I attended pickup volleyball at Central Jersey Volleyball Academy (CJVA) in Flemington, NJ. It reminded me of everything I loved about sports, and everything I did not like about sports. I did not like the cliqueness or the pressure when I didn’t feel good enough. I have always loved the camaraderie, friendship, and community when you met the right people who were laid back and liked to help you get better.
I found both at CJVA. I got there and was quite excited since I haven’t played volleyball since college, and then it was recreational. There were mostly young people there, a couple older, and then some kids (aged 13ish). I started off with the young people, where they were rotating on and off, but then I noticed that there was a court where there was no one waiting. So, I went over there. There I found my laid back happy group. There was a couch, Lynette, Jerry her husband (I think), then me, and on the other side of the court were the three girls she coached there. I had a blast with them. I never really felt like an outsider, at the beginning I felt a little sheepish because clearly they were better than me. I got over that pretty quickly, and was actually improving in my skills by the time we were done. It’s a great workout, you are running, bumping, diving, and twisting your body in all sorts of ways.
We broke up into larger groups again, and the cliqueness returned. I was over it by that point, and have spent too much time on myself to feel like an outcast. I saw one of the thirteen year olds I was playing with practicing her skills, so I went to go practice with her. I saw a lot of myself in her, the shyness, awkwardness of youth, and a slight self-confidence issue. But she’s tough, and quite good.
I found another purpose for my journey though. It is to provide a place where kids can play sports without cliques, pressure, or anything like that. I loved sports growing up, was never very good at them. As I got older, all those things above infiltrated the sports field. I felt intimidated, alone, and an outcast. If I can prevent that for any other kid who loves sports as much as I did, but got pushed out due to their own insecurities, that’s what I’m going to do.