I wanted to join a volleyball team once I entered the English Department at my school. I had always wanted to be on a team and exercise my heart out. But at that time, many of the departments in the Foreign Language College don’t have a very outgoing sports environment. So, apart from joining the school volleyball team in my sophomore year to hone my skills, I also decided to create a girls volleyball team myself.
We faced a lot of obstacles. For one, while our college is known for its abundance of females, many of them do not like to exercise. I ended up with only a handful of girls, just enough to create a team of 6 from my year. Another is money. Add up the money for volleyball shoes, equipment and tournament fees, you’d get a hefty amount of money. Not everyone is willing or has the ability to fork out that much. The last, and the most prevalent and tricky problem was getting my teammates to stay on the team, because some females only wanted to play or exercise, they didn’t necessarily wanted to compete. A more personal problem came in form of my parents, who didn’t like how I spent so much time playing sports and whether I had enough time to juggle all my responsibilities.
In the very beginning, around my sophomore year, us 9 girls managed to practice and compete in local and in-school volleyball tournaments. I had found a friend who was willing to coach us. During this stage, I was learning how to manage a team, finding the balance between leading people in the same year as me (it’s tricky), and juggling my responsibilities on the school volleyball team and my academic schoolwork. The time came in my junior year where people began to drop out of the team due to their own extracurricular activities, learning that they didn’t really like volleyball that much, or preparing for grad school exams. Our team disbanded. I waited a full year, whilst maintaining my volleyball skills by playing in my free time. In my senior year, I learned there was a handful of freshman boys and girls who wanted to play volleyball badly. Collaborating with another guy in my year, we took up coaching our department’s volleyball team again. This time, I was wiser, and knew how to handle, manage and motivate teammates through lots of observation. I handed out responsibilities for my teammates to handle, unlike how I hoarded things to do in the past. I learned from my past experience from my sophomore year, and understood that in order to motivate my teammates, saying ‘motivational speeches’ isn’t enough. I also had to let my teammates feel as if they ARE part of this team by doing their share of the work. Since I’m in my senior and last year of university, I quickly had to train several girls to become future team captain and lead on this tradition.
We competed in a number of volleyball tournaments, but one of the most important results that became clear in my senior year was how the girl’s volleyball team is becoming more self-sufficient, and not totally reliant on another senior girl and I. This meant by sharing a lot of information, teaching everyone the basics of volleyball and showing where they can buy discounted equipment and clothing. Also, I passed down important teamwork attitudes that I learned through my time in the school’s volleyball team and as a student in the English Department. Attitude is important. We could be practicing dull, mundane volleyball techniques but still have a great time, because of being in the present, and not preoccupied with other stuff.
I gained so much from this four yearlong experience. My parents always disapproved of my decision to stay and spend so much time on the team, but I persuaded them by showing how I could handle everything on my plate by getting a Book Honors Award, getting an internship and several part-time jigs. It was not easy, but I prevailed, because I really do love volleyball. That’s all.