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I Tried Out for a Professional Volleyball Team On Sunday


Yeah, you read that right. This past Sunday, I tried out for the brand new volleyball team in my region. It is part of the Premier Volleyball League, and there is a men’s team and a women’s team. I didn’t say much about it, on the blog or social media, because I was seriously terrified to try out. My biggest fear? Getting cut from the team.

I spoke with my sister about trying out, expressing my fear of not making the team. I’ve tried out for many teams over the last 20 years, but I’d never been cut. She gave me these words of wisdom:

“If the only reason you’re not going to try out is because you’re afraid to get cut, that’s not a good reason not to try out.”

She was absolutely right. I mean, the worst that can happen is that you don’t make the team, right? And if you don’t try out, you definitely don’t make the team. So what did I have to lose?

Two of my teammates decided to try out with me, which was great. (I’m so glad they came, because I really didn’t know but one other person there.) They arrived at my house about an hour before tryouts, and we drove over to Marymount University in Northern Virginia, which was where the tryouts were being held. Fortunately we left early, since we got super lost on campus due to a pretty bare map of the gym. We eventually realized that the aerial photo of the parking lot was actually the roof of a parking garage, and soon were parked and walking toward the gym.

We were the first to arrive, so we could get some of the jitters out (plus, spend 5 minutes trying to figure out in which gym the tryouts were being held). Finally, a dozen or so people arrived, including the coach, and we were led in to the appropriate gym.

The three of us helped a little bit with setup (not to look like total brown nosers), and then began to warm up. I did a dynamic warm up, which I hadn’t really, truly done in eons, but it felt right. They gave us about 30 minutes of warm up time before the tryouts really, really started. During those 30 minutes, I saw about 25 glamazons enter the gym. AND they all knew each other! I was the 5th shortest person in the gym (the tallest trying out for my position — small victories), which is sad because I’m average height (5’6 and-a-half on a good day) in non-volleyball world.

It’s weird trying out for a team where everyone knows each other. You instantly feel like they’re already on the team, and you’re the outsider. It’s especially weird when you’re an adult.Who likes feeling left out as a grown up?

The start of tryouts were kind of rough for us little liberos. Basically, the coach told all the ginormous girls to grab a ball, and stand on one side of each of the two adjacent courts. Then, they had the five liberos (three on one court, two on the other) stand on the opposite side of each of the courts. Then, they had the tall girls stand in three lines, and take turns hitting at us. “Short People Target Practice” is what I like to call it. I’ve actually always enjoyed these sorts of drills, though they definitely test your reaction time. I mean, just imagine three people hitting the ball at you at the same time. That’s how it happened. Except, in volleyball, unlike dodge ball, the goal is to attack the ball, rather than to jump out of the way.

Anyway, that’s how the day started, and it got progressively more challenging from there. We ran tons of drills. Some were competitive, some were just about ball control. Some were confusing, others were familiar. I haven’t really run volleyball drills in a few years, and I had a good time actually having a coach tell us what to do.

Why did I try out?
I’ve really been interested in playing more competitive volleyball. I love the teams I’m on, but I just need to be pushed more. No, I’m not planning on playing in the Olympics or anything like that, but I’m very competitive (as I’ve stated a million times before), and I like to play against people who are better than me. I get more of a workout that way, and it gives me some new goals. I’m not planning on leaving my teams (my fingers are crossed that we move up a level next season), but I just need to find some time to squeeze in some tough competition. Everybody needs to get their butt kicked a little bit every once in a while.

So now, the question you’ve all had on your minds:

Did I make the team?
Well, I received the email from the coach today announcing who made it through the first round of cuts, and I was disappointed to see that I didn’t make it. I debated internally on whether to even share that I tried out, and if I should share the end result, and decided that I should.

I’ve learned some important lessons from this entire experience. The first is that opportunities like this rarely present themselves, if at all. When given the opportunity, what do you lose by opening that door? If the fear of rejection is the only thing holding you back, that’s not enough.

Another lesson for me was where I stand in comparison to other people playing the libero position. Some might say that I was stupid to try out for a position that I don’t normally play (I usually set for my teams), but I decided to go with the position that I’m most comfortable playing, which is also the position I played in college (and didn’t need to be 8’15 to play). I have a lot of work to do. But, you know what? This time last year, I wouldn’t have even considered trying out. I was in awful shape, and probably would’ve fainted or something in the middle of tryouts. Now THAT would have been embarrassing. I am proud of myself for going out there, and maybe not playing the best I possibly could (but the best I could play on Sunday), but also not feeling tired or unable to finish. That was an accomplishment in and of itself.

Being cut sucks. It’s not fun. AT. ALL. I did not like that sinking feeling in my stomach. I didn’t like not seeing my name on The List. And while it’s not “okay,” it’s going to be okay. Half the people who tried out got cut, including people who are better at their positions than I am at mine. I can try out again, though. The team is hosting tryouts again in the fall, when the season normally begins. If I am in the shape I hope to be in by then, and have played more competitive volleyball over the coming months, I’m going to try again. Now I know what to expect!

Thank you for letting me share this story with you. It actually feels a lot better now than it did this afternoon when I received the news.

Have you ever tried out for a team? Have you ever been cut? Will you help me pick out some running shoes so that I can start hitting the pavement harder?

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