ATHLETICS: HS Volleyball at WSSD

Written by Ian Cuevas

February 3, 2023

WSSD HS re-introduce a volleyball program for the school year of 22-23, thanks to help from parents Jamie Ivers and Kim Lester. Jamie is the beach volleyball coach at Grossmont college and Kim is the volleyball coach for San Diego City College. Publications elective student, Sam Payne, checks-in with the coaches at the end of the girls indoor volleyball season and before starting the co-ed beach volleyball season. Also, we have lower grades games teacher, Sara Gomes, provide some insight on how Waldorf students travel through development leading up to playing competitive sports like volleyball.

You guys are not traditionally teachers at the school, what made you interested in teaching volleyball?
Both Kim and I have coached college indoor and beach volleyball for over 20 years and we both coach beach volleyball at local colleges in town.  Additionally, our daughter Jaden is a 9th grader, and we felt by coaching we could create an opportunity to help grow the sport on Waldorf’s campus,  give back to the school she has attended now since 1st grade all the while providing a fun opportunity for these students that they haven’t had in the past. And coincidentally, our daughter loves volleyball!

Can you think of one moment from the past season where you were proud of the team, maybe a hard won game, or an amazing play?
We have been nothing but impressed by the group of athletes we have coached! They always come full of energy, receptive to feedback, and honestly so much fun to coach! And there were only a few brief moments where they got distracted by shiny objects! There are truly so many special moments in matches that each and every player did this past Fall that it is truly hard to narrow it down to a play or match. We feel that all of those tiny moments, whether they were physical skills like serving critical aces, or making a great dig, making a great set, or just being brave enough to play is what made this group so special and successful. The teams success was only because each athlete was each other’s champion. We tried to measure success in as many ways possible and it was wonderful to see each athlete so excited for their teammate’s improvement. 

What in your opinion are the benefits of learning to play volleyball, are they similar or different to other sports?
Volleyball is a very unique sport in that you are literally whacking a ball off your body to score points! It is truly the most dynamic sport out there with a multitude of skills sets and positions and cardiovascularly you not only work on your aerobic energy system but also your anaerobic energy system as well. Games are long, but plays are short. So we train both systems conditioning wise. And beach volleyball is even more fun and physically challenging due to the elements.

Though I introduce skills from sports as early as grade 1, we wait until grade 4 when students learn in their morning lessons about winners and losers through invasion and territory takeover. After this more holistic understanding, the students can identify similarities and differences between winning a game and being a winner. In grade 5, I begin to bring more recognizable sport blocks to work on skill development, teamwork and game understanding and volleyball is one of those games. Initially all the students are excited about playing any “real” game with “real” gear since I do balance out traditional games and sports with some lesser known ones and some that I make up! Depending on the personality of the class, I introduce more strategy, form, technicalities, individual or teamwork.

Sara Gomes

Games Teacher, Grades 1-8

By middle school, the students are familiar with keeping score and having a victor in a variety of games. I also assign the class to create teams out of their classmates and we discuss how sometimes the greatness of a team on paper doesn’t translate onto the field or court! Communication is a big piece we speak about in our volleyball blocks, which of course translates not only into other sports, but into life itself. I love when I start seeing the students anticipate the other teams’ movements and begin to “coach” each other through encouragement and strategy.

Sara Gomes

Games Teacher, Grades 1-8

In reflection on the past season, was there anything you wish went differently? Do you have any hopes going forward?
Zero regrets at all! We love how the season went and we are excited to grow it more next season with more matches and hopefully an indoor facility to practice in so we have a regulation net and court! It would definitely make diving easier and safer!

Have you noticed anything different about coaching Waldorf athletes versus non-Waldorf athletes?
We feel they play more free, have more confidence in themselves, have fun, and they don’t get caught up in their mistakes as much to be honest. And willingness to fail and step outside their comfort zones!

We can’t wait to see how the new volleyball season goes: Co-ed Beach Volleyball. They kick off the season with a partner tournament: King and Queen of the Court Junior Beach Volleyball Tournament on Feb 11th at Central Beach in Coronado island. Go Waves!

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