European tour offers Hilbert chance to network, reconnect with former player
Jan. 5, 2011
By Danny Mattie
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In 2004 and 2008, fresh off of Mountain West Conference regular-season championships, Head Coach Tom Hilbert took his volleyball program on European tours.
And with another trip to Europe planned for Rams volleyball in the summer of 2012, Hilbert will head back across the Atlantic Ocean later this week as part of Bring It Promotions January European Exposure Tour where he will be coaching some of America’s top players who are looking to catch the eye of professional clubs in Europe’s top leagues. All of the athletes have completed their college eligibility.
In addition, Hilbert will take the opportunity to make contacts, not only for future CSU tours, but also to help his student-athletes better their chances of continuing their volleyball careers after leaving CSU.
“This is a great way for me to network with key people,” said Hilbert. “It allows me to better help my players get professional opportunities. It is also something that is interesting and educational for me, not just from a volleyball standpoint, but culturally.”
The tour, which leaves the U.S. on Thursday, will go through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy, before returning on Jan. 18.
Of course while on the tour, Hilbert will take some time away to reconnect with former Rams standout Katherine Whitney, who has made the most of the skills she honed under Hilbert, and has blossomed into one of European volleyball’s biggest stars.
“Katherine, of all the players that I’ve had go play overseas, has improved more than any of them,” added Hilbert. “If she was back on our team, she would be a starting outside hitter, and would maybe be the best in the country. That’s how good she is right now.
“She learned how to train herself and physically she is able to get the most out of her body. She’s just a savvy player and can play all skills. With that athletic ability has come great improvement in what she can do as an attacker.”
Whitney, a product of Boulder, Colo., transferred to CSU from Seton Hall after an impressive freshman campaign in which she was named 2003 Big East Rookie of the Year. A versatile player who saw time as an outside hitter and libero, Whitney helped the Rams capture three MWC championship trophies – the 2004 and 2006 tournament championships, and the 2004 regular-season title - and earned all-MWC honors as a senior in 2006.
After completing her degree at Colorado State, Whitney got her first professional opportunity playing with Holte Volleyball Club just outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. Now in her fifth season as a pro, she is starring for Stella Volleyball Club in Calais, France, and has made a second home for herself overseas.
“She really loves the lifestyle,” added Hilbert. “She wants to travel to different places and has really embraced the lifestyle, and I think that is great.”
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