Paper Written to Evaluate a Significant Experience, Achievement, Risk You Have Taken, or Ethical Dilemma You Have Faced and its Impact on You: Adjusting Between the World of Competitive Volleyball to Rowing - Leaving One Sport to Start Another

Paper Written to Evaluate a Significant Experience, Achievement, Risk You Have Taken, or Ethical Dilemma You Have Faced and its Impact on You

My Subject:

Adjusting Between the World of Competitive Volleyball to Rowing - Leaving One Sport to Start Another

Growing up in Santa Monica, California, it is common to have a volleyball placed in your toddler hands by the age of three. I was one of those children. I remember the summers of my childhood, spent at the beach playing volleyball with both family and friends alike. My grammar school, St. Paul the Apostle, allowed students as young as eight years old to play. I gladly took that opportunity and began to play on the school’s youngest team. By the time I was 11 years old, and in 5th grade, I had joined a local club volleyball team in Los Angeles called Sportshack. The club season started after the school season ended, allowing all students to play their entire school season and then play the club season until the middle of June. I loved playing indoor volleyball year round and I spent the short time we had off playing on the beach with friends and family. In 6th grade I switched to the Sunshine volleyball club, where I played through my junior year of high school. During the 2004 school season, as an 8th grader I was captain named captain of the girls varsity volleyball team. We played a fantastic season, winning the CYO league and tying for first in the Delphic League, I was named MVP of several tournaments and a small article was written about me in the USA Volleyball magazine. I thought I would play volleyball competitively for the rest of my life. Once I started my sophomore year my feelings toward volleyball started to change.

After attending Marymount High School for one year I quickly learned how important volleyball was for the team. The varsity team had won state for five years in a row, and the coaches expected nothing less for the up and coming players. I played both my freshman and sophomore years on the competitive JV volleyball team. My parents were always very supportive of my volleyball career and rarely missed a game and drove me to practice. We practiced early in the morning from about 5:45 until 7:45, and had games twice a week. The practices became more and more grueling and I spent less time on homework at night and more time sleeping. Once the school season ended, my schedule eased, as I was able to enter a routine of sleeping in every morning until 6:45 a.m. Starting my 5th year playing club volleyball for Sunshine brought on even higher expectations then in years prior. My team traveled to Washington to play in a tournament to win a bid to the Junior Olympics that year. We placed 2nd in the tournament and therefore received a bid in the Open, or the highest bracket, of the Junior Olympics. In June of that year we traveled to Minnesota to compete, and after four days of intense games we placed 11th. As soon as arrived home in Los Angeles, the training for the school season began. The coaches I worked with deemed me as out of shape, and so I had several more workouts than all of the other girls on the team. My day began at 6:30 a.m. in my coach’s swimming pool where I completed a variety of water aerobic exercises.

From there I went to the beach for two hours to train with the rest of my team. Following the beach workout I would go to the gym where I would work with a trainer, lifting weights and fulfilling various cardio workouts. I then had a several hour break, where I would relax until it was time to head back to the beach to do a plyometrics workout. My body grew very tired and my spirit and love for the sport withered. I played the season year round and had played that way for 6 years. My excitement was no longer there when I played, and still I was putting in more effort than my body could handle. Before long I started to visit my physical therapist four days a week. He told me that my shoulder wouldn’t make it through another season without surgery. I kept training and started the tryouts my school held the week before school started. The tryouts for most girls started at 8 a.m. at the track and lasted until 11 a.m., followed by an afternoon session from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. My coaches continued to tell me I was out of shape so for me, tryouts started at 6 a.m. and at 2 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. I was crushed that after all of the effort I put in I still wasn’t good enough in their eyes. The comments from my coaches were degrading, I had little to no self-esteem, my body was exhausted, I needed surgery on my right shoulder, and most of all I no longer enjoyed playing the sport. Even though there was a good chance I would be recruited to play in college, I was too miserable and knew that I couldn’t do this anymore.

On the third day of try outs I went to my coach, whom I had played for since the 6th grade, and told her that I would no longer be playing. She was upset that I was quitting, and she called me several times that week telling me to come back. Quitting was a hard choice for me to make, and it took me several days to make it, I had played volleyball my entire life. Most of my friends I made through volleyball and I had a lot of people in my life who came to my games to cheer me on. In the end I think my coach truly realized that she had pushed me too hard. My parents told me that if I needed to quit that I could, but they did not support my decision. My mom cried for the rest of the week and called all of the people that had surrounded me my entire life and told them the “devastating” news. My dad hardly spoke to me over the next several weeks let alone look at me. It was distressing how much my parents didn’t accept my decision to quit volleyball. Two weeks after I quit volleyball I went to a trial period for crew in Marina Del Rey, I had been an athlete my entire life and needed another sport to replace volleyball in my life. I had one close friend on the Varsity team, and I hoped that I would make friends on my novice team. At first I was hesitant because the sport was so new to me and I didn’t know how I would adjust between the world of competitive volleyball to rowing. I came home from the first day of practice beaming, I was so excited to tell my parents about crew, but my dad didn’t even ask me how it was. I talked about it to my mom, who had grown to understand that it was okay that I switched sports, and my dad walked away. It was disheartening, but still I stayed through the two-week trial period, and decided that I would give crew a chance.

That chance proved to be one of the best choices I have ever made. I fell in love with crew. I loved the atmosphere at our boathouse, I respected the coach, and I was beginning to grow close with my teammates. In the beginning of the season my teammates voted me captain and I was honored and so excited to be a leader in my team. By October the practices were gradually rising in difficulty and we were learning how to row for our first 6k race. The regatta took place in Newport Beach, California. There were so many teams from colleges, high schools, and clubs from all over the West Coast. I sat in stroke seat, also known as eight seat, of the top Novice eight boat for my new club, the Marina Aquatic Center (MAC). The race was crazy and so exciting. All of the spectators stood cheering at the end of the 6,000 meter course. I have never felt such excitement as I did that day coming down the race course with so many people watching and cheering. We finished our first race 4th overall and I was so proud of my team! After the boat was put away I went to go and find my parents, but there was no need to look. My dad was already standing close by, arms wide open, I ran to him and he had his arms around me, congratulating me and telling me how proud he was. My mom stood close by also congratulating me, telling me how great our race was.

That was the turning point. From then on my parents realized I was serious, I loved crew, I worked hard at crew, that crew is a real sport. The season died down and races started back up again in the spring. By then I was extremely close with all of the girls on my team, more close then I had ever been with any volleyball teammates. Crew differed from many other sports in the way that each girl in the boat goes through the exact same workout, the exact same movements, the same pain, the same joy, and all at the same time. I saw them everyday at crew and also outside of crew on the weekends. These girls meant and felt like much more than just teammates to me because we had become a family. During the spring our training was intense and very tiring, but my love for the sport was still there and still strong. We competed in regattas every other weekend, and both of my parents came to them every single one. They cheered, they took pictures, they learned rowing terms and it felt so great that they had truly accepted me, and crew as a new sport. The season flew by and we finished the southwest regional ranking 4th in our novice eight and 5th in our novice four. I was so proud to be a part of both boats, and we were the first novice crew to even make it to the finals for our club.

Quitting volleyball and joining crew was the riskiest, but best decision I have ever made. I quit a sport that made me miserable physically and emotionally and opened a thousand doors of opportunity that I never knew existed. I am now a competitive athlete, working out everyday with the people I love playing the sport that I love and I couldn’t be happier.