January 15, 2013
With bruised legs and tired looking knee-pads you sprint halfway across the court to get to a ball that is now descending from its highest point in the air. It’s still another three feet away from you and you know that if you don’t get down and dirty on the floor then you wont get to the ball in time to save it. Trying not to slam your knees to hard into the ground you fall and lift one arm. You then get the ball just before it hits the ground. Now you finally hit the floor and slam your side into the ground, your jersey is the only thing to protect your side from the pain that you know is coming. But you ignore it and trot back to your spot on the court and wait for the ball to come back over the net to most likely do it again.

Volleyball is my way of life. It is my way to calm down after a hard day at school. It’s mine. Mine, to escape, the stress of life, the stress of school, the stress of family, just to escape. It’s mine, to take out my aggression on the world, to be loud and aggressive. When I play volleyball I totally forget all my problems and focus on nothing but volleyball and the intensity of the game. It’s like some people with their music. When they listen to it they forget all the problems of the world. Like any other sport volleyball can be stressful. As tournaments and games approach we work to get all the practice in that we can. But this is a good kind of stress. The kind of stress I am happy to have. The kind of stress that pushes me to work harder in order to get good at what I love. It pushes me to keep on trying so that I can get everything right. It’s all about will power and the absolute want to get better. I have learned that you can’t get better overnight; that you need to try to get better and love the sport. You need to devote most of your time and energy.

The first year that I tried out for the school team, I thought that volleyball was just a little gym game we played in elementary and middle school with the colorful beach balls and the tiny, worn out, badminton nets. But I quickly learned that it wasn’t. I tried using these “skills” I acquired from gym to do well in tryouts. Although, looking back, I can see that I failed horribly. I, like many other people do, did not understand how hard volleyball actually is. I did not understand that you need to be loud and aggressive. I was a quiet little sixth grader with few friends and not very sporty. This caused a problem for me. Because I didn’t understand what was needed to play, I did not do as well as I could have. It’s way more than the gym game. It’s a sport that has its own level of difficulty like baseball or basketball. There are techniques and ways to do things that someone who doesn’t play volleyball wouldn’t know about. I was determined to learn more about volleyball and hopefully tryout again before I was out of middle school. I went to my mom for help. She had played volleyball when she was in high school and in college so I figured she could teach me, and she did. We would pass the ball back and forth during the summer and a couple weeks before school started in seventh grade she asked me if I was going to tryout. I said that I didn’t know. I didn’t know if I was ready and I didn’t want to embarrass myself again. I didn’t end up trying out, deciding that I was going to train for another year to hopefully get so much better that I would only have a few, minor, mistakes.

When I had finally tried out again I was in eighth grade. I tried to convince myself that I would, instead, just try in high school, but I knew that I would regret it. I tried out and made it on the B- Team. I know now what I was missing that first year trying out. I did not have the understanding that volleyball was way more than a sport you can learn overnight. Even now, in freshman year, after playing for two school seasons and two club seasons, I still don’t know all there is to know about volleyball. I am still learning new things. I’m learning new techniques, things that I didn’t know were illegal, and why it is so important to be a team. Being a team is something that I have only had the chance to be apart of only once during my volleyball seasons. Yes, I have been on a team but not one that acted like it. Only on my club teams have we all been friends when playing. When we all get along it makes the game so much easier. We can communicate much better. And communication in volleyball is crucial. You need to call the ball or else you’re on top of someone trying to get the ball or no one gets it because both people thought the other was going to get it.

I never realized how much volleyball actually meant to me before freshman year. Freshman year. Just the thought gives me bad memories already, and I am only halfway through. The moment when I really knew that I loved volleyball was on the high school team. This year I was on the “freshman” team. It was called the “freshman” team but there were a few sophomores on it. They pretty much ruined that season and semester, emotionally, for me and my friends on the team. The problem was that they obviously wanted to be on JV because they were sophomores and they had a bad attitude about it. They talked all through practices and had judgmental looks on their faces when they looked at “us freshman”. They even talked about all of us behind our backs and even to our faces. This made my friends and I so mad. We were pissed. I think me especially. I had only been friends with all my teammates once and I wanted that again. We had done so much better when we were an actual team. We got so close to taking second place in tournaments. But in this year’s season, we won one game. One. Now that’s depressing.

Anyway, once freshman year is over, I’m going to crumple it into a ball, burn it, and drown its ashes. That’s just how it is. But I think we need to appreciate the things we go through. Because of this past season in volleyball I have realized that I want to go all the way in volleyball. Not only go to college playing volleyball but professional too. It sounds like a big dream that is nearly impossible to accomplish but I know with hard work, practice, and a lot of my time devoted to it I might just be able to make it happen.

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MAriAH.... This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 13, 2013 at 10:20 am
TOTally can relate sister, being a freshman sucks, I cant wait for it to end either! But It's powerful and awesome that you get through the toughness of those mean sophmores and still continue to love and continue with volleyball. I rememeber one year I was in softball, I love softball, and the girls on the team were in a clique i wasnt part of, and it ruined my season and they really made me feel bad and i skipped a whole season because of them, but this story is really inspiring for me and... (more »)
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