Serves up! Life as a Central volleyball player is grueling, but by the end of the season, the time and effort put in is rewarded.
Starting the first week after spring break, we condition most afternoons. Conditioning ranges from running the track and jumping the stadium to hitting the weight room for abs and arm building. How much can you lift?
Tryouts come at the end of May. It is a three day long process and no one is guaranteed a spot. As nervous as I am to tryout, I normally handle pressure well and so do most of my teammates.
As summer rolls around, practice begins. Monday through Friday practice lasts 2-3 hours beginning bright and early at 7 a.m. If you aren’t there by 6:45 however, you are late, and being late is rewarded with running laps.
When the season officially starts, my heart flutters. It’s Game Day twice a week and the anticipation kills. I am never nervous to play, just nervous of the watchful eyes.
The season comes and goes by in a flash. I love playing the game, and playing with some of my best friends as teammates. Side by side with them, all other distractions are eliminated and I know I can trust my teammates to play smart.
Playing a team sport is one of the best decisions I have made. When I make a mistake, they pick me up and encourage me. To keep the team morale up, after every point we all come into a huddle and hug each other and say words or encouragement.
The bench is a key factor in how well we perform. During one of our tournaments, I sat the bench due to an injury, but I had the bench going crazy. With the bench’s craziness, the players on the court were able to enjoy the game and play hard defeating the reigning district champions, Alcoa, and winning the tournament.
Like normal teenagers, we enjoy off days, and we have spent many days off together labeled “Team Bonding.” My fondest moment of team bonding was our stint playing hide-and-go-seek at Target. The game ended with myself and one of my teammates sprinting out of Target because the security guards were looking for us.
“It’s volleyball season, not football season” the infamous words of Coach Lorri Johnson. She was the best coach. Sadly, she left after my sophomore season and it has not been the same since.
She had years of experience and knew how to run a practice efficiently and keep drama to a minimum. She was not the greatest with emotional situations, but she knew how to win. She built us to be winners and propelled us to become the team with the most successful season in recent memory.
During my time playing for Central, I have played under two different coaching and leadership styles and have learned a lot from both. For my Freshman and Sophomore year, Lorri Johnson coach and pushed us to grow as individuals and as a team. Johnson was a coach with decades of experience and many championships under her belt.
Coach Johnson had the skill and knowledge to take Central from a “win every now and then team,” to a team that dominates and knows how to play. She was able to harness are skills, while helping us improve on our weak ones. She was intense, but every player under her coaching hand grew stronger and became more experienced.
For my Junior year, Central was coached by Daniel Carroll. He is a young coach but has experience as an assistant coach. He came from Virginia fired up for the season, but changes were imminent
Throughout the summer and the season, practices were shorter and less frequent, conditioning was not mandatory, and myself and the other captain, Cameron Flatford, were in charge of practices. Leading practices was difficult because the majority of my time was spent teaching the fundamentals to players who had never played before, (which is fine, I love to help) but I also wanted to improve as a player. These changes required us to make adjustments as a team, but we continue to emerge stronger than before.
Playing volleyball for Central has been a roller coaster of an experience. Like any team, we have had our ups and downs, but each year we have significantly built onto the program. I love playing volleyball, and I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else!
More Stories from The Bobcat Times