Community Leaders

Learn more about our Newcastle Volleyball community leaders! Next time you see us, come and say hi and tell us a bit about yourself too.

MARK PICHLER
Nickname: Mr Fish (by close friends)
Role: NVA Committee Treasurer
Age
: 51-60 
When were you introduced to volleyball: At 17yrs in Karratha High School, WA by Shane Hennesy who showed us Olympic Matches on old 18mm film
Most influential people on your volleyball: My second coach – Kevin (a former setter for WA)
Have you had timeout from the game: Injury has stopped me from playing but not from being there.
Favourite volleyball brand: Molten
Rules you’d change: Can’t use your feet to play the ball
Volleyball shirts you own: 18
Quirky team names: Deep Sea Racing Mullets, Grovers Grogans
Most memorable experiences: 2000 Olympics/Paralympics as volunteer & spectator, and my first trip to Perth to play in the Country Week Championships 1981 as the Karratha Cougars
Dreams for Hunter volleyball: Consolidation in the New Stadium and a Regional Tournament for Juniors and Mixed Teams

MICHELLE SLACK-SMITH
Nickname: Misho
Role: NVA Committee President, Captain Women’s Social Team (Cheetahs)
Age
: 41-50
When were you introduced to volleyball: By my Year 9 Science Teacher, Mr Winter in Coffs Harbour
Most influential people on your volleyball: Mr Winter, Hutch from CHVA, then everyone at Sydney North Volleyball when I moved to Sydney in 1999.
Have you had timeout from the game? Yes for ankle fractures, arthroscopies, and while working for VA and SVNSW.
Favourite volleyball brand: Molten
Rules you’d change: Libero should serve
Volleyball shirts you own: 19
Quirky team names: Brides of Shankenstein, La Tortuga, Viva La Volley, Cheetahs
Most memorable experiences: Working on the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour, coaching school juniors at AVSC, NSW junior girls at AJVC and Hunter junior girls at JDP, winning silver at World Masters Sydney 2009.
Dreams for Hunter volleyball: We build hubs of activity including Lake Mac, Cessnock and Maitland, so that we can have local inter-club competitions! We get a junior league started for weekly playing options for U18s.

SEBASTIAN FRITZ
Nickname: Seb 
Role: Beach Committee Chair
Age: 31-40
When were you introduced to volleyball: When I was 13 and my friends started playing
Most influential people on your game: My friends. A few of my best friends were always playing beach volleyball at the lake close to my home and introduced me to the game.
Have you had timeout from the game: Unfortunately yes, I was playing quite a lot during my university time, and I insured my shoulder. I couldn’t play for half a year, and then I have started a new job. I didn’t find time to play anymore as I was so busy with my new job. When I moved to Australia and started to live close to the beach, I started playing beach volleyball again and immediately rediscovered my passion for the game.
Favourite volleyball brand: Mikasa
Rules you’d change: I would be less restrictive with the handset (Beach volleyball)
Volleyball shirts you own: 7
Quirky team names: Sand Storm – I can’t remember any other team names
Most memorable experiences: Cheering for an Austrian beach volleyball team playing in Australia – there were not many people sitting in the stadium but I was shouting and cheering loud enough that the player turned around and smiled at me :-). Being the first time a coach for our beginners at Newcastle Beach. It was such a satisfying feeling to share some knowledge and to spend time with players who want to improve and listen to your instructions and try there best to become better beach volleyball players.
Dreams for Hunter volleyball: Having more beach tournaments / Having a bigger beach community

CHERITH PELOSI TEO
Nickname: Cherith
Role: Mixed Social Team captain (Mixed Messages)
Age: 20-30
When were you introduced to volleyball: My parents played since before I was born and still today. I grew up with volleyball!
Most influential people on your game: My parents. They are my personal coaches and trainers. I’ve always loved volleyball.
Favourite volleyball brand: Mikasa
Quirky team names: Almo’s World. We had a girl named Almo in the team.
Most memorable experiences: Playing with my younger sister at the 2019 Uni Games! I was in awe of her skill and loved setting for her. She was my ace player. Travelling to New Zealand to play in a tournament with over 80 teams! My team came fourth!

TRINITY JAMES
Nickname: Trin
Role: NVA Committee Member, A Grade Team VC (Digbys)
Age: 31-40
When were you introduced to volleyball:I started playing at school when I was about 15 for Thursday sport. Miss Hunzika was such an enthusiastic teacher/coach. She took us to the Schools Cup tournament in Canberra. I didn’t know volleyball existed outside of school until I was 18, when someone I was working with suggested I come along to a social league in North Ryde. From there it was suggested I try out for a rep team for Sydney North.
Most influential people on your game:Miss Hunzika for enthusiasm, Karsten Baumgartle and Chris Barton for technique.
Favourite volleyball brand: Molten
Rules you’d change: No antennae
Volleyball shirts you own: 5
Quirky team names: Fried rice, Serve-ivors, Beauty school drop outs, Bobs n Bills, Digbys
Most memorable experiences:
Being a medal bearer at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, carrying out the Gold medal to the Australian women when they won the beach volleyball! What an emotional exciting experience, especially hearing our national anthem as they raised the Australian flag! Meeting a guy at a volleyball tournament in Mornington Vic in 2008 …. who I am now married to with 2 kids!
Dreams for Hunter volleyball
: Looking forward to the completion of the new stadium and improved facilities.  I would also like to see this push for junior development to continue to expand.

DANIELLE TANSU
Nickname:
Dani
Role: NVA Committee Secretary, Coach Spikeroos & Girls JDP, Captain Women’s team (Sweet Digs)
Age: 31-40
When were you introduced to volleyball: 1995
Most influential people on your game: My Junior Olympics Coach, Robert and for my development as a coach, my mentor Sid Feldman (legend!!)
Have you ever had timeout from the game: Yes! Injury, kids, etc. and really missed it! It felt weird not doing something in the sport
Favourite volleyball brand
: Tachikara
Rules you’d change: The option for that ugly 1st contact – I get, 100% has its place on maybe a real hard driven ball – but otherwise – keep it clean man!
Volleyball shirts you own:  10
Quirky team names: Morningwood Academy
Most memorable experiences:
Playing in a Fud 4 team at the annual Emerald Coast beach tourney Florida. Awesome tournament! Coaching my 1st year I had the littlies after years of the older kids,  heaps of learning and growth in that year! 
Dreams for Hunter volleyball
: More opportunities for kids and leading into junior programs, getting massive exposure in schools! Creating junior comps for all the juniors to then play in on a regular basis.

PAUL MOUNTER
Nickname:
Over the years there have been too many to name
Role: NVA Committee Member, Captain A Grade (Bobs n Bills)
Age: 41-50
When were you introduced to volleyball: 1985
Most influential people on your game: The other Paul Mounter
Have you ever had timeout from the game: Suspended for 1 year in early 1990’s due to playing in unsanctioned beach volleyball tour
Favourite volleyball brand
: Spalding
Rules you’d change: No Libero 
Volleyball shirts you own:  0
Quirky team names: Too many
Most memorable experiences:
Got whipped by the 1996 Olympic silver medalist on the beach. Beat the Australian captain and vice captain on the beach 
Dreams for Hunter volleyball
:Keep growing the juniors so we can all retire knowing it will continue

NIENKE DE VLIEGER
Nickname:
Nienke
Role: V/C Women’s team (Sweet Digs), Captain B Grade team (Kiss My Ace)
Age: 31-40
When were you introduced to volleyball: When I first started Uni – about 10 years ago
Most influential people on your game: Definitely a guy I had a crush on in the men’s team :p Needed to impress him!
Have you ever had timeout from the game: I’ve played on and off over the 10 years
Favourite volleyball brand
: Wilson
Rules you’d change: I’d change the serving to tennis rules: you get two attempts, try again if you hit the net and need to get it into a small area in the opponent’s side.
Volleyball shirts you own:  3.5
Quirky team names: It has to be our new team, Kiss My Ace
Most memorable experiences:
One where we lost a set with 25-1 (ouch) and as a spectator at a very exciting Dutch national women’s team game (can’t remember what for) because it was an absolute thriller of a game!

DAVID WOOD
Nickname:
Woody
Role: V/Captain B Grade team (Catalyst)
Age: 51-60
When were you introduced to volleyball: 1980
Most influential people on your game: Getting a team together made up of people from a soccer team
Favourite volleyball brand
: Tachikara
Rules you’d change: Not using feet
Volleyball shirts you own:  2
Quirky team names: Too many!
Most memorable experiences:
Blocking the Australian captain, helping score Australia /Japan team

PAUL WHITEFORD
Nickname:
Paulie
Role: V/Captain Mixed Social team (Mixed Messages)
Age: 21-30
When were you introduced to volleyball: Beach Volleyball, years ago. Indoor Volleyball just this year
Most influential people on your game: My two friends who came to the February Come and Try night.
Favourite volleyball brand
: Wilson
Rules you’d change: If you accidentally hit the ball twice you have to hit it a third time and get it over for it to be legal.
Volleyball shirts you own: None yet
Quirky team names: Our current team name, Mixed Messages. Creative I know!
Most memorable experiences:
Being a shorter guy getting my first legal block was amazing and also receiving a bullet serve from another player.

LUCY WENT
Nickname:
Luce
Role: V/C Women’s team (Outsiders)
Age: 31-40
When were you introduced to volleyball: Year 7
Most influential people on your game: Sharon & Gary Jennes
Have you ever had timeout from the game: yes! travel took me away and 2 kids – but i keep coming back for more!
Favourite volleyball brand: Club brand!
Rules you’d change: Any part of the foot under the net would be a fault, it creates too many injuries
Volleyball shirts you own: 10
Quirky team names: Squirrels – an in joke that turned into a legacy
Most memorable experiences:
Playing Good Neighbour with no subs back when there more more than 4 games/weekend! Most memorable moment often involve injuries. So many great times with amazing people.

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