Anybody who knows me could tell you I am not in the least bit an athletic person. My attempts at volleyball throughout middle school were feeble to say the least, and I was often on the “C” team– the worst of the three categories our coaches placed us in. My attempts at after school track were no better. My part in the group relays resulted in a losing rank for my team, and my hurdles were nothing short of humiliating. Once I reached high school, I took a break from sports over freshman year and tried out for the volleyball team my second year, only to get cut from tryouts because my overhand serves never made it past the net– and ultimately decided I was done with sports for good.
Going into college I assumed I might try some simpler sports, like table tennis, or even just throw a frisbee back and forth with a friend and call it good. There were many sports/active clubs to choose from throughout Whitman, so I knew the options before me were wide, and I certainly didn’t have to settle for the ones I had never succeeded at.
So what possessed me to show up to a volleyball club meeting just a couple weeks into sophomore year of college after my failed and embarrassing foray into sports? I can’t say for sure. Perhaps peer pressure from my friends, or my recent habit of staying active, or the fact that my roommate had to drag me out of the room, or maybe even that tiny voice in my head that actually wanted to give athletics another go. Whatever the case, I showed up to the meeting, nervous and apprehensive but buzzing with a strange excitement.
The room was filled with a generous number of boys and girls, all at different skill sets. The club leaders separated us by gender and had us do some runs and exercises, boys at one net and girls at the other. After we had skipped and lunged ourselves out, they brought out the balls and had us serve. The club leader was perky and energetic– her excited hand gestures and bright, clear voice made me feel pumped up to begin. My muscles must have strengthened considerably since middle school because for the first time, I was making consistent overhand serves over the net. I was exhilarated to realize this, and even more so when I found that for once, I could finally control the direction in which my ball flew.
Although I had been slightly dreading the meeting, the two hours seemed to zoom by in a flash. I was having genuine fun with my friends and doing well enough that my spirits remained high. The end of the meeting resulted in us being separated once again for a scrimmage, this time not by gender but by those who wanted to play “hard” and those who wanted to play “easy.” I stuck with the latter, and though those of us in that category did not play even half as intensely as those in the hard category, it was still fun enough that by the time the clock struck nine, I was already looking forward to next week’s practice.
“Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re good enough to play at the ‘hard’ net,” one of the leaders told us at the end of the meeting. “One day, you’ll get there.”
As cliché as that line may sound, I couldn’t help but believe it might be true.
The lack of pressure greatly reduced my apprehensions going into the first meeting and has allowed me to have fun at all the other ones I have attended since then. It only goes to show that there is no point in letting your middle school trauma determine your future choices because every now and then, something good might just come out of a risky decision.