As an aging NCAA DI volleyball player, I have to admit, I was pretty stoked when I saw espnW wrote an article titled, "Why volleyball -- not basketball -- is winning the popular vote" -- but my smile quickly turned to a scowl as I read deeper and deeper into the piece.
In particular, I felt like someone sucker punched me in the face when I read this quote by Mike Flynn, editor of the national recruiting newsletter Blue Star Report and "a longtime authority on girls' basketball."
"You go where you see success and where you have access to success. Basketball is a hard sport to master. Unless you're willing to put in the time and effort and have a certain level of athleticism and hand-eye skills, you will not be successful. You will be pushed out of the sport because of what it demands. In volleyball and lacrosse, those barriers are lower."
Smh... My blood is boiling right now. My heart actually starts racing a little bit when I read over that quote.
Basketball is an incredible sport, and without question, it requires an insane amount of talent and athletic ability to be successful at it. But the same goes for volleyball.
What does Mike Flynn know about volleyball and the skills required to be successful? No, I really want to know. The article says he is an authority for girls' basketball. Then why are you making such miserable commentary about volleyball?
Mr. Flynn, do you have any idea how incredibly hard it is to master volleyball? Have you played before? Have you ever touched a ball before? Then why are you insulting us?
Just like basketball, and frankly, most sports -- it takes years to hone your skills. It requires long practices in the gym (or in the sand), multiple times a week. Approaching, hitting, serving, digging, passing, setting -- it may not look hard -- but do you understand, to play at a high level, a very specific form for each skill must be mastered. None of that is learned overnight. In fact, players will spend a lifetime trying to perfect each skill. The ladies on the Olympic teams make it look easy, because their movements are finally fluid and graceful, after years of coaches scrutinizing and refining their form, spending countless hours ironing out imperfections and flaws.
And hand-eye skills? ...We have to hit a ball that is set to us and then somehow angle it around a block, away from diggers. I mean, really? Do I need to even go on. And don't even get me started on timing -- oh my goodness -- that takes time to get down right.
Mr. Flynn's quote and some parts of this article are just offensive and hurtful.
I remember being a 6'2" gangly, awkward teen -- having to choose between volleyball and basketball. And everyone chooses their own path for different reasons and I don't think one sport is better or harder than the other -- but I chose volleyball because it required work. I had to learn how to control my body. I had to learn how to do more than just jump high. I had to learn how to swing hard and sharp, think fast, move quickly, use strategy. I had to bleed and I had to sweat just as hard as any other high school or DI collegiate athlete.
During my prime, I lifted heavy. I did olympic-style weightlifting like the rest of them. In fact, I made the Binghamton University Weights board for hang clean.
I did agility drills and sprints constantly so I could close the block and I could rush in for a "quick" with ease.
I worked my way through a partially-torn PCL, ripping nearly every ligament in my right ankle, impingement in my shoulder and chronic knee pain -- all of those ailments afflicting me when I was just 16 years old.
I am tired of hearing that volleyball is easy. I am sick and tired of it.
It is not a "girly" sport. I was/am a nerdy tom boy -- I could care less about germs and bows -- or whatever nonsense this article was trying to insinuate.
More young women are choosing to play volleyball because it is tough, competitive, fierce and fun. That's it, Mr. Flynn. That's it.
And if you really think volleyball is that easy -- go try jump serving. Shouldn't be that hard for you since, in your opinion, volleyball's "barriers are lower" when it comes to "athleticism" and "hand-eye skills" -- What a joke.
But no seriously -- can you film yourself trying -- because that will undoubtedly go viral and I can't wait to watch.
As for the young women out there who are thinking about volleyball, I can tell you right now it is my life and my passion. I am 30 years old and I still play as much as I can -- indoor, sand, grass -- whatever. And believe me , I still have not mastered it. It's the sport you can always get better at -- truly.
Volleyball changed my life. Playing in high school and college, it brings back memories that make me tear up! My teammates are my "ride or die" sisters. I am still friends with some of my biggest rivals in college on Facebook! I still hold close to my heart some of my biggest wins and hardest losses. I've learned what is necessary (mentally and physically) to perform under pressure, I've learned how to work with a large group of people harmoniously, I've learned how to push myself to another level, to the edge, to get what I want and I have experienced the highest highs while on that volleyball court.
ESPN, Volleyball is not girly. It is not any less athletic.
It is just awesome, lol.
That's why it's winning the "popular vote".