Foray in Michigan Volleyball

July 25, 2009

pvballMy baseball coach’s daughter playing for my high school now. Jesus, I remember when she was like 12. Now she’s their ace.

As mentioned previously, I’m also looking to expand coverage of the Michigan Volleyball team.  I’ve found in my home town, the sports of baseball and volleyball go hand in hand.  The two sports are on complete opposite ends of the sports scheduling spectrum, making it easy for the two teams to see the other play.  As a baseball player, I was never stuck in practice and unable to see the volleyball team play.  Same went for the volleyball players who would fill the baseball stands.  And yes, we did pack each others’ games.  By my senior year, the baseball team packed the student section with the “bleacher bums” equipped with t-shirts made by the volleyball players.  Come spring, they were our “bleacher babes.”  It was a great (however stereotypical suburban high school) relationship between the two teams.

It also stretched past the fields.  Many of the baseball players, including myself (however badly that ended up in retrospect), dated volleyball players.  Two of my best friends in life are still a pair of volleyball players from my time at high school.  The two teams just gelled, and it has had a lasting effect on my sports fandom.

It’s not just me.

I’ve always been a fan of playing volleyball and volleyball-esque games.  Since becoming inundated with the game through my then girlfriend, I would estimate I’ve played more volleyball than any other sport.  It started with playing volleyball a town over at their lighted sand courts, but in college, it hit a new high.  I joined Alpha Delta Phi (yes, the one with the volleyball court out front).  While opinions of us may vary depending on who you talk to or who you may know, the volleyball court is probably the most defining feature of our house.

Many of my greatest memories of the house happened while playing on the volleyball court.  While there were obviously great bonds built, every year those started at the same spot.  Every August, as move in is just beginning, volleyball becomes the focus.  Guys in the house, passerby’s on the street, volleyball is that fun distraction that drew us all in.  It’s where we’d catch up with our brothers and friends we’ve missed over the last four months.

As college went on, I was introduced to wally-ball.  For those of you not familiar with this particular intramural, you’re really missing out.  It’s volleyball meets racquetball.  You play in the racquetball court and off walls.  The season I played co-ed with my house and the sister sorority de jour was one of my favorite experiences in IM sports.

After I left Michigan, I worked in Chicago for a year and had a brief stint with a men’s club team there.   My work schedule limited my participation, but it was interesting none-the-less.  While being one of only two straight guys on our team of 12 was awkward, being able to smash down as an right side hitter was a great release from the rigorous travel schedule at work.

Since returning home to Houston, I’ve tried to make a point to get out at least once a month to the volleyball courts.  I’ve also made it a goal to see more high school and college games.  Last year, I was lucky enough to catch Michigan play at the Rice Invitational.  I think I was the only non-parent at the game.  I watched Bower and Paz, two players I will probably write a bit more about soon, rip up Louisiana Lafayette in 3 straight games.   It was awesome.  It was also the last time I got to see Kerry Hance – dig through enough old haloscan comment sections of mgoblog v1.0 and it may reveal some drooling over her on my part.  But sigh, she’s graduated on to bigger and better things.

08 Team, There’s Kerry, front and center… (pic from mgoblue)

I occasionally posted a brief fanpost on maizenbrew or mgoblog, but I never really got into the blogging thing.  That post, along with my blogging of the baseball Big10 tournament in 2008, though, lead me to start the blogging of baseball full time.

So that brings us back to now.  After a season of baseball blogging, I’m looking to also bring in volleyball.  I’m not really sure how I’m going to go at it though.  I’m running into several problems, most notably lack of media coverage.  I’m hoping the opening series at the Nebraska/Runza/AVCA Showcase will make it onto CBS College Sports or ESPNU.  This being THE tournament of the volleyball season (imagine the preseason-NIT but bigger), there is a good chance that much of it will be televised, especially our match versus home team and probably preseason top 3 team Nebraska.

After that, the BigTenNetwork hasn’t released any programming schedules with regard to volleyball.  Last year’s coverage was meager at best. They only offered 20 conference games (one per night) over the course of the season, seven of which included Michigan.  I’m really hoping we can see more streamed coverage from either BTN or MGoBlue.com.  I’m not expecting it though.

We’ll see how things go over the next few weeks.  I’ll probably start with previews and background information here, then post them as diaries on mgoblog as a litmus test for how fans respond.  I’ve been informed that the volleyball team has quite a cult following, and I’m hoping I can offer them more coverage as they desire.

Women’s volleyball is hot, your argument is invalid.

I’m somewhat afraid that the mgoblog community isn’t the greatest platform to start coverage.  Many fans on there aren’t really fans of the school as much as they are the football team.  To invite fans of the school (as you almost have to be in to be a supporter of a non-revenue sport) into this pre-existing community could scare off some readership.  I really liked the community feeling we were gaining at VarsityBlue with the baseball crowd.  I’m not sure they’ll care to put up with the football crowd.  So those are just the thought’s I’m having right now.

Depending on how Brian orients his site as a source, it could work out nicely or play to my fears.  If my posts are semi-buried, I may be able to insulate the non-revenue varsity sports fans from the ridiculousness that is mgoboard.  Unfortunately, I anticipate that that crowd will seep over regardless of how I try to insulate my posts.

That said, insulating my posts isn’t something I really want to do.  By trying to set myself apart, I lose exposure for the sport coverage.  I’m not sure what the best option is.  I think the best option going forward is to post here and then diaries, hoping to do something like 40Acres does at BurntOrangeNation with his baseball posts.  I can post tid-bit recaps without much substance just to say, “hey, volleyball exists and they won.”  Make those posts on Sunday before football posting kicks in with thought out reflections as a hold over.

But as I’ve said, I’ve got time to figure that out.

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Transitioning Baseball Updates

July 25, 2009

With the transfer to mgoblog in progress, I’m not really sure of the posting etiquette for the next few weeks, if not months.  I’m not sure what is expected and will post things here for the time being.  And since it’s been a few weeks since my last update, this will be a bit long.  Bare with me.  Here’s the last update’s link as of July 4th weekend.  I’m planning on one of these recaps once every two weeks until the season ends, which means one or two more before I can shut it down for the real off season and the football season.

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I’ve Been Bought Out

July 24, 2009

News finally broke today that VarsityBlue, my home to Michigan baseball coverage the last 5 months, has been absorbed by MGoBlog – the leader in University of Michigan sports coverage not related to the actual school.  For those of you not familiar with the sports blogging world, Brian, the creator of MGoBlog, is widely heralded for being an innovator when it comes to the medium (college sporting blogs related to a specific school, and to an extent, college sports in general).  His site, created as a writing outlet for a fan, has grown into one of the largest individual sites dedicated to college football.  He became so successful that he was able to give up his job as an software engineer and do the blog full time – and for good money.

Now, after experimenting with a recruiting correspondent for a few months, Brian is looking to absorb VarsityBlue with Tim as a lead reporter, Paul as an Ann Arbor based correspondent (Tim’s not always in Ann Arbor), and me doing baseball.   This is a great chance for me to increase exposure of not only Michigan baseball, but my own writing.  I’m not opposed to either of those, obviously.  Really, that goals post was written the day before I found out there were plans for the absorbtion.  At least I have a plan to put towards Brian now at least?

So while details on my role have been sparse, I’m hoping to start getting things kicking in the next few weeks.  I’ve got to discuss with Brian his thoughts on other minor sports, particularly ones that happen during football season.  I’ve got some ideas about limited volleyball coverage, but I need to run it by him.  The goal of the merger appears to be making MGoBlog into the media center for Michigan sports coverage, which means any new coverage would be warranted.  Brian’s already discussing the problem of providing too much content, which is a very valid concern.  If there’s too much, people will just be overwhelmed by the content.  I’ll play it by ear.

Also, with the transition to MGoBlog, I’m contemplating my current use of anonymity.  With VarsityBlue, as well as commenting on MGoBlog for the last two years, I’ve stuck with the tag name of formerlyanonymous.  I’m contemplating going to my real name for posting there not only for exposure, but more importantly for validity.  By putting my name to my work, I’m taking a larger responsibility in what I say and think.  I can’t hide behind the faceless entity of “formerlyanonymous.”  I would put my work to my name, which will help with my credibility as a writer.  Plus, I mean it makes me even more “formerly anonymous.”  And who doesn’t like clever tags like that?

I’ll be updating some links, tags, and categories on here in the meantime.  Once I know how the new MGoBlog will work, I’ll provide an update along with creating an RSS feed of posts on the new big site.

Excitement.


So You’re Saying There’s a Chance

July 20, 2009

Hey, I’m in that video. And yes, it had to be posted.

So while perusing the admissions area of UH today, I came across an interesting piece of information.  Apparently the school has an admissions appeal process where those with extenuating circumstances (which, from their examples, sound much like mine).  The premise behind it is that if you have a GPA that doesn’t get you accepted, then you can fill out an application along with letters of support to show evidence that you deserve to be accepted.

Well, if you asked me, having a 3.33 GPA and being Dean’s List are pretty good signs that I’m pretty deserving.  So I made the call today to UH to ask questions about my admissions status.  UH has still not officially notified me that I haven’t gotten in.  I’m hoping to use that against them for the appeal process.  The deadline for appealing was July 9th, which has well past.  I’m hoping that since they haven’t notified me, I can file for an extension and get it in over the next two weeks.

I’m not very confident it will work, but my fingers are crossed.  Worst case scenario I’m right back where I was yesterday.


Mr. Anonymous Visits Washington

July 18, 2009

…or at least a guy who works in Washington.  This is going to be long, so yeah, the page break is included. Long story short, I saw my US House Representative speak today.  He’s hardcore republican, I’m moderate with some liberal tendencies.  This is an overview of the political arena of my area as well as my thoughts on things he discussed, as well as the general meeting itself.

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Options Limited

July 15, 2009

So since I received that email stating I wouldn’t be accepted into UofH, I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching.  While the initial response was all doom and gloom, I think there may be some options for me at the end of the tunnel.

Option A1

The first option I have is to still apply to UH but as an undeclared undergraduate.  From this step, I am faced with another decision: do I beg the Dean of Engineering at UH to accept me despite my grade point deficiencies?  With my recent string of high grades, as well as mass improvements in several classes, I might have a shot at being admitted as a probationary engineering student, but only if the dean is feeling particularly charitable that day.  This strategy really doesn’t carry much risk.  If I get accepted into engineering I win, if I am rejected again, other than a bad taste in my mouth, I’m no further down the ladder than I was.  If anything, at least I’m in a university.

Option A2

If, for some reason, I decide that it’s not worth it to plead to the dean or even if I’m rejected, I’m left with at least two backup majors that interest me.  The first backup major probably makes the most sense, construction technology (CT).  CT is a major that covers most of what I actually want to do with my Civil Engineering major, but it lacks the technical background that would open more doors for advancement and diversify me as an employee.  Civil engineering obviously makes me more versatile, not only as a commercial construction manager, but also as a general contractor who deals with engineers and architects quite often.  CT would teach me the business side, but it lacks several key parts of the actual structure.  That is really the part I’m most interested in, and losing that would be regrettable.

Option A3

My second backup major is a much more drastic change.  Having covered the Michigan baseball team on the blog(s) over the last season, I’ve become slightly interested in sports information.  For those of you not familiar with it, sports information is a department of the athletic departments of universities, or the marketing/media relations of professional teams.  I’ve had several positive experiences with the associate sports information director for baseball this previous season, and I really find his job to be fascinating.  Not only is he working with sports, but he’s also doing it with a flair of journalism.  I’ve found myself entrenched in journalism and media news over the last year.  After sports, journalism discussing journalism is often the next thing I read every day. Probably one of the more important aspects of it are the limited number of semester hours I’d have to put forward towards it.  To get the degree, I’d have to take about the same number of credits as I need for my engineering degree.

So while this sports information (communication) backup major is a possibility that sounds enjoyable, I’m somewhat cautious about jumping at it.  It’s a pretty drastic change from what I’ve been engaged in before, and I’m worried that it might just be a phase I’m going through.  The pros sound good now, but I think it is definitely in the back seat for now.

Option B

My second initial option is something that I’ve begun to mull over more and more of late.  There is a decent chance that Michigan could reinstate me as a student in the College of Engineering (COE).  I’ve taken the initial steps already to find out what this would take, and the returns have been mixed.  While I’ve run into little problem with the Scholastic Standing Committee (SSC) and my previous adviser, I’m not sure how the Civil Engineering Department will receive me.

The way the reinstatement process works is that my advisers, the department I’d be enrolled in, and the SSC all have to agree that I’m ready to attend, and they set up a list of rules and goals that I must achieve during my semester I return.  If I consent to those rules, they will admit me back in under probation.  I’d be limited to 12 hours, couldn’t score below a B-, and required to attend a certain number of hours of advising/mentoring every month.  The good news is one semester of probation would be enough to raise my GPA out of the probationary status.  So things could be good there.

Option B – Problems

One of the problems I see is that all the classes I’ve taken while away from Michigan won’t help my GPA, and many won’t transfer at all.  Of the classes I took the last two semesters, none will count towards my degree at UM.  They will count as electives only.  Of the classes I plan on taking this semester, I doubt any will count either.  I’m hoping that perhaps my taking differential equations might, but that’s only because I made a D in it the first time I took it at UM, therefore earning me credit in the class.  If I take it this semester and get a better grade (one that would count for prerequisites), I’m not sure that it will count.  I’m planning on calling tomorrow to make sure.

Another major con would be the cost.  Michigan isn’t cheap.  The out-of-state tuition rates are $37,389.  That’s just TUITION.  That doesn’t include room and board, books, or other costs of living.  The estimated costs according to the financial aid department is $49,451.  That’s steep.  I’m sure I’d receive a little bit of financial aid, but I’m already behind the curve there.  I need to adjust my FAFSA asap.

Also, when it comes to backups, I’ve got nothing at Michigan.  If I don’t get this Civil Engineering degree, any more time I spend at Michigan is a waste of tens of thousands of dollars.  Not having a backup frightens me pretty badly.

Option B – Am I Ready of It?

After getting past those initial pros and cons, I’ve also have to deal with a lot of “intangibles.”  I’ve got the general thoughts in my head that UM >> UH.  That goes without saying, but along those lines, I have to question on whether I can handle it in Ann Arbor.  I’ve already near failed out.  I’ve tried to rationalize with myself that I’m a different person now.  My time away from campus has seen me grow up quite a bit.  The 07-08 school year working on the road broke me of many 0f my undergraduate habits that were detrimental to my studies.  I’ve spent a year working hard at my academics and even made the Dean’s List in the spring.  I’ve rediscovered what it is to do homework in classes.  I’m just too pessimistic based on my previous results.

The other thought that I’m wrestling around with has to do with quitting.  I quit Michigan.  That doesn’t sit well with me.  I’m not a quitter.  To complicate it, I was failing.  I don’t take failure lightly.  And here’s where things start to get confusing (if they aren’t already).  I’ve begun to second guess myself.  If by wanting to go to Michigan to prove I’m not a quitter/failure, am I just playing to the stubbornness that caused all my troubles the first time I was enrolled?  During my last few semesters on campus, I refused help.  I ignored mandates by the SSC to go to advising, see a mentor, get help.  I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it.

Is this the mindset that I’m succumbing to in my decision to go back?  I’m not sure.  I feel like this time around it’s about proving to myself I can not only do it, but that I can ask for help.  I’ve read so many articles about engineers entering the workforce unable to work well in groups.  While I don’t worry too much about my social behavior, I think I’ve been one of those loner engineers the last few years.  The question then becomes, have I broken that habit?  I’d like to think I have.  Looking back at some of the work I did during my year off from school, I can recognize me working better with groups.  But will that translate to my studies, that’s hard to tell.  The last year didn’t see much of it.  I did things on my own, but that wasn’t because I wanted to; I did things alone because my peers just weren’t up to my level.  That’s the problem with JUCO’s I guess, the people who attend them aren’t generally future engineers.

So I’m left with scant examples of me working well with others.  I think the few examples that I can look at as solid proof of me accepting collaboration has to be my trips to the writing lab for my English paper.  My professor was more of my peer than the students in my class.  We were able to discuss not just the endless grammar lessons she preached in class to the students who continually failed at it, but we also discussed things such as paper writing philosophies.  How to go at it.  It was interesting and taught me more about my own writing (which yes, if you’re still reading, you know how bad it can still be).  So I find that to be at least a slightly positive sign.  Hell, the fact I was even in a writing lab is far and beyond what I would have done while at UM.

Wrap Up

This post has ended up quite a bit longer than I’ve wanted it to be.  I’ve got a few more weeks to decided what I’m going to do.  The deadline for the winter semester at UM is October 1st, but the deadline for UH is December 1st.  I have an appointment to call the Civil Engineering Department at Michigan on Tuesday, so I’ll know more things then.

Meanwhile, I’m only 2 P.E credits and a public speaking class from getting an associate’s degree in General Studies, which, like, who cares?  My other conundrum of the summer is do I pay $533 to get a degree I’m going to do nothing with?  I mean, $318 for the two PE credits.  WTF.  I could pay that and get a gym membership for a year (maybe?).  I find that to be a ridiculous scam.  So yeah, I probably won’t get the associate’s degree, although it would be nice to at least get a degree with my name on it.  I think I’ll just hold out for a bachelor’s.  Bah.


Unacceptable

July 11, 2009

I got an A in multivariable calculus, but it wasn’t enough to get me in.  I was told my GPA was .06 points below what was accepted this term.  Even after the A I’m going to get in my AutoCAD class, I’ll still be .01 points below the cut off.  It sucks to have worked this hard only to be rejected.  Now I’m being pushed back not only the 6 months I have to wait to get into a university, but also another 3 months as I’ll have to finish in a fall semester after a summer break. This puts my scheduled graduation date around December 2011 at the soonest, with a decent chance at May 2012.  I can’t help but think my whole life is going to end up in failure.  By then I’ll be 26 and just entering the real world.  I’ll be 4 years behind my peers.

What makes it worse, I’m not sure I can even get into the engineering programs until next fall as I try to boost my grades as quickly as possible.  If I can’t, I certainly won’t be graduating until at least May 2012, if not later.  With the way things are going, I’m almost wondering if I shouldn’t just change my major.  If I do that, I may have the chance to graduate a least a semester earlier (assuming I don’t get accepted directly into the engineering school).

Life sucks right now.  I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I’m planning on making a couple appointments this week with academic advisors at the JUCO I’m attending.  I’m not sure how much they’ll be able to help me, but it’s just about the last option I’ve got.

At this point, there are only 4 classes I can take to try and boost my GPA: differential equations, physics 1, chemistry 1, and calculus 2.  I’ve got C/C+’s in each of those and could definitely raise them to B+/A’s.  If I do that, I’ll still be a little low on the calculus math, sceince, English and engineering grades needed to make it into the engineering school.  My grades at Michigan in my engineering courses, as well as my several attempts at calc3/diffequ just drag my grade down horribly.  Add that my grades in Chem Lab 1&2 at michigan can’t be raised by retaking them, I’m left scrambling to find courses that will raise that GPA.

I think next semester I’ll be retaking all 4 of those classes to boost my GPA and a technical writing class.  That will most likely have me taking a combined 18 credits at two different JUCO’s.  I’m also debating the idea of adding another class and bringing my credit hours up to 22.

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While writing this, I took a break to look at what it would take to get my GPA up to the point where I could enroll in UH’s engineering school.  I need an A in 50 credits of classes.  That’s before I can even enroll.  I think it’s time to find a new major.  I’m so lost.