“She’s a FRESH-MAN – CLAP – CLAP – clap,clap,clap” a proud little cheer you’ll be hearing a LOT this high school season. Take a look at the various freshmen girls playing varsity volleyball for their high school and you’ll see there is a LOT to CLAP about! There are a number of talented freshmen who are rising to the occasion and hold a significant role on their high school varsity volleyball team. The transition from Jr High School to High School is a big step and these freshmen are thrown into challenging dynamics with girls two, three, or four years older than they – even before their first day of high school.
As freshmen on a varsity team they face unique challenges ranging from transportation, group dynamics, and schoolwork. Both the parents and the girls know and understand the sacrifices – parents get up by 5:30 am and girls drag themselves out of bed for a 6 am practice. The ride home at 5:30 or 6:00 pm has made it a long day when the parents swing by the school again or the girls manage a ride home from an upper class teammate. Most girls are fortunate to have supportive and understanding teammates. Still, these young players often feel they have to tread lightly at practice, on the bus, and in games. They are careful to be respectful and helpful. As a freshman, it is a delicate task to share your knowledge (volleyball IQ) but not come off as bossy “know-it-all”. Some young players struggle with this and they err on the side of caution; so they often don’t give their experienced advice or share their knowledge for the risk of overstepping their freshman bounds.
While in season, all varsity players must cope with the demands of a rigorous practice and game schedule while maintaining stellar academics. These freshmen are at a disadvantage by not having refined their study skills or juggling skills. They find themselves thrown into the deep-end and struggle to cope with assignments, papers, and tests. After a full day of school, after school practice or an evening match, they find themselves burning the midnight oil, literally, just to keep up. Fortunately, the characteristics of determination and strong work ethics which make them succeed on the volleyball court also help them succeed in the classroom.
Along the same vein, being a parent whose freshman daughter plays varsity volleyball is not all glamour and praise. Sometimes parents of these freshmen players encounter a supportive parent-atmosphere or sometimes a somewhat resentful parent-atmosphere. At some point in every match a freshman error will occur and the parents seem to take it a bit harder than their upper-classman parent counterparts. It’s just the nature of the beast – but just as the players have been coached to be resilient and to bounce back, so must the parents.
In fact, the players may be more resilient. They have been placed in tough situations before, such as Qualifier tournament, Regional Championships, AND National Championship tournament, and have been trained to be mentally tough, positive, and confident. Parents we spoke with shared they don’t think their freshman player gets nervous while on the big court or in the spotlight. Again, the player’s prior experience in big tournaments and overly-noisy venues have prepared the girls to remain calm and confident during tough times. In fact, the girls often go above and beyond to share their confidence with teammates. This year, we see that several freshmen have an additional challenge – they are playing a different position than they play in club. We have players who play OH in club playing MH in high school, club RS players as MH, club MH playing RS. These girls have been trained to be versatile and CONFIDENT in all they do.
Each freshman girl we spoke with is honored to have the opportunity play with older teammates. They welcome the challenge working with and playing against older opponents. They understand they are just one part of a larger team and are grateful to have supportive teammates. These freshmen have made new friends and most have found a special teammate who is willing to take them under their wing as they travel the next leg of their volleyball journey.
Congratulations to Iowa Rockets players from Iowa Rockets 14R and 14 Black. At last count 14 freshmen girls are playing varsity for their high school teams.