Spiking Senior Year

From Mrs.Murray's Sports and Literature Class

Emma Bunkoff

The boys’ volleyball team at Shaker High School has hit a new record for the number of first-time players on the team. Not only are about half of the players on the team seniors, over 80% of the seniors are first-year players. 

Open gym in August allowed anyone and everyone to come and see if they were good enough to make the varsity team. The continuous spiking, volleying, and setting were the skills required to become one of the varsity athletes. Into the sounds of the ball hitting the gym floor, or sometimes hitting an unlucky soul’s head, walked six seniors. Of those six seniors were five newbies. Davis Ratigan was the suspected leader of these “misfits”. These misfits might not have looked like much as they walked into the open gym on that hot August day, but they surprised everyone as the season began.

Davis Ratigan is the most experienced player on the team, having five years of volleyball under his belt, four of which have been on the Shaker Varsity Volleyball team. Davis was the ultimate veteran, playing a starter on his fourth and final season as a senior on the Varsity team.

During the summer, Davis and his friends made a pact to tryout for the team.  Though Davis was the only “true volleyball player” in the group, the others worked hard to make up for what they lacked in skills through their hard work and dedication. Ratigan said that he wasn’t “…sure at the beginning whether I wanted to play volleyball or not. But…I decided to give it a shot, and I’m really glad that I did.” The boys picked up the strategies and skills needed to make the team and make the season one to remember. 

Through the trials and many practices spent in the stuffy and echoey H-Gym, two of the six seniors became starters, one being Keenan Mulroy. Many of the sophomores and juniors on the team have played much longer than Keenan, but head coach Clark saw Keenan’s height and setting abilities, and made him one of the six people that start the game. 

Although this season is just over halfway done, their record is already 5-4. Head coach Chloe Clark is very confident that seniors are beneficial to any team, which was proven by the 12 seniors that she had on the team last year. This year only 6 out of 16 players are seniors. With 12 seniors last year, the team went 12-6 during sectionals after an 11- 5 regular season. With all of the seniors graduating, Davis said that he “…had to do a lot of recruiting,” and that is exactly what he did. 

Seniors at any school are intimidating, and the Shaker Varsity Volleyball team is no different. With Davis, Anthony, and Keenan holding the front line, it is an intimidating sight for any team they play. Five out of the six seniors are over 6 feet tall, instilling fear in any and every team that has to face them. The combination of both the seniors’ heights and lengthy wingspan created an image that made the freshmen on the opposing team flee from their spikes.  

The 5 new seniors have been able to learn the rules, regulations, and tactics of playing the game in just a few weeks time even though many of the players on the Shaker team and the teams they face have played for far more years than tem. It is very rare for students to start any sport senior year, especially a sport such as volleyball. The rules that the newbies had to learn included: what can the libero do? What is the libero?  Does a block count as a hit? How many hits can a team get? What is a double hit? These questions, rules, and more had to be comprehended in order to play the game at a varsity level and the seniors picked up the rules at tremendous speed. 

With no actual time limit on the game, every point and every set is an important factor to the game. There are 25 points to every set, and the first team to win 3 out of 5 sets wins the game. This could range anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half game. The seniors and the rest of the team have to play as hard as they can from the moment the game starts until it ends. Although not all of the seniors get as much playing time as some of their other teammates, they all play their heart out as soon as they step onto the court.  

Starting a sport senior year is like studying for a final the night before the exam. The lack of time they have spent playing the game compared to other athletes is unreal, but the Shaker seniors have been able to overcome these struggles and stereotypes and lead the team to many victories. 

Seniors have always been the top tier athletes of teams. Whether it be football, soccer, tennis, or in this case, volleyball, the seniors are the teammates who bring everyone together.  They are the leaders and the heart of the team. The six seniors have been able to bring this team of 16 people close together. The impact that these first-year players had on the team goes to show that it’s never too late to start something new.