Having the opportunity to play organized volleyball for their school, is something the junior high and middle school players on the Salt River team are grateful for.
Fifteen players from grades sixth, seventh and eighth are members of the Salt River teams. The junior high team is extremely young this year with seven 7th graders and five 6th graders, with only three 8th graders on the squad.
Coaches Lynnann Yazzie and Nola Johnson said they were optimistic about this year’s team. The junior high team is currently 2-1.
“We have had our ups and downs, but will continue to work hard and improve,” Johnson said.
The sixth graders have not yet competed in a game, although they do participate in practice with the older players. Sheilah Ramirez (6th grader) has played volleyball ever since she was a little girl and has played a lot with her mom. But she has only played for fun and never on an organized team.
“I like being able to be a part of a team and actually being able to play together,” she said.
She said the team was waiting on uniforms (at the time of the interview) and she was looking forward to putting it on for the first time and competing in her first game.
“I am nervous to play because I am still practicing on how to hit the ball,” Ramirez said. “Playing volleyball is kind of hard because after every practice my arms are all red and I am tired and sweaty.”
Sage Phillips is a 7th grader who decided to try out for volleyball because it sounded like fun and she wanted to do something fun after school.
“I would normally be sitting down on the couch at home after school, so I am glad I am here playing,” she said.
In her first year of playing she said she doesn’t think volleyball is a very difficult sport to learn. She said practicing for two hours allows her to catch on and said practicing has really helped each player to improve.
Eighth grader Alexandra Miles has been playing volleyball since she entered 6th grade. She said she decided to join the volleyball team because she was looking to try out for a sport and her sister ensured her playing volleyball was a lot of fun.
“I like playing volleyball because it is fun when I get to hit it,” she said. “I have learned a lot since my first year.”
Miles said when she first began she didn’t know how to serve and now she does. But said she needs to learn how to serve harder.
“When I serve overhand it doesn’t go over the net a lot and I am working on that in order to get to play when I am in high school,” she said.
Helping out her teammates during practice is something Miles enjoys and she hopes the team will continue to improve and gain more knowledge about the game.