My Sister’s TOO Good!

By Sabrina (BGV Blogger and Rec Volleyball Player)

Teia and SabrinaI have an older sister who’s 15 now and has been playing volleyball for almost seven years. She started at a local recreational club and played there for years. Coaches and players could see that she was good. Next, she played for her middle school and she started playing club volleyball and got even better. Then last year she started playing as a freshman at high school for her JV team (before the end of the season she was playing varsity).

This year, she’s the only sophomore on varsity and she plays a LOT because she’s really good.

But my sister may be a little too good and here are a few reasons why:

  1. My mom and sister can talk for hours and hours and hours about volleyball (even though my mom has never played the sport)
  2. Because she plays both school and club, I think she gets a lot of attention and we put of lot of time into it (even though my brother and I play other sports)
  3. Volleyball games and tournaments can take priority over other things (practices, friend’s birthday parties, etc.)
  4. And those tournaments and games mean early mornings and late nights (sometimes I can’t watch my favorite shows)
  5. Because she’s playing varsity in high school sometimes we have to sit through HOURS of games (five sets sometimes)

That said, I am proud of my sister and here are some things I appreciate about her being SO good:

  1. I get to support her/her teams and cheer them on
  2. Soccer is my main sport, but I play volleyball too and I learn a lot from her and from watching her play
  3. Because she’s plays club we get to visit cool places and stay in nice hotels with pools and hot tubs and nice people who give us candy and ice cream socials, etc.
  4. We also get to spend time as a family – we laugh and have fun (and we’re there for her when things don’t go so well during games)
  5. She’s really good so she plays a lot and it’s always fun just seeing her do so well

Teia and Sabrina 2Even though it can be a struggle, I know soon she may be off to college, hopefully playing volleyball and I won’t be
able to see her all of the time so I’m going to enjoy this time right now. Love you, Teia!

Underclassmen Playing Varsity Volleyball

By Teia (BGV Blogger and High School/Club Volleyball Player)

TeiaI’ve been playing volleyball for almost seven years – playing rec, school and club. During my freshman year, I made my JV team and before the end of the season they brought me up to the varsity team.

This summer, I thought about tryouts a lot and was excited because I thought I had a good chance of making varsity again. Our tryouts were three days long and on the third day I found out that I made the varsity team again. I was so happy!

We started playing games and as the season progressed I started to have some challenges. I really liked the idea of playing with the “best of the best” at my school, but being an underclassman on varsity isn’t as easy as one might think.

  1. Most of the girls on the team have already played together before. They have already gelled together and an underclassman is coming in new.
  2. Coaches may take it easier on younger players. This might have an effect on the younger players’ development.
  3. A younger player coming in with the same skill level as an upperclassman can be interesting to say the least.
  4. You aren’t always heard and listened to. Not heard because other people can’t understand your challenges…they only think it has to be great playing varsity. Not listened to by fellow players, coaches and managers.
  5. The age difference can take a toll in a lot of ways. Friends your age may be on the freshman and JV teams and you may not be able to talk and hang out with them as much. Also as a sophomore you’re still figuring out how to balance being a student-athlete; most upperclassmen have figured that out.
  6. Because you’re young everyone assumes you don’t know as much or that you don’t understand.

But, there are good points too:

Teia High School

  1. I get a lot of encouragement from players and coaches.
  2. I get a lot of support from my teachers who understand I’m playing this sport at a higher level; teachers get excited and come to see me play.
  3. I’m playing against teams with older, more experienced players and that helps me become a stronger player.
  4. Having come on varsity as a freshman, if I continue to play, I’ll definitely build my leadership skills by the time I’m a senior.

Being an underclassman on varsity is not all that it seems, but if you’re made the offer you should take it. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you so DO IT!

The Dreaded Overhand Serve…

By Sabrina (BGV Blogger and Recreational Volleyball Player)

One of the toughest things about volleyball for kids my age is going from underhand to overhand serving. It’s hard because with underhand serving you don’t have to worry about throwing the ball in the air or timing when to hit it. Most kids also think it’s easier because you don’t have to have a lot of power. If you aren’t tall or you’re just starting volleyball, overhand serving can be really intimidating to even try.

But if you’re a little serious about volleyball and you want to get better, it’s a good idea to change to overhand serving. When you underhand serve, the ball can stay in the air a long time allowing the other team a lot of time to get to it, but overhand serves can be lower to the net making it harder for the other team to receive the ball. With a lot of practice you can learn different types of overhand serves, like a float serve.

When I first started playing volleyball three years ago I was eight years old and of course, I started serving underhand. Underhand wasn’t that hard for me because I served with a lot of power, but I really wanted to serve overhand so I started trying last year. And even though I’m not perfect with it, I’m more consistent this year.

Overhand ServeHere are a few tips to for overhand serving:
• Practice, practice, practice!
• If you’re very short, throw the ball up high and make contact at a higher point on the ball
• Use your arm to follow through completely as you swing
• Follow the coach’s suggestion – start close to the net when trying the serve and then back up each time as you get better and better
• Don’t do a lot of EXTRA! Get the basic overhand serve down before trying jump serves and other stuff
• Lastly, don’t rush your serve. Take your time!

The biggest thing to remember is not to give up. If you can get your serve over the net with an overhand serve, but not all the time, DO NOT GO BACK TO UNDERHAND SERVING! You won’t get better if you do that.

Good luck and more importantly, have fun!

How it all started

TBirts age 10Well, we’re here! Over six years ago, I was picking my oldest daughter up from our local Boys and Girls Club when she came running up to me, asking me if she could play volleyball. I’d actually been thinking she should be involved in some activity since she stopped dance two years before (no excitement for it…)

At the time, volleyball was for 9-12 year old girls and my daughter wouldn’t be nine for four months. I asked the director, “She’s not nine yet…would she be able to play?”

He gave her the once over, “Yep, she’s pretty tall, pretty athletic…I’ll let her play up, if it’s okay with you?”

That’s how it all started and I had no clue that years later she’d be the dynamo she’s become.

Teia played recreational volleyball for four years (averaging about two seasons per year), then moved to a developmental club two years ago. The past three years she’s played for her middle school team and just finished her first high school season where she started on the junior varsity team, but ended on the varsity squad.  This winter marked her move to an open travel volleyball team (after playing on a regional team last year based in the Northern Virginia area). She’s also participated in several clinics associated with volleyball clubs, high schools and colleges.

Now, let me be truthful, my daughter has something, but she also has a LOT to learn about various techniques and about the sport, in general. But the past three years have been filled with coaches whispering that she has a lot of potential. She’s always been among the best on her team, but she was looking for a challenge this year. I agreed if she kept her grades up, I’d support her as much as I could.

The past two years, Teia has tried out for several clubs; all making her offers to play for them – one of which is consider one of the premier clubs in this region. We are all very proud of her.

But one thing was evident, especially as Teia attended tryouts: there weren’t too many girls who looked like her on TBirts Middle Blocker 2; courtesy Black Girls Volley/Karen Beitzellthe court. What was more interesting for the second year in a row, she was the only African-American on her team (last year she was one of two girls of color at all).   I remember asking her if she thought this would be a problem…her response, “Mom, I just want to play with girls who will challenge me. I don’t care what color they are.”

I’m not sure why there aren’t more black girls playing volleyball at the travel level, but money could be a big factor. I’ll write a separate post about that, but it definitely is an investment both in money and time.

So this website, our blog posts (yes, that will be a family affair as well) and the information we provide, hopefully will encourage more girls who look like my daughter to consider playing – and excelling – in this exciting, exhilarating sport.

Pass, Set, Hit!