Throughout life we are arrive at junctions. These are points of change or challenge in our lives and they are sometimes hard, dramatic or both. We can either choose to keep doing the same thing, retreat, or step up our game.
I began playing volleyball at the local YMCA back in my hometown when I was a teenager. I enjoyed it a lot but did not play as much as I would have liked. At 6’2”, I am fortunate to have a built in advantage in volleyball as height can be crucial to blocking and hitting the ball over the net. Yet, it would be many years after college that I started to play recreational volleyball and put this advantage to use. It has now been almost twenty years and it is the favorite part of my week.
I never had formal training or coaching, but have steadily improved over the years by working harder to understand the rules of the game, taking tips from other players and practicing higher level skills each week.
This summer when I got locked out of registering with the town recreational league for the third time (it is very popular in Natick), I decided it was time to try a new approach by connecting with the Northeast regional association of USA Volleyball, Yankee Volleyball. This is where the die-hard adult volleyball players play. Throughout the year the league offers scramble tournaments to encourage new players to join. So I signed up.
After playing recreationally for so long, I wanted to challenge myself by stepping up my game. I knew that I would learn a lot but also knew that I would not be the best player on the court. I had to leave my pride at the door.
Change can be hard especially when you are signing yourself up for a challenge and there are many unknowns. How good will the other players be? Will I be good enough to play with them? Will other players be cool about my missed points? Will we work together as a team?
Before the tournament began, one of the experienced players there, Eric, gave me some great tips on hitting and position and it helped a lot.
At the end of the day I was pretty sore and tired but learned that I could step up my game. Most importantly, I learned what I need to do next: I plan to sign up for some skills & drills training so that I can play at a higher level.
I’ll still play with my friends at Natick town volleyball every week, but now I have opened a new chapter in a game that I love. It will be hard at first as most new things are, but it should be worth it.
The final tournament score? We won 2 games and lost 6 but one of the teams we beat was in first place going into the finals. That was a sweet victory!
Lyman H. Jackson
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