Volleyball is my next pursuit and from my distant school memories, I remember that I wasn’t too shabby with my dig and serve, so all I needed to do was dust off my skills and I’d be sure to impress them. Maybe they would ask me to sign up. It is not unheard of in this challenge for a club to invite me to sign up with them after. I usually shrug off my nagging doubts and suspicions of their desperation in putting together a team or their financial survival, or dwell on the fact at hockey, we will have any old person who can hold a stick. Instead, I focus on revelling in their invitation and accept their praise as truly sincere.
I met Dave from Kernow Volleyball, who plays in Truro. Issue number one became apparent, as I stared up at Dave, who was over a foot taller than me. A foggy recollection came to me, as to why I didn’t progress with volleyball. Ah, yes – I stopped growing at thirteen and remain to this day, a short-arse. I filed this away and continued to discuss the club and the sport in general. Apparently, volleyball is the second largest participation sport in the world. I imagined a beach volleyball court, on an exotic beach. I sniggered at the thought of turning up today, in a bikini, introducing myself normally and maintaining a straight face. I remembered that I didn’t own a bikini and that I must not be odd in front of new people.
I was introduced to Rachel, who was assigned as my babysitter and I was delighted to see that she was no taller than me. We practised setting the ball and I really struggled to get the technique. I practised it about a dozen times and it just wasn’t sinking in at all. I joined in with the main training and lined up against three people, who in turn threw a ball at me. My job was to run to receive the ball, use that stroke to give it back to them, run back and then run to the next person and continue on a loop. Everybody was really helpful with their words of advice but I just couldn’t get it.
Dig that Ball!!!
I was relieved to move on to digging the ball. This is where you grip your hands together to present the ball with your forearms. To receive the ball, you kind of need to squat and then use your arms to power the ball up to your teammate. We stood facing our three feeders again and as I received my first ball, it went careering off my arm into a different direction and it kind of hurt. More advice on technique was provided by a number of people.
I carried on but it was really stinging my arms! I watched as they started to glow red and my veins began to pop up. Then the whining started as I winced and screamed every time I hit the ball. I asked my teammates why I was being so pathetic and the general consensus was that it took a few goes for that to wear off. I kept taking “water breaks” as I caressed my throbbing arms.
I was delighted to move on to serving, which required the palm of my hand and not my arms. This went very well, as I managed a high percentage of serves in. It felt a bit odd using my limb as a racquet but my underarm serve was certainly doing the business. We moved on to a game, whereby the two "stars" of the team were pitched against six on the other side of the net. After yet another pit stop, I went to join the herd on the latter part of the court but they shooed me over with the stars. Oh no – I had nowhere to hide.
I managed to scupper a number of the points which they would have won, had I not intervened with my flailing arms but towards the end of the game, I managed to hit a fluke shot over the net to score a point. The girls high-fived me. I winced as our skins touched.
The All-Stars (and me) won the match and I took myself home. I heard that all athletes can benefit from an ice bath after a hard session, so being mindful of that, I adapted it, by putting half a dozen ice cubes in a glass and then poured Baileys all over them. Between sips, I rested the glass on my poor arms and reflected on how rubbish I was and that I probably shouldn’t look out for an invitation back anytime soon, bikini or no bikini.
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MoJoManuals addressing the wide range of issues which teenage girls face as they engage in competitive sport. Predicated on 'Physical Literacy' but also cover a range of other emotive issues such as: body image, diet, fit or thin, social media, training with menstruation, coaching style etc. – which impact how girls engage/drop out of sport – and potentially go on to be elite athletes and confident, mature young women outside of sport.