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Restrepo Q&A on Croatia Visit
August 04, 2011

Aug. 4, 2011

Oklahoma head coach Santiago Restrepo recently returned from a European trip as the head coach of the United States' A2 Junior Women's National Team. He sat down with SoonerSports.com this week to reflect on his trip and his summer of international travel.

On coaching the team…
When I was asked to coach the USA Volleyball High Performance A2 women’s junior team, it was very intriguing and I was honored. It’s a privilege to have the chance to coach with a national team. Right away I accepted the offer. How can you say no to that?

On playing the British National Team…
This team went to England to play the British national team in Sheffield. We had two exhibition matches against them and it was great because this is the Olympic team for 2012. We beat them in five the first night and came back from 0-2 to win. We lost in four the second night but two of the sets were 33-31. It was a great opportunity for our kids to play against a team that is going to be in the Olympics.

On the high performance tournament in Croatia…
From there we went to Trieste, Italy and drove to Pula, Croatia where we had a global challenge tournament consisting of six European teams and six American teams. It was setup so the American teams wouldn’t play each other until at least the semifinals. We ended up not playing any Americans team because we faced two European teams in the quarters and semis that had beaten us in pool play. Pool play was a best-of-three setup and we lost both those matches in three. The bracket play was best-of-five. We swept both those teams in three to reach the finals. We played the Czech Republic Junior National team and we beat them in four. I think that the opportunity was great.

On the level of talent in Europe…
There are some very, very good European teams and they have good fundamentals and have been training together for a long time. They have very talented players. For us, we only had three practices in England before going to Croatia to put everything together. Luckily, we learned to play with each other and it all came together once we got in the bracket play. It’s a great opportunity for any American team to be able to go because it helps develop our players.

On meeting other coaches…
All the coaches were able to exchange ideas and talk and mingle with them and get to know them and that was a great experience.

On Croatia…
Croatia is so pretty. We were five minutes away from the beach and were able to walk there down cobblestone streets. It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen during my travels. It was breathtaking being there. The people there are very generous, very kind, very friendly.

On coaching new players…
It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s a good challenge. You have these extremely gifted athletes that are representing their country. You are trying to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to play and then wanting to win the event for your country so eventually you have to put together a lineup that will win. That’s something everyone should experience because the international game is totally different than what you see in the United States.

On being asked to be a part of USA Volleyball…
I’m speechless. I’m honored they considered me and gave me the opportunity. Being from Colombia, it gives me great pride to be a part of USA Volleyball.

One word to describe the summer…
Unbelievable. Incredible. Out of this world even though that’s not one word. I will say speechless because I’m in awe that I got to do this. I couldn’t have without my wife Heidi and son Diego who stayed behind.

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