We all have something that makes us the person we are today. It can unravel your personality or even bring out a person you never imagined yourself to be. My name is Dorothy Vera Sanchez and I’m a current student at New York City College of Technology. While in high school many of my friends were involved in sport teams, encouraging me to do something with my spare time during the school year. Therefore I ended up joining the volleyball team, which eventually became my hobby. Before, volleyball wasn’t something I played very often but it eventually became something I spent most of my time with, especially after school. It has taught me how to be competitive, disciplined, and work with others.
Every since I was 10 years old, my father would take my brother and I every weekend to go play volleyball indoors. It is part of our Ecuadorian culture to be involved with such a sport like this one. The teams are set up with three players on each side of the court. There is a setter; a player who receives the second touch once the first hit was passed towards them. Also the setter sets the volleyball towards one of the outside hitters. And two outside hitters, one on the right and the other on the left side. In order to win the first set, the team has to reach fifteen points faster than their opponent team. The game also consists of a maximum of four sets, which is most likely completed by championship or by advance volleyball players. But when playing with some members of my family, gambling is usually involved, evoking a competitive atmosphere; everyone wants to win. Basically in order to play, the players must pay the referee first and when a team wins, the losing team’s money is given to the winning team. Typically in an indoor volleyball game you expect to play with a volleyball, but here, a soccer ball is used as a replacement. My dad played as one of the outside hitters and I would observe my dad playing as he tried to improve his hits. As I saw him play, I tried to figure out what spot would be right for me to play in. I would walk to the court when they were done playing and pictured myself in certain spots on the court. But during that time, I was only able to observe my uncles and dad play and I would just practice throwing the ball to them as they tried to improve their hits over the net.
In the beginning of my sophomore year, things changed. The school year started and so did volleyball practice for my school’s team. I noticed how the coach observed me, paying special attention to how I would set the ball to my soon-to-be teammates. Little did I know I was going to be the team’s setter, leading into championships, and winning the division championships.
My junior year of high school started and all my teammates knew this year involved facing tougher teams in order to keep up with the wins from our previous season. This meant winning all of our games and competing to stay at the top of our game. We had to win these games. Our opponent teams were also competitive and just as good as we were. There was this one game that involved playing a team that was just as good as we were. Before all this, I must say that I wasn’t much of a competitive person; I wouldn’t mind whether we won or lost. But ever since last season, losing a game wasn’t something we wanted to have in our agenda anymore. While we faced this team, our team was losing to a score of twenty-four to twenty-two and we didn’t know whether we were going to catch up and win. But we didn’t let that get in the way. The team got more competitive and every time I would set the ball to one of the outside hitters on my team, the opposite team would always dive or bump the ball. This game was a close game especially since it was also the second set. Some of our friends started yelling “bump! set! kill!” hearing those words made us more aggressive in every action we did. The middle hitter yelled out towards me saying “ten.” In volleyball, “ten” meant setting the ball as high as you could but near the middle of the net. That night we won our first home game against them.
Becoming competitive wasn’t the only thing volleyball taught me, but it also taught me how to be disciplined. The first time I ever arrived late to practice, the coach didn’t even bother to yell at me or want an explanation on why I was late to practice. Instead, my coach would make me or any other player that came in late run at least ten laps around the track, then have us do our regular stretches, and complete at least double the amount of suicides. Suicides are when you have to run from one end of the court to the other. Aside from that, we also had to do the other exercises. Our water breaks were also reduced to half the time the other girls would get as a way of learning our lesson of not arriving late to practice. During practice our coach was training us on how to properly rotate around the court. But every time a girl would mess up on the rotation, the whole team had to begin doing five squat jumps. If it continued to happen again, the entire team would have to do another five more prior to the ones done previously. Once the team had to do around thirty squat jumps because either one girl or myself would mess up on the rotations. There were times where if we let the ball drop on the floor, our captain would make us do ten mountain climbs for every drop. She would also add another ten when we didn’t yell the words “got it” when one of us went for the ball. Also any time I wasn’t able to set the second touch of the volleyball, I had to yell out “help” in order for the girl that was near the ball to either bump the ball or set it as well. If I didn’t say those words, I would have to do five suicide runs. Every mistake we did at the beginning of the season wasn’t there after a while since most of us knew what would happen if we made an error in the court.
Another thing that I was able to learn, aside from learning to become competitive and disciplined, was teamwork skills. This wasn’t an issue for me mainly because I wasn’t greedy or non cooperative. I usually kept to myself and I really wouldn’t talk. Before I got comfortable around them, I would get nervous when I talked to them, which really didn’t help out in the court. During the beginning of the season, the girls and I didn’t know each other. We were all strangers to one another and we all weren’t sure if we would have enough team chemistry to get along and be a good team. But we all had the same objective of enjoying our couple of games and winning as many games possible. Our coach was trying to teach us how to be a team and if one player messed up, we all messed up. We all struggled so much within the first week especially when one of the girls would mess up because we all would get in trouble together. This made it so much more difficult to become friends with one another due to the fact that we all as a team would get mad at the girl who messed up during practice or even at a game. After a week or so, we all started to help each other out. When a girl would forget her spot during the rotations, we would quietly tell her where to go so that none of us would get in trouble any more. Since then we all became a team with amazing chemistry.
Volleyball took out the person I never thought could possibly be within me. With all of this experience, I have gained amazing friends and memories of the games to even the memories my teammates and I would share on our way home. Volleyball is more than a sport to me; it’s a summer lifestyle. Yet it brings out the real me while I’m playing the sport.