Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Other Sport (#tbt & TOL!)

Today, I'm thinking out loud about my other sport: volleyball.

I am really not a naturally athletic person. When I was younger, I was much more into indoor hobbies. I loved to write and read. I liked to draw. I took singing lessons and went to drama camp during summer when my friends went to sports camp.

But when we moved to Florida, my mom wanted me to meet people, so she encouraged me to sign up for volleyball. In 8th grade, everyone made the middle school team, but I immediately realized I loved it and had a little bit of natural talent.
My JV team; I think I was a sophomore here. Can you spot me?
Varsity players had much cooler uniforms, as you see here. This was junior or senior year.
I played all four years for my high school, attended summer camps, and joined a traveling team. I even played for the local junior Maccabiah Games one year. (I wish I had a picture of that!)

I was never talented enough to play in college, so I settled for intramural and played with my sorority.
Playing some intramural volleyball with my colleagues for our inter-school tournament for teachers.
For awhile after college, there were no opportunities for me to play volleyball. I took up running in grad school, and then started teaching. That first year, I co-coached the girls team with another teacher. When that teacher moved out of state the next year, I took over.

I've coached our team ever since.

I love watching the students play; they are so enthusiastic and have such a good time. They really learn to depend on each other, support each other, and gain confidence in their own place on the court and within the team. Running is a great sport, but I really believe team sports (especially those that include a bench) are one of the best ways to teach life lessons.
Our girls (in red and blue) playing a fantastic game while I nervously pace on the sidelines.
I've developed some habits from my high school coach; I never sit during games, instead choosing to pace outside the court and shout instructions and encouragement. My coach used to eat an entire tin of Altoids when he got nervous; the smell of Altoids still makes me think of him!

So  far this year our record is 2-1 with one more regular season game and then playoffs. Some of my girls have been on the team since 6th grade, and for the last three years or so I've had returning players. It gives me a chance to have a different kind of mentoring relationship than with teaching, and this year especially - because I have no students of my own - I especially appreciate being about to coach them.

I love running, but volleyball was the first sport I ever played, and the first that showed me I could be athletic if I wanted to try. It will always be a special favorite of mine.

Do you play a sport besides running?
What was the first team you belonged to?
Do you consider yourself a natural athlete?



  1. You have barely aged from that jr/sr volleyball photo!

    I am not athletic at all when it comes to team sports. I am coordinated so I was always able to dance. I played soccer as a VERY young child but that wasn't serious. All my other sports I quit... I quit cheerleading, I quit track, and I quit softball. I hated gym class and if I had to take gym now and play all different types of sports I would still hate it! I have absolutely no desire to play on a team. But obviously that is a VERY good experience to have growing up. My "team" experience was musicals. I was in at least 1-2 musicals every year from age 9 until I graduated from college. I guess my other team was band and chorus.

    1. I think you make a great point about theater being a team sport. It REALLY is. You depend on everyone else to make the show go well and you have to learn to swallow your pride when casting comes around.

      I think the lessons my players learn from sitting the bench is really important - they need to know that the game isn't about THEM, it's about the whole team, and they need to allow each other a chance to play when they'll strengthen the team. You definitely can get similar lessons from working with ensembles.

  2. I played soccer, swam/dove, and did track (hurdles) in high school. I haven't played any team sports in years, but I still swim frequently. In middle school I played basketball and loved it, but it is the same season as swimming, so I had to choose one over the other. All of my friends were in swimming, so I chose to swim, but I think I probably enjoyed basketball more than any other sport. I used to play everyday in the summer with my friends around town. :)

    1. Wow, you were really active!! I am just not a natural athlete - PE was always my worst subject lol.

  3. I am definitely not a natural athlete, but I also played on the volleyball team. I initially tried out because I wanted to be on a sports team but I didn't want to run a lot (lol). The volleyball coach only made players run 1 mile as a warmup so that was the sport for me, but I grew to love the game for so many other reasons :). I haven't played in a long time though. I think the last time was probably sometime during undergrad with friends.

    1. I think I remember you telling me you played vball, too! It's such a fun sport.