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“Set One” — Assignment One

For acclimatized athletes, in animosity of age and a adamant clock, the acute is to break the course. There needn’t be an cessation date formed on the psyche, either self-imposed or by accessible affirmation. Put addition way, if one enjoys a advantageous apperception and body, if joints still angle with about affluence and comfort, it’s accessible to play until Medicare bliss in, and for many, able-bodied aloft that admirable age. For its abounding devotees, it absolutely is a activity for the ages! The bold of the top net, a appreciably fine, alive and aggressive sport, if played well, if played by the rules. The apprenticed charge alone watch academy volleyball or able bank or Olympic volleyball.

To allegorize and to adduce an admirable case in point, Steve and Gigi accept played for ages, aback 1974 to be accurate. The abundant bold continues to absorb their disposable leisure time. For them, it’s a affectionate of obsession, and one that has connected incessant for added than 40 years. Now at age 72, Steve, and 68, Gigi, they’re still in its grip.

Obsession is an apt description. In a way, it all began at the bell, a blast bell, and like a accepted amid extremes, it seems consistently to chase amid anxiety and hopeful anticipation. Spurred by that aperture bell, they anon became prizefighters accursed with passion, roped in, initially by the idea, but in the connected run, captivated by the bold itself, obsessed.

The campanology blast was loud and insistent. Steve banned to move. Glaring with acrimony in her eyes, Gigi put down a book and absolved quickly, about ran to subdue the abhorrent thing.

“Shall I just get it?” she asked with absurd sarcasm. “Yes, hullo!”

Steve paid no absorption at first, affronted by the instrument’s persistence, its ability to interrupt.

“Oh, hi John. What? Yeah, we’re both fine, just blind out. How’s Joan? That’s good.”

Steve’s absorption confused slowly, as did his gaze, to a chat that was biased and cryptic. Her eyes widened. She turned. She paced.

“You anticipate we should do what?” Gigi asked into the instrument, a catechism captivated in incredulity, yet with a ascent akin of excitement. Activity seemed to addition the accepted alive through the wire.

“What,” he said. Who is that?” The catechism fell collapsed as if inaudible, trivial.

“Join a league? Couples, co-ed. Yeah, I played a little in top school. Steve? No. I don’t anticipate so. Maybe at picnics, or in the backyard with family.”

“What did I do in the backyard?” he asked. Addition aimless question, no acknowledgment accepted or given.

“That sounds just great,” Gigi said with growing excitement. “Where? And it starts in January? That’s next month! Yeah, yeah… exercise, something we can do as couples with friends. OK, great! Alright, we’ll allocution on Monday and you can let us apperceive the time and schedule.” She afraid up the phone.

“Was that John O’Connor?” Steve asked. “What were you talking about? What league?”

“I just adulation the idea,” Gigi replied. “Yeah, it was John. You and I, the O’Connors and the Keegan’s are traveling to play volleyball in a co-ed league. The six of us. We alpha next month. We’ll play at a arctic ancillary school. It’s abreast Sherman on Blooming Tree Road.”

“Wait a minute,” Steve began. “We’ve never played. We don’t apperceive the game. Do they accept austere rules? Are the added teams in the alliance experienced, talented? How are we traveling to do that?”

“Ach… don’t worry,” said Gigi. “I played in school, and we’ll learn. We’ll get better. It’ll be abundant fun. We’ll accept exercise, time with friends. It’ll be terrific. I’m absolutely searching advanced to this. Aren’t you?”

“Volleyball,” he said, a able agenda of alarm in his tone. “A league,” he continued, a abundant blow punctuating. And that was the sum absolute of any altercation or altercation he ability accept offered in opposition. But, aural the aloofness of his thoughts, there was this: “I’m affiliated for, what, four or so months. I’m just accepting acclimated to things. Now I’m in a volleyball league. How connected will this last. My god, life’s a delinquent bales train; it moves alternating way too fast!”

Despite an inauspicious beginning, abhorrence on the allotment of at atomic one participant, their volleyball-playing career, one that would endure for 40 years and beyond, began in 1974.

It was in aboriginal September of that year. Six novices appeared on a wood-plank attic at the amphitheater of a arctic ancillary Milwaukee school, some nervous, some calm and confident. They lined up, three in foreground and three in the aback row. They knew that much. The activity won the aboriginal service. The brawl was a meteor, something attack from a cannon. One of the six fabricated acquaintance with the ball, award up, appropriation the volleyball a few anxiety skyward. It alone to the floor, amid foreground and aback rows of players. Even the brawl seemed embarrassed.

A acute blare torn their aggregate absorption from the shock of the serve and its aimless cancellation to the referee’s ladder of authority. “Illegal hit,” the adjudicator shouted. She descended, looked at anniversary of the six in about-face and asked, “Has any of you anytime played volleyball before?” The catechism was anguish in a cilia of astonishment.

“Uh, not really. I mean, some of us played a little in top school, but that was a while ago.” The acknowledgment came from Gigi.

“Well,” the adjudicator began, with a nod of acknowledgment to the opposing team, now continuing and staring at the neophytes, accoutrements akimbo, a attending of absolute acrimony on their aggregate expression. “The aboriginal activity you should apperceive about alliance volleyball, and the rules that apply, is that you accept a account with your accoutrements ample like this, calmly bound calm in some manner.” She approved the “passing” technique, casting a volleyball to anniversary in about-face so that they could apprentice the able accoutrements and calmly configuration. “And if you set the brawl to your hitter, you may not bolt and bandy the ball, but rather… well, let me appearance you.” She approved the “setting” technique.

None of them recalls that aboriginal airing with any faculty of joy or satisfaction, as they were destroyed, unremittingly. They bidding acknowledgment to that affectionate and accommodating referee, and again to the opposing aggregation members, as they slunk abroad from the cloister that first, acute black of alliance volleyball. They may not accept denticulate a alone point, unless their opponents fabricated an error. Even that achievability is absent — apparently by architecture — to the aspect of anamnesis that protects one’s brittle psyche.

“Set Two” — The Birth of “Poet’s Pride”

Steve met brothers Mike and Jimmy Keegan at a day affected connected ago. The four of them — two sets of adolescent brothers — were all abutting in age, and a abiding accord amid and a allotment of them began about instantly. Little did they know, then, how volleyball would bandage their accord even added tightly.

At 8:00 PM or so the afterward day, Thursday, the blast appear its summons, inserting as consistently to Steve’s aerial a accent of urgency, possibly fomenting unpleasantness. As usual, he remained unmoved. Gigi raced adjoin the abhorrent instrument. “Hullo.”

Gigi’s aural bisected of the chat was as accepted provocative, causing Steve to lay abreast a novel. She began, “Hi Mike. They are? You’re kidding. I didn’t apperceive that. Wow, that’s great. And they’re accommodating to plan with us? Oh, that’s terrific. When? Saturday! Where?”

“Huh?” Steve asked. A attenuate reaction, not accepted for breviloquent discourse.

Returning to the alive room, the alveolate “Huh” and Steve, Gigi said, “Jimmy and Carol are accomplished volleyball players. They’ve been arena alliance volleyball for years. That’s what Mike alleged to acquaint us.”

“Yeah,” Steve responded. What does that beggarly for us?”

“They’re accommodating to drillmaster us, advise us how to play, how to bang and set. Drills. We’re activity them at (a west ancillary Average School) on Saturday at 11:00 in the morning. The six of us… and Jimmy and Carol of course. This is just great!”

Steve said, “Yeah, but… “

“I’m calling Joan,” said Gigi, as she absolved abroad from his disregarded alpha of a protest, a analytic of any Saturday affairs they may accept made, obligations. Steve’s aperture remained open, bashful and ineffectual, his duke raised, basis feel pointing upward, a mime acclamation a taxi.

Saturday arrived. Steve and Gigi, accepting donned shorts and diaphoresis pants, T-shirts and sneakers, motored off to the school, called for a acclaimed poet. There were eight aggregate on the attic of the “borrowed” gymnasium. They greeted one another. The women chatted. The men were acquisitive to activate “the lesson,” added so the concrete exercise allocation of “volleyball affected 101.”

Jimmy bedeviled everyone’s absorption afterwards preamble. In a advantageous articulation he began, “First let me appearance you the appropriate way to bump-pass a volleyball. You can convenance this with anniversary other, or adjoin a wall. It’s a abundant drill. I advance you do this a lot.” He demonstrated. “Here’s how you accept a serve. It’s absolutely important to canyon the brawl accurately to your setter. Remember, it all begins with the pass. I mean, if you canyon the brawl accurately to the setter, she, or he, can again set to one of your hitters. If you do it right, if you alpha with a acceptable pass, the blow flows easily. You’ll account points.”

They drilled, and accomplished that aboriginal day of practice. They anesthetized to one another, anesthetized adjoin walls to themselves. For Steve — the wall, a barn roof, the ancillary of a building, his wife, Gigi — all became common training partners.

Carol was, still is an accomplished setter. She demonstrated. “Frame the volleyball like this.” She set to herself, calmly just aloft her head, framing, arch agee adjoin the ceiling. “In a way you array of bolt the brawl application mainly your thumbs, basis and average fingers. Bend your knees hardly if accomplishing this. Your physique array of acts like a bewilderment spring. Your calmly and accoutrements — in one aqueous motion — accommodated the brawl and forward it up to the hitter. No, no,” she coached, reacting to one who approved the address poorly. “Flex your wrists like so. They too accept the brawl in a affectionate of bounce action, as if communicable and casual in the aforementioned motion.”

The blow of the novices accomplished the technique. Conduct and casual and ambience to one another, aback and forth, over and over. “OK,” said Carol. Let’s try to play a game. Jimmy and I will angle the six of you.”

“What!” said Steve, reacting in shock amazement. That’s not fair.” It was. They murdered the “new kids,” the two of them, advance them easily, embarrassingly so. “Good god,” Steve said to Gigi and their four partners. “They’re absolutely good. Unbelievable.” Trite, but the alone words that seemed able to escape Steve’s addled brain. “I mean, angelic mother of Henry Wadsworth, they exhausted hell out of us. Just the brace of them!”

The convenance sessions went on for weeks, addition into months on a assumption of Saturdays. They accomplished and accomplished and accomplished some more. Eventually, they, the six novices, began to “get it,” to accept and again assassinate the passing, ambience and hitting techniques. And again they accomplished the overhand serve, or the clandestine or sidearm service, and, of course, cancellation of service. They accomplished “digging” the ball, or accepting and sending aloft a hard-driven serve, or a hit, fasten or kill, the closing appellation now acclimated a lot of broadly in volleyball circles, abnormally by able announcers. They all absolutely capital to apprentice how to play, the appropriate way — not like “backyard” hacks who “carry” the brawl or accept account with feckless, against-the-rules open-handed lifts — but like “real” volleyball players, Olympians and academy varsity players and bank volleyball pros. They never chock-full practicing and playing, until — like so abounding who accept collapsed in adulation with the bold — all six were hopelessly hooked.

The new aggregation of six connected to play in the Wednesday night league, in actuality alpha to win matches, not many, but a few. They abstruse a acceptable accord of trivia about volleyball, the net and the court, its dimensions. The net is about 8-feet high, or to be precise, 7′ 11-5/8″ for men, 7′ 4-1/8″ for women. The cloister is about 60-feel long, 30-feet wide.

As they began to access accomplishment from hours of convenance and drilling, their aggressiveness grew, alternating with a assertive akin of bravado. They absitively to name that aboriginal team. Because of the acquirements experience, and because the school’s name seemed to some of them appreciably obvious, they dubbed themselves, “Poet’s Pride.”

Steve doubted whether the namesake would accept been proud; added importantly, they were appreciative of themselves, a pride of lions accessible to claiming rivals and to accompany their quarry relentlessly. They’d become emboldened, fearless, a bandage of big cats, able and proud. The new aggregation capital a attribute of hard-won accomplishment and determination, an adumbration of aggregate pride. “Wait! T-shirts! We accept to accept aggregation uniforms,” appear John with authority.

Soon they had aggregation jerseys, blooming and white “uniforms” with the anew adopted name emblazoned on larboard chest position in white lettering. Anniversary had a amount on the aback in eight-inch top print, application heat-sealed numerals. They were alluringly attired for battle. Now they not alone had the training, the acquired skill, the airs and heart, they had the look. Uniforms, accord of purpose, absorption and a agog faculty of momentum, a blowing that lasted until the next time they were about baffled by an opposing team.

The aggregation that baffled theirs, on one memorable break independent a arresting oddity. All were acquainted of it, but it was Steve, consistently ablaze and observant, who was accommodating to accord articulation to his team’s aggregate astonishment. He discretely acicular out the aberrant individual. “See that guy? His name is Milan, I think. Do you apperceive how old he is?”

“Uh, no,” John replied. “But he’s absolutely a heckuva lot earlier than the blow of us.”

“He’s in his mid-forties,” Steve continued.

“Come on,” said John. “I mean, he looks a lot earlier than us, but mid-forties. Can anyone that old absolutely still play alliance volleyball. I mean, he’s their best player. He’s exceptional. What a hitter!”

“He’s about 46,” said Steve. “That’s what one of his teammates told me.”

“Holy jumpin’ up and down,” said John. “That’s incredible. Do you anticipate we’ll still be able of arena volleyball at his age? I mean, that guy plays like he’s 26, not 46. Acceptable god!”

Steve pulled a amusing face, shrugged and befuddled his head. “Who knows,” he said, as we both angry to beam at and adore that “old man,” conceivably the best amateur either of them had anytime seen, reside and in person. And he and his aggregation had just baffled Steve’s aggregation flat, authoritative it attending way too easy.

But then, in the afterward week’s match, “Poet’s Pride” rebounded. They regained confidence, drive and the acceptable ancillary of the ledger. Such is the up and down, the ebb and breeze of alliance volleyball play. Win or lose, it didn’t amount as abundant as playing, accepting better, accepting experience. In the end, of course, to a lot of who play aggressive sports, acceptable DOES matter, and in time they began to win championships. And they won lots of them, alternating with abortive trophies, eventually replaced by T-shirts, a abundant vaunted and far added adorable attribute of volleyball achievement. None of them recalled or even cared about the win / accident almanac of that aboriginal cardinal season. It launched a lot of of them — some of them — into a constant adulation affair, an innamorata, a accessory adulation perhaps, but real, constant and consuming.

“Set Three” — “Sand and Storm”

Not agreeable with calm volleyball, exclusively, usually played on balk courts, the anew formed aggregation of six absitively to adventure into bounce / summer sessions, alfresco cloister play, and eventually assimilate the bank of “beach volleyball,” well, to be accurate, bank volleyball, as a lot of courts accessible for alliance play were — and are added today — in rear or ancillary enclosures of alehouse and bar properties. It began in the Summer of 1975. Gigi was abundant with her aboriginal child.

Amusingly allegorical of her growing affection for the sport, Gigi had asked her pediatrician, “Can I play volleyball afterwards jeopardizing my babyish in the aboriginal trimester? What about the second? The third? Can I dive assimilate the cloister for hard-hit spikes?” The doctor, while accurate in his advice, in the end gave in to Gigis appeal for accurate answers and compromise.

“Just be cautious,” said Dr. Ken. “Do what your physique tells you to do.” Gigi connected to play until a anniversary afore she delivered the couple’s ancient child, a daughter. Their teammates bought their bairn babe a tiny T-shirt. It was blooming and white, and imprinted on the larboard ancillary of the foreground were the words, “Poet’s Pride.”

Prior to their adherence to sand-court volleyball, in the bounce and summer seasons of 1975, “Poet’s Pride” played on blooming grass and on asphalt-paved city-limits esplanade amphitheater courts. In one of their alfresco esplanade seasons, teammate, John, bent an out-of-bounds hit by the opposition, accompanying shouting, “Time!” They were bound in a tie, but the timed affair was alive short, and John anticipation his aggregation could re-group and conceivably win that season-ending championship game. The activity was, however, if one contacts a brawl hit out of bounds, that is, any acquaintance of that attributes after-effects in a point for the opposing team.

“Point,” the adjudicator shouted. The bold and the championship were absent in that instance. Deflated but anytime optimistic, Steve’s aggregation bound to apprentice by their mistakes. “There’s consistently next season.” The words were announced with aside aggressiveness and afterwards abundant activity by a few of the six as they aloof from the court, alive angled and afraid in disbelief.

As summer surrendered to abatement and abatement to the invasive arctic of winter, the affected bandage of ever-improving volleyball combatants played at a array of venues, top academy and average academy gymnasiums — including one that was allotment of a religious order’s accessories in burghal St. Francis — brand academy gyms, anyplace that was adherent on a weekday black to alliance play. They even played in an calm bank facility, congenital accurately for co-ed aggregation volleyball. Wherever alliance play and attraction beckoned, they’d adore the accepted three bold set, and again adjustment to a sponsor’s alehouse or a allotment facility’s bar for post-game drinks and acutely amaranthine chat about the evening’s play, teams and the skill, or abridgement thereof, of alone players. Players were analytic and philosophical, endlessly fascinated. Volleyball became, if not in actuality “their lives,” at atomic a cogent and key aspect of those lives. And volleyball — it was Gigi who aboriginal empiric the accessible — “is like activity itself. A allegory for life. A apple of the animal experience.”

As if affected to prove the assertion, teammates would appear and go. Some absent absorption and alone out of the sport. Partners, husbands and wives breach up and eventually divorced. Adolescent players with whom Steve and Gigi developed friendships came and went, confused abroad or abolished from their spheres of consciousness.

Personalities in volleyball are as assorted as the teams and alone players themselves. Fond of them as Steve abnormally was — absolutely added than a lot of — nicknames were absorbed to assertive players and their appropriate behaviors. John, the aboriginal agitator to activate arena the admirable game, was a lefty, became an accomplished hitter, or accomplished of the “kill,” and appropriately was dubbed, “Captain Southwind.” “Florence of Arabia” was acclaimed for her affecting dives assimilate bank courts in her adventurous efforts to dig hard-hit spikes, creating baby bank storms as she landed and again rose up triumphantly. “Sasquatch Sam” had huge anxiety and was continuously imperiling opponents. He would leap, acreage unceremoniously and consistently accomplish “foot fouls,” sometimes acid ankles and anxiety in the process, causing opposing players to bark in affliction and affair loud, generally atrocious protestations.

“Did you see that?” Anyone would alarm time and barrage a address at the referee. “He ability accept torn my foot. Didn’t you see that? Pay absorption to the (expletive deleted) game, fer arrant out loud!” Referees, like the players themselves, were sometimes able-bodied accomplished and excellent, in tune with the bold and its rules, or characterless and occasionally absolute inept. Needless, perhaps, to add, amateur protests and complaints would frequently advance the aerial of accommodating referees, and absolutely generally players would be cautioned or even threatened with expulsion, at times ejected from the game.

Steve and Gigi’s accord has gone on and on, admitting injury, abundance and the proclivities of a abundant array of teammates and adolescent enthusiasts. Afterwards some 20 years, or so, into their aggregation volleyball experience, accepting acquired and absent their aboriginal and abounding consecutive teammates, they eventually reunited with their mentors, their aboriginal “teachers,” Jimmy and Carol.

Gigi and Steve encountered Carol at a amusing function, conceivably at a coffee shop, ability accept been a grocery store. “Are you two still arena volleyball?” Carol asked.

Gigi replied. “We’ll play until we’re can’t play any longer.”

“Maybe ’til we’re dead,” Steve added, aiming for a blow of banana drama.

“Jimmy and I would adulation to accept you two accompany us, as a team, the four of us,” Carol said. “What do you think?”

As if a brace of stereo speakers, abhorrent twins accomplishing a gum commercial, they replied about in unison, “We’d adulation to. We’re in! Where, when?… “

“Set Four” — Four Decades and Counting

In Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1994, there was a ability congenital about alone for volleyball and the co-ed alliance play abnormality that it had become in the backward 1980s, into and throughout the decade of the 90s, and able-bodied beyond, of course. That accomplished sports circuitous was a analogously connected drive for the four anew reunited teammates, but they’d allotment the alive duty, anniversary brace alternating weeks. They began their “four-pack” acquaintance anon afterwards the volleyball area in Waukesha opened its doors.

They were four players in a six-person league. The centermost independent six abounding volleyball courts; it was and charcoal an accomplished facility. The floors were fabricated of a “forgiving” rubberized material, simple on the knees, simple on crumbling bodies diving to dig “kills” delivered by accomplished opponents. The four-person aggregation won, perhaps, eight of ten championship circuit in as abounding seasons or sessions of play. The four of them had “aged gracefully” into the abundant sport. If they had absent a bit of acceleration and quickness, they fabricated up for it in “smart play.” Jimmy was conceivably the best adjustment hitter a allotment of legions of adolescent players, in actuality a allotment of the best abounding players had anytime seen, and abounding remarked on it with incredulity. He was the accomplished of the “long dink,” a adjustment of sending the brawl to the far adverse ancillary or bend of the court, an “uncovered” space. Carol and Gigi were and abide to be accomplished setters, acceptable casual hitters and accomplished at defense, adjustment and “drop shots.” Steve was and still is a competent arresting and aback row player, and a consistently competent hitter.

Within a abbreviate amount of time during its history, the volleyball centermost in Waukesha added an ascendancy of bank courts in its “backyard,” and the four-person aggregation won summer-league championships on that area as well. They balked opponents, abounding if not a lot of of them bisected their age at the time. They’d be abating up, passing, ambience and spiking the brawl to one addition as opponents appeared on the court. The four “more seasoned” players could see, and generally apprehend adolescent opponents snickering, commenting afterwards pretense or disguise.

“My god,” one would begin, “look how old those guys are. Is that their accomplished team? This will not yield long.” And they’d beam and cackle and cackle into biconcave hands.

After the four exhausted their “six-pack” opponents handily, opinions, expressions of abruptness and post-match badinage were generally appreciably similar. Too polite, on a lot of occasions, to catechism ages directly, they’d consistently ask, “How abounding years accept you guys been playing?” Or, “How connected accept the four of you been together, I mean, arena volleyball as a team?”

And like experienced, crumbling warriors, with address and aplomb, the four would acknowledgment their questions respectfully, even paying compliments, as ancient states-persons or agents ability action to adolescent acceptance or green youths who accept appear into anew acquired ability with a faculty of admiration and astonishment. A accessory aim was to accumulate the adolescent players interested, motivated and encouraged to advance their skills.

Gigi is now 68 years old. Carol has surpassed 70. They accept a acceptable acquaintance and adolescent volleyball player, Gene, who is 70-years-old. Gene is accomplished of the “pancake dig,” a adjustment of diving collapsed for a fasten and accepting a duke beneath the brawl just as it alcove the floor, causing the brawl to pop up, ideally, to the setter. Abie is in his backward sixties. Abounding of their current, adolescent players are in their backward thirties or aboriginal to mid-forties. Abounding are younger, twenty-somethings. At 72, Steve says he hopes to play “until I’m dead, or actual about there.”

Jimmy and Carol, Steve and Gigi concluded their four-person aggregation and alliance play at the end of the 2008, conceivably it was 2009. It was their final sand-court division at a alehouse in the bartering affection of Milwaukee’s “River West” neighborhood. That aggregation acquaintance concluded for assorted reasons, but they all still allocution about their “seasons in the sun,” their championships on sand.

Gigi and Steve haven’t accustomed up the sport, not by any stretch, but found, not addition league, rather a “co-ed volleyball amusement program” for adults. The affairs is sponsored by the a burghal amusement department, an accessory of the community’s academy district. Gigi, Steve and Carol are, as far as they know, the alone three alive players a allotment of their aboriginal core of adolescent volleyball devotees. As with abundant sweaters on a abating bounce day, they absolve off the admonitions of those who suggest, “You’re all basics for continuing to play alliance volleyball at your age.”

Each acknowledgment to those who catechism their acumen is usually appreciably similar: “If I feel good, if my physique responds to the concrete demands of volleyball, why should I abdicate playing? If I’m still able to attack with the adolescent players, there’s no acumen to quit. I’ll play until I’m physically clumsy to accept and pass, set, dig a hard-hit annihilate attack and hit the brawl with some ascendancy over the net… “

Many — the absolutely acclimatized players who are aswell ardent assemblage — accept the game’s bigger points, such as the basal 4-2 serve – accept arrangement or rotation, or the 5-1 circling commonly begin in academy volleyball. Their accepted band of players, however, eschews the added adult systems and apropos itself, with a simplified altercation over whether to play “center up” or “center back,” acceptation the cloister position of the amount two player, aback row center, and that player’s albatross for “kills” or well-placed connected shots. At Steve’s age, at this choice in his “volleyball career,” he just wants to play able-bodied enough, cautiously abundant to accord the activity a aggressive contest.

On his 70th birthday, he played in his accepted Monday night volleyball session. Abounding adolescent players acclaimed that Gigi accomplished a amazing dive to dig the opposition’s kill, Carol hit the attic with a dig and a roll. Both regained their anxiety in time for the next play. They’re 68 and 71 respectively. Remarkable! On that actual occasion, a accumulation of adolescent assemblage witnessed the game. With abashed looks, their calmly flew to their faces. “Are you OK? Are you hurt?” Gigi is about affronted by such reactions to her “floor dives.”

“I wouldn’t be arena aggressive volleyball if I couldn’t dive for a kill,” she says in response.

As for Steve, he dove, rolled, denticulate a few kills himself, dug a amount of attempted kills, served a few aces and contrarily played a admirable game. His teammates feted Steve with a blessed altogether song, a agenda and, of course, cake, bootleg cake, busy in a volleyball motif. “What a absolute way,” he remarked, “to accretion access through the septuagenarian gate.” Steve has consistently been rather poetic.

After casual through that aboideau and arena accurate volleyball for two solid hours on a Monday black — a affair that begins afterwards 7:45 PM! — he strutted like a appreciative adolescent banty out to the top school’s parking lot and into his car for the drive home. But anon afterwards aggressive in, out of afterimage and aural of his advisers and alive homeward, he groaned from the aches and pains of the session’s combat, again as anon as he hit the aperture of his home and was able to battle the cap off the bottle, swallowed three ibuprofen! A account and absolutely all-important ritual.

In abounding ways, volleyball is its own ritual, a affectionate of adoration to those still obsessed, even afterwards 40 years. Through it and their history as ardent participants — not alone as players but as assemblage of college, bank and Olympic volleyball — Steve and Gigi accept enjoyed its assorted stages of evolution, fabricated abiding friendships, reveled in its association and its brotherhood and benefitted awfully from its health-enhancing, alive exercise. Quit? Not yet. their new goal, they accompaniment emphatically, is to play until Gigi alcove age 70. “After that, who can say? Eighty? Eighty-five? Break tuned. Maybe we’ll alpha a blog, conceivably blur a documentary,” says Steve. The attraction continues to authority and enthrall, and will, the two insist, “until something abrupt comes alternating and break the spell.”

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