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Feature Athlete: Riley Robert

How did you get into volleyball?

I transferred from north district my freshmen year, and so I thought, “I should probably do something to make friend and know people so I’m not that loner in the hallway.” So about two weeks before school started, I did some private lessons and I made the team my freshman year. I’ve actually made some of my really good friends off of that team from freshman year. They don’t even play anymore, but we’re still really good friends. That’s kind of what got me into it.

How long have you been playing?

I started freshman year, so this will be my fourth season at East. I’ve also played three seasons of club, but I won’t be playing club this year after this season.

How long did it take you to feel comfortable with the sport?

I’m on varsity and I still have days where I’m still like, “Was that my ball? That was my ball. I should have gotten that ball.” You can simulate games while you’re scrimmaging but you really can’t say that it’s exactly how the game with go. Because, yes, volleyball has plays, but it’s not like in football where you have a playbook and say, “We’re going to use this play for this game.” You kind of go in and you don’t know what will happen. You could have a ball tipped to a spot you’ve never had tipped to before in a game your varsity year and say, “That was mine, I should have had that. I’ve never had that happen to me.” And so I still have days where I don’t know if I should be getting that or not, but you have less of those days.

Was it hard to begin to learn volleyball?

It was hard in a sense that I thought I could muscle my way through the sport because I played softball before volleyball. It’s got a lot more finesse and technique, so you can’t just have brute strength and think that you’re going to win. And so I think it was harder to think, “OK, don’t swing your arm that hard or you’re going to hit the ball in the net every time.” So that was probably why it was difficult.

Your position is a defensive specialist (DS). Do you like to play that position?

Freshmen year I thought I was tall. I started as a hitter. I had to take some time to wrap my head around the fact that I was not tall enough to actually be a hitter in this sport. So I think I was very stubborn about it at first, but now in my senior season, I’m enjoying playing back row. It’s a sport where I enjoy all parts of it, it’s just that hitting is the big kill. It’s like scoring the touchdown in football. It’s exciting. Everyone wants to be the one to score the touchdown.

Do you think you’ll continue when you graduate?

I’m not going to play college ball just because most of the colleges I’m looking at don’t scholarship athletically anyways. So if I wanted to play, I could try out for there team. College sports are a big time commitment. And while I love it, if I’m not getting a scholarship for it, I think i’ll have so much going on that I’m not going to be able to have time to do that and be fully committed to it. But that isn’t to say I don’t want to coach when I’m older. I really enjoy coaching and working with kids. We do the lancer camp every year and I love working with little kids. We’ll have water breaks and we’ll be like, “say something original.” And they’ll say, “one, two, three, unicorns!” and break. I’ll probably coach but I probably won’t play after this year.

Did or do you have a goal in playing?

When I started my goal was to play club as well, which is like premiere basically. I did that for three years. I got some really good experiences out of it and made some really good friends out of it. I got to travel for tournaments. I reached the goal that I had set for myself and then it just became more about learning and growing as a person. I know girls from Bishop Ward and we don’t play or see them, but I know them just because I played volleyball. I made good connections because of it.

Are your friends a big part in why you continue to play?

I have girls on previous teams, like a girl on my club team that goes to South. She doesn’t play on the South team anymore, only club. And she’s awesome, we’re really good friends. I talk to her probably on an every-other-week basis. If I hadn’t played volleyball, I wouldn’t ever met her. It’s a big deal to me that I have these people in my life. Meeting people is a big part.

You hurt your knee and ankle. How did that happen?

I fell at a friends house. It wasn’t even in practice. I just slipped because the floor was wet and hurt my knee. I just wear a brace when I practice now because the physical therapist said it was a slight meniscus tear and that my IT band was really tight. That’s a muscle in your upper leg that pulls on my patella and sometimes pulls it out. So when I’m diving it’s kind of problematic. For my ankle, I was walking for a drill and just came down funny. I don’t know if someone landed on top of my foot or if I landed on my foot, but when I fell all the way down, my ankle didn’t fall all the way down. I’m hoping to be back this Monday.

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Stella Braly

Sophomore Stella Braly is a staff writer for the Harbinger. She enjoys writing, all things music, cats and art. Read Full »

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