An Interview with a Su Ragazzi Superstar!

An interview with a Su   Ragazzi superstar!

Laura Mcready is heading to France to start her first season as a volleyball professional…..she sat down with Jillian Galloway for a chat before she left…

When did you first start playing volleyball?

 I was in primary 7 and Amanda had just started high school and joined the volleyball club with her friends, run by PE teacher Keith Falkingham. She quickly fell in love with it and as with everything wanted to teach me how to play. My parents bought her a volleyball and soon she was coaching me in the back garden. Later in the y

ear Keith came to our primary school and gave us a trial session and informed us he was starting a weekend club in the high school. I went every Sunday and soon fell in love with it. I continued playing when I went to high school too, and played for the schools team from 1st to 6th year. Keith also coached North Lanarkshire Junior Volleyball club which I joined in 3rd year and played with them until I was 18. When I was about 15 Keith also started North Lanarkshire Senior Womens team which I played with for 4years, working our way from 3rd to 1st division.

When did you start with Su?

 After I finished my first year at Uni, I decided to move to Su Ragazzi for several reasons. I had recently been capped for Scotland and felt that although my current team had got me to that level, I was not able to keep up with the speed and tactics of the National Team, and knew I needed to train consistently at a higher level. The quality of coaching and players within Su Ragazzi offered me that opportunity, and immediately saw the effect of training 3times a week instead of twice. I have now played for Su Ragazzi for 6years and within that time have won the league, been capped every year, and come 4th, 3rd and 1st in the Player of the Year competition.

When and where was your first cap?

 Scotland qualified for the Small Nations European Final in May as Glasgow was the host city, and I had been training with the team since the end of summer the year before. I went to every training session and worked hard, but my due to my lack of experience, and height since I played as an outside hitter at the time, I had no idea I would be chosen to the 12 strong squad for the tournament. I still remember John and Vince telling me up in the stands at the Kelvin Hall and my reply “You’re kidding?”. I got my first cap during that tournament, I think it was the second game, I was substituted on to serve. I remember being terrified! But it was an amazing experience and I absolutely adore playing with the National Team.

When did you decide you were a libero and not a hitter?

 In all honesty, it was pretty much decided for me. I started as a middle hitter at junior level, and moved to an outside hitter the year before I joined Su. I then played a mixture of Off-Setting, Swing and Power hitting until last year. I always loved the thrill of hitting but definitely always felt more confident, comfortable and natural when I was backcourt. I liberoed in a few tournaments for the National Team and realised it probably was my best position, but enjoyed the glory of scoring points too much to suggest a permanent move. Then at the start of season 2011/12, my club and National team coaches moved me to the libero slot. I wasn’t always happy in it I’ll admit, it took some adjusting, and I’d regularly try to sneak into the hitting lines during training. But as I developed and learned and improved as a libero I grew to love it, and realised I craved the glory of making a perfect pass or spectacular pick up. Turns out the coaches were right (who knew!).

What team are you going to play for?

 I am moving to the very south coast of France to a town called Toulon. Apparently it’s a French Naval Port and has a hugely successful Rugby club. The team I am playing for is Toulon Six-Fours La Seyne Var Volley.

What league/division do they play in?

The play in National 2, mostly I play games on a Sunday against local teams around Toulon. In France the womens divisions are ProA, N1 and N2.

How did you go about finding a pro contract?

 I’ve wanted to play abroad for years, and after coming back from Luxembourg in January I decided it was now or never. I contacted ex-Suette and GB Captain Lynne Beattie asking for advice and she gave me the link to her agency “Bring It Promotions”. They are an American company but also represent European players. In March I emailed the contact and stated who I was and what I wanted and uploaded a video of me liberoing onto YouTube. I got a reply within a few days saying they would see what they could do. A month or so later I got another email saying libero contracts were rare but he would keep looking. Then in May he asked would I like to play in the south of France?...Yes please! I was given the basic details of the contract and had a short email correspondence with the coach from France, and within a few days I was offered the contract. It all happened pretty quickly and I think even now, two days before I leave, it still hasn’t properly sunk in...

What you looking forward to most about going away?

 I will be training at least 4 times a week and doing a weights programme. I am hoping that even this small change will help me make big improvements in my game and fitness. I am looking forward to playing with different people, learning from them, having to adapt to the French game, and working with a new coach. I’m hoping the new insights and techniques and environments will all play a part in helping me develop as a player. And let’s not kid ourselves, living in the south of France will be like an 8 month holiday!

What do you think you'll miss most? (you don't have to say us!!)

 Not having to concentrate when I speak (I’m hoping all that high school French will come flooding back...). My family, my BFF and friends. I’m hoping to keep in touch with everyone over Facebook and Skype so don’t be strangers!! Hopefully I’ll get to see you all over Christmas, but if not, until May: Au revoir!! xxx