Building tradition and culture in a new volleyball team

 

Captain

Discovering that I was nominated the captain of my division both terrified and excited me. I have taken leadership roles in the past, and some specifically during high school volleyball, but I knew this opportunity was vastly different as all the players, as well as the club, would be new. As a result, I knew I had to be integral in building foundation and tradition for this new team and club, which is what I set out to do.

The first thing that I did was to work on building tradition and culture aspects specific to my division and team, a way to bond the players with concepts that were unique to us. From past leadership opportunities I learned how to establish core values that a team could reflect and rely upon. The core values that I set for my team were Energy, Commitment, Fun and Fury.

Energy

I knew immediately that I wanted Energy to be the first core value as it directly supported every action that each player made in training and in game. With high mental and physical energy, we could break through any negative point streaks or internal struggles that may have occurred.

Commitment

This was to be the second core value as I wanted each player to dedicate themselves for the betterment of the team and their skills. By understanding that each player committed themselves, each would know that no matter what occurs, there is another teammate that is committed to playing better.

Fun

The third core value, this was also integral as each person derives their own sense of “fun” differently. Some are highly focused on competition and always winning, while others just want to be play a high level of volleyball, be it win or lose and that is their fun. However, this needed to be a core value because at the end of the day, if no one on the team is having fun, for whatever reason, then it is more likely that their attitudes and behaviours may influence others and thus a cascade of negativity ensues. This could ultimately result in the breakdown of the team and members leaving for other clubs, or worse, the sport entirely.

Fury

As this is part of the club name, I considered it worked as a value to be intense in any given situation. I do not mean intensity to be overly competitive, but intensity in taking every point as it is the last and doing whatever it takes to secure a point. In this sense, possessing Fury aimed to make sure players do not become complacent and are always striving for better.

My team and I have officially played 7 matches in our league, we have won 3 and lost 4, but I am happy to note that we are steadily improving in our cohesion and skills. However, the constant excuse to our losses is that we are a new team and a club and we should not take this season as seriously, but for someone with a 5 year goal and plan, I cannot accept that. My team is starving to improve and perform at a higher standard, now is the time to discover what it takes to propel us to the next level.

 

 

Striving to give the perfect effort in volleyball

The Perfect Effort.

I first stumbled on his concept while watching the movie; When the Game Stands Tall. It is a concept where every player provides 100% of their effort whilst training / playing while trusting that every other player is doing the same. As a result, deep roots of trust and connection develop between players because each is working towards the same goal of victory and glory for the team. This is the mentality that I have adopted and expect from my team whenever we set foot on a court, and because of this I am able to play to the best of my abilities. It is about bringing out the best in each other, to grow organically towards a similar goal so that, at the end of it all, not only do players improve technically, but they also learn a thing or two about human connection, relationships and what it means to be resilient. This is the beauty of volleyball for me, and it is in the fact that the game cannot be played and won by any single player, but a group of 6 players. It is entirely possible for 6 individuals to win and even progress together, but when 6 individuals become a team, achievement becomes limitless.

“We’re like the blood in our veins. We must flow without stopping. Keep the oxygen moving and your mind working.” – Haikyuu.

I immediately resonated with this quote because it directly reflects my individual play-style of being primarily support / supporter archetype, as well as being in alignment with the concept of The Perfect Effort. It is not the responsibility of any one person to win a game, but an entire team to coordinate and connect with one another.

Reality: April 30th, 2017 at 11:30 am – First game of the season.

The first game that I debuted for my volleyball revival was a game to remember because it showed my team the areas we need to improve upon. Without any games as a team beforehand, we merely hyped ourselves up and hoped for the best. After all was said and done, the greatest moment of that “trial by fire” was the opposing teams captain coming up to us and commenting how that was the most exciting game of volleyball he has played in WAVL (my league) in years. To my team they may have still been discouraged about our near loss, but to me this comment highlighted the passion and intensity that my team has when we step on the court. I was, and still am, thrilled about that comment and always try to evoke that same level of passion and intensity in my own, and my teams, play every game day.

 

 

 

 

Setting a volleyball for the first time.

Volleyball Spike

Spike. The Spike. The feeling of fully contacting the volleyball and swinging as hard as you can, leaving that tingling sensation all across your palm. That was the one skill that I always wanted to be superior at when I first experienced the game. As I began to play seriously, you can imagine my first position of choice was the wing spiker. Like most young teens, I wanted to be the one to deliver a devastating spike that would demoralise / tilt the other team and excite the spectators.

Volleyball Setting

Fast forward and I no longer focus on the spike as intensely, it is more the interplay between the macro and micro aspects of the game now. This means I value continuously refining my fundamentals as well as increasing my awareness and strategy, in and out of games. It is then at no surprise that I find myself rising to the setter position for my new team and club. Being the setter is vastly different from any position (wing spiker and middle blocker) that I have taken because I have never enjoyed setting. I always wanted to be at the receiving end of a set and wanted to win the point for the team. However, through my maturity in the game, I have gained an overwhelming respect and admiration for all setters. It is bloody hard. No other position, in my opinion, really requires the ability to constantly multitask under stress, to the magnitude of a setter; simultaneously watching the opposing defence, being aware of a good or bad receive and what particular set and to whom will win the point. Not to mention, I have never been a fast runner and now I am in the position that constantly requires me to sprint, and honestly I have never enjoyed my position as much as I do now. Gone are the days when I wanted to stand out, to be the show stopper, but instead now wanting be the strategist and tactician. Through setting, I want to be “the control tower that tosses for spikes and coordinates the offence” – Haikyuu. This is also aligned with my goal for longevity in the sport as I find setting does not tax my knees as heavily, even with jump setting I am not exploding upwards in order to kill the ball.

A setter is “the control tower that tosses for spikes and coordinates the offence” – Haikyuu.

Additionally, not only am I taking up a new position, I am also proudly a part of a newly formed club that is playing for my league, the WAVL. This club, the Fremantle Fury VC interested me because of its potential for growth and my desire to be involved in its evolution. This season is to be my restart into the world of volleyball and I want to do it with people and a club that want to grow, a place where tradition and culture is still being created. Its time to make my mark and start anew in this sport and with this club.

 

Returning to play volleyball after taking a long break

As I made the decision to play volleyball again, the next step was to find a place where I could ease myself back in; nothing overly competitive but not completely beginner either. I did not want to be in a situation that would lead to another volleyball knee injury.  After some research I was able to get in contact with a local volleyball club, which was conducting social pick up games on Fridays. The feeling of stepping onto a gymnasium, not to mention a volleyball court, was like a nostalgia trip full of intense memories and a sense of relief. It was as if the simple act of stepping into a gymnasium subconsciously eased my mind from the strain that I was feeling for the years I was not active in volleyball. The club was the Rossmoyne Volleyball Club, this club was the stepping stone towards my volley to glory.

A few months elapse and I find myself relearning and retouching all of my foundational volleyball skills, which at the time felt trivial, but now have greatly supported my overall increased maturity and understanding of the game. I was able to meet other enthusiastic individuals who were coming out of retirement and were excited to play again. One of these people greatly influenced my maturity and development, Phil. He single handedly, with the facilities that Rossmoyne Volleyball Club provided, got me back in touch with the game and propelled my skills further than where I was previously. I previously thought I held a solid understanding of the game and all its intricacies and strategies, but I quickly learned that my knowledge was quite rudimentary. I knew enough to engage in social volleyball and enjoy myself, but not enough to play a carefully planned, organised and executed competitive game, at least not one out of High school. During this time I was carefully monitoring my knee health and began to incorporate extensive foam rolling after each session to ensure that my muscles did not stressfully tighten. Additionally, I bought another Bauerfeind knee support for my left knee as I began to feel discomfort and pain during and after each volleyball session.

As the indoor volleyball season for 2017 approaches, I believe my preparation has been quite intensive and I am excited to officially step back on the court. While I may never play at full 100% as other competitors, my hunger for  knowledge and understanding in recovery techniques and procedures, as well as injury prevention awareness ensures a solid foundation for my longevity and health in the sport.

 

Playing Volleyball with Patellar Tendonitis – looking 5 years ahead.

“I will never play indoor volleyball again, my knees cannot support me.” These were my thoughts 3 years ago, when the pain I felt in my right knee was debilitating enough for me to consider leaving the sport indefinitely. I had pain in my knee whenever I jumped or landed.

The pain I felt was very sharp during my play time, as well as chronic and mild during everyday activities. It was to the point where my right knee would sometimes collapse suddenly, without warning when I was simply walking in my volleyball shoes. At the time I was an active first year university student whose only real concerns were my grades, my health and my volleyball. I reasoned that because of my previously diagnosed jumpers knee (highschool) that this was the extent of my volleyball career, and at that point when my condition worsened, at least I still had a gym and/or nature to still use to keep fit and healthy. I never gave any thought into how playing a highly team oriented sport greatly affected my mental health and overall happiness. Going to the gym or taking a run in the park were good outlets to maintain / improve my fitness, but neither of those activities, although the option was available, provided me with a similar outlet to interact and engage with other people than volleyball.

Fast forward 3 years and, in hindsight, I was always searching for highly team oriented activities that I could engage with. I was incredibly active in my residential colleges’ community, I became deeply passionate and involved with a student organisation on campus and everywhere I went I attempted to make similar deep and interconnected relationships that resulted from my experience with volleyball. So here we are, 3 years after I thought I would never return to the sport, playing and debuting my competitive career once again. I have ultimately given myself a 5 year timeframe in which I will be as highly competitive, or even more so, as I was in high school by maturing my skills, understanding of the game and being able to adapt and push my physical limits.

5 years – V

I have given myself a timeframe of 5 years to be the absolute best that I can be mentally, physically and emotionally in the sport before I reassess my life conditions once more. This decision has presented me with a solid and strong sense of purpose and direction, where things in other aspects of my life may be unstable and uncertain, I use this goal as one of my anchor points to keep me moving forward and progressing in life.

It has taken me a lengthy period of time to realise that volleyball has, and will, become one of the keys to achieving “glory” in my life. Only time and proper preparation can tell if I am physically able to keep this goal alive for 5 years.