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Norwegian knew little about Chill

Coach has become familiar with team over past two months

"Just call me Alex," he says.

His full name is Tore Aleksandersen.

He's from Molde, Norway and he's the head coach of the new Rochester-based Minnesota Chill women's pro volleyball team, which will make its debut Tuesday night against the St. Louis Quest at Mayo Civic Auditorium.

This is only the third time "Alex" has been in the United States.

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He's getting along just fine.

Except, he said, he's not used to grocery stores being so large.

"I spend too much time looking, I can't find where things are," he said. "But that's OK. I have to lose a little weight anyway."

Alex's fiancee Monica and their 2 and 4-year-old daughters Maren and Tora, are living in Rochester with him.

Getting around the grocery store hasn't been Alex's only challenge. He had never met any of the Chill players before he called the team's first practice in early December. He had seen a couple of them play when he was in Chicago for a U.S. Dream Team match a couple of years ago, but that was it.

The first thing he had to do was put names with faces. It didn't take him long to like what he saw.

"It's a nice group," he said. "They stick together. They work hard. These players are nice to hang out with, too. They have great personalities."

Even though all of the players starred in college and some have played professionally overseas, Alex didn't take over a team that was without some weaknesses.

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"We always work to improve," he said. "We have players from different levels, some from college teams, some from the national team and some who have played against the best players in the world.

"It's my job to make them better. That's what I'm here for."

But he knows he can't do it by himself. He credits Chill assistant coaches Kevin Hambly, a onetime Brigham Young University star player, and Susan Deaton, a former coach at Wingate (S.C.) University, with helping him.

"They've been tremendous," he said.

Alex, who has coached the Norway National senior women's team the last two years, said there are some Chill players he'd like to have on his Norway team.

The 33-year-old former soccer and volleyball player -- "actually soccer was my best sport," he says -- had no idea he'd ever be coaching a team in the first-year women's United States Professional Volleyball League.

But, being a student of the game, he came to the U.S. just to watch the coach of the USPV-sponsored Dream Team two years ago.

"I always try to learn as much as I can," he said.

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Not long after he expressed an interest in coaching in the USVP when it started up.

"I got a call from the league office and here I am," Alex said. "I'm so happy to be in Rochester. This is such a nice city to get around in. You can get to the Athletic Club (where the Chill practice) from almost anywhere in five minutes, not like in Chicago where it takes an hour-and-a-half."

When the USPV season is over in May, Alex will head back to Norway to coach, but he expects to return to Rochester.

"I'd like to coach here for three or four years if I could," he said.

By then he'd also know that the breakfast cereal is in Aisle Four.

Bob Brown is the executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. His column appears every Wednesday and Saturday. He can be reached at brown@postbulletin.com

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