. The days have been long, and the conditions extreme. Hot, cold, wet, dry… we’ve seen it all, and usually in the same day!
Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won their pool with a perfect 3-0 record. Here’s a brief recap of each match.
First match vs. Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley (Australia)
Natalie Cook, the right side player, is a four-time Olympian who won gold in Sydney in 2000. Tasmin Hinchley has two Olympics in her bag, so there is definitely a lot of experience on that team. The day of the match, we practiced at 11 a.m. for an hour to get sharper on defense and work on some of what we felt would be key components of the match. We also wanted to wake up our bodies to get ready for our 11 p.m. match! Both Natalie and Tamsin played consistent and pushed us all way to the wire in both sets. Both sides dealt with a good case of first match nerves, and there was an uncharacteristic amount of errors. By the end, however, Kerri and Misty were able to get into their grove and open the 2012 Games with a win!
Second match vs. Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova (Czech Republic)
The team was feeling better and ready to keep improving after getting the first match under their belt and the nerves out of their systems. The day before this match we lifted and did some pool exercises to recover. We kept with the same routine and had serve and pass at 11 a.m. -- exactly 12 hours before our match so we would have enough time to recover but still get some quality training in. The young Czech Republic team had a great opening match and beat the Austrian sisters in three sets after falling in set one. They were excited to play us and had nothing to lose. Our morning practice was really good. It got the girls really dialed in on the areas we needed to focus on – so primarily our defensive and serving strategies. After our warm-up for the match, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook (members of the U.S. men’s basketball team) came down and challenged Kerri and Misty to a few quick points. It was fun to watch our basketball guys compete in a different arena and get killed by the girls!! :) The unconventional warm-up proved to work, and Kerri and Misty won 21-14, 21-19.
Third match vs. Doris Schwaiger and Stefanie Schwaiger (Austria)
This was the last match of pool play and the team was excited and ready to move on with the tournament. The Olympic Games is a marathon. We have been playing every other day at 11 p.m. The wait is a killer, but we must keep our patience and focus on each day as it comes. Once again, we trained at 11 a.m. at Horse Guards Parade. Kerri had some things to take care of, so Misty was stuck with me on the court by herself (hahaha!). Everything worked out really well and we worked on defense and serving. Twelve hours later we were back on the court for our final match of pool play. The basketball crew came down again to pay a visit and play a few points with the girls -- it’s become a bit of a good luck charm! Kevin Durant, James Harden and Carmelo Anthony tried but couldn't stop Kerri and Misty. Thanks again to our basketball guys for providing a little relaxation and healthy distraction for us right before our matches! It’s so fun to see all the different athletes support each other, and we appreciate every ounce of it (especially when we play so late!).
NBC did a feature, which also includes a short video, of Misty and Kerri playing volleyball with members of the basketball team. You can check it out here.
You may even catch a glimpse of yours truly!
Yesterday the brackets were released and we found out our first opponent in the single elimination bracket. Our road to gold has been paved! We play the Dutch team that we beat in our last FIVB stop in Switzerland. After a long day off, we worked our tails off (as Nina Matthies often says) this morning for two hours to get into our rhythm. The practice was focused on repetitions and offense off serve receive and transition. Kerri is feeling better after experiencing a few minor aches and pains and both are fired up and ready to battle! We play Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT. Be sure to check your local listings and cheer us along!
July 30, 2012
Greetings Waves fans!
I have been in London just over a week now, and so far the Olympics have been an overwhelming experience. It’s amazing how many people can gather together in one place for one goal: to compete and represent your country while doing what you love.
Last week Friday (July 27) I got to take part in the Opening Ceremonies. Team USA gathered around 9 p.m. in the front of a building in the Olympic Village. Athletes from all sports gathered and met each other, exchanged experiences and took pictures. It was amazing to see how excited the athletes were to meet and support the "Olympic rookies" or reminisce about the last Olympics with friends!
The men’s basketball team was asked for the most pictures. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the rest of the team were very gracious and happy to take photos with their fellow Olympians, as well as fans. They were very proud to be representing the United States.
On the way to Olympic Station we were surrounded by fans and kids screaming “USA! USA! USA!” After two hours in line (Parade of Nations) we got into the stadium. Just before we walked in, the whole team started chanting “USA! USA! USA!” It was very moving to be a part of that moment while walking into a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people, and it is one I will never forget.
Paul McCartney was great and the official opening from the Queen and James Bond was quite entertaining! This all led up to the grand moment – the lighting of the Torch!!!
The Olympic Torch was so close to us that we could feel the heat and energy of it. And most important it meant GAME ON!
Be sure to check out the photo gallery. I’ll be updating it throughout the Games as much as I can. You can also follow along on Facebook by “liking” Pepperdine Women’s Volleyball. Results and recaps to all the matches will be posted on USAVolleyball.org.
Marcio Sicoli, assistant coach for the indoor and sand volleyball teams at Pepperdine, is currently in London for the 2012 Olympic Games where he is serving as coach for beach volleyball legends and two-time gold medalists Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor.
Walsh-Jennings and May-Treanor, who were crowned Olympic Champions in Athens in 2004 and again in 2008 in Beijing, enter the London Games ranked No. 3.
Sicoli, who has been on the Waves’ staff since 2008, has helped lead the indoor squad to a West Coast Conference championship in 2011 and two NCAA Tournament berths. In April 2012, Sicoli tutored Pepperdine to the first-ever AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship.
Although this is Sicoli’s first time attending the Olympics with Walsh-Jennings and May-Treanor, he does have prior experience at the Games having served as an assistant coach for the Brazilian beach volleyball team from 2000-04.
Q&A with Marcio:
Q: How long have you been coaching Kerri and Misty?
A: Around two-and-a-half years
Q: What are you most looking forward to in London?
A: (laughing) Winning of a gold medal!
Q: What will it take for Kerri and Misty to three-peat?
A: A lot of mental toughness. They are still a very good team, but are no longer the dominant team like they were in past years. But they have been to the Olympics before so they have the experience and know how to deal with the pressure.
Q: Where do you train?
A: Manhattan Beach, very close to Hermosa Beach where the Waves compete at the annual USA Volleyball Collegiate Challenge.
Q: Has coaching collegiate sand volleyball, a team sport, helped you coach on the professional level?
A: Absolutely. During college sand, there is always so much going on at once. I have to pay attention to 10 players competing simultaneously. Now, I just have two players to focus on. I am able to really hone in on the details, which helps me to be more effective as a coach.