New players improve dynamic of volleyball team

Sophomore+Olivia+Brown+consults+head+coach+James+Watson+during+practice.+Brown+is+one+of+two+returning+varsity+players%2C+along+with+senior+Neda+Morakabati%2C+and+is+optimistic+about+the+season.+Petra+Huang+for+the+Sagamore.

Sophomore Olivia Brown consults head coach James Watson during practice. Brown is one of two returning varsity players, along with senior Neda Morakabati, and is optimistic about the season. Petra Huang for the Sagamore.

Bertina Xue, Arts Layout Editor

With only two returning varsity players this year, the volleyball team finds themselves with a very new and young team. Coach James Watson has introduced the players to a new philosophy.

Watson said that because the team is made up with so many new players, with many transplanted junior varsity players, he is patient and works with the players as individuals.

“You work on each individual’s pluses and minuses,” Watson said. “Then you help make their minuses their strengths, and you respect everybody.”

Watson said that he tries to teach lessons beyond volleyball.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here to teach them how to have fun in a game,” Watson said. “I emphasize that word ‘game.’ It is not life, it is not a stress. What they learn from volleyball they can carry into life.”

Sophomore Olivia Brown said the large number of new players on the team has affected the team dynamic.

“It’s a whole new, but really good team dynamic this year. I feel like last year it was a lot more divided. This year, it’s like one big group instead of multiple groups,” Brown said. “I feel like I’m closer with the seniors, juniors, and freshmen.”

Not only have there been changes in the team dynamic, but also the practice content has changed as well. According to Brown, Watson does not only focus on playing volleyball during practice.

“We do a lot of work on weights, band work, and a lot more strength and conditioning,” Brown said. “Before, we mostly just played volleyball the whole time. The coach really values that strength and conditioning a lot.”

According to senior captain Alicia Chan, players do affirmations during practice as well.

“The coach focuses a lot on strengthening our mental game, too,” Chan said. “He has us do affirmations, so we tell ourselves that ‘we’re beautiful,’ ‘we’re strong,’ and ‘we can do anything.’”

According to Watson, focusing on positives is important.

“In life you learn from your mistakes and you learn from all the positive things,” Watson said.  “You take the mistakes and you put them in the background. Then, you take all the positive things and move them to the foreground, and you keep learning like that.”

Freshman Natalija Beslic said that having a positive attitude at all times helps on the court.

“It’s been helping me with keeping my emotions off the court and being more positive and not letting mistakes get in the way of playing,” Beslic said. “When my emotions get away, I usually get angry for missing something or playing bad, and this helps.”

Watson said that the majority of positions on the team are held by sophomores and freshmen, and he will work together with the team to reach the goals that they established themselves.

“They’re a very young team,” Watson said. “If the school will understand that this might not be their year, next year and the year after they’ll be fantastic. The goal is to get to the playoffs, so my job is to get them as close as I can to that.”