Growing up, I was always good at all things athletic. I played soccer & basketball through high school and softball into middle school (and intramural in college). I love to watch sports, and on any given night you can find me either watching basketball, baseball, or soccer. I’m also an avid runner (training for my first marathon!). When Vector did kickball last year, I was able to hold my own. When we signed up for volleyball I thought, “Oh, volleyball will be so easy!” Turns out, I was very wrong.
Volleyball is so different from any sport I’ve ever played. What looks easy on the surface is actually very technical and requires a lot of skill. I’ve struggled tremendously trying to get up to speed here. I’ve also struggled to admit that I am really bad at it.
Last week was our third week of games. The first two weeks were a painful mess full of lack of communication and very unevenly matched games. We weren’t listening when people would call the ball, and we weren’t trusting of everyone on our team. This time, though, we hit our stride.
Though we didn’t win any game, we stayed close to our opponent and scored over 20 points for the first time all season. On the court, we were communicating and listening to each other and the games were actually fun. We were able to string together a few nice sets and started to trust everyone around us.
As we get deeper into the season, it’s interesting to see how everyone’s role in the office translates to the volleyball court. One of our project managers, Matt Brown, played volleyball in college -- so he is in his element here. Everyone has been leaning on him to keep the team afloat – he positions us all on the court, he’s gone through the rules, and he leads the substitutions. He is essentially our volleyball project manager, assigning tasks to us. Even though I’m sure it’s frustrating to deal with a team without his experience, he’s handled it with aplomb and takes it all in stride.
Another employee whose on-court work is similar to his office performance is Rene Merino. Rene is skilled in many development areas, both front end and back end. On the court he’s very flexible in every position and great at communicating -- something that’s been apparent in the office (in our year end peer reviews, almost everyone talks about how great his communication skills are).
Though we are struggling, it’s worthwhile to do outside activities like this as we find that they really do have a positive impact on our office culture and the ability to work together. The most important thing in a company is good communication; this is especially important in a company with multiple departments. As Vector completes more and more cross-departmental projects, it’s easy to see why we really need to focus on making sure we are communicating with each other. An increase in trust and communication can only make our projects run smoother.
Volleyball has taught us all that it’s okay to fail, as long as you learn from it and improve as a result. We’re learning new skills through our failings. It’s hard to admit that you are bad at something, but when you have a great team (and really, everyone on the team is GREAT) you can lean on and work with, it’s easy to show up every week to support the team.