|I wish this was taken on the opposite side so you could have seen the crowd!|
On Saturday, June 29th, I was checking Facebook and noticed one of the girls in my Bible study group was asking for a volunteer to play volleyball later that evening. She said her team was one girl short and needed another player. I wrote back that I would be her last resort and that I was terrible since I hadn't played in three years. (Since the whole Ulsan elementary school volleyball fiasco...)
She wrote back a few hours later saying they needed me to play and if I could show up at Bukbu Beach at 6pm wearing all black, that would be great. Again, I reiterated my lack of ability but she said, "Don't worry, it's just for fun." So I walked the seven minutes to the beach, Gatorade in hand and dressed as a ninja.
When I arrived I saw no foreigners. I assumed because it was "just for fun" we would be playing a bunch of other four-player foreigner volleyball teams. I sat on a bench for a bit waiting until people started showing up. A girl named Paulina came up to me and asked if I was Kelly's friend Sarah, I nodded and she said "thanks for coming." She proceeded to mention that we will be practicing since our game doesn't start until after 8pm. Confused of what she meant by 'game', I asked her. She said, "Oh, we play Korean ajuma's (older women)." Taken back, I asked her to clarify. She said, "Ya, they are really good. We play around 8pm after the boys game."
At this point, I'm thinking about all the ways I can murder Kelly and get away with it. She left out the minor detail that this was a real tournament game with official nets, referees and an ever growing crowd! Being that I am in Korea, I should have suspected something like this. Nothing is ever done just recreational. It's always a serious competition.
I met Meg the other girl on "my team" and we began practicing. After about 30 minutes of hitting the ball around with each other a group of Korean women who we though were our opponents came up and wanted to practice with us. We welcomed the warm-up competition and boy were we terrible. It was clear we had never played together and it took us about 30 minutes to get the hang of things. We began to gain a little confidence in our ability and were getting excited to play this team for real.
By now, we had warmed up for an hour and a half and my arms were already starting to bruise and get tender. The nerves and worry kicked in when our game time neared and the crowed grew bigger and bigger. I mean who wouldn't stop to watch a sand volleyball game where four young American women were playing four older Korean women? It had to be comical.
Turns out, the team we thought we were playing, we were not. We were playing a team that was apparently REALLY good. Just great. They introduced us, we bowed, shook hands and it was game time. I'm literally shaking at this point just hoping I don't get a spike to the face. You see, in Ulsan when I played, it was a nine-man team. Six guys and three of us girls stuck in the back. I never had to touch the ball! But in this case, there were only four of us, so touching the ball was inevitable and taking hard spikes was a reality.
We played to 21 points, best out of three. On their very first serve I pulled my left quad. It should have been an indicator of how this match would play out. Needless to say, the first game was over in about five-minutes as it was CLEAR we did not have our groove. The crowed started to feel sorry for us and turned into a whole section of cheerleaders which was nice! Sadly, we lost the second game as well but we played SO MUCH BETTER. We started to figure out everyone's strengths and Andrew said we actually looked pretty good :)
Considering it had been years since I played I was very proud of myself. Being that we had never played/met before Saturday, our team did better than expected. We hung around after the game and played another 45 minutes to practice before I had to call it quits. My body was aching so bad, the walk home was a bit torturous.
Two days later, I can seriously hardly walk, but look forward to 'subbing' in future games!