I had a really hard time with my "v" post. I could have written about volunteering, but I've done that about a zillion times by now. Or Vegas, but I've only been there once and don't remember much of it. Or Valentine's Day. But I've only had one really good Valentine's Day, and Mr. Romeo who made it so great is no longer in my life and I don't really wish to talk about him.
It was only last night, after coming home from my volleyball game, that I realized what I could really write about.
I started playing volleyball in 5th grade. I fell in love with it pretty fast. I liked that it didn't involve a lot of running, that it required strength, and that it is so focused on teamwork. I was never one of the best players. When it comes to sports, technique is not my strength. I just play.
I played volleyball at St. Hugo every year, and participated in volleyball camp over the summer. Coach Sopko is really to blame for my love of the sport. He was always in charge of the camps, and I learned so much from him. He'd reward us with gummies if we did well. I tell ya, it worked. We loved those gummies. It was a sport I truly enjoyed playing. In 8th Grade I was on the "B" team, but hey, I was captain of that "B" team. So there. It was my first real leadership role. I liked being able to motivate my team and encourage the 7th graders. I laughed while we made up cheers and passed out awards at the end of the year.
For me there was no doubt that I would play volleyball in high school. It just seemed like the natural route. And I did, my freshmen year. Again, I was not one of the best players. But boy, did I love playing. I especially loved our tournaments. We'd get to hang out with each other all day, play volleyball from morning till late afternoon. We would start to get crabby with each other but we always laughed a lot. I still look at pictures sometime of one of our first tournaments, when we were still getting to know each other and just goofing around the whole day.
I remember my coach would rotate me out of back row. She didn't think I could serve well enough and she preferred me to be in the front so I could try to block hits. One tournament, though, she let me serve. And I remember the deep satisfaction I got when I served about 5 in a row, without the other team returning them.
The summer after my freshman year I went to a hitting camp and the school volleyball camp. I was preparing to make the JV team. Except...I didn't make the JV team. I was absolutely crushed. Volleyball was something I loved, adored, and the fact that I couldn't play devastated me. It took me a while to get over it, but I found other things to be involved with, and I started to branch out and make new friends. I found new things to love and adore.
Volleyball didn't come back into my life until I was at Western Michigan University. I joined a sorority and one of my sisters, Jess, asked if I wanted to gather up some girls and play volleyball in a rec league. I agreed, and in the winter months, we played about once a week. the season didn't last long, but it was at least a way for me to sneak in my favorite sport. Senior year was far too busy with internships, jobs, job interviews, and school, so we didn't play. And, once again, I missed it.
When I worked at the high school doing a year of service, I frequently went to the girls volleyball games to support them. I'd hear myself yelling out things to them "TIP!" "WATCH IT!" "OVER!" "CALL THE BALL!" I couldn't help myself. I'm surprised I didn't run out on the court and hit the ball myself.
The next year, my sister asked me to play on her rec league with her friends. I was finally old enough-over 21. I agreed and had so much fun. The league was not competitive at all, so for the most part was just had a lot of fun and I was relieved to discover that even though I had not played in a few years, I was still decent. If you learn the skills and can keep up with the pace, you can play.
Our rec team was visibly better than the other teams in the league, so we moved up a notch to the competitive level. For the past two years, from January to March, we've been playing in that next notch and while we don't win every game and it's a little more competitive, we still play hard. I can't say it's extremely fun, because I'll be honest, some days it's not. Sometimes people take it just a little too seriously for my liking. After all, I am playing for the love of the game, no other reason.
I went the extra step this year and signed up as a "Free agent" for the rec league for the March-May time frame. I was asked to join a team and have been playing every Wednesday night since.house. My team, whom I had never met before our first match, are all really cool down to earth people. We get along well, we teach and help each other, and we have fun.
Who knew I could talk so much about volleyball, huh? But I really do LOVE. THAT. SPORT.. I'm telling you, I could play year round if I could. In fact, I'm trying too. I am desperately looking for an adult rec league that plays indoors in the summers. So far I have only been able to find sand volleyball leagues, and to that I say "No thank you".
I love it because it's exciting. You never really know where the ball is going to go. I love it because it requires you to speak up, call the ball, yell for help. I love the satisfaction of spiking it, or blocking someone elses' hit. I just love it.
From the little 5th grade girl in her blue St. Hugo Viking volleyball uniform to the 25 year old in sweats and an old tshirt, volleyball is still one of my very favorite things in the world, and has given me many memories.