Taking their time: Freshmen deal with less playing time on varsity volleyball

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After changing into spandex and strapping up their knee pads, the MVHS girls varsity volleyball team warm up and then begin passing in pairs. As practice begins, some girls have the familiar routine embedded in their minds and bodies after playing more than three years on the varsity team.  But for the two freshmen varsity players, this routine is just the beginning of the many things they will learn.

Volleyballs in the MVHS gym. Used by girls varsity volleyball during practice. Photo by Maggie McCormick.

Volleyballs in the MVHS gym. Used by girls varsity volleyball during practice. Photo by Maggie McCormick.

Once tryouts ended, freshmen Jackie Cai and Sammi Dunn were pulled up to the varsity team, marking the beginning of their high school experience. Cai and Dunn understand how the high caliber of the team and their status as freshmen may result in shorter playing time.

“I would like to play,” Dunn said. “[But] I know that I’m a freshman and … there are other girls who may be more experienced [since]they’ve played on varsity longer than I have.”

One of the biggest struggles faced by most underclassmen on a varsity team is the amount of playing time they get during games. Head coach Colin Anderson explains how he has seen playing time become an issue for some underclassmen in the past.

“[On JV,] you’ll get a lot more playing time, you’ll be more of a star, a bigger part of the team. At the varsity level, you often don’t play a whole lot.” Anderson said. “So instead of being this celebrity, you’re sitting on the bench and kind of watching from there.”

Even though being on varsity as an underclassman may seem daunting, the experience yields different advantages. Cai expressed that while she may not get as much playing time during games, the skills and techniques she will gain this year are worth the wait.

“I don’t really care that much for playing time, I just want to have a good experience and learn from the better players and improve” Cai said.

Anderson recognizes that they do have remarkable athletic abilities. Anderson explained he believes less playing time ultimately makes these young varsity team members better players down the line.

“If you are an underclassman on varsity, you have to be bringing a talent level that is significantly higher than some of the upperclassmen who didn’t make it,” Anderson said. “So for the freshmen and sophomores who do make it, they are demonstrating skills and ability and potential that is significant to me.”

Even though Dunn and Cai may face some challenges, they have a positive outlook towards the season and the experience of playing on a varsity team.

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