Report from an aspiring volleyball athlete

The experience of participating in the tryouts to join the women’s George Brown team

Volleyball has been part of my life since my youth. My first contact was during a gym class when I was 10-years old. I had no idea about the fundamentals of the game or the rules. But I fell in love with it immediately and played throughout high-school in Brazil.

In 2004, I moved to another city in my home country and, you know, life just happened. I began university, started working, got married, and before I noticed, there wasn’t time to play volleyball. In the last 13 years, I rarely played.

A year ago I moved to Toronto and I started studying at George Brown College (GBC) in January. I wasn’t planning on having volleyball in my routine again. The idea came when I saw a flyer at the college about the women’s volleyball team tryouts for the fall semester.

On Aug. 29, at 31-years old, I was there—anxious, happy and nervous—sending an email to participate in the selection process. Six days later, I got a reply from the head coach of the women’s volleyball, Daphne Choi, inviting me to tryout.

“Ok, I can do it,” I thought.

The practice training

I walked into the St. James gym not knowing what I’d find, but confident I would make the team.

The volleyball net was mounted, the athletes were doing stretches and I joined them. The next activity was the physical warm up. We spent 10 minutes running around the court, doing squats and others exercises. This was enough for me to notice how out of shape I was.

During the practice training, the main idea was to get familiar with the ball and achieve the constancy in your personal style of play. There were dozens of repeats serving, receiving, setting, digging and attacking.

The girls who already belonged to the team, of course, performed well. Part of the newcomers had no control of the ball, and others, like me, had an okay performance.

Although the coach told us the athletes weren’t being evaluated during those days, I pushed myself all the time, believing that each moment was an opportunity to make her notice me.

The consequences of all this effort came afterwards, at home. When I walked my legs were locked like RoboCop. My muscles were all sore and my knees and elbows had deep flesh wounds. I was frustrated and disappointed with myself because my effort wasn’t enough. For the first time, I felt I could not get onto the team.

Photos: courtesy of Carla Roscia

Photos: courtesy of Carla Roscia.

Varsity Tryouts

Already lacking confidence, visualize how much worse I felt when I arrived to the first tryout day and saw a long line of more than 20 athletes ready to compete—many of them taller than me.

During the tryouts, we had lots of fundamental repetitions and, mainly, movement training. The coach and her assistants wanted to observe our ability to cover all of the court and communicate with each other.

At the end of the Monday, Choi separated all athletes into two groups. The first group she called wasn’t successful for the next stage. Around 10 girls were eliminated and, to my surprise, I wasn’t one of them.

“Oh my God! I have a chance!” was the only thing I thought at that moment.

When I went to play the next two days it was the final round, I didn’t have time to be tired. I ran, fell, tried to execute all commands, did whatever I could to show to the coach that I was in the game.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, I got the coach’s final decision.

“Unfortunately, at this time, I’m unable to offer you a rostered position on the team,” wrote Choi.

She invited me to train with the team as “red shirt”. As a red shirt, I would be deemed eligible to become a rostered member of the team if they need a player.

I’m able to play volleyball every week again and this is an opportunity to improve my skills to be prepared for next year’s tryouts in January. I had no doubt and I grabbed this chance!

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Report from an aspiring volleyball athlete