Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Final Four | Author David Guterson discovers volleyball, thanks to his daughter

As Final Four tickets sell quickly, Bainbridge Island author of “Snow Falling on Cedars” finds volleyball is “far more cerebral” than he imagined
  • NCAA Division 1 Women’s Volleyball Final Four | December 19 & 21 | Key Arena, Seattle

Growing up in Seattle, award-winning author David Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars, The Other, Ed King) played basketball. These days, he finds himself “thrilled” by volleyball, thanks to his daughter, Yerusalem. The UW grad is now a regular at Huskies’ volleyball matches, and plans to take his daughter to the Final Four this December in Key Arena. [For a ticket availability update, see below].

Excerpts from our conversation with Guterson:

Volleyblog Seattle: Did you play volleyball growing up?

David Guterson: No, I didn’t. Growing up in Seattle in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I don’t even know if it was an organized sport. We played in gym class and we played for fun. And I really loved the game. But I don’t remember that there were leagues or teams to play on. I played basketball. It has some of the feel of volleyball: the jumping, the gathering yourself, the timing. So, basketball led me to enjoy volleyball, I think.

Q: How did you first get involved with volleyball?

Bainbridge Island author David Guterson
and his daughter, Yerusalem
-photo courtesy Guterson family
A: My daughter had been searching around for the right sport. She was into track for awhile, then an opportunity came last summer to try out volleyball. I could tell after the first couple of practices that she’d found her sport. She just loves it; that’s what drew me in. I’ve been going to middle school games, high school games and college games.

Q: Does anything about volleyball surprise you?

A: I was completely clueless about how complex it is. When I used to play informal pickup games, we just batted the ball back and forth the best we could. But going to the University of Washington volleyball matches, I can see how much there is to think about. Particularly in the match against Stanford, where there was a lot of adjusting going on; it’s a far more cerebral sport than I imagined.

Q: Anything else surprise you?

A: If people haven’t been to watch a college level volleyball match, the first time they go, they’re going to be astonished by the physicality. It’s thrilling.

Q: Does your daughter attend UW matches with you?

A: She does. After one recent game, we stood in a really long line so she could get the autograph of every player. She stood with her heroes. It’s just so great to see.

Harry Husky with Yerusalem (R) and friends
-photo courtesy Guterson family
Q: John Irving (The World According to Garp) was a wrestler and a wrestling coach, and he often manages to slip wrestling scenes into his writing. Might we see volleyball in your future books?

A: You never know. In my writing life, as I’m exposed to new things, that exposure often finds a way into what I write. And, so, it could happen.

Q: The first woman athlete to have her jersey retired by the University of Washington is volleyball great Courtney Thompson. Are you familiar with her?

A: I wasn’t paying much attention to the sport when she was playing at UW (2003-06). But even now, when I have informal conversations with people at Washington matches, I’ll say, “Look at that player, she’s great.” And they’ll say, “Yeah, well you should have seen Courtney Thompson.” They’re in awe. I can see why they’re retiring her number.


Kevin Ticen of the Seattle Sports Commission tells Volleyblog Seattle that 80% of Final Four tickets available to the general public have now been sold. Just over 3,000 seats remain, including about 250 tickets in suites.

“We’re hoping for an early sellout,” says Ticen.

None of us will know which teams will advance to the Final Four until December 14, but it won’t do you much good to wait until then if you want to be assured of a seat. Four west coast teams—Washington, Stanford, USC and San Diego—are currently among the current elite in polls and RPI, so there may be additional demand as the tournament draws nearer. Also among the nation’s top 25 are western teams like Hawai’i, California, Oregon, Utah, BYU and undefeated Colorado State. And, at every Final Four, the most fans in the stands wear Nebraska red, buying tickets whether or not the Cornhuskers reach the championships.

Tickets are available through the Ticketmaster website.

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