I have always loved sports. I never realized the importance of them in regards to transitioning in life in terms of team work and competition and hard work resulting in good results. But I loved to compete and do good and be a part of a team. I played a lot of sports and have always been pretty good at whatever I try.
Volleyball came into my life just by pure chance. I remember in high school when they had a tournament in the gym at lunch time. I had never really played but a few of my friends and I decided to throw together our rag tag team of dudes and play for fun with no intentions of winning anything. This tournament lasted days in the gym. In my high school day we didn’t shower with other dudes so we played in our jeans and spent the remainder of the day gross and sweaty. Ha ha! I don’t remember all of the teams that were in that tourney except one. They had a couple of dudes on the team who were really good and a girl named Katie that was taller than all of us and was a great player. Basically we were, on paper, the worst team on the court. Long story short, we somehow someway defied all the odds and made it to the championship game against Katie and her loaded crew of vballers. We played in an epic matchup that went to the wire and we won an emotional match and screamed like we had won the state championship. We piled up on center court like we had hit a buzzer beater in the NCAA tournament.
That was really the moment I realized how much I loved volleyball. I wouldn’t really play again competitively for years until I worked at Food 4 Less and was asked to play on their co-ed volleyball team in a tournament. They would later invite me to play on the Food 4 Less team for the city league and I pretty much made that team my own and we had some really good years.
Once that league ended I did not play again for a few years. When Yasmine was little I began to think that volleyball could be a great sport for her. She is athletic but not the real aggressive brut that some sports require girls to be. She tried baseball but really did not like it. I wanted her to be a basketball lover like me but that wasn’t going to happen. So one day at work I started talking to my co-worker Corey about her daughter playing volleyball for Blackman highschool. I told her I love volleyball but wasn’t sure how to start my young daughter learning the sport. She suggested maybe I use a balloon and just teach her the basics of bumping and setting with that because it is light and slow. I tried it once and she seemed to like it. I called around and found out that Sportscom in town had a beginner volleyball clinic that happened every Thursday from 430-6 (little did I know that I would end up taking over and be the main coach!). I took Yasmine to learn. She was super little out there and was the smallest girl on the floor. In fact she was a couple of years below the age minimum of 8 years old when I started her.
I met Coach Miche, who is one of the nicest women out there. She is a true lover of volleyball and has a passion for the sport which is apparent in the way she teaches kids. With her help and my work at home Yasmine became a really good player by the time she got to 6th grade. She tried out for the Oakland Middle School volleyball team and despite her small size and being a 6th grader she defied the odds and was only one of the two 6th graders to make the team. She did really well on JV and played the right side hitter often subbing in on varsity. She came a long way her 2nd year and was moved to the setter position where she started and did excellent. Along the course of the year she not only improved technique wise but also began to make really smart decisions in her passes and court awareness that really did impact a lot of her team’s games in a positive way. All throughout middle school she has been a super good server and powers her overhand serve better than most girls her size. In fact, a bunch of times at matches last year I would sit in the stands and hear parents from the opposing team commenting on how great her serve was and how much power she had for her size. Truly a serving machine.
Here is a short video of her serving at the last tournament:
Last year while she was in 7th grade she won the all tourney player for the Blue Devil tournament in Lebanon, Tennessee despite being the one of the only non 8th graders.
When she was at camp the camp leaders nicknamed her buns because they said she was so small she could fit in a hotdog bun!
So the 8th grade season just wrapped up for my daughter’s team. Despite the fact that they only had three 8th graders (one of them being a brand new player), and one of them quitting near the end of the season the team did pretty well. They also had a coach that just didn’t care too much and really is not a great motivational coach. They managed to finish 4th overall out of 11 teams. I think that with the right coaching we could have beaten the best teams in our division. In fact one night we were able to upset Blackman who ended up in the championships against Siegel (Siegel was undefeated all season). Blackman nearly beat Siegel in the last match.
So now I get to sit back and see what she decides she wants to do. I really want her to play in high school because her talent is amazing and I would love to see her on a good team with a good coach. However, she is at the stubborn age where she really doesn’t want to do what makes us happy. She wants to do other things as of now, but believe me if she goes out for the team I will be smiling ear to ear and writing about it to you guys!