balls up

Jump Play Live

By Roberto de La Jolla

“All I wanna do is have a little fun before I die” …. and we did. So sang Sheryl Crow back in the last millennium. She and her entourage didn’t think that this would be the song that defined the album. Albums are what they called projects back in the day. I was on the way to gulp down strong coffee at Sufficient Grounds, the coffee shop that preceded Starbucks back in my hometown. I heard Crow’s refrain once and pulled the car to the curb because I new I was listening to something that would leave a mark on popular culture in transition.


For one brief shinning moment we played volleyball on a little sand lot called La Jolla Beach in Toledo, O-H-I-O. I started playing volleyball on a whim when I heard the city had built a new recreational facility in the middle of the urban blight. A source, to be revealed sometime in the future, said that I would learn something about Zen and something about volleyball if I just showed up and played. I did and now to the game.


The game of volleyball was invented by William Morgan because the YMCA paid him. The game of Cage Ball, which is now more commonly call basketball, was killing and maiming middle aged men at a morbid rate. The date was 1895 and there were no TVs or radios or hand

held electronic devices.

Morgan’s challenge was to create a fun game that old men could play without flailing into cardiac arrest. Mintonette was not an instant success. The addition of bikinis came much latter.


The glacier melted, the lake evaporated, the swamp dissipated, they ran the Indians off, and the volleyball nets went up. We drank Budweiser, Jagermeister, danced on the tables. We took off our shoes, killed many mosquitoes, magnified our skills, lied to our enemies, cajoled our friends, never inhaled, blasted the jukebox, hung on the nets, bullied the refs, stepped on our opponents, never lost a match, won tons of t-shirts, pooped in our pants, burned our epidermis, showered with friends, fell in love, and put sand in every crack, crevice and crotch. We tapped our fingers. did high fives, low fives, and when no one was looking we ….. We howled at the moon and mooned our competition. Lost scores, of shirts, socks, hats, keys, sunglasses, you had it we lost it. We wrinkled, moaned, and almost died. We pissed off our friends that could not relate.


I personally enjoyed the sport from my first spike. I had an idea of the advanced game of v-ball because of documentaries regarding the Japaneses Women’s Olympic team training methods. The only way to get good is to play the game …. alot. So I joined the Bedford Michigan power volleyball league. Craving more I sponsored a team, and started a league, and then built a volleyball beach. Before you could say Pass-Bump-Crush and they wrote the book with the same title, I built a world famous volleyball destination. Go up one paragraph for vivid details.


One day I received a phone call and answered with my standard response. “It’s a beautiful day at the beach”. We were 600 miles from the ocean and 30 miles from the Great Lakes but it was a fun way to answer the phone. An acquaintance from a service club called to congratulate me for having the courage to build my “veeb” facility. Mr. Chapman was pushing 80 but fairly sharp of mind. His phone call soon gravitated to his real purpose. He wanted to tell me that he played volleyball for the fabled Los Angles YMCA volleyball club and knew some of the greats. That was an understatement. He confided in me and I totally believe his story. He not only knew William Morgan but he was a pallbearer and wrote his eulogy for his funeral.


We never had so much fun. But all good things must come to and end, and in the end “the love you take is equal to the love you make”. Did I mention we loved to play volleyball?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on touchdownohio and commented:

    balls up to volleyball

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