Patty Dodd BVB Coaching Course

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If you happened to drive past the College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) this week or headed out to laura for a picnic on Saturday (Feb. 11), you would have seen hundreds of elementary and high school students having fun playing beach volleyball.

The United States Embassy in Majuro partnered with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Majuro Atoll l ocal Government, Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee (MlNOC) and the Marshall Islands Volleyball Federation (MIVF) to host a week-long Sport Diplomacy visit by Sports Envoy Patricia "Patty" Dodd, an American professional volleyball player and Olympic trainer.

Coach Patty and her husband, Mike Dodd, an Olympic silver medalist and coach, live in Manhattan Beach, California, the birthplace of beach volleyball, and are owners of the Manhattan Beach Sand Club and Dodd Volleyball School for indoor and beach volleyball. With their two daughters also playing collegiate volleyball, you could say volleyball is the Dodd family business.

Approached by the US State Department Sport Diplomacy program about traveling to the Marshall lslands really pricked Coach Patty's interest. "I am passionate about volleyball, especially beach volleyball," she said, "so being able to bring my love of volleyball to the Marshall lslands was really exciting."

US Ambassador Karen Stewart said "the United States Embassy in the Marshall Islands was really pleased to be able to facilitate Coach Patty's visit to Majuro."

Wasting no time, Coach Patty arrived last Thursday morning and was in a CMI classroom by 2pm instructing 15 national volleyball coaches, almost half of whom were women, in a two-day USA Volleyball Coaching Education Course.

"It was very important that women be involved in this training, as volleyball is unquestionably the premier sport for women in the Marshall Islands," said new MIVF President Darcyann Muller. "Starting in the classroom and then moving outside to the beach courts for immediate practical application, Coach Patty's teaching technique was perfect for our learning style."

MAlGov Councilman Boaz lamdrik sent his sports staff to attend the coaching course and helped organize the logistics of the subsequent beach outreach. Coming from all the villages throughout Majuro, MAlGov's sport staff will help jumpstart beach volleyball around Majuro.

It could have been an overwhelming logistical challenge for MINOC and MIVF if not for assistance by Ministry of Public Works to deliver sand and use their heavy equipment to upgrade the CMI court. MAlGov provided ground transportation and built three new beach courts in Arrak for Saturday's Beach Festival, which included students from Ajeltake, Woja and l aura elementary schools and lau ra High School, Marshall lslands High School, Baptist and Assumption high schools.

"Holding the nine-hour coaches training on Thursday and Friday prior to the Beach Festival was critical in the delivery of Saturday's events," said Coach Patty. "Having a base of knowledge - some participants are players, some are current coaches - so getting everyone on the same page and then being able to see them in action on Saturday, with me just facilitating, that was really rewarding."

US Ambassador Stewart, who visited the Beach Festival in Arrak, said, ''The positive interaction between the kids and Coach Patty was evident. It was wonderful to watch the kids exercising and enjoying themselves. Coach Patty is an amazing model of this."

Coach Patty also commended MlNOC and MIVF on their coordination of Saturday's Beach Festival. She recognized the logistics required to provide transportation and meals for more than 200 students, coaches and support staff, as well as having three sand courts available. Monday's schedule included Coach Patty working with the national team developing and implementing strategies for both indoor and beach competition in preparation for MIVF's upcoming tryouts for the 2018 Micronesian Games. This was followed in the afternoon by over 100 elementary students from Majuro Cooperative School, Assumption, Baptist and Ajeltake Christian Academy converging on CMI beach court for an introduction to beach volleyball.

If this aggressive schedule was not enough, Coach Patty was whisked across the lagoon on Tuesday to deliver the course to students on Rongrong, with support from Majuro Mayor lad ie Jack.

"Patty was an amazing ambassador for USA, using sport and volleyball as the forum to reach our youth," said MINOC Secretary General and Oceania Zonal Volleyball Association Vice-President Terry Sasser. "Her love for children combined with her passion for volleyball made her time here a great success."


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