SBR resident plays Masters Volleyball nationwide

Don Williams, back row, left, with his Desert Thunder team at the Arizona Senior Olympics Gold Medal presentation

Don Williams, back row, left, with his Desert Thunder team at the Arizona Senior Olympics Gold Medal presentation

Don Williams

Many of you know SaddleBrooke Ranch resident Don Williams from his part-time job at the fitness center. But when Don is not here he is most likely traveling to play in another volleyball tournament somewhere in the United States. Don has been playing Masters level indoor men’s volleyball since he turned 50 years old and has played in numerous State Senior Olympics, U.S. Senior Olympics, USAV National Championship Games and World Senior Games over the years.

Don just returned from Orlando, FL where he played in the United States Volleyball Association (USVA) Adult Open Championships with his “Living On The Edge” team. This is the highest level adult volleyball tournament in the U.S. with teams coming from Brazil, Venezuela, Canada and Europe to compete. The players on Don’s team are from all over the United States. He has played with some of the players for 18 years.

The question always comes up, “How do you practice?” Players on the team typically play a specific position. They practice at their local gyms wherever they can find competitive level volleyball and focus on playing their position. Don trains at a private “invitation only” gym in Tucson where many National level players practice on a weekly basis. Some players travel from Phoenix, Flagstaff and El Paso, TX to practice there. When the team comes together for tournaments, everyone knows how to play their position. Don typically plays the middle hitter/blocker position.

The U.S. Senior Olympics is held every other year somewhere in the United States, most recently in Minneapolis. The next one will be in July 2017 in Birmingham, AL. Participants need to qualify by finishing first, second or third in a State Senior Olympics the year before to play in the U.S. Senior Olympics, which is also known as the National Senior Games. Don’s Desert Thunder volleyball team qualified this year by finishing first and going undefeated in the Arizona Senior Olympics. His teammates are from Tucson, Phoenix, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Other tournaments he has played this year include the Tucson Senior Olympics and the Nevada Senior Games in Henderson, NV.

In the last five years Don has also played on World Masters Volleyball tours that included playing in three cities in China as well as Buenos Aries, Argentina, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Rio he played some beach volleyball at Copa Cabana beach and Ipanema beach as well as playing at Brazil’s Olympic training center where he met the players on Brazil’s women’s gold medal Olympic team. Now those are some really tall girls!

Don’s upcoming tournaments include Prescott, AZ in August and Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah in October. Don is hoping to attend the World Masters Volleyball Competition in Auckland, New Zealand in April 2017.