1. Depending on what region you played in, you would either call it J.O (Junior Olympics) or Club.
2. If your coach accidentally set you up in the wrong rotation, the entire first set would be 25 points of awkwardly trying to play your position while not starting in the right spot.
3. Getting scheduled to play the first 8 a.m game in a tournament two hours away.
And therefore, having to slip your freezing contacts into your light-sensitive eyes at 6 a.m.
4. Having to eat pizza and walking tacos from the concession stand at gyms that didn’t allow outside food.
And then having your coach wonder why you had zero energy.
5. Planning ahead, and having your awesome volleyball moms bring you Subway during your break.
6. Winning every game in three sets.
And getting so tired during the championship that you wondered why you couldn’t have just won them all in two.
7. Having to ref other teams.
And dealing with all the obnoxious parents who would start getting sassy with you.
8. Those special handshakes you had with your teammates.
Depending on who stood next to you and what rotation you were in.
9. Making fun of the names when you played a team who wore their names on their jerseys.
10. That one tournament where one of your teammates got injured.
You had to play the rest of the tournament without them. And it sucked.
11. Being in the same bracket as one of your younger teams and getting exceedingly competitive.
You knew all their moves and they knew all of yours. You knew exactly when they were going to tip, and exactly how each one of them served. Too bad they could predict you almost just as well.
12. Playing on rolled ankles and sprained wrists, because tape fixes everything.
13. It’s all fun and games until a teammate says, “Hey, remember that one time you got hit in the face?”
14. When there was a huge hole in the block and you were a back-row player, you accepted that the world was on your shoulders for the next 1.6 seconds.
Dig or die.
15. Playing teams so awful that they made you awful.
16. Playing teams so amazing they made you feel like you were in the Olympics.
17. The superstitious rituals that came before every game.
What was yours? Listening to a certain song? Rolling your jersey sleeves to a certain spot on your arms? Making sure the “A” on your Active Ankles was upside down? We all had them.
18. Soaking your sore muscles in the hotel hot tub after the first day of a tournament.
And being joined by girls from a rival team staying at the same hotel as you. Awkward.
19. When you finally nailed that special trick play after 3,918 failed attempts.
And immediately losing your voice because you cheered so loud.
20. Telling your teammates not to get “iced” on their serve after the opposing coach called timeout during a serving streak.
You never missed the serve after an opponent’s time out. You never let them have the mini victories.
21. “Leaving it all out on the court” meant two things.
One, 110 percent of your effort, and two,the top skin layer of your knees and elbows. The skin-on-floor dives would sometimes sound like the shrieks of a thousand souls.
22. Having to sit in a car on the ride home with the soaked knee-pads and game socks fermenting in your bag.
And knowing that when you opened the trunk, you’d be hit with an odor that could be compared to hot ogre breath.
23. Realizing at your last tournament that if you didn’t go on to play college, it very well could be your last time lining up with your team to hear the National Anthem.
You vowed then and there to go out with a bang.