Volleyball at the Beach

Volleyball at the Beach

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Volleyball at the Beach Park


Nestled between high-rises filled with lavish condominiums and quaint beachfront shops lies the center of teenage life on Saturday mornings, Laudermilk Beach Park. It is here that all of the problems of everyday life are forgotten for a few hours every Saturday, and teenagers are able to relax and do what teenagers do best, play volleyball.

The day’s events begin around 10 o’clock a.m. when most adolescents make their way from their beds to their bathrooms. After showering and dressing in the customary cut-off T-shirt and swim trunks (most often shorts adorned with flowered designs), teens start their cars and head off to the Laudermilk Park, about a thirty-minute drive. Around eleven o’clock, the parking lots become filled, and volleyballs begin flying through the air. Before long, teams of twos and fives take over the courts and begin to play. Onlookers get quite a show.

Shouts can be heard everywhere on and off the court. On the court, teammates shout to one another, ordering sets and spikes, working hard for the next point. Off the court, kids celebrate the well-constructed plays of others and claim rights to the next match. At the end of each game, winners run swiftly to the adjacent beach for a swim, while losers meander sullenly to a drinking fountain housed under an elevated shelter. It is only seconds before new games begin, and the cycle begins again.

Next to the court, under the shade of a large oak tree, sits Ali. Ali is a man of about 55 who attends the gathering every week. He used to be a professional volleyball player, and now spends his time watching the game at a youth level, and giving advice to novices and experienced players alike. He watches pensively from under the shade of the large branches, quietly munching on his turkey sub-sandwich. Every few minutes Ali yells wisely to a young player. He says, “Keep your jump approach in stride,” and “Remember to cup your hand before you make contact, then follow through.”

Down near the water teams celebrate, and boys and girls flirt in the warm ocean. An occasional roar erupts from all around when a boy on a skimboard attempts a flip and lands headfirst in the water. Uninterested girls lounge lazily in the sand, turning themselves every so often to avoid burning, as if they were on a rotisserie.

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Before long it is late afternoon, and back on the courts, one of the last matches of the day begins. This game pairs the two teams that have played best that day. Everyone on the court is in good spirits, as the objective is to have fun and to make a beautiful play, rather than to beat anyone else. Teams congratulate each other afterwards, and then head for their cars again. Teens gather around a cooler filled with drinks that has been pulled from one of the cars. Peach iced tea is passed around, and everyone laughs at his or her favorite moments from the past few hours. This escape from reality has now come to an end until next week.

There is no substitute from this paradisiacal, group therapy session in teenage life. It is a much-welcomed break from the stresses and pressures that come with every week. Teens flock here religiously, because it is a chance for them to enjoy being teenagers, and relax for awhile in the presence of others who realize just how nice it is to escape. Escape is why they come here, and escape is what they do, if only for a few hours every Saturday morning.

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