Have you ever been to a girls' volleyball tournament? If you haven't, you have missed an exciting event.
I took a week off from teaching exercise to exercise my vocal cords during the volleyball championships in Reno. Our granddaughter, Jennifer Vance, is one of the 12 wonderful players who play on Zona, a Tucson, Ariz., team. She plays left-outside hitter with enthusiasm.
Zona was ranked 17th within the 32 top teams, and played some of the most exciting matches as well as some really depressing ones. They started play on Sunday, and had moved up to ninth place by the time we left for home on Tuesday evening.
Seventy-four courts playing at the same time in the Reno Convention Center with two teams on each court means lots of flying volleyballs to dodge and lots of noise.
Besides that location, there were five other areas of play around the Reno area. That's a whole lot of girls and volleyballs. The age group we followed was the high school-and-18-year age level, since our granddaughter is going to be a senior next year.
For the parents and grandparents sitting on the sidelines, alternating screaming and holding our breath was exhausting.
The girls didn't seem to mind the pace and excitement. They finished the day with six sets of play, and just got stronger and more focused as the day went on. I did a lot of praying, pacing and screaming, which I'm sure helped a lot.
There were no skinny, weak-looking sets of legs anywhere in the convention center. They were strong-looking women with one thing in mind, and that's to "play the ball." Size is important, that's a fact; tall girls don't have to jump as far for the kill shots. But enthusiasm and determination and just plain guts gave Zona the winning edge.
Besides rooting for Zona, I was studying their practice regimen and exercise moves for building strength and agility. They practice in 21Ú2 hour increments three times a week during off season and five times a week during on time. I asked what types of exercises are done for strengthening legs. And guess what, you guys? They do lunges. Side and front and floor, squats and one-leg knee-bend stances. Pretty impressive. No stretches on cold muscles and lots of arm warm-up movements that mimic moves made during a game.
It takes dedication in a sport for achievement, and it takes commitment and work to build a body that can compete in that sport. There are a lot of young women playing volleyball who have that dedication and commitment, and they have the talent to back it up.
What a wonderful way to spend a week, surrounded by hundreds of athletes with one goal in mind: to win.
n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.