Thursday, October 21, 2010

Volleyball Challenges

Last spring, because we had so much interest in our Tuesday Adult Ed volleyball program, I started campaigning to get a second night added to the schedule. Monday and Wednesday nights, the gym is used for Adult Ed basketball, and they show no signs of decamping, so the high school venue is out.

One option that did open up, however, was the gym in the middle school. For awhile it seemed like a sure thing, then we were told it would not be available. Just as our fall semester was about to begin, we found out that we actually could play there on Wednesday nights.

This was quite fortuitous. Because nearby Seaford closed down their Adult Ed volleyball, we inherited a substantial number of new players. I already had 52 people -- four more than the cap of 48 I had tried to set -- signed up for Tuesday night and had to turn away quite a few. With only two courts in the middle school, I wanted to cap the class at 34, but have ended up with 40. So far, we've had enough absences each night that there has not been overcrowding.

Adding the second night has not been without its challenges. It seemed that no one in the Athletic Department at the middle school had any idea what volleyball equipment was there. One person said there were poles, but no nets. Another said there were nets but no poles. A third insisted there was nothing, that it was all stored at the high school.

For the first night of play, I went to the high school and picked up two extra nets there, which turned out to be a good thing because there were only poles at the middle school. The poles, which are fairly heavy, stand in specially-made holes in the gym floor. As you might imagine, there are covers on these holes when volleyball is not being played. What we did not expect that first night was to find that when they last polyurethaned the gym floor, they effectively glued the four covers in place. It took us a good fifteen minutes of scratching, scraping, and prying with a heavy-duty screwdriver to get them open.

Once we had the poles in place, it took a bit of creativity to get the nets set up. Because we were using leftover "hand-me-down" nets, we were missing some of the necessary hooks. But were are a determined group and we made it work. For the second week, I had gathered a few more pieces and set-up went more smoothly.

Last night, however, presented a new challenge. I went to get the poles from the locker room and they were gone. I called the Adult Ed office in the high school, but they had no idea. We searched the other gym, the rest of the locker rooms, and anywhere else we could think of, but there was no sign of the poles. The head of the custodial staff suggested that they had been taken to one of the other schools; he offered to get us some basketballs if we wanted to play that instead.

We are a determined group of volleyball players, however. First, we located the poles on movable bases that are usually used for the badminton nets and rolled them into place. Then we came up with creative ways to attach the volleyball nets. Finally, using an assortment of ropes and rock-climbing belts that various players had in their cars, we fixed the poles in place by attaching them to the basketball backboards and the walls of the gym. It would not have passed muster in any official volleyball tournament, but it was good enough for us.

I'm hoping the poles find their way back from wherever they've gone, but at least we've worked out "Plan B" if they don't. Of course, who knows what new challenge will face us next week?

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