Picture the summer of 2020. In the midst of the pandemic filled summer was a bored 15-year-old who had seen just too many YouTube videos for any normal human, even in quarantine. Unmotivated and unamused, he rummages the house’s storage closet to find a cheap and flat volleyball that looks like it hasn’t been used for years. It all began with just a single pass. Or at least it was supposed to be a pass. My first proper introduction to the sport of volleyball had sparked a new flame for me to fan as I spent my days inside playing and watching all things related to volleyball for the next few months.
Fast forward to January of 2021. I spent the second half of last year continuing to play volleyball as a way to kill time, even joining the juniors volleyball team at Gleneagle. I fell in love with watching professional volleyball matches, and I am an avid fan of the popular Japanese volleyball anime “Haikyuu!!” as well. The sport that was mostly obscure to me just one year ago has now taken over my hobbies. When it came time for my second and final In-Depth project, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Poster from the first season of Haikyuu!!
Thumbnail of my favorite volleyball match (Japan vs Brazil in Men’s Volleyball World Cup 2019)
During the next five months, I will be learning and applying the fundamentals of volleyball. On top of honing my passes, sets, spikes, serves, and blocks, I will also be improving my overall fitness and health, especially when it comes to stamina. Although I had my chance to play some more volleyball through the Gleneagle team, I am still craving to improve my skills and have more playtime before grade 11. In terms of my skills as of now, I am decently confident in my ability to pass and serve once in every blue moon. Basically, I have set the bar very low, which only motivates me to work harder.
But volleyball is not a one-man sport. Aside from my mentor, it would be helpful if I had someone else pursuing the same project as me so that we could work together. Luckily, my buddy Devon Brooks has taken this opportunity alongside me. If you don’t remember, I also worked with a partner for my In-Depth project last year in which Indah and I learned how to hip-hop dance with our mentor Kailey. With that experience under my belt, I can confidently say that having a friend while learning a new skill is insanely beneficial and just much more enjoyable. Devon is a close friend of mine, and I know we’ll be able to get far together. And he’s also a tall guy, so I’ve got to be able to step up to his natural talent of height as well.
The man, the myth, the legend: Devon Brooks in the flesh.
Now, you know the “what” and the “why”, but this project is still missing a crucial component: “how?” And to answer I must introduce the most important piece to this puzzle. For this year’s In-Depth project, Devon and I will be mentored by none other than Mr. Salisbury!
Mr. Salisbury holding a piece of paper.
A teacher, coach, and soon-to-be father, Mr. Salisbury gladly took up our request to become our mentor in this volleyball journey. Having coached both the juniors and seniors volleyball team this year, he is more than knowledgeable in the sport and can offer specific advice on our progress thanks to his experience.
Starting this month, Devon, Mr. Salisbury, and I will be finding time after school for mentoring sessions that will hopefully be taking place in our school gym. During these sessions, Devon and I will be learning and practicing the volleyball skills that Mr. Salisbury highlights as we begin to build our toolbox of fundamentals. But practicing volleyball only once a week? I think Devon and I have a little more energy than that. In addition to our mentoring sessions with Mr. Salisbury, Devon and I will frequently meet up at local parks to practice ourselves. This, along with the practice we can do at home, will hopefully become the recipe for success! (spoiler for our final presentation: we will be recording as much footage of our progress as possible to create a final montage video!)
I’ve never been an insanely active person, so being able to spend five months dedicating myself to volleyball is quite exciting. I’m not looking to become the next athlete prodigy through this project, but I am hoping to have significant improvements throughout the months. To start us off before anything else, Devon and I have taken up a 30-day workout challenge for the month of January to build some strength and improve our fitness overall. We have yet to arrange our bookings with the school gym, but that will be the next step in the process.
As a way for you to enjoy my blogs a bit more, I’ve decided to take a more casual route to write them this year, including images and inserting jokes once in a while. I really am dedicated to this skill, so I want nothing but the best out of the whole experience, and I hope you can enjoy my reports to follow me along the ride!
Signing off, Gyu Min