[WINS AND LOSSES] Feel the heat of volleyball

Mariam Malik: Volleyball. A sport played by 800 million people worldwide and ranked the 15th most difficult sport to play. In this episode, we will be taking a look into the lives of two dedicated players in the SPA community who explain how their sport has impacted their lives.

Hi, I’m Mariam Malik, and welcome back to Wins and Losses, The Rubicon podcast where we explore how students’ lives are shaped by the sport they play.

Natalie Vogenthaler: How long she’s been playing.

Mariam Malik: That’s sophomore Natalie Vogenthaler. She’s been playing volleyball for six years. This year, she played as a libero, the most demanding defensive position, for the SPA volleyball team. When the high school season comes to an end, she continues to play for Kokoro, a volleyball club in St. Paul.

Riley Erben: How long she’s been playing.

Mariam Malik: That’s junior Riley Erben. She’s been playing volleyball for seven years. This year, she was one of three captains for the SPA volleyball team. After the high school season ends, she continues to play at Impact Volleyball, another club located in St. Paul.

Mariam Malik: Due to the extensive time these students dedicate to volleyball, they continue to explore efficient ways to balance their school life with sports.

Mariam Malik: For Natalie, the excitement of participating in the sport she loves, motivates her to manage her time well and appropriately invest energy in both priorities.

Natalie Vogenthaler: It’s definitely difficult during the fall season, considering all the like, the games, and practices we have but overall, I think fall is my favorite season of the year because of volleyball.

Mariam Malik: For Riley, her go-to is pre-planning her weekly schedule and prioritizing her commitments.

Riley Erben: I feel like you just have to be on top and like, be able to pre-plan what you need to do throughout the week. It’s definitely an adjustment, you kinda have to get used to it. But, I feel like it’s manageable if you prioritize the things that like you really care about and like what you really want to do.

Mariam Malik: Natalie shares about the connections she has made through playing volleyball.

Natalie Vogenthaler: Um, not necessarily who I spend my time with, but I’ve made lots of relationships and connections through volleyball.

Mariam Malik: Riley also explains that because of playing volleyball, she got to know many people, and has even met some of her best friends.

Riley Erben: I feel like yeah, for sure. And I’ve met some of my best friends like playing volleyball, both for like school and for club. And like, considering it takes up so much of your time, you obviously get to know like your teammates pretty well, which I actually think is a pro of it.

Mariam Malik: For Natalie, not everything about volleyball has been sunshine and rainbows. She describes her experiences throughout playing and the decisions she has made to overcome difficult situations.

Natalie Vogenthaler: Last year, my club season, I had a difficult time with my coach. She didn’t like, she didn’t really, it happens all the time where you like, you don’t really, I didn’t really get along with her. I didn’t like her ways of coaching.

Mariam Malik: For Riley, the stereotypes that come with female sports can, at times, be difficult to navigate.

Riley Erben: I think like any female sport comes with a lot of, kinda like, stereotypes or like, just a lot of like connotations not like nothing like the connotations can be both positive and negative. Like I don’t think that it’s like one or the other. But like, I think especially like, female sports are kind of looked at in like, a different way than men’s sport, like, like comparing like soccer, like, like professional, like men’s soccer is like viewed much differently than like, women’s soccer, right? Like and I just think right now, that’s like where we’re at as a society. And like, personally, like, because we go to SPA I feel like you don’t feel it as much like its been like, it’s more of like a closed environment, but like playing club or like playing in like, larger tournaments where like, where you see a lot more people. I think, like there’s conversations of like, what like, volleyball players like wear, like obviously like, you’re wearing spandex and like why is it that like, you’re playing like a high-intensity sport and you’re in this like, itty bitty shorts? Like I just think there’s like some kinds of things that are built into like volleyball in particular that are just like, if you take a step back and look at it, you can be like, oh, like why is that like actually happening in like a really popular sport that’s like a female-dominated sport.

Mariam Malik: Even after Natalie’s struggles with her coach, she explains why she continues to play volleyball.

Natalie Vogenthaler: Well I, I started when I was really young, and ever since then I’ve just had a lot of fun. Not only like just with the sport, but like the connections I’ve made. And, it brings me confidence, which is like a huge factor in my life. So that’s nice.

Mariam Malik: Despite the setbacks Riley has faced by being connected to volleyball, she expresses why she pursues with her sport.

Riley Erben: I think being associated with the team has only had like, positive impacts for me. And I think that can be different for everybody, but like considering like, a lot of my friends like, come to games or like, I play with a lot of my like, really close friends. Like that’s always been like really nice for me and like has given me like a lot of like opportunities.

Mariam Malik: Thank you so much, Natalie and Riley, for being vulnerable and sharing your highs and lows with volleyball. Your stories have been extremely informative and gave us a look into what your lives look like as vigorous players. Tune in next week to listen to an all-new episode of Wins and Losses. Once again, I’m Mariam Malik and thank you for listening.

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