Volleyball league offers serious sport to casual players

At Play

October 25, 2006|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to the Sun

The Gorman family was looking for something to do together.

The Rookies baseball team was looking for a new challenge.

The members of Sexy Beast wanted to hone their skills.

They represent the different outlooks of the 11 teams in the Sunday afternoon coed volleyball league at Glen Burnie High School run by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Players on all three teams said that some are more competitive than others. But they're all trying to improve, regardless of the opponent.

Volleyball is an interesting choice for rec sports because it requires several skills. Every player must have some level of competency at serving, blocking, passing, setting and digging.

The Gormans picked volleyball because four relatives in the Anne Arundel family had at least some experience with it. They took the name Wilson!, after Tom Hanks' volleyball in the movie Castaway. Hanks' character is always yelling for the ball, which explains the Gormans' addition of the exclamation point.

Teams play three-game sets every week, with the first two games going to 25 and the third to 21.

"We're a tight-knit group," said team coach David Gorman of Crownsville. "I think that we have more fun than any other team in the league."

But the Gormans got off to a rough start. Besides the lack of expertise - some of the Gormans had never played at all - the league also switched this year from splitting into A and B levels to combining everyone into one group.

As a result, Wilson!'s record is 0-18. Wilson! came close to winning its first game Sunday. It was leading 22-21 in the second game before falling back. In the final game, it was tied at 20, but the team couldn't finish the job.

"I would think we would probably be getting our first win soon," Gorman said. "No one's spirits are broken. No one argues and no one leaves mad. We're getting better."

He said the team has improved 100 percent since the first week, and credits that to the members' skills in other sports.

Rookies coach Sherry Parks of Severn said they went through a similar learning curve when the team joined the league about three years ago. They were called the Rookies because that was their name in softball when the group started, so the name seemed to fit when switching to volleyball in the fall and winter.

Parks' team includes her 23-year-old son, Tracy, and her 25-year-old daughter, Ashley Neal, who was on Old Mill's team. They're also playing with a group of her children's friends. They're not trying to be Olympic volleyball champions but want to improve.

She warned newcomers that coming into the game blind is tough: "It's a lot of rules to [learn], and it's not like beach volleyball. It's pretty competitive."

Most of the members of this year's Sexy Beast squad have plenty of experience, but a few new people are just learning the ropes.

The team won the B league last fall and moved to the A league and took on tougher competition last winter, said coach Melinda Woods, who comes down from Owings Mills to play each Sunday. They're 6-15 this season in the combined league.

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