This Is a Problem Every Coach Would Like to Have


Terry Liskevych doesn't coach baseball, but he knows the value of having a couple of heavy hitters to call in from the bench.

Caren Kemner and Paula Weishoff are generally considered among the best women's volleyball players this country has produced. Yet Liskevych, in his third term as the U.S. Olympic coach, can't find a spot for either player in his starting lineup.

"What coach in the world, in any sport, wouldn't like to look down their bench and see two players who were player of the year in the world?" Liskevych said after a two-hour practice on Thursday. "Both of them are still among the five greatest players in this country. That's not even a debate. They're in the top five of any team at any time."

They're just not among the first six the United States will be putting on the floor in its opener Saturday against Ukraine.

Which is OK with Weishoff, but only tolerated by Kemner.

"I don't accept it well, but I understand it's my responsibility," said Kemner, an outside hitter and five-time winner of the U.S. team's most-valuable-player award. I would love to be starting in my last Olympics, but the people ahead of me are doing a great job."

Unlike Kemner, Weishoff, a middle blocker, was told she would be a substitute when she rejoined the team last year.

Four years ago Weishoff contributed 96 kills and nine blocks in six matches to the U.S. team's bronze medal-winning effort in Barcelona. That was good enough not only for team most valuable player, but also for recognition as the outstanding player in the Games.

Now the senior member of the team at age 34, Weishoff is just happy to be a member of a squad she hopes is good enough to complete her medal collection. The Torrance native also has a silver medal that the United States earned at Los Angeles in 1984.

"For me, everything is a positive," Weishoff said. "I'm here. I got to come back for another Olympics. After '92 I was going to retire. I never imagined I'd be back."

Weishoff said she really will retire after these Games. And so will Kemner--but perhaps only to another venue. The 32-year-old Quincy, Ill., native plans to try beach volleyball.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World