You’ve Probably Never Seen Volleyball Played Like This
I'm a relatively new volleyball dad. That's why when I walked into this weekend's Nike Boston Volleyball Festival tournament, I couldn't believe my eyes.
I'd never seen so much volleyball in one place in my entire life. Here is video of the scene.
I didn't get to walk around the entire perimeter, but I know there were more than 70 volleyball courts all playing at the same time. The camera was incapable of reaching the horizon of the volleyball courts.
On one of those courts, in the middle of the Boston Convention Center, I witnessed a type of volleyball that I hadn't seen before. When I first approached the court, it took me a minute to understand what was going on.
It is called sitting volleyball.
The world's reigning gold medalists, Team USA, were on hand all weekend for a number of exhibition games against Team Canada.
What is Sitting Volleyball?
Anyone can play sitting volleyball, but the game allows disabled players to participate in a sport they love.
I spoke with B.J. Evans, a spokesperson for Team USA. She told us that roughly 50 percent of the players on Team USA were volleyball players in the past.
"We have young women who lost limbs due to childhood cancer, but most of them played some version of stand-up volleyball before they took up sitting volleyball."
I was a bit emotional as I watched these athletic young women get the opportunity to play volleyball despite the steep challenges they may have overcome in the past. Even more touching was the response from so many of the young ladies playing stand-up volleyball at the tournament. They were scrambling to collect autographed photos of the athletes. The admiration ran deep.
How Does Sitting Differ from Stand-up Volleyball?
In addition to a smaller court and shorter nets, most of the game is played the same. The one big exception is that one cheek of a player's rear end is required to be in contact with the floor most of the time the ball is in play.
Do Men Play, Too?
The sport has also gained traction in the men's division. It tends to be popular with disabled veterans who may have lost limbs in battle. According to Evans, most of the men don't have prior volleyball experience. The sport tends to find them after the wounded warriors recover.