FORT LEE, Va. (April 1, 2010)- The All Army Men’s Volleyball Trial Camp will invite about 22 Soldiers to its 2010 tryouts scheduled to start Wednesday at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Trouble is that there are only 12-16 slots available.
“Someone will have to go home,” said 2nd Lt. Pirtpal Dhillon, a team hopeful and Soldier assigned to Charlie Company, 71st Student Battalion, Army Logistics University.
“But it won’t be me.”
No, it’s not swagger; that’s probably above him. Dhillon, a two-time Army volleyball team veteran, believes he has enough game and skill to make the team.
“It’s definitely a quiet confidence, having been on the team before,” he said, “but at the same time being humble, because an injury or a bad performance can definitely knock you out of the running. No one cares about your past performances … I know what my abilities are and I’m confident in what I can do.”
What he did in 2003 and 2005 was make the team. He was cut in 2004; that’s why humility is his companion to self-assurance.
“Having been cut before, I know that making the team is no guarantee regardless of how many times you’ve played before,” said the 27-year-old Dhillon. “So I go in with a lot of expectations for myself. I hope to make the team. I’m going to try my best to represent myself and my unit well.”
Dhillon has been a competitive volleyball player since he was in the 8th grade. The Fresno, Calif., native played in high school and earned a spot on the San Jose State University club squad where he played for two years.
Prior to that, Dhillon had enlisted in the Army in 2001 as a signals intelligence analyst, serving four years. After attending college, he was accepted into Officer Candidate School in 2009, and that led him here, where he will begin the Transportation Officers Course in July.
Dhillon learned of his acceptance to the trial camp last month and said he has kept in shape by running, weightlifting and playing a few nights a week in a Richmond club league. His military duties have kept him from devoting more time to conditioning.
“I wish I could be on the court five, six times a week,” he said, “I’ll have to settle for two or three and hope that it all works out for me.”
Dhillon, who is 6-foot, 3-inches tall and 200 pounds, said he can play any position on the court but favors middle blocker because he has the attributes that fit the position.
“My strong suits are being quick at the net and blocking,” he said, “and my height and long arms play into that.’
So does vertical leaping ability. Dhillon said he doesn’t know how high he can get up but notes that jumping high is only part of being a competent middle blocker.
“You can jump 45 inches, but if it takes you to squat all the way down to get that high, then you’re no good,” he said. “You have to be quick on your feet.”
He’ll have to be quicker at the trial camp and at the top of his game. He noted that there is always an ‘X’ factor at the trial camps when it comes to players and abilities because you never know who will show up.
“There’s a lot of unpredictability going into it,” said Dhillon, “because you have a lot of Soldiers from the National Guard and Reserve side, and they get a lot more training than those of us who are active duty. The competition-level is very high.”
Dhillon definitely has the right mind set. Although he knows the downside of taking the competition for granted, he also knows the opportunity to tryout shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“It’s a great honor,” he said of the invitation. “One of the things I keep in mind is for that month I’ll be playing volleyball while others are deployed, so you have to really take into consideration how lucky we are as athletes and Soldiers to be afforded this opportunity when there are others who, because of a deployment or other obligation, weren’t able to try out.”
That kind of attitude has earned Dhillon favorable words from his company commander, Capt. Jeffry Carlson.
“2nd Lt. Dhillon is a great Soldier who is dedicated to the mission,” he said. “He has proven himself to be the leader, scholar, athlete that we expect from our newly commissioned officers.”
Those who make the team will go on to represent the Army in the Armed Forces tournament, where the Air Force and Navy dominate.
The trial ends the first week of May. Dhillon will return to Fort Lee soon afterward to begin preparation for the TOC the first week in July.