Volleyball is one of many sports that I enjoy and play frequently. My enjoyment of volleyball came to me when I was in Middle School. It was introduced to me while in physical education class. I can still remember the first time I spiked the ball. The thrill of it excited me so much that I instantly wanted to play on a team. Unfortunately, the thrill was short lived as the unit in class was only a few weeks long, and at the time, there was not even a men’s volleyball program at the high school I would be attending. However, during my sophomore year a men’s volleyball team started at both the junior and varsity levels, and I was ecstatic. I tried out and made the JV team.
Ever since then, I have actively been playing on teams…… intramurals in college, leagues at rec centers, and even leagues here in prison. This is my second full summer at this prison in Seagoville, and my second summer being involved in the volleyball league. The spring season is a three-man sand volleyball league, while the summer league is two-man. Last year’s three-man league was a random pick out of a hat draft for the teams. It was basically luck of the draw.
This year’s three-man season was an actual draft. There were 48 guys that signed up to play, so there would be sixteen equally divided teams of three. Sixteen captains were selected, me being one of them. There would only be two rounds of picks, and we randomly drew for draft order. We would go in order from #1 through 16, followed by sixteen again down to 1. I selected #4 spot, which meant I would have picks #4 and #29. When it came to my turn to select my first teammate, I decided not to choose a talented volleyball player, but I chose someone who had never played volleyball before. Then when it came around to me again for pick #29 and only four guys remaining, I again chose someone who never played volleyball before.
Many of you know how competitive I am, so you may ask why I chose the people I did. Let me say that coming to prison has definitely changed my perspective on life. When competing in sports now, I know it’s not all about winning. I have had my share of winning back in the day, and had my moments to shine. These days especially in prison, I want to help people out, teach them, and coach them. I want them to have a chance to shine. It’s not all about me anymore. It’s about them. And let me tell you, the two guys on my team are awesome. Not necessarily awesome at their volleyball skills, but awesome team players, very easy to coach, great listeners, respectful of my suggestions, easy to talk to, and guys who want to practice and get better. Here in prison, there aren’t a whole lot of people like that. I feel blessed that they are on my team, considering I didn’t even really know these guys before I chose them.
We started from square one, and are gradually working our way up. Right now we are halfway through the season and everyone is saying we are the most improved team thus far, playing better and better every game. And besides that, we all are having a great time, with a constant flow of smiles and laughter. All three of us agree that prison volleyball is not about winning, but about having a fun time, getting some exercise and enjoying our time together. That we are definitely doing!
You see, selecting and training a volleyball team is similar to leading someone to Christ. One must start from square one – form a relationship, build the relationship, and teach God’s Word, which can lead them to Christ. And in volleyball – form a team, build the team, and teach the skills, which can lead to positive results. It sounds simple enough, but it does take work. Every ministry and sports team has encountered trials before becoming successful. It takes practice and training to get on top. With God’s help and the right attitude it can happen. That is all God asks of us….. to give others a chance. Don’t give up on people no matter how “lost” they are. I took a chance with my volleyball team, and I pray that you’ll take that chance with leading others to Christ. It’s funny how a simple game of volleyball can help me to become a better witness for Christ.
I can’t say I love prison, but what I can say is I do love what prison is doing to me.