It is cold outside, but as soon as I open the door, warmth greets me. Warmth because the heater inside is set quite high, but also from the warm hug I receive from Brenda.
The previous times I met up with her for an interview, we did so in the canteen of the Steenwijklaan and Sportcampus Zuiderpark. This time, we agree to meet in a restaurant. And a very nice restaurant at that, Impio. Brenda knows the owners, but hasn’t been there in a while due to circumstances, and I have never been there and am very curious. We quickly order some wine and talk about Brenda herself. Because, although we all know who Brenda is (right?), what do we actually know about her?
Who is Brenda?
Let’s start at the beginning, Brenda was born in Haarlem but grew up in Hoofddorp. She started playing volleyball at VCH when she was five years old. “The most fun association in Hoofddorp, and since 2018 I have been playing volleyball at the most fun association in The Hague.” And moving to The Hague is not a bad choice because Brenda is happiest when she is at the beach. So it’s not surprising that Brenda loves playing beach volleyball and surfing! And of course, having drinks at a beach bar. So that’s something we’ll do next time. For now, we’re having drinks at Impio, where we order a first course. I love the ‘shared dining’ concept, so I can try more things. So, we order some appetizers and share the dish. We start with Jerusalem artichoke fries (delicious!) and flamed quesadillas (also delicious!).
While we devour the dishes, we talk about Brenda’s job. She is a teacher (currently for 8th grade) at a primary school in the Schilderswijk. She really enjoys it there. Being able to make a difference for students who sometimes have a hard time suits her well. She also enjoys being part of the beach volleyball branch of Sovicos. She has been playing there for almost five years!
Just as long as she has been a volunteer member of the Technical Committee (TC). In addition, she has provided many trainings and coached many teams. She sometimes helps organize an event and also occasionally helps us, the editorial team, with taking photos. While we go for a second round of dishes: boneless fried chicken in Swedish meatball sauce and corn ribs with BBQ sauce (yum!), we talk about the Technical Committee (TC). Because I want to know why Brenda immediately joined the TC when she became a member of Sovicos.
Volunteering for the Technical Committee, why?
“I had been living in The Hague for a while but hadn’t built a network here yet. So I went to Hoofddorp every weekend for my social life.” So, Brenda was looking for a way to meet new people in The Hague. By joining the TC, she quickly got to know many members, whom she then also saw outside the association. Like how we are sitting together at Impio now. “I have since made a nice group of friends thanks to the association.” And we toast to that with a delicious glass of red wine.
What does the Technical Committee exactly entail?
When Brenda joined the TC, she was well explained what the work of the TC involves and she was not immediately thrown to the wolves. Of course, I want to know what that exactly entails, because although we all deal with the TC, do we really know what they all do? “The TC is responsible for everything related to being able to train and play matches,” Brenda begins. This means that at the beginning of the new season, the TC tries to make an appropriate team division, they look for trainers for the teams and monitor how things are going within the teams by holding team meetings.
The TC is also the first point of contact for new members, they are welcomed and it is looked at which group the new members can best join. And if there is a problem? Then you can talk to the TC and a solution will be sought. Tasks are not really divided in the TC. “We really try to form one TC (team) together. It shouldn’t matter whether you talk to me or another TC member. This way, we are jointly responsible for all tasks,” Brenda explains to me. That sounds quite logical, and handy! Because the TC has a lot of work to do throughout the season.
How much time does Brenda spend on the Technical Committee?
I myself spend quite a few hours on editorial work per week, but the TC obviously has much more work and is much more time-consuming with their tasks. Like many committees, the TC has a peak in workload at the beginning of the season. The tryout trainings need to be organized, team assignments need to be made, initial trainings need to be monitored, and start conversations with teams need to be scheduled and held. “When everything runs a bit smoother, the calm returns and I come to the gym to observe and feel the atmosphere with the teams. Also, when new members come to train, I (or another TC member) am always there to welcome them and go over the registration forms.” But of course, there is also plenty to do at the end of the season. The TC then sends and analyzes surveys, holds individual conversations with those who wish to do so, and comes together to make a preliminary division for the next season.
What is fun about being part of the TC?
Our glasses are refilled and new snacks are served. Snacks that we enjoy so much, they’re delicious! Time to talk about what Brenda finds so enjoyable about being part of the TC. “The atmosphere between the TC members is very pleasant. We complement each other well and take on extra tasks when the other is too busy,” she tells me. And that certainly seems like an important part of a well-oiled machine. Brenda also enjoys thinking about different options, making decisions, and feeling like a part of the club because she has a good understanding of the various teams. But, of course, there are also things that are less enjoyable, like difficult conversations where the TC does not always share the same opinion as the other party/parties. “Having these conversations is not my hobby. It’s super educational, but it’s not really fun.” Over the years, she has learned to hold her own in these situations.
What is Brenda’s goal for this season?
Before we start on the dessert (a delicious cheese platter) and move on to other topics… Just kidding, we don’t only talk about Sovicos. But I am curious about what Brenda is trying to achieve this season. “I (and the rest of the TC) hope every season that everyone has had a good time, enjoyed playing volleyball and that the atmosphere within and between the teams is positive,” she tells me. Brenda is realistic enough to know that you can never please 100% of the members, but you can strive for it.
Most of the guests left quite some time ago, but we decide to order a very special Van Kleef liqueur: ‘Impio’s dingetjûh’ – specially distilled for Impio. And while enjoying this liqueur, Brenda and I continue chatting (briefly) about Sovicos. We talk about beach volleyball, where we both play in the ‘advanced’ group and have a great time. About coaching and training, editorial work, and taking photos and videos. Of course, we also talk about parties and end with Van Kleef (what else?!), because that dingetjûh is damn good! So after one glass of dingetjûh, we just order another. Because we can. And finally, with full bellies and big smiles, we step out into the cold air around midnight, heading home.