I’ve been playing volleyball for 38 years now. It’s the greatest sport in the world to me. There are a lot of sports that once you graduate from college, you never play anymore. Volleyball is one of the few that you can play as long as your body can take the punishment.
When I decided to go back to school to work on my master’s degree in nutrition, I knew it was going to be a sacrifice. Since I didn’t have an undergraduate degree in nutrition, I had to take three years of prerequisites just to get into the program. I don’t know if any of you have taken organic chemistry before, but that was the beginning of the end of my physical fitness for a while! I did nothing but work, go to school three nights a week, and study. Sleep got the short end of the stick as I was in the chemistry lab sometimes until 11 pm. My indoor team fell apart right before I went back to school, so I didn’t have to quit my team. It quit me. I ended up playing sand volleyball from April to September, so that got in my yearly dose of volleyball. My sand team is co-ed, so as a girl, that means I get to set. A co-ed net is a lot taller than a woman’s net, plus moving in sand makes me feel like I have lead weights on my feet. So, instead of being a strong side hitter, I’m now the setter. I went from an A league, to a B league. I’m not complaining. At least I’m still playing. But I really miss pounding the ball.
Tonight, I got a phone call. Over the telephone line, I heard the three best words I’ve heard in a long time – you wanna play? Indoor volleyball? On a women’s team? Heck yeah, I’ll play!
It’s been about five years now since I quit playing indoor volleyball. Sand volleyball is fun, but all my love is for the indoor game. Sand volleyball is like a brawl, while the indoor game is more of a coordinated dance. It’s not that I didn’t want to play indoor ball anymore, but over the years, people get older and they drop out. Women have children. People move. People start coaching the children that they just had a few years ago. Bodies fall apart. People get older and decide it’s time to hang up their knee pads. For whatever reasons people have, they just stop playing. Not me, though. I still have the heart of a tiger. Unfortunately, volleyball is a team sport. You can’t play alone.
So, I got the call! Yippee! This week has been very busy and stressful. I had to give a presentation on Monday. I had a test on Tuesday. I had a paper due today. I’m exhausted. But I got the call! My energy level just went up to the rafters. So, I got myself together and drove on over.
Like I said, it’s been about five years since I’ve actually spiked the ball. The group of women who called me all know me as a hitter. We didn’t have time to warm up much, so I didn’t get to get a single spike in before we started the game. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I didn’t want to play so badly that they never called me again, so I just went for it. The first set I got, I kind of missed it. The ball went down, but you can tell from the sound of the ball when you hit it that I didn’t hit it square on. I’m not in the best physical shape anymore, so getting my butt off the ground was a task. But I’m known as someone who never gives up. And I mean… never!
So, I decided to give it everything I had. By the end of the first game, my lower back was aching, my knees were throbbing, and my hitting shoulder was starting to bother me. But I started crushing the ball like I used to and it felt great! Confidence adds to confidence. With every set I received, I spiked the ball harder and harder. My timing improved. I was in the zone. We ended up winning all three games to win the match. (Yeah, team!) I’m sure I’m going to be miserably achy and sore tomorrow, but it was worth it. And I’d definitely do it again!
As we were leaving, I told them to not lose my telephone number because I’d love to play again. Everyone said that they weren’t sure I was still playing because they hadn’t seen me in years. I laughed and said they must have really had to search through their rolodex to dig up my number. Once you get out of an indoor league, it’s pretty tough to get back in. Teams stay together and play together forever. It’s the out of sight, out of mind principle at work. I was out of sight for years. But I got the call tonight. I wanna play!
Everyone should have a sport that they play that’s the greatest in the world to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s volleyball or ice skating. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in your twenties or in your eighties. I had a great-uncle who played tennis three times a week until he died in his 80’s, so don’t use age as an excuse! Playing a sport is not only great exercise, but it’s social. Physical fitness is something that you HAVE to make time for in your busy schedule. If you wait until you’re no longer crazy busy, you’ll never find the time. So, make the time for yourself now. I know you wanna play, too!
Until next time, remember that… there are no excuses when it comes to your health!