Meet Jessica! Jessica is a freshman in high school and is passionate about volleyball. We interviewed her to find out what she loves about her sport.
What does an average day look like for you?
Every week day I wake up at 7:00 to get ready for school. Before leaving I grab a Greek yogurt for breakfast. My school schedule includes CP Chemistry, Geometry, Creative Writing, Latin, pre AP English, and Oklahoma History. For lunch I have a sandwich with a side of cucumbers. Afterschool I work on my homework or other afterschool activities. Some of these activities are dance and volleyball. During club season volleyball practice tends to be from 7 to 9 twice a week. In addition to the preexisting practice schedule one hour of individual lessons a week is advised. During off season it is a priority to maintain physical activity and touches on the ball. I tend to enjoy crunches because they are easy to fit in a busy schedule and core work is vital in dance and volleyball.
How old were you when you started volleyball?
I was in third grade when we played a game of volleyball in PE. A parent at the school who was a volleyball coach happened to see me. She encouraged my mom to enroll me in junior jammers. In sixth grade I took it a step further by signing up for club ball. Club ball is a traveling team with elite coaches and select players. I was overjoyed to make the team when there was so much competition.
Tell us about what inspired you to give volleyball a try.
What inspired me to play volleyball? I guess having someone outside of my family believe in me. I felt special that someone had picked me out of a crowd. There is something incredible about being part of a team, being important. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Was there a moment when you knew it had become your passion? If so, please tell us about that moment?
There are so many athletes that can tell you exactly when they realized this is what they loved to do. For me it wasn’t an inspirational epiphany. It’s not a conclusion I came to only once in my life. Every time I step on the court it hits me; this is what I love. Every second I play is a reminder of my passion. I love the thrill of hitting the floor. It’s like you’re giving your all to get a ball up that no one thought you could.
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences or a favorite story you have had with volleyball?
My favorite memory is a little twisted. At practice my team and I were playing a hard core game of Texas tough. In a rush to save the ball I slammed to the ground. I was so focused on the task at hand I momentarily forgot about my safety. The dive resulted in me face planting. Grabbing my face I came back with a handful of blood. I rush off the court because it was against health code to get body fluids on the floor. I reach the bathroom to find my tooth through my lip. Pulling my lip over my tooth I wipe all of the remaining blood off of my face. Deciding I was good to go I make my way back to finish the game. Not even ten minutes in to play a girl shanks the ball which just so happened to hit me directly in the face. Standing up stunned I hear all the parents gasp as I was reinjured. I don’t know what compelled me to laugh. Maybe it was the look of horror on the girls face, or the simultaneous gasp from the viewers, I just remember thinking pain is temporary but this memory will last forever.
How does volleyball challenge you?
Volleyball pushes me to be better. I think the biggest challenge is the running aspect. Speed plays an important part in your performance. Endurance is another big factor, considering the fact that some tournaments are 12 hours. Most are a little bit more spaced out they tend to be 8 hours long for two days.
Is there a certain skill you are trying to achieve?
There’s not really a skill I wish to achieve. In truth I wish to improve at everything, push myself harder. I do have a goal though. I want killer abs. Haha I’m just joking… okay maybe I do.
How many hours do you train per week?
If you only count practice time I train 5 to 6 hours a week. Almost every weekend we have a tournament and tournaments tend to be anywhere between 9 to 16 hours.
What are three qualities a volleyball player should possess?
A volleyball player must be able to trust others. There are so many times you rely on your teammates. They must also do well under pressure. Must games are within a few points. People who crack under pressure would most likely drag the entire team down with them. Above all a volleyball player must be talkative. Most people don’t realize but hearing is a main part of volleyball. My eyes are on the ball; I’m not focusing on where you are on the court. That is why you must tell me. It can be a problem for soft spoken people when we are at big tournaments. This is because with 100 teams playing at the same time it’s hard to hear those around you. You may think I’m exaggerating but just last year at Texas shoot out there were 96 courts.
Do you look up to professional athletes in your sport? Who is your role model?
I don’t really have role models. Like yeah I want to be where they are at some day but I don’t want to be just like them. I don’t wish to be a copy of someone else. I want to inspire others to be like me. ;)
What advice would you give someone who wants to start playing volleyball?
My advice to others is, don’t give up. It took me years to develop my skills to the point they are now. Volleyball is a tricky sport and most moves take practice. People say practice makes perfect but that is not entirely true. It’s the want and need to get better that pushes us towards perfection. Also don’t limit yourself, work on skills outside of your comfort zone. Last but not least condition, you will need the strength and endurance.
What are your goals with volleyball? Do you wish to eventually be on a college team?
I wish to do what makes me happy. If I play for a team in college then great I’m sure I will love it. If not I’m still going to continue to play. I will play until I’m physically unable to do so. When I reach that point I will coach. I don’t want to think of that just yet because that will be quite tragic.
What life lessons have you learned from volleyball?
Volleyball has taught me to trust others. You can’t do everything by yourself and sometimes you need someone to back you up. I like to think it has also helped build relationships. I now know people who I would have never dreamed of talking to and I love them all.
Are there any other activities or sports you have tried or would like to try? Are you still involved in any of them?
Volleyball is a big part of my life but I do enjoy other things to. I have been dancing since kindergarten. It is a great escape for me. Losing yourself in the music is a great stress reliever. I have tried other sports such as basketball and soccer. In the end I decided that if I was to get serious with a sport I had to pick one. Volleyball came out on top. I don’t know where I would be without it.
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