A Sport for the Ages! (Playing Competitive Volleyball at sixty, 70 and Outside of!)

Set One particular” — Lesson One

For seasoned athletes, in spite of age and a relentless clock, the crucial is to continue to be the program. There needn’t be an expiration day stamped on the psyche, both self-imposed or by general public affirmation. Put an additional way, if one particular enjoys a healthy thoughts and entire body, if joints nevertheless flex with relative simplicity and comfort, it really is feasible to perform until finally Medicare kicks in, and for several, effectively past that venerable age. For its numerous devotees, it genuinely is a sport for the ages! The recreation of the large net, a remarkably fine, vigorous and aggressive activity, when performed properly, when performed by the principles. The uninitiated require only observe university volleyball or skilled seashore or Olympic volleyball.

To illustrate and to cite an exemplary circumstance in point, Steve and Gigi have performed for ages, because 1974 to be precise. The great sport continues to eat their disposable leisure time. For them, it truly is a variety of obsession, and one particular that has ongoing unabated for much more than 40 a long time. Now at age 72, Steve, and 68, Gigi, they are nonetheless in its grip.

Obsession is an apt description. In a way, it all began at the bell, a phone bell, and like a present in between extremes, it seems always to race among foreboding and hopeful anticipation. Spurred by that opening bell, they quickly grew to become prizefighters fired with passion, roped in, originally by the notion, but in the prolonged operate, eaten by the sport by itself, obsessed.

The ringing telephone was loud and insistent. Steve refused to transfer. Obtrusive with annoyance in her eyes, Gigi place down a guide and walked quickly, almost ran to subdue the obnoxious point.

“Shall I just get it?” she asked with extravagant sarcasm. “Yes, hullo!”

Steve compensated no focus at very first, irritated by the instrument’s persistence, its energy to interrupt.

“Oh, hello John. What? Yeah, we’re the two fine, just hanging out. How’s Joan? Which is excellent.”

Steve’s focus moved gradually, as did his gaze, to a dialogue that was 1-sided and cryptic. Her eyes widened. She turned. She paced.

“You believe we should do what?” Gigi requested into the instrument, a question wrapped in incredulity, but with a increasing level of pleasure. Enthusiasm appeared to boost the current operating through the wire.

“What,” he mentioned. Who is that?” volleyball positions fell flat as if inaudible, trivial.

“Be part of a league? Couples, co-ed. Yeah, I performed a small in substantial college. Steve? No. I will not believe so. Probably at picnics, or in the yard with loved ones.”

“What did I do in the yard?” he asked. Yet another feckless query, no reply predicted or given.

“That sounds just excellent,” Gigi mentioned with growing exhilaration. “Exactly where? And it starts off in January? That is next thirty day period! Yeah, yeah… exercise, one thing we can do as partners with close friends. Okay, great! Alright, we are going to speak on Monday and you can allow us know the time and routine.” She hung up the cellphone.

“Was that John O’Connor?” Steve requested. “What ended up you chatting about? What league?”

“I just really like the concept,” Gigi replied. “Yeah, it was John. You and I, the O’Connors and the Keegan’s are heading to play volleyball in a co-ed league. The 6 of us. We start subsequent month. We are going to play at a north aspect university. It is in close proximity to Sherman on Inexperienced Tree Road.”

“Hold out a minute,” Steve began. “We have never ever performed. We never know the sport. Do they have stringent rules? Are the other teams in the league skilled, gifted? How are we going to do that?”

“Ach… never fret,” stated Gigi. “I performed in faculty, and we are going to discover. We will get greater. It’ll be fantastic fun. We are going to have exercise, time with close friends. It’ll be fantastic. I am genuinely searching ahead to this. Usually are not you?”

“Volleyball,” he explained, a robust be aware of apprehension in his tone. “A league,” he ongoing, a large sigh punctuating. And that was the sum overall of any objection or argument he may have offered in opposition. But, inside of the privateness of his ideas, there was this: “I’m married for, what, four or so months. I’m just getting utilised to factors. Now I am in a volleyball league. How extended will this previous. My god, life’s a runaway freight prepare it moves alongside way way too quickly!”

Regardless of an inauspicious starting, reluctance on the component of at least one particular participant, their volleyball-playing profession, a single that would last for 40 a long time and past, commenced in 1974.

It was in early September of that year. Six novices appeared on a wood-plank ground at the gymnasium of a north side Milwaukee college, some nervous, some calm and self-assured. They lined up, a few in front and a few in the again row. They knew that a lot. The opposition gained the first provider. The ball was a meteor, one thing shot from a cannon. One of the 6 made make contact with with the ball, palms up, lifting the volleyball a few toes skyward. It dropped to the ground, amongst entrance and again rows of players. Even the ball seemed humiliated.

A shrill whistle wrenched their collective consideration from the shock of the serve and its feckless receipt to the referee’s ladder of authority. “Illegal strike,” the referee shouted. She descended, appeared at each of the 6 in turn and questioned, “Has any of you ever played volleyball before?” The query was wound in a thread of astonishment.

“Uh, not genuinely. I mean, some of us performed a tiny in higher school, but that was a even though ago.” The reply came from Gigi.

“Nicely,” the referee began, with a nod of apology to the opposing staff, now standing and staring at the neophytes, arms akimbo, a appear of supreme annoyance on their collective expression. “The 1st factor you need to know about league volleyball, and the principles that use, is that you acquire a support with your arms outstretched like this, palms clasped collectively in some manner.” She shown the “passing” method, tossing a volleyball to every in flip so that they could learn the appropriate arms and fingers configuration. “And when you established the ball to your hitter, you could not catch and throw the ball, but instead… properly, permit me show you.” She demonstrated the “setting” approach.

None of them recalls that 1st outing with any sense of pleasure or satisfaction, as they have been wrecked, unremittingly. They expressed many thanks to that type and individual referee, and then to the opposing team users, as they slunk absent from the courtroom that 1st, fateful night of league volleyball. They may not have scored a one point, except if their opponents made an mistake. Even that chance is lost — probably by design — to the factor of memory that protects one’s fragile psyche.

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