As a program, we prioritize and enforce a “student first” mentality with all of our athletes. That means athletes have study hours throughout the week, setting class grade goals, as well as letting them use the team blog site for homework assignments! Two of our freshmen players, Paige Pasley and Whitney Nichols, decided to create an assignment based on their first year of collegiate volleyball for their class. Enjoy!
This past season was full of many great things for the Illinois Central College Volleyball team. It is still hard to believe that it is over but I believe that each and every one of us took something from it. Individually we grew as players, people and students. Not only did we grow as individuals but we grew as a team, which is a very important part of volleyball. The season really gave us many opportunities to learn together and experience different things that some of us have never really done before. We shared many opportunities together throughout the season which is one way we grew together as a team. Volleyball is something that has taught me many things about life and friendships, and for that I believe every volleyball player is grateful.
One way we each grew and changed as individuals was by the different atmosphere that college sports brought to us. Personally, the change for me was very different, but in a good and positive way. Each day I learned something new, either in the gym or in the classroom. Each of my teammates and I would agree that the change from high school sports to college sports is a million times better and much more fun! Not only was the atmosphere a change that helped us to grow in our own ways, so was the goal setting we did for ourselves. We set individual goals for each game and practice to help us focus more and help us to push ourselves. I believe that goal setting was a huge thing that helped us to grow as individual players.
As well as growing as individuals, we also grew as a team. It is amazing when you realize that six months ago we barely knew each other and now I can easily say I have made some friends that will last a lifetime. During our season, our coaches organized many fun activities for us to do together to help us bond and build relationships as teammates and friends. Our most favorite activity was when we got to go and participate in a high ropes course together. We had to learn to trust each other in some situations and other times learn to trust ourselves. It is very important to have trust in the game of volleyball, with yourself and with each of your teammates.
Not only is trust an important part of volleyball, but so it setting team goals. As a team this season we had goals, some goals we accomplished and some we didn’t. The way our season ended was not the ideal ending that we had all hoped and worked for but I believe that the end to our season is another major way that helped us to grow as a volleyball player. We all hoped for a different outcome and by not getting what we wanted as a team only makes us that more hungry and anxious to get out there next season. It also made us realize that we are going to have to work that much harder next season to reach our ultimate goal. As hard as it is to say, by us not reaching out ultimate goal this season it has helped to mature us for what the next level is really like.
Throughout the season we got to partake in many adventure and fun experiences together. Like I said earlier we got to participate in a high ropes course as a team, which was so fun and so frightening at the same time. Another exciting thing that we got to experience together was flying as a team to Arizona for five days to play volleyball. Many of us had never been to Arizona and some had never flown before. It was such a cool thing to experience with all of my friends/teammates. We got to spend our five days having a blast together, playing volleyball and laying by the pool, but only when time allowed. All of these little things throughout the season are what helped us to grow and bond as a team. At the time it may not have felt like it, but when you step back and look at it you can see how much this impacted our team chemistry.
Although the season has ended each of us took something from the season that helped us to mature and grow as a team and as individuals. I believe that next season will be even better because of the way we have all changed. This season was full of fun and times of sadness but I think that it was all for the best. Now we know what to expect and how to handle things better the next time around.
Volleyball… a game for two teams, usually for six players, which a large ball is hit over a high net, the aim being to score points by making the ball reach the ground on the opponent’s side of the court. Sounds fun doesn’t? Well, it is. Volleyball has two sides to it, the competitive side and the fun side. The competitive side comes out in everybody once they hit that court, because they know what lies ahead of them. Every team has one thing on their mind when they walk onto any court and see their competitor across the net, that is to get the win no matter how ugly the match may be. All teams want to get that win, but players also want that win for there coaches and fans. But, after getting the big win, the fun side starts to come out in every member of the team, including the coaches, because who doesn’t love winning with their team? I know I do.
Being competitive is always a good thing to have because it can take you a long way in life. Being competitive builds your character strength, your socialization, and it also gives you a healthier lifestyle. If you’re an athlete who is talented enough to be on a highly competitive travel team, they are probably used to being the best player on their league team. Stepping up to a new level of competition means they may have to work that much harder to stay on top. Chances are they will face teams that are just as good, if not better, and will have to learn how to handle losing with grace. Being a competitor on a high intensity, competitive sports team, specifically volleyball, can really help. Any volleyball player or any athlete for that matter can learn not only how to be a better athlete, but know how to be a better person. Adversities that you have to conquer on the volleyball court can build and make you a better character and competitor. Volleyball players also learn how to be discipline, not only on the court, but in life in general. Volleyball players strive for greatness, and with a discipline attitude, they will achieve that greatness. Socialization plays a huge role in athlete in any sport, but being able to socialize on the court as one, especially volleyball, is very important. Competitive sports teams are like families. Any athlete will spend countless hours with their teammates on the court, in the car and at after-game parties/dinners. Held together by a common love of their sport, competitive teams are a great place for any player of a sport to make life-long friends, learn how to interact in a large groups and develop leadership skills that will be incredibly useful later in life. Being an athlete is a once in a lifetime opportunity that a lot of people pass up. Being a volleyball player has been very special time in life and I’m forever thankful that I’m still playing to this day because it has made me a better person.
Lastly, being a volleyball player or an athlete in general can improve and make your lifestyle a little healthier. In order to be a highly competitive athlete, all players, especially in volleyball, need to be in good, physical shape. Athletes have to make sure they eat right and stay hydrated, so they’ll learn the importance of a balanced nutrition and may develop healthy eating habits that will stick with them long after they leave the team. Competitive athletes are also likely to be much more physically active than other kids their age. Learning to love being active is going to have a drastic impact on any athlete’s life down the road. Being healthy through the whole entire season, is the most important thing for an athlete. Volleyball players tend to experience injuries during season, but the most important thing to remember is to treat that injury right away and successfully rest it to make it strong again. Being competitive in sports is worth it. But, there are few negative views to being a competitive athlete. Being a talented athlete in volleyball or any sport can have high cost, take away minimal free time and can sometimes cause pressure to preform. But, don’t let any of those negative views scare you. Being a competitive athlete can take you on an amazing journey. Volleyball is and will always be a competitive rollercoaster ride, but you can’t forget to have fun.
When it comes to being a volleyball player, you have to learn how to have fun when you’re on the court or when you’re on the sidelines. Ways to have fun on the court is jumping up and down, cheering loud after one of your teammates just got a huge point for the team or when you just won a huge match over a very competitive team. The ways you can have fun on the sidelines is making up cheers for when your team gets a kill, a block, an ace or a great dig. Having fun together as a team can bring so much energy to floor and to the sidelines. Energy brings momentum and having momentum, especially in volleyball, can potentially prevail you to a win.
I know this seems like a lot to take in, but volleyball is just one big rollercoaster ride, but still a fun and competitive sport in every aspect given to any athlete. Volleyball has its good days and its bad days, just like people do. Every day, walking in to the gym, getting to play the sport I love, gives me goose bumps. The lessons I’ve learned, the life teachings it has taught me and better yet, the friends and memories it has given me through the years is something that I will never be able to replace in life.