Building a Team

By Stephanie Rappe — Recently, a group of high school students at the International Peace Academy had voiced that they wanted to start a volleyball team. I have a lot of volleyball experience, so I volunteered to help out.  I met with three other teachers and we planned how we could make this happen. We had to spread the word so that we could find enough students that were interested in playing.

It seemed that there was a lot of interest, but we ended up with a grand total of 8 students. This wasn’t enough to have a team because you need at least 12 students to have a scrimmage. Therefore we had to keep trying to recruit more students. Teachers and students encourage each other to spread the word, and a few days later we had 14 players! This was great news because now we could move forward to piece together this team.

The team is coed and was offered for high school students only. This is quite a change for me since I’m used to teaching 3rd grade. In the final count, 13 boys and 1 girl signed up, and yesterday was our first time getting together as a team. Three other teachers, including Colleen Ryan and myself introduced our selves to the team and talked about our volleyball experience and goals for the team. I also asked the students to write their personal goals and team goals. This was interesting to read because just about all of the students wrote that one of their main goals is to work on team bonding. They want to feel like a team and act like a team. This is exciting for us as coaches because team chemistry is essential for the team to have success, and the students are eager to get to work.

There was some confusion during this first practice because the students were playing by what they referred to as the “Hmong rules” and I was asking them to play by the American rules that I was accustomed to. We are working to find a balance between these two sets of rules. I didn’t know what to expect from the students when it came to skill level and I was blown away by how talented they were when I watched them.

It breaks my heart to think that some of them are seniors and have never been able to participate on a competitive volleyball team where they could showcase all of their abilities. Some of the boy’s verticals are sky high, and they have so much power behind their hits. They are a very athletic group, and with some fine-tuning I’m hopeful that we can truly become a unified team that other teams will be intimidated to play.  Our goal and dream for next year is to have a team that’s ready to be competitive against other schools, and also for the school to be able to participate in tournaments and games during the volleyball season.

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