Thursday, June 28, 2012

#NODAYSOFF: The life of a DI volleyball player

by Jessi Greenberg 

                    Week 4: Step Your Game Up, Part 2


Hello again! Hopefully you all read last week’s post and are now future Olympian volleyball players, right? Ok, maybe that’s a little pre-mature, but you’re at least headed in the right direction. As some of you may know, club volleyball season is coming to an end in the next few weeks. A few days ago I was able to watch highlights from the AAU National Championships in Orlando, Florida, and the level of play was incredible. There were definitely some college prospects in the tournament, including my future teammate Morgan Bergren (Go Cats).

Now, I’m aware that not all my readers play, or have even heard of club volleyball. Some of you may have only experienced volleyball at the middle school, or high school level, which is perfectly fine! Personally, I played both high school and club volleyball before my collegiate career, and I found that they both benefited me in different ways. If you are considering continuing your volleyball career onto the collegiate level, I highly recommend you participate in both high school and club volleyball, and here’s why:

High School


Me (second from right) and my fellow seniors from Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy!


High school is obviously the more accessible and cheaper option when it comes to playing volleyball, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be beneficial. I began playing volleyball in seventh grade at my middle school, and played every year until I graduated high school. Some of my favorite memories from high school are from volleyball matches, and a lot of that can be attributed to the atmosphere. Our fan-base was crazy, and there was never a shortage of students painted with our signature tiger stripes from head-to-toe. Playing for your school gives you a sense of pride and a chance to represent something bigger than yourself, which is similar to playing in college. You are playing alongside people that you see on a daily basis, so building a sense of teamwork is extremely important. High school volleyball teaches you to deal with people of different ages and personalities, and drama is never far behind. If you’re telling me you played high school volleyball and there was never any drama, then you’re lying. However, working through those issues can help you build lifelong friendships with your teammates, and hopefully lead to success on the court as well.

Club


All smiles after that point!
The number one reason you should play club volleyball is unquestionably for the exposure.  I would not be playing at Kentucky today if it weren’t for my coaches having the opportunity to watch me at tournaments during my club career. If you’ve never been to a club tournament before, imagine a huge convention center, filled with over 50 volleyball courts, each surrounded by a cluster of college volleyball coaches. Club tournaments allow college coaches to watch the best players in the country, all under one roof. Aside from the exposure factor, which is huge (did I mention that?), club also allows you to play volleyball on an extremely high level, with, and against, some of the best players in the nation. Practices and tournaments are extremely competitive, and you will usually receive some very good coaching. Even though I played for a very small club in south Florida (shoutout to Treasure Coast Volleyball Club), I still gained so much from the experience. Club volleyball made me more competitive as a player, and showed college coaches that I was dedicated to my sport. Without it, I would not be where I am today.
That's me somewhere in the middle.
I realize that not everyone has the time or money to participate in club volleyball, but if you have the opportunity to do so, I suggest you take it. If you are unable to play club, encourage your high school coach to sign you up for some bigger tournaments in your state, which college coaches attend as well. Whether you choose to play high school, club, or both, make sure you are competing your hardest at all times because you never know who might be watching your court. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

#NODAYSOFF: The life of a DI volleyball player

Editor's Note:  Jessi Greenberg is the AVCA's newest intern who will be working with us and blogging throughout the summer.  She is a junior libero for the University of Kentucky averaging nearly two digs per set in the 2011 season.  Back in 2009, she was an Under Armour Second-Team All-American playing at the Holy Trinity Epsicopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida.  We are happy to have her on board!  Check back every week for her latest blog!
                                   

                                          
                                                Week 3: Step Your Game Up, Part 1 

 
As you may have noticed from my previous entries, being a college athlete is anything but easy. But, let me tell you, it is 100% absolutely positively worth it. There is no feeling comparable to overcoming a 14-11 point deficit in game five of the first round of the NCAA tournament to eventually reaching your first Sweet Sixteen appearance…hypothetically speaking of course. There’s a lot that goes into being successful as a student, and even more that goes into being an elite athlete. Most people think that having skills is enough to make you a great player, and well, most people are wrong. The recipe for success in athletics, whether in college, high school, club, etc., goes way beyond physical talent. In fact, some of the best players in the country may not necessarily be the most gifted athletically. In my opinion, success boils down to two factors:
Mental vs. Physical
I’ll start with the physical. Once again, there are several components to the physical aspect of the game (I told you it wasn’t easy):

1.   Commitment – Becoming a great athlete means you have to be willing to sacrifice your body and your time. Yes, you’re going to have to miss out on some awesome parties and maybe a Homecoming Dance or two, but like I said, it’s worth it.

2.   Fitness – Obviously it is important for players to be in shape. Although volleyball doesn’t involve a ton of running, players need to be able to last through five set matches and long rallies. In order to do so, you need to put in extra work whenever possible and always give 100% in everything you do.

3.   Nutrition – A huge part of being in shape is treating your body right. That means getting enough sleep, eating healthy (and eating enough), and making sure you prevent and treat injuries.

4.   Practice – It is a proven fact that the way you perform in practice will carry over into actual games. Getting better at volleyball is all about doing as many reps as possible.  So even if you have to go out in your driveway and pass or set balls against the side of your house (Yes, I’ve done it), you’re putting yourself ahead of the competition.


Just as, if not more important than the physical aspect, is the mental aspect. The makings of a great mental player are more ambiguous than the physical components, but they are essential:

1.   Positivity – You’re not going to play your best every time you step on the court; even Michael Jordan had bad days. But having a good attitude and not getting down on yourself in tough situations are behaviors that separate the good players from the great ones.

2.   Prepare – Basically, this can be summed up by one of our team’s favorite sayings: “Get your mind right.”

3.   Visualize – Before every match our team meditates in a dark room in complete silence. Personally, I visualize myself making plays and doing great things in the upcoming match. Picturing yourself being successful can actually lead to success come match time. Call us crazy, but it works.

4.   Trust – Players who are confident make everyone else on the court feel comfortable. Trusting in yourself and your teammates is the only way to be successful in pressure-filled situations, of which there will be plenty. 


When it all comes down to it, every athlete has one goal: win. Our trainer, Coach Tracey, tells us that every day is an opportunity to get better, and I truly believe that.  


AVCA All-American Stephanie Klefot makes her way up the steps of Commonwealth Stadium.


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/06/17/2225626/uk-athletes-summer-training.html#wgt=rcntgal#storylink=cpy
”Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” - Bobby Knight

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

#NODAYSOFF: The life of a DI volleyball player

Editor's Note:  Jessi Greenberg is the AVCA's newest intern who will be working with us and blogging throughout the summer.  She is a junior libero for the University of Kentucky averaging nearly two digs per set in the 2011 season.  Back in 2009, she was an Under Armour Second-Team All-American playing at the Holy Trinity Epsicopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida.  We are happy to have her on board!  Check back every week for her latest blog!

                           
                                                            Week  2: Rise and Grind
Hello again! This week marked the beginning of the University of Kentucky’s annual eight week workout extravaganza. That means Monday through Friday I had the pleasure of waking up at 5:30am to join my fellow athletes in our daily sweat fest. The first day was rather hectic to say the least. Not only does our volleyball team participate in these workouts, but we are joined by the women’s basketball, women’s softball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, women’s tennis, men’s tennis and women’s gymnastics teams as well. Although the workouts are brutal, our collective suffering brings us together in a way that nothing else could. We all respect each other for the pain we endure each morning, and for those of you that judge us for taking the elevator instead of the stairs, you just don’t know.

Post-workout ice baths are a must!

Like most of the athletes at UK, I like to put in extra work, aside from our morning workouts. Some people ride the stationary bikes, while I prefer to participate in group exercise classes at the gym. My favorite so far is definitely cardio boxing. Yes, it was a good workout, but mostly I enjoy it because I feel like a Power Ranger (the pink one of course). In addition to that extra cardio, our team holds open gym a few times a week where we either have full-on scrimmages, or work on skills that need some honing. Open gyms are more relaxed than actual practices, and it’s another opportunity for some team-bonding, can you say win-win?
Now with workouts in the morning, class, work, then another workout in the afternoon, you may be asking: “Jessi, when do you have time to relax?” Well, I don’t. But, the thing is, I spend my days doing the things I love, and to me that’s relaxing. I’ve already gained some great experience working at the AVCA in social media, editing, brainstorming, etc. I’ve also been super on top of my networking game and have been meeting tons of new people. Thank you, LinkedIn.
Despite the fact that I just described the million things I do during the day, I still find time in the evenings to kick-back and watch TV with my roommate/teammate, and just enjoy doing nothing for a little bit. After we eat dinner and stimulate our brains with quality programming such as “The Bachelorette,” I always make time to read before I call it a night. 

Currently, I am reading the New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book is extremely interesting, and has definitely made me realize just how lucky I have it, not only to be in college, but to be a student-athlete, surrounded by people that make me a better person. One great idea that I got from the book is to keep a “happiness journal,” where you basically write down the thing that made you happiest each day. I’ve just begun mine, and my only issue is trying to narrow down the huge list of things that made me happy. I guess I could have worse problems. I encourage you all to go buy this book. It will really make you appreciate life and want to live each day to the fullest. In that light, I’ll leave you with a quote that stood out to me this week:
“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

Thursday, June 7, 2012

#NODAYSOFF: The life of a DI volleyball player


Editor's Note:  Jessi Greenberg is the AVCA's newest intern who will be working with us and blogging throughout the summer.  She is a junior libero for the University of Kentucky averaging nearly two digs per set in the 2011 season.  Back in 2009, she was an Under Armour Second-Team All-American playing at the Holy Trinity Epsicopal Academy in Melbourne, Florida.  We are happy to have her on board!


                                                             
                              Week  1: The Beginning of Summer

Hey everybody!  As a new intern at the AVCA, I’m here to give you some insight on what it’s like to manage a new job, new classes, and the oh-so-fun 6:00am workouts. I like to think I have a pretty good handle on this balancing act so I’ll be your personal tour guide on this little adventure into my life. Expect some tips, some tricks, and definitely some pictures as we lace up our sneakers, pull on those smelly kneepads and hit the gym!

There’s nothing like the feeling of coming back to school and seeing your teammates and coaches after a month long period of separation. Between moving into my new house, decorating, and stocking up the fridge and pantry, I barely had time to breathe before I started day one of coaching the All-Skills Volleyball camp at the University of Kentucky. Although having the company of 160 eleven and twelve year-olds for two days straight may sound glamorous, my physical and mental exhaustion begged to differ. 

However, it all seems worth it when you see a kid’s face light up because they just got their first overhand serve EVER over the net. Yeah, that was a good feeling.  An even better feeling was coming home to a brand new townhouse, having a nice (and healthy) home-cooked meal, and relaxing on a dangerously comfortable couch. 

The new digs. Doesn’t that couch look heavenly?