Volleyball is not just a sport for me. For me it is a way of life, a stress reliever, a solid work out but most importantly it is home for me. Volleyball gives me that sense of purpose in life, a togetherness feeling that comes from my teammates. Volleyball has given me that feeling of home since around sixth grade, when I first got involved in the sport. It quickly accelerated when I began high school though when I started playing club volleyball at Sports Performance Volleyball Club. Sports Performance Volleyball Club is based out of Aurora, Illinois at the Great Lakes Center. The Great Lakes Center is hard to miss when driving down the road, a very long white and blue building with the words “Great Lakes Volleyball Center” engraved onto the front. The Great Lakes Center has sections. One building for the upper level College-Prep group and another more colorful building for the Youth Program. Once inside one will see what seems to be like an unending amount of volleyball courts. In the main gym there are eight courts and in the Youth Program gym there is four. Benches and bleachers line the courts and scoreboards are hung on the back walls of the court where the court numbers are located as well. One might think that a long gym would not be someones ideal thought of being “Home” but for me I found a home playing the sport I love while being pushed by my coaches and teammates to be the best I could be.
Ask anyone that played club volleyball with me at Sport Performance and it will be the same answer, that we feel that it is similar to being in the army. Everyone imagines that being in the army is very strict and hard because of the physical demands. We felt that with whats demanded of us was similar. The rules the players have to follow and the amount of hours we spend striving for perfection. All just to achieve one thing, becoming a collegiate athlete
I was involved in many sports growing up, tennis, golf, and soccer but nothing really caught me as much as volleyball did. I loved the fast pace aspect of the game and how it always kept me on my toes; literally. I would take volleyball lessons when I first started playing. The first time I was involved with a team was in 7th grade at my middle school. I played in both 7th and 8th grade but when I got to high school focusing on really improving in my volleyball skill level became more important. If I wanted to continue in the program at my high school, you always had to be playing and improving. No off-season if you wanted to get better to make the team the following year.
Sports Performance felt like a home to me because everyone there was knit into one big family, bonded by one thing: volleyball. We all had a passion for the game. The coaches loved to share their years of coaching to help the players achieve their goals and the coaches had the backs of their players similar to how parents take care of their kids. All the players from my club would all feel that we were one big “Sports Performance family”. We would all want to be anywhere but the gym if we had a tough practice but when all was good, there was nowhere we’d rather be than all together playing the sport we loved.
Many people consider home to be somewhere they fall asleep at night with their family around and neighbors next door but to me I have found a home in playing volleyball at Sports Performance. I feel most at home when I am on the court surrounded by my teammates, with my jersey on, and the crowd cheering loud. With the countless hours I spent at practices and matches people would eventually start to ask if I lived there. “Are you ever not playing volleyball”. , they would ask. Many of my teammates felt that Sports Performance was a second home because we spent more time there than our own homes. Practice would be almost every day of the week for almost 4 hours. Our weekends would be booked all day with long tournaments. I lived and breathed volleyball during club season. My days always revolved around volleyball, if I wasn’t at practice I would be at school or sleeping. The volleyball mindset was always on, thinking about what will go on at practice or so pumped for the next tournament. With all the time we spent together, my teammates were basically my sisters. We were there for each other at our worst and at the best times. I had made lifelong friendships with these girls. We all struggled through the same things and were there for each other when we worked together to win a great match.
Volleyball has always been a huge aspect in my life. With the rules and amount of time we needed to put in I was never really away from “home” that much. Besides summer and high school season I was never truly that far from home. Even when i was i would miss it. I would miss the times spent with my fellow teammates, even miss the days where you couldn’t move because practice was so hard. It was all worth it in the end looking back and seeing the improvement over time and the bonds everyone would build. Going away for college truly showed how much I missed home. Little details that would remind me of how it used to be. Things just didn’t seem the same without spending every day, and every night working hard in that gym, on those courts. I certainly made me upset at the days i took “home” for granted.
This sense of home I have found in playing volleyball at Sports Performance is something that has developed from the countless hours spent in the gym working my butt off to achieve where i am today. Living my dream of being a college athlete. Everyone likes to move forward in something they love and being given that chance to do so while surrounded by amazing teammates has made volleyball but mostly Sports Performance a home for me. A place I feel comfortable in and can be myself and be supported in all that I do.