Saturday, August 17, 2013

Adding to Your Vocabulary

I’m not much into video games.  Even when I was younger, I didn’t play them much.  We’ve gone from the bookcase sized video games of my youth stacked shoulder to shoulder in arcades to being able to play games on our phones that have startling graphics and sounds. Largely, I’ve ignored them all but one recent fad that has caught my attention is Words With Friends.  You’ve probably heard of it.  I'm not an expert, but the concept is essentially electronic Scrabble in that you build words with letter tiles. 

When I was a kid my Mom would often suggest we play Scrabble during family game nights.  It usually got rejected by my brother and I as we preferred to play something that was a little more exciting than, well…. a word game.  Ah, the battle between the educational and the recreational:  I still see it every day here on this college campus.

However, word games must have stuck in my brain because now I have to admit something to you that is as nerdy as winning a spelling bee:  I study vocabulary words in my spare time.

I love those word-of-the-day calendars or email distribution lists that send you a word of the week.  I still believe in hard bound dictionaries sitting on shelves and I still believe in “looking it up” when you come across bits of language you just can’t seem to define.  Old school, I know.  But sometimes it is almost divine to mix the old with the new.  That brings us to the word in the banner above:  visage.  Can you define it? (Well, duh, you put the definition at the top of the right hand column!  Don't use love the first quizzes of the semester?)

Visage is a synonym for “face”.  But the usage of the word often is more in line with application of the words “countenance” or “look”. 

Celebration is at the heart of volleyball.  I challenge you to think of another sport where after EVERY play there is a team celebration.  Surely you’ve noticed this.  From junior high club teams to college teams to Olympic teams, after every play in volleyball all six team members come together for a few short words, hand slaps, fist pumps and celebration before the next serve begins.  Watch these celebrations:  People are usually putting their hands in the air like they just don’t care after a big block or crushing kill.   These celebrations often showcase the face of victory.  Need a few examples?  Check these out:
Maddie Hanlan: Visage of Victory
Janet Hill:  Hands in the Air Like You Just Don't Care


Now, this is the fifth season SFAVolleyBlog has been in existence and like what is done for popular TV shows, I sometimes refer to the blog by “Season” rather than year.  For instance, I might say “Do you remember the article I wrote about all-conference middle blockers at the end of Season Four?  That was pretty controversial.”  Or, in reflecting on an early article, I might tell another coach “Yeah, in my first blog season I tried to do that, but it didn’t work out so well.”  It’s kind of stupid really – referring to the blog as if it were The Big Bang Theory or Game of Thrones.

But still, this is SFAVolleyBlog’s Season V.  That’s “V” as in five – the roman numeral.  Ah, but therein lies the duality:  V for five and also V as in the letter “v”.  And so, an equivoque (look it up) emerges.  Rather than use the phrase “face of victory”, we’ll stick with the letter v, add to your vocabulary, and spend some time talking about the “visage of victory” this year.  Of course, I don’t want to rule out the case that many readers already implement the word “visage” in their vocabulary.  If so, great.  Give yourself some fantasy SAT points and keep reading.

Could you imagine if Facebook were actually called Visagebook?  I mean, why not?  If it had been named that back in 2004 (Season One?), then you wouldn’t be arguing with it today.  I mean, you could be walking around right now saying “Did you see her post on Visagebook?  Can you believe she wrote that?”

I know, I know, part of what makes things work is what they are called.  It is probably true that Facebook stood a better chance of gaining popularity because it used a linguistic compound of two words that are both very well known.  But still, Visagebook sounds no more goofy than Instagram, right? 

C’mon, what was your very first reaction when you heard the name “Twitter”?  I mean, we talk about “tweets”, but the literal derivative of Twitter is twit.  So, isn’t that at least a bit goofy to name a social media site “Twitter”?  But, it doesn’t bother you, because you soon “got it”.  Remember that moment where you said “Oh, I get it.  Short messages sent out by lots of folks as if they were tweets from a bird.  And look.. the cute little bird logo!  Yeah, now I get it. Cool.  Let’s tweet!” 

A few years ago, that was you and you know it.  But now, it’s all accepted and routine.

Such it is with the Visage of Victory.  Season V.  V for Five.  “He wanted to focus on the face of victory.  He needs a V word to keep the theme and alliteration going.  Visage instead of Face.  I get it.  Cool.”

Next thing you know – you’ll be all like:  #Visage.

But remember, visage is more than about a face.  It’s about a countenance.  It’s about appearance, demeanor and features of the face.  Look back up at those photos.  That’s winning, isn’t it?  It’s the face of victory.

What we all want is for SFA Volleyball to put on the face of victory.  To have a determination, a drive, a countenance that says to our opponents “You don’t stand a chance”.  People’s faces tell a story.  Athlete’s faces tell a story.  Watch for it during the 2013 Season  Season V (see what I did there?)

The goal of this blog is the same as it always has been:  Promote SFA Volleyball.  Be one of the faces of Southland Conference Volleyball.  Write with a purpose and determination about the sport we all love.

So, volleyball season is upon us.  Are you ready?  Are you anxious to see what 2013 Ladyjack Volleyball is all about?

Put on your game face.

It’s time for the Visage of Victory.  #SeasonV    #Visage.

Now, don’t you feel smarter?