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  • Writer's pictureitallstartsintheho

A League of Their Own

Have you heard of a sport called nine-man volleyball? It's similar to the traditional volleyball game, but yet different. Like its name, it has nine players per side, a slightly larger court, and a handful of other rules. One rule is that two-thirds of the team must be 100% Chinese, and the remaining team members must be of Asian descent. Depending on which regional tournament you play, there can be exceptions to that rule. You can learn more about the sport here.

The organization that my son plays for hosted a tournament this past weekend, with over 130 teams competing. This tournament was a two-for-one event for me. As you already know from previous posts, I love watching my kids do what they love, so that was one. And the other reason I enjoyed attending this tournament was because I witnessed the many hands involved in making this a successful competition. There was a wide range of volunteers. I caught men and women at least 70-80 years young, running around serving, cheering, and supporting kids who could be their grandchildren's age. Those very individuals who played the game years ago desire to keep the game alive by modeling what service and community look like.

When I met one of the main board members last year, I riddled him with questions like I was interviewing him for an article. I wondered why their organization wasn't focused on numero uno, themselves but on each other and others. Why do they go above and beyond to build not only the sport, the teams but also the individual? There have been countless times my son received encouraging words and healthy admonishments to improve individually and as a team. He would return from a practice or a tournament, where he would share how older members of the organization would pick up the tab for their meals and snacks. The board members designed opportunities for my son and others to become leaders, train younger players, and take on more responsibilities. In addition, this organization which started in the late 1940s has supported local community outreach projects, gifted many scholarships, and is a voice for the Asian community. His response to my question was simple. They were only doing what the previous generation did for them. He said it is their responsibility to do the same.

Not only did I hear about it, I witnessed it, and my son experienced it. This organization created a league of their own that should be easy to follow, but you don't hear many who do. What is the secret? How can we develop more communities like this one? Can we find people committed to building service and longevity? Can we have the old and the young serving together and enjoying it? Why do some live out their vision for generations, and some die out after a few years?

The more I learn about this organization and the people who run it, the more grateful I am for it. I have a strong feeling my son will be a part of this league for many, many years to come.

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