I had never played Junior Olympic volleyball before, so when I went to tryouts in December I had no idea what to expect.
Tryouts were pretty easy and afterwards the head coach said that they would call in a few days to let me know if I made one of the teams or not. I got the call a few days later and I made the team! I was super excited!
We had practice every Sunday for a few months and we practiced with our age group. We did a lot of footwork, hitting, setting, and passing drills. I was an outside and middle hitter whereas at my high school I was only a middle hitter.
Lauren Gump and her teammates huddle during the Girard tournament.
Special to Tribune Chronicle
In mid-January, we got sorted into teams. I didn't know anyone on my team so I was super nervous and shy. Before our first tournament we got our uniforms: red and black jersey, black Spandex, socks, and kneepads.
Our first tournament was on Feb. 26, and we played in Parma at Maverick. My mom and I went, and we had to get up at four in the morning to get there at seven. We had no idea what to expect.
We played at eight and played four matches, and we had breaks and had to ref in between. It was hot, humid, and miserable. There were so many teams and so many people. It was very overwhelming.
After the matches, I thought we were done but we had a few more matches to play. We were placed in the silver bracket and had to play one more match to get the silver. I was exhausted! We ended up losing and we had to go home. It was around four in the afternoon.
Once tournaments started, we had practice on Wednesdays.
Our second tournament was on March 11 at Mount Union College in Alliance. My mom and I left at seven in the morning to get there at eight. The drive was beautiful, and the campus was so pretty! We ended up playing at nine. We had four matches and ended up in the silver bracket but we lost.
Our third tournament was on March 18 in the One Wellness Center in Stow. My dad and step mom took me, and we had to be there by seven. We played at eight and placed in silver but lost.
Our fourth tournament was on March 25 in Erie, Pa., at the First Family Sports Park. My dad booked a hotel, and we left the day before the tournament. I used to live in Erie so it was fun reminiscing. We had to be at the Sports Park by eight and we got in the silver bracket but we lost.
Our fifth tournament was on April 15 at Westminster College. My mom took me and we had to be there by eight and we left at 6:30. It was an old but beautiful campus in western Pennsylvania, and we played really well that day. We were in the silver bracket and WE WON!!!!!!! It was the greatest feeling in the world. I was so proud of how well we did!
Our last tournament was April, 22 at Girard High School. It was my birthday!! We had to be at Girard by eight so my mom and I left at 7:30. All of us were hype and pumped for our last tournament but sad at the same time because this was our last tournament together! We ended up in the silver bracket and WE WON!!!!!!!! We were all SO excited. We went to Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe afterwards, and we gave our coaches "thank you" cards and then I got a "happy birthday" card. I started crying!
I loved playing Junior Olympic volleyball. I made great friends and I loved my coaches. I hope I can play next year!