You're never too old to try volleyball!
8th March 2019
Playing sport is for you. It’s about the way it makes you feel, the health benefits it gives you and the friends you make.
It doesn’t matter how old, talented or experienced you are, everyone can enjoy the buzz of playing sport – and volleyball is no exception. In fact, SCC Seagulls are the perfect example of that.
Based in Suffolk, the volleyball club are one of the smallest teams registered with Volleyball England but are making the big point that it is never too late to start enjoying the sport.
“We have nine club members; seven women and one gentleman, who is the partner of one of the ladies, and myself,” explains Seagulls coach Steve Hicks. “We have three players in their sixties, three in their forties and the youngest, who is 30 now.
“We’ve been running for four years and although players have come and go, most were novices when they started. Our oldest player is 68 and she was a beginner when she joined the club.
“Some people have played at school and will be getting back into it, which is good as they help set the example to the other players. There is also one lady who used to play in the National Volleyball League over 25 years ago and you can see that coming to the club has given her a new lease of life doing something that she loves. She can still get around the court!”
Worth the while
The club meets once a week to play and looks to play other teams and take part in some local competitions.
“The team enjoys a good social side and the weekly meet is straight after work so it is a great way to enjoy exercise and get their heads out of the office,” says Steve. “We’re more of a recreational club so when we do enter competitions we expect to get beaten, but we have won some matches.
“We entered a team in the Suffolk Ladies league last year and won one game. One of the benefits I think the Seagulls had on the sport was it showed other clubs that anyone could play. It also meant other clubs were inclined to give their squad members more court time against us.”
“I think many people think ‘volleyball, I can’t do that’ but I think it is one of the sports where people enjoy still being able to work on a skill. Once people get the hang of it, it is a fun game played at a good pace.”
At 68, Diana Read is the oldest player at the club and loves what taking volleyball up later in life has given her.
“I joined Seagulls when I retired at the age of 65,” said Diana. “That was three years ago. I had played volleyball at my local park when I was a youngster. Those were the days when the local authority provided play leaders and there was the opportunity to learn new and exciting games like volleyball. It has been great to play again so many years later.
“I play purely for fun and I enjoy the weekly sessions. I find it is great for a number of reasons, for example: it is good for getting and keeping physically fit, it helps with mental agility (you can’t take your eyes off the ball even for a moment) and it is fun playing a team sport – we laugh a lot. I would certainly encourage others to play volleyball – it’s a great game.
“My aim is to keep playing at least until I am 70, which is not so far away now.”
An after-work club
The roots of the club began as a workplace challenge organised by Suffolk Sport which soon grew into an after-work club.
“The county council got on board with the initiative to encourage the staff to get active,” explains Steve. “Some people went walking at lunchtime, others swimming, while my wife and a few other said ‘shall we give volleyball a try?’”
The group carried on playing after the challenge and Steve got involved having completed his level one coaching qualification not long beforehand. He was also someone who got into the sport later in life and found he fell in love with it.
“Volleyball was never really my main sport, that was cricket,” says Steve. “I played with a work group a few years ago after retiring and a friend, who I also played football with, said that there was a club starting called Ipswich Ravens.
“I said I’ll come to help collect the balls! I thought it would be young players leaping about like salmon! I only started playing volleyball after I retired and found it great exercise and fun with such a wide age group of people all beginning at the club together. I couldn’t think of another sport where you could have such a varied group. I thought ‘I’m enjoying it, why aren’t more people?’”
After admitting that he got hooked, Steve enjoyed playing and got more involved in the sport and was encouraged to take his level one qualification. Shortly after gaining his award which was subsidised by the Suffolk Volleyball Association, his wife asked to put his coaching skills to use by leading the Seagulls.
Ambitions for the club
The Seagulls continue to be a well-run club and as well as benefitting from insurance Volleyball England membership brings, have also put another club member through the level one coaching course, which Steve says it is great having more coaching help. The club even now have a sponsor in the shape of accountancy firm Arlingclose.
Looking forward though, they would like to see more people follow their path by getting into the sport later in life – for everyone’s benefit.
“We don’t have huge aspirations; our number one priority is to have a good session once a week,” says Steve. “As nearly always happens when people get better at something, they want to play a different team. We would love to play a team similar to us – just about anywhere in the country!
“There is a local workplace challenge where people play six or seven sports including volleyball. We live in hope that another workplace will get a team going. It would even just be great to get a few more players, particularly as we could play 6 v 6 in training.”
One thing Seagulls are unanimous about is that if any more players do realise it is never too late to try volleyball, they won’t regret it.
“People often have the mindset that they can’t do volleyball,” says Steve. “But that’s why people come along, to learn! You don’t need to be big or fast, you can still enjoy the game.
“I always point at Seagulls and say ‘if they can do it, you can too!’”