By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
Delve into the pages of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and you will find the word “mentor.’’ The definition is “an experienced and trusted advisor.’’ Missy McCaw-Frette had one and now she is one.
As the director-coach of the Tulsa-based Ultimate Performance Volleyball Club, McCaw-Frette has taken every aspect of the sport she learned from her mother, the legendary Peggy McCaw, and transformed it into a way of life. Now she teaches it to her players.
“I like watching them go out and work well together, learning to be successful in whatever they do,’’ said McCaw-Frette. ”Club volleyball also gets players noticed nationally and helps kids go to college. It keeps them out of trouble when they spend time with their friends. Their friends are club players.
“We focus on all positions, developing players and teaching them the right way to win. The younger players learn the game and how to be competitive. Someone took time to teach me and now I want to take time for them.’’
More than 20 clubs in the Tulsa area help McCaw-Frette pass volleyball forward. Each club selects players in age groups 11 through 18 who compete against other clubs around the city, state and sometimes nationally. Ultimate Performance Volleyball has qualified for the last three USVBA national tournaments. The modern era started with Peggy McCaw, now 79, who still sometimes coaches and dabbles in the sport. Her son, Chip McCaw, is a former Olympian who played collegiately at Pepperdine.
“She got it going in 1984 or 85 coaching junior volleyball,’’ McCaw-Frette said of her mother. “She played in college and on the national team and coached at ORU, OU and high school. She won the state title at Edmond Memorial. She put Tulsa on the map and sent guys to college across the board. Ethan Watts played at BYU and in the 1996 Olympics, Katie Citolla went to Ole Miss and I played at USC. She liked mainly coaching boys because they were more intense.’’
Although both girls and boys play club volleyball in Tulsa, perhaps the females have an advantage due to their high school teams. Volleyball is almost a year round sport for some and it can prove to be either a positive or negative, depending on the individual. Mikiah Perdue, who also suits up for Jenks High School as middle blocker during the school season, has definite ideas about the two.
“I prefer club volleyball to school. I like the enthusiasm,’’ said Perdue , who switched from soccer to volleyball to enhance her chances of earning a college scholarship. “Club is more stressful because in school you only play nine weeks and this is half a year, but club has definitely made me a better player and given me life skills. I’ve only been playing four years, but (coach) Danielle Parsons put me on a national team and helped me reach my potential.’’
Both McCaw-Frette and Perdue agreed that club volleyball is a much faster game than high school, even though prep players receive more “touches’’ in games. However, the coach was adamant that the club version gives players a much better opportunity to play in college.
“Coaches recruit from the club tournaments,’’ said McCaw-Frette. “The high school game is a lot slower pace and the rest of the country is playing faster than we are. In Oklahoma there may be 10 coaches who have the background for volleyball and Texas and other states develop coaches. We don’t have that in Oklahoma. That makes finding club coaches hard.’’
The coach said the state is making progress with catching up to California, Texas and the other hotbed volleyball states, but prospective players must be serious about the sport. Fees, equipment and other charges can range from $1,500 to $3,300 a year with up to six hours a week required in practice time.
With up to three tournaments a month, coaches must also be dedicated. McCaw-Frette toils from sun up to sun down, working as an agent for New York Life in addition to finding time to a wife, mother, coach and entrepreneur.
“We may play in Colorado where there are 10 courts and maybe 600 moms, dads and others watching,’’ said the coach. “The tournaments bring in a lot of money to the community. We’re trying to advance to that level here and I think we are starting to get noticed nationally.’’
McCaw-Frette said her club grows every year with some age groups attracting more than 100 prospects. With her son Lars a member of her team, there may yet be another volleyball mentor in the making.