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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 2, 2002

Nothing like hard practice to show that you're ready

Costas Theocharidis: Breakfast special worth waiting for
Dejan Miladinovic: To final 4: By plane, car and Subway
Jose Delgado: Lucky to be here as rookie

Editor's note: Each day a University of Hawai'i men's volleyball player will chronicle his day for The Honolulu Advertiser as UH embarks on a quest for its first NCAA title.

By Vernon Podlewski

I almost got shocked today. That's because there was a lot of energy going on in practice. We really worked hard. Everybody looked all sweaty, like we could have used another shirt. We got our sweat out. That's how we're supposed to practice all of the time.

They say if you practice hard, you'll play hard. That's why I'm practicing hard. One benefit is a wet shirt makes it easier to slide on the ground for a dig. I'm a foot off the ground when I start to slide. If I'm sweating, it's easier on me. Diving is all about the chest area.

Another reason I want to work hard is I want to represent Hawai'i by playing the best I can. I'm a senior. This is my last chance. After this, I go on with whatever else I do in my life. This is one milestone for me to accomplish and feel great. I don't want to one day be an old man looking back and regretting that I didn't play hard back in 2002. That keeps me going.

Being here is a nice dream. Nobody thought I would be here. Because of my size (5 feet 8) nobody thinks I'm a volleyball player. I like it that way. People treat me like a regular person. I get to keep my business to myself.

I knew I would make it to D-1. I dreamed that, but I never dreamed I would make it to the final four. It's great to be here. Because of my age (25), I'm more comfortable than some of the younger guys about being here. But it's still exciting, and right now, I'm ready to play. Maybe before the match I'll get nervous, but that won't last very long.

I'm just a normal guy until I step onto the court. Then it's all over with. I focus. When I'm on the court, I'll do anything to help us win. I like to think I lead by example. I'm a hard player. I never give up.

I could have done a lot of things. I almost became a boxer. But life chose volleyball for me. Life has been great.

Sometimes I'll run into old classmates from Maui High (class of '94). They tell me they're proud of me.

I'm doing this for them and a lot of other people.

I want to represent every person who works hard to make his dream come true. I worked hard and my dreams came true.