LONDON (AP) — At UC Irvine, coach John Speraw had the “David Smith Rule” for his star middle blocker.
“That means, ‘When David wants it, David takes it,'” Speraw said. “Because in the middle of a play, you can’t call him off.”
The reason? Smith is nearly deaf and primarily uses lip reading to understand his teammates. In volleyball, such face-to-face communication is not always possible.
Hence the David Smith rule.
It was easy for Speraw to institute the rule because when Smith gets the ball, he knows just what to do with it.
“He’s mitigated any issues he has by being a great all-around volleyball player,” Speraw said.
Smith, 27, is a first-time Olympian with the U.S. men’s volleyball team, which opens play at the London Games on Sunday with a match against Serbia. Speraw is an assistant coach with the team and one of Smith’s biggest supporters.
( US volleyball’s Smith competes with hearing loss )