I tried out for the volleyball team my freshman year in high school and didn't make it.
I tried out my sophomore year and didn't make it.
But my junior year when the regular coach took a year sabbatical. I tried out again and wonder of wonders, made the team. The Junior Varsity team, mind you, but I was still ecstatic.
The interim coach was sweet, kind, fun, pretty, feminine, encouraging and it was a great experience. I hoped the snippy drill sergeant unfeminine regular coach never came back.
Sigh! Miss Stomp-On-My-Dreams returned the next year and elected not to have me on her team.
(Comments from the Peanut Gallery - insert a chorus of loud laughter - "Oh my goodness, Mom, those shorts are SHORT.- Snicker, snicker - and they're pulled up -snort- past your belly button. It's a wonder - chuckle - you didn't give yourself a wedgie. And your legs aren't white like they are now. Hee Hee)
Then I graduated, got married, started teaching, had a baby, then kept having babies, ruptured a disc, had back surgery, got old and out of shape and didn't play volleyball for almost three decades.
My 27 year hiatus ended last spring when I found a group of older ladies who have played volleyball every week for the last 20 years. I was nervous to go. Surely they would look down their nose at my extremely rusty volleyball skills. Surely I would look like an idiot.
They graciously welcomed me and my body screamed in protest. My wobbly sets hurt my fingers. Bumping bruised my arms, and I couldn't get a serve over the net to save my life.
After three times of playing and being sore I started to wonder if I was too old for this any more. I have a weak back from the back surgery and I didn't want to risk more damage.
After the fourth week I wasn't sore and it felt wonderful to move. How fun to get exercise doing something I enjoyed. How fun to find other women who like to play volleyball as much as I do. Two of the ladies I play with are in their 60's.
After back surgery years ago, doctors advised not to stress my back and to avoid falls whenever possible. I wear sensible shoes and am always very careful. Careful is my middle name.
Last spring I fell playing basketball with my kids in the driveway. Visions of broken limbs danced in my head. Thankfully I was okay but the fall was very freeing. For years I let the fear of falling keep me from doing things. Granted I still need to be careful, but perhaps I had been too careful.
This winter I started another league. I'm by far the oldest person there. I'm old enough to be most of my team's mother. Oh wait, I am their mother.
If I can do it without hurting myself, on occasion, I'll dive for a ball. Trouble is if I go down it takes awhile to get back up. Last Sunday I dove and made a cool recovery, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately the other team hit it right back to me but I was still on the floor and couldn't get the ball. I uttered a contorted "Arrgghh!!!" and my teammates erupted in laughter.
I used to have a wicked overhand serve back in the day, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that it might not come back. Only one-third of my overhand serves go over and they pull in my back so I'm thinking I'd better not press my luck.
Rediscovering volleyball has been empowering. Yes, I have a bad back, but if I'm careful I can still do things. Yes, falling is risky so I wear knee pads and pick and choose which balls to dive for. Yes, it hurts to serve overhand, so I swallow my pride and serve underhand. Yes, I'm aging, but unless my body goes on strike, you'll find me playing with the young people on Sunday and with the other gray-haired ladies on Tuesday nights.
I'll never make the senior Olympic volleyball team, but I can now hold my own in a recreational volleyball game. I can bump, set,