Sports Fans

Learning How to Play Volleyball Taught me Life Lessons

Whatcha gonna teach me, Volleyball?
Whatcha gonna teach me, Volleyball?

Updated August 16th, 2018

I was a true klutz at volleyball, and I had warned our fitness instructor that I would be. She didn't seem to mind, since this was about learning sportsmanship and the rules of volleyball. I didn't want to tell her that I knew the rules coming in, but I was just not ever going to be good at it. Little did she know that this had little to do with the sport itself.

The Other Games Played on a Volleyball Court

I was trying to tie my volleyball shoes when Clarissa Haynes came up to me and started her usual bullying. She stepped on one of my shoestrings so that I could not finish tying my shoe. I was upset because I knew the instructor would accuse me of being late if I didn't do this in time. If my shoe was not tied, I knew she would accuse me of showing up unprepared.

I begged Clarissa to stop, but she was watching her watch to wait until I had less than a minute to meet the rest of the class at the volleyball net. No matter how hard I struggled, I just couldn't seem to get that shoelace from under her heel. Finally, she let me go, and just as I suspected, I was late getting to the net.

I wasn't sure why I always let Clarissa do this me. Looking back, I could have fought her harder at any time. Part of me thinks that I must have thought she was really the goddess everyone else seemed to worship. In her crew, there was someone who would carry her books when she didn't feel like doing it, someone who bought her lunch, and someone who carry her little nasty messages to the people she was pushing around.

I wanted to be stronger during that time. I had put at least 2,000 curses on her life, hoping she would fall flat on her face or that her family would move away. Maybe if she moved, I rationalized, I could focus and actually get good at volleyball. With her around, though, I was stuck with only being a genius at volleyball rules, which everybody knew did nothing for your game.

Where This Game of Volleyball Came From

Based on what I had researched, if you could be good at volleyball, then you could probably master at least four other sports: basketball, baseball, handball and tennis. The game was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan at Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts only four years after the discovery of basketball.

Philippines is documented as the originator or setting and spiking in 1916, but these offensive moves forced the start of the United States Volleyball Association in 1928 to make official rules for the game. Morgan originally called the game mintonette because he wanted it to resemble badminton without a racquet. The first net he designed was only 6 foot 6 inches. The explanation has been that people were much shorter in the 19th century.

What I had always wanted to do with volleyball was just play well. I was a nerdy girl with glasses and awkward limbs, so I knew I would have to overcome these social disgraces first. I also had Clarissa to overcome, so I knew my knowledge of the history of volleyball would only matter to the instructor, and only when we were taking a written exam.

The Volleyball Showdown With Clarissa

I would never have been able to tell based on the way that the other girls seemed to bow to Clarissa's every whim, but they were tired of being her lackeys. I was walking home from school one day, and two girls snatched me and pulled me behind a bush. I almost started hyperventilating because they had knocked off my glasses and I feared I was about to get beat up by them.

One of the girls helped me up and gave me back my glasses. This was the only way they felt they could talk to me without Clarissa finding out. They were planning to knock her off her throne, and they needed my help to do it. Rebecca was tired of skipping lunch and using her money to buy Clarissa things she wanted, and Nicole was always getting in trouble for being late to class after carrying Clarissa's books. It turns out, they all were like me.

The plan we devised that day had to do with playing the game of volleyball in such a way that we all appeared to be a team. We would make Clarissa look like a zero. Because I knew the rules so well, I got to tell them what was possible and what we might be called on while we were on the volleyball court. Clarissa was coming down at the volleyball net, and we could all be free to be ourselves again.

On the day that we planned the takedown, we played everything the same as usual. We didn't want Clarissa to get a hint of what was happening. After I put on my volleyball shoes, I had to let her step on my shoelace one last time to make her think that she still had power over me. I almost felt sorry for her, but not enough to stop the plan.

When the game started, we launched into our plan right away. We didn't want her to get any superstar points from the instructor for being the best in volleyball. The girls and I seamlessly played so that she could not get any spotlight time for any play. By the time we finished the game, we had cleverly forced her to commit every offense imaginable in the game of volleyball.

Afterwards in the locker room, I saw Clarissa crying. I kept dressing and wanted to just walk out and be free like everyone else had done, but I couldn't. Instead, I asked her what was wrong. She said that volleyball was all she had and now that she was no longer good at it, she didn't know what she would do.

I didn't hug her, give her long advice or use the moment to rake her over the coals as she had done to everyone else. Instead, I just told her to be herself. When I walked out of the gym that day, I was almost skipping. I had survived my first era of bullying.

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