By Maria Magana-Navarro, Journal intern.
Sports tournaments… Attending a sports tournament is one of the most exciting aspects for student-athletes. A tournament allows the chance to show off one’s skills as well as gain familiartiy with other teams. Tournaments are a great learning experience, an opprtunity to bond as a team and a chance to push one’s limits. In this instance, the Wolverines Volleyball team traveled to a tournament invite in South Whidbey, on Sept. 23.
One of the most enjoyable parts of sports tournaments, as many would agree, is before the tournament begins, especially for islanders. Due to the island’s location, one has to catch the ferry in order to travel. In the Wolverine’s case, the team caught the afternoon ferry on Friday where they then spent the day together before the tournament on Saturday. With that extra time, the girls got to have some fun, like going to Starbucks or shopping at Target. Eventually, the team made their way to a hotel located in Oak Harbor after a nice dinner at Flyer’s. After getting comfortable in their hotels, in addition to a quick night trip to Walmart, the girls were rested up and ready for the big day.
Now that it was the big day the girls were ready. The gym of the volleyball tournament was a spectacle to witness. The echoey halls were packed with teams from all around the state of Washington, all competing for the same goal. One could smell the polished wooden floors and the loud voices of competing teams, as well as the gym lights that blinded the moment you stepped in.
The Wolverines were adorned in their purple and black jerseys, ready to put their practice to fruition. The members held hope that this tournament would change things within the team and impact them as individuals. However, what was unknownst to the team was that they’d end up playing six games throughout the whole tournament.
“It is super tiring playing six games in such a short amount of time,” said junior Mia Germain.
“It was a good challenge for us to try to gel as a team… just because we have six games we have to have a shorter memory than usual,” Coach Willie Blackmon added.
An essential part of any athlete is to live, compete and play with a short memory. In volleyball, unlike other sports, the moment the ball goes up into the air, a point can be made. Jousting, serving, hitting, tipping; anything can happen and the moment the ball hits the floor, it equals a point out of a total of twenty-five.
“Remembering to play volleyball as a competitive game and not get too caught up in the minor details of the game is something that has helped me improve,” said junior Jasper Markins.
Teamwork is crucial. While that can be said for basically any sport, it is especially crucial in volleyball. You could have one amazing player on the team, but if they don’t work with the team, it’s a downhill plummet from there. Volleyball is a three-touch ball sport where one person can’t touch the ball twice. As a volleyball player, you cannot pass, set and hit by yourself. Volleyball is a team sport where one needs to rely on their teammates to help score points. Especially for the team, the tournament was a great bonding experience that strengthened the relationship between the girls.
“It brought us closer and I think broke the ice,” said freshman Brie Roit. “Our team is a mix and match of grades, so being out of school, practice and games while still getting to play and go have fun and then also all be exhausted together showed me just how fun volleyball is.”
Through sweat, tears and determination, the team ended up winning two of their six games, placing 7th overall in the tournament. Nevertheless, that wasn’t the end for the Wolverines.
Next season, Coach Blackmon is ready to add and develop more into the program, notably more tournaments. “I want to have an island jamboree at the beginning of the season and also go to the Sundome Tournament (located in Yakima, WA) and then just per tradition, I’d love us to keep the South Whidbey tournament,” said Blackmon.
Overall, the South Whidbey tournament was a great experience for the girls as they got to implement what they learned in real time as well as bond with their teammates. “Going into next season, I will definitely keep in mind that it’s important to challenge ourselves mentally and physically – and work on beating ourselves rather than beating the opposing team,” Keep an eye out as the Wolverine’s next turn is a non-conference game on Saturday, Oct. 14 against Bush High School.