Volleyball is not a difficult sport, at least recreationally. When I was an intern at the company that presently employs me, about 5 years ago, I was invited to sub on our company team. I hadn’t played since the 5th grade, when I played on our school team because a girl that I liked also played on the co-ed team. But that’s another story. Anyway, I was pretty bad when I started. Anyone with even marginal athletic ability, if they play every week for 5 years, is bound to improve. That leads us the story of last night’s doubleheader.
I play in a league twice weekly, on Tuesday nights. My 6:30 team is, by most measures, a pretty solid group. I’m asked to play the solid role-player spot; much like John Paxson or Steve Kerr on the Jordan-era Bulls teams, or like Freddy Hoiberg and Mark Madsen on my beloved modern-era T-Wolves. In other words, I’m not asked to be the star, just to do the little things to make our “great” players better. I set, I block spikes, dig balls out of the sand, get every serve over, etc. And it works like a well-oiled machine. We won all three sets last night.
But my other team is a different story. Instead of role player, at 8:30 I’m thrust into the role of star player. A 26-year old role player-turned-star with bad knees, mind you. And its an uneasy transition. Rather than deferring to the “great” players, I’m expected to run roughshod over the court and make all the spectacular plays while leading us to victory. Anyone remember what happened to those Jordan-era Bulls teams once Michael, Scottie, et al left? Steve Kerr was left to be the star, and they were one of the worst teams ever. Yeah. We lost all three sets last night at 8:30.
I was so exhausted from diving and doing everything I could to help us win, my grand plan of watching my Twins play the Expos on TiVo at 11 once I got home never came to fruition. (By the way, thank god for TiVo. I can still live the life of a Social Butterfly without missing the Twins games. Which is good, since I pay $35 a month to get the games on the MLB Extra Innings package.)
Back five years ago when I started playing, I was no better than the other players I now play with at 8:30. Give ‘em a few weeks, and they’ll all be better than me, and I’ll go back to my role on the bench, where I can drink a cool glass of Falstaff, Pabst, Old Style, or similarly bad beers, and enjoy the games. And that, I don’t mind tellin’ you, will be good times.