Volleyball seems to show up every four years at the Summer Olympics and then disappear. Of course, volleyball doesn’t really disappear. Kids play year-round on club or high school teams.
Stephanie Blake played volleyball at Quince Orchard High School and Salisbury University in Maryland. Now she is the head girls’ volleyball coach at Northwest High School in Germantown.
In the past eight years, Blake has built a powerhouse at Northwest. The Jaguars won the 4A state championship last year. This year, Northwest has a record of 13 wins and one loss.
I talked to Blake about what kids who are interested in volleyball can do to prepare for high school teams.
How many kids are on your team?
Stephanie Blake: We have 15 players on our varsity. We also have 15 players on our junior varsity. Volleyball is getting more popular. This season we had 70 kids try out for the two teams.
How many of your varsity players started playing in high school?
A few; I would say three or four just tried out as freshmen. But most of our stronger players started earlier.
What skills do you need to be a good volleyball player?
I look for general athletic ability. The ability to move and act quickly. We can work on the specific skills of passing, setting and hitting later.
Do you have to be tall to play volleyball?
No. You need tall players on the front line, but you also need back-row players. Shorter players are usually better in the back row.
What makes volleyball so much fun?
It’s a team sport with almost no physical contact. It is also a real group game where you need lots of players; I sometimes use 10 players in one game. And you almost have to cheer on every point.
Is it okay to play sports other than volleyball when you are growing up?
Absolutely. All the kids on my team played other sports growing up. Other sports help with your skills and to avoid burnout. Sports such as track, basketball, soccer and tennis are good preparation for volleyball.
What advice would you give a kid who wants to play on a high school team someday?
Attend a camp or clinic over the summer. Then, around fifth grade, start playing for a recreation league. There are lots of them, and they are for everybody. Later, you may want to try out for a club team. Club teams are very serious. They play year-round and travel a lot.
Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 21 sports books for kids.