My volleyball club, Hyperion, continues the training during the vacation. Years ago this was only during the summer but then one year, they asked how many people were interested in meeting in the winter and enough said yes, so there is volleyball training twelve months a year even though the gym is not heated. We took two weeks off for final exams and started a few days before Christmas. During the vacation training seems to get progressively harder and I have been so pleased to see the girls try harder. When the club started over fifteen years ago, the girls only received the ball underhanded. They didn’t volley or spike, and no overhand serves. The current crop of players does everything. We even have setters. When I asked the girls years ago, they said that girls couldn’t do those things. I argued that I could and I am a girl. They said that it was different for Canadians. They used to call me Ing Hyung – Ingrid Older Brother, because they thought I played like a man. When we first had a girl’s team I tried to train them to do all those things and met some resistance but some did do their best but were unsure of themselves. Then one of the presidents of the club talked a woman coach to come to Hyperion and coach the boys. Later she was talked into coaching the girls. I was relieved of my attempts at coaching and I felt relief. The girls could no longer resist by saying it wasn’t natural for Korean girls because here was a Korean woman who did all those things so well and she started to coach them how to do it.
At first she had to teach very basic things, like how to get under the ball to catch it. Once they got the footwork in, they could start to use an underhand pass. But she also had to tell them not to run with their hands together to prepare for the pass because that threw off their gait. But eventually they got to the point where they dive and slide around on their knees. They are tigers on the court. Some of those girls run the length of the court after the ball and they make it. Of course their passes are not perfect in that instance but some still fly over the net and in In grade nine I made the volleyball team and I was given a pair of kneepads. Sliding around on those things was wonderful and added to my ability because I would go after the ball more because there was less chance of injuries. The other part was it was fun. And so the girls I play with have learned that it is fun sliding around after the ball and that is both a joy and hazard to me. You see, I am a large person who doesn’t always move quickly. So I am in position waiting for my turn or just finishing hitting the ball when our coach hits the next ball and the girls behind me catch up and then I am in their way and they just miss hitting me or running into me. But at Wednesday’s practice it seemed I was always in the way and there were very near collisions. One of the things I learned was that if I try to get out of their way, sometimes they move in that same direction I moved to, so sometimes it is better to stay where I am so I don’t get my knee hit when it is not in a stable position. Then the injury is worse. One girl made a quick play to catch a ball out of her reach. She reached it, sliding on her knee pads and then right into me where I was waiting for coach to pass the ball to me next. Thankfully she is a small girl and so it didn’t hurt very much but it made for an interesting story, because it is like we are bowling with players into other players. These girls have improved so much, I cannot wait to see how good they are by the end of the winter.