With all R2 Ref and Scorekeeper accreditation tests out of the way, spandex slapped on, knee pads washed, lunches packed and extra PowerAdes stuffed into a gym bag, New England braces for Nationals with the kick off of a slew of “Champs” tournaments all to be held at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High in Sudbury, MA.
Yankee Champs tournaments initiated this past weekend, and with it came an assembly of readied players full of excitement, matching uniforms and fans. With Nationals’ teams setting up snack tables keeping players hydrated and full during their off games, Up Refs huddling together rehearsing new Yankee regulations and sharing jokes, upon entering one will immediately find a sense of community in these surroundings.
We are all a family united by our love of the sport; and love is exactly what it takes to be a part of these all-day excursions! With start times beginning at 9am sharp and final pool play usually ending around 3 or 4pm before the beginning of playoffs, Yankee tournaments are not for the faint of heart, or those who wish to salvage some of their weekend day!
Yesterday my team and I were a part of the Yankee Champs RCO tournament. RCO standing for Reverse Co-ed which means teams are made up of 3 women and 3 men with half the day played on a men’s net and half played on a women’s. With quick matches to 25 points, time for skills to develop is non-existent and your teammates are expecting you to bring your A-game. (or C+ or B- game depending on your Yankee rating…That’s a joke to us Yankee suckers)
In any case, RCO tournaments can be confusing at best! With the pyramid rule in effect, at least one woman must come in contact with the ball before it goes over the men’s net. So at times, you will hear an entire team scream out “GIRL GIRL GIRL!” Once two men have contacted the ball already. If this does not happen, it results in a turnover. and a loss of a point Same goes for the women’s net, except with the reverse rule in place.
Games are quick but fast-paced and most of all fun! With the first half of our tournament spent on a men’s net, it gave us ladies time to warm up and ready ourselves to really shine when the net is lowered. After the boys whack away at the ball, it finally became our time to showcase our kill skills and that’s exactly what we did. Going up against some of the most seasoned teams in Yankee RCO, we blocked and hit that ball to the best of our ability. At one point, I was set up and outside, so I adjusted, completed my approach and went up for the kill, slamming the ball into the face of an opponent. After quickly, yet tastefully celebrating my kill, I ran to the net to slap the hand of the player I had hit. “Thanks for hitting me in the face!” he said “I never even saw it coming” For the remainder of the tournament I was “that girl who hit that other guy in the face” to all the other Yankee players.
No matter the rivalry on the court, we are all in fact a family within the Yankee circuit. We all eventually play in a tournament or two together at one point during each season. And that’s the way it will always be; as we are each individual players and essentially “free agents” within the Yankee crowd. In fact, that player whose face I took out on that kill, is going to be my grass doubles partner in a few upcoming summer outdoor doubles matches. So as one can see, spending a day playing in a Yankee volleyball tournament isn’t just back breaking, heart-racing, joint crushing, adrenaline hopping fun; it’s also, just another day spent with friends doing what we all love to do best.