In-Depth Blog Post #6

Where am I right now?

In the time period between this blog post and the previous blog post, I think that one of the biggest factors that has improved is simply my overall game awareness and ability in the game. I had talked with a lot of my friends asking how I could improve at volleyball, and a lot of them thought that a major factor holding me back was not technique, but rather experience. While this is not to say that my technique is perfect, I understand that just playing more volleyball (not necessarily focusing on a singular field) will definitely help me and my ability in the sport.

I will now use these next two paragraphs to gush about a particular play that I had made at a Pinetree drop-in that had surprised everyone watching. We were running 4v4 waves where there are four people on each side of the court (one front-row as a setter, and three back-row as receivers/hitters), and I was the setter on the receiving side. My job as the setter was to get the second touch of the ball and set it to a position so that the attacker could comfortably hit it into the enemy side of the court. As the opponent’s server was serving, someone on our side was ready to receive the ball and received it. However, he did not get it directly to me and got it a few meters away from me. In the time that the ball was still in the air, I ran towards it and jumped. In the air, I had set it to the hitter (who was behind me) and they had hit it directly into the enemy court.

Note that the hitter was the supervisor who always attends these drop-in events. Setting in the middle of the air is a common move in volleyball known as “jump sets,” and setting to someone behind you is known as a “back set.” These moves are not particularly rare as people who are good at volleyball pull them off pretty frequently. However, I am still practicing volleyball and that set was easily the best play I have made so far in my career. Even the supervisor (who had been to all the drop-ins I have been to and who seems to be watching my growth closely) had mentioned that that was the best set he had seen from me ever, and the best set that he had gotten in the past two weeks. Unfortunately, the friend that I had brought to the drop-in (Lucas) was getting ready to serve and did not see my set…

This set has given me a great gauge of my comfort on a volleyball court and I think that, after pulling that move off, I got the best idea of my general skill level I could possibly get. I truly think that if I practice hard enough over the summer I may be able to join the senior boy’s volleyball team next year for the school.

In other news, May is supposed to be the month of serving. I have gotten my friend Lucas to take videos of me serving (which will be shown in the “proof I am making progress” section of the blog post), and I also got a video of me setting Lucas. I genuinely think that I am improving and I am very happy with my progress. Also, I have been doing many leg exercises recently to try to get my vertical jump higher. I did not have it measured in a very reliable way, but from what I can tell, my vertical jump has gotten at least an inch higher than before.

About my mentor / In-Depth night

I am continuing to spend time playing volleyball with my mentor. However, now that summer is coming up, there are going to be fewer indoor practices and more outdoor beach volleyball sessions will be held. I will try to attend as many of these as possible as they tend to be held directly after school hours (many of them have been held at 4 PM), which is a great opportunity for me to get some food and go to play with them.

Regarding the upcoming In-Depth night, I may do one of two ideas: I will either set up a net in the field and demonstrate my abilities there (serving, setting, receiving) or I will set up a net in the gym and do the same thing there. If I want to set up a net in the gym (which would be favourable as the weather is unpredictable), I will have to talk with a P.E. teacher to see if I can get permission to do that. If not, I will see if I can borrow a net from a friend to set up in the field. I do think that it may be a bit difficult as I will be the only one there actually playing. Of course, if anyone who would like to see my progress has volleyball experience, we could try playing together to demonstrate my abilities.

Proof that I am making progress

First, here is a video of me serving a volleyball over the net.

That was a normal serve. In this next video, I toss the ball a bit differently and hit it with different momentum.

Finally, here is a video of me setting someone (so I am not the one hitting, I am the one standing beside the net).

Issues that I am running into

I am still not running into any issues, whether it is with my technique or being able to practice enough. I am currently satisfied.

Moving forward

I will continue practicing volleyball as much as possible by attending volleyball drop-ins and practices, as well as beach volleyball sessions when the weather is good.

In-Depth Blog Post #5

Where am I right now?

Since April is what I consider to be the month of passing/receiving for practicing, I think that I have learned a lot about how to pass a ball to the setter, like how to angle my arms when receiving to control the angle where the ball goes after leaving my arms. I learned that keeping my arms too flat horizontally is a bad thing because it would mainly just go upwards, but that keeping my arms too steeply angled in front of me is also a bad thing because then it would just go straight forward when I want it to arc towards the setting for the second touch. This means that I have to find the perfect angle for receiving, and I definitely think that I have improved in this area (although I would still like to improve more).

I will continue to focus on passing and receiving balls for the rest of the month, but regarding the other areas of play, I think that I have also definitely improved in my serving. When I go to a volleyball drop-in/practice, we primarily run “waves” which is an activity where four people go on each side of the court (one front-row, three back-row) and they assume their positions in that way. The interesting part of waves is that if you make the mistake for the point loss of that round, you go out and go to the back of the line to serve and go back in. This means that to get into the wave cycle in the first place, you have to serve the volleyball and get it over the net and in the court once. This has definitely helped my serving since it was in a way the gateway to practice the other aspects of my play.

Meanwhile, I have been trying to exercise my legs so that I could jump higher for easier blocks and hits. Since the weather is now warming up a bit, I have been going to play beach volleyball a bit throughout the weeks. One of my friends told me that beach volleyball relies a lot on jump height and technical ability, since there are only two people on a team rather than six. This means I was able to touch the ball a lot more. I will try to go to as many beach volleyball sessions as possible now that the weather is warming up. Finally, my sets have been improving, but admittedly not by a lot. I am still not very happy with my progression with setting. I have improved a bit, but not enough to confidently set my teammates in a game. I will continue to work on all aspects of my performance.

About my mentor

I am still going to as many practices with Coach James as possible so that I can get as much advice from him as possible. Here are the reflection questions for this blog post.

1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

Besides the practices at Pinetree, Coach James also hosts beach volleyball sessions for people to go to at the nets at Lafarge Park. I try to go to as many of these as possible so that I can get advice from him directly.

2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

I find that when I learn something new about playing volleyball, whether it’s a new tip on how to set the volleyball or how to approach the volleyball to spike it, a great place to practice a new skill I have learned are the volleyball drop-ins at Pinetree. Typically, at these volleyball drop-ins, they start off with people doing their own warmups, and then doing waves, and then ending off the session with hitting lines. This allows for a lot of opportunities to practice a lot of new skills I may learn.

3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

There are a few drop-in events that I know of but do not go to since my friends do not go to them. This is because I am worried that I will not be able to do my best if I am not with my own friend group to practice with. An example could be the volleyball drop-ins at Centennial Activity Center every Monday or the drop-ins at CIAC (Catalyst Initiative Athletic Club) every Saturday. Another deterring fact is that these locations are fairly far away from where I live, but I will try to go to them now if my parents are able to drop me off there.

4. When you get together what do you talk about?

We mostly talk about what I should do to improve in my volleyball learning. For example, one of the times I went to him he recommended for me to practice my serves to get them more consistently, and also to watch videos of people playing online to practice tricks performed in those videos in real life.

5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

I am happy that Coach James helps in so many different areas when it comes to volleyball in the local community, as it makes it very easy to get together with him when practices are being hosted.

6. What are you learning about one another?

I am learning that Coach James truly cares a lot about the sport. As mentioned in my answer to question 5, he orchestrates and participates in a lot of volleyball-related events in the area, and this proves to me that he cares a lot about the sport.

Proof that I am making progress

I said in my last blog post that I was going to take videos of myself playing volleyball to demonstrate my form in a better way compared to just words, and I was planning to take these videos on April 15th at the volleyball drop-in at Pinetree, but I did not know that the community center would be closed on Friday for the long weekend. This is my fault, and I apologize. However, I plan to go to the volleyball drop-ins on this Friday, April 22nd since it is a pro-d day at school. This means that I will be able to go to both drop-ins from 4:00-6:00 and 6:15-8:15 for the most possible amount of practice. I plan to take the videos on this date.

Issues that I am running into

I am not running into any issues right now. In fact, it is a great thing that the weather is warming up. This means that I can play beach volleyball with my friends more often!

Moving forward

I will continue to practice my passing/receiving in the volleyball drop-ins/practices, and I hope to get a lot of practice in now that the weather is warming up so that I can play beach volleyball with my friends.

Theme Park – The Park Of Thieves

This is my paragraph noting how I contributed to the group for the theme park project. My book was The Book Thief.

For my presentation, I was mainly in charge of the rides. My job was to come up with creative ride ideas, as well as to explain how they related to the story. I had come up with many ride ideas (~8 with a bit help), but had narrowed it down to 3 and an extra minor ride for fun. After I had come up with ride ideas, I was sort of a free agent as I had finished my ride at the time, so I helped Henry come up with a few merchandise ideas as well as making an image for one of them. I had also looked over the map Justin had made on Icograms just for revision. I also helped a lot with coming up with names in general, coming up with names like “Molching Merchandise,” “Burning Pages,” and “The Heist.” When we had started making the brochure, I did my own page on the rides of the theme park, as well as the general information sections of the 2nd and 3rd pages.

In-Depth Blog Post #4

Where am I right now?

From the time between my last blog post and now, I have improved a lot, especially in my serves. My mentor had mentioned that having consistent serves would be very important when playing volleyball, and I think that my serves have gotten very consistent. Now that my basic overhand serves have gotten pretty consistent, I can start thinking about jump serves when the time comes for that. March was the month of setting, and I think that I have improved a decent bit with setting, although not as much as I would like. While practicing setting, I picked up on three main points from either the court or from others:

  1. When receiving the ball from a teammate to set, position yourself under the ball with big steps and confirm your position before setting.
  2. Then, set high with your arms and legs. The power comes from your legs, and the arms should be used to sort of direct the set.
  3. I had some trouble with uneven sets for a while. My sets would either drift too far to the left or right because my left or right hand was touching the ball more than the other. Because of this, I try to focus on setting the ball with all my fingers except for my pinky fingers and to keep them symmetrical, like an isosceles triangle.

I will continue to focus on these points when practicing setting, but since it is now April, it is time for me to focus on bumping/passing. A problem that I always had with passing was that when I would clasp my arms and hands together, they would be uneven so the ball would only come in contact with only one of my arms, sending it in an unwanted direction. I should definitely try to fix this habit first among others this month.

About my mentor

I continue to attend as many practices with Coach James as I can, but I must note that they were paused over spring break. However, they have started to happen again last week. I will try to continue to go to as many of these as possible. Here are my answers to this blog post’s reflection questions.

1. What has been your most difficult mentoring challenge so far?

I would say a challenge that we would be running into would be that when I go to these practices, it can be difficult to always pay attention to myself since there are other people going to the practices as well and that I am not the only one. Of course, this is to be expected, but this encourages more attention to be paid to how I perform with a team rather than individually. Because of this, it can be difficult to give precise help with my performance at all times, but this is why I also look for help from other people, not just Coach James. I actively try to get help from the people around me whenever I make a mistake/or perform poorly.

2. What is working well?

I think that something that is working well is how often I get to meet together with my mentor. Take into consideration that the expected meeting rates are once every two weeks, for one hour. However, I try to meet with my mentor every week, for two hours (how long the practices last). I suppose this makes up for the note discussed in the first reflection question, but I also try to meet up with my mentor as much as possible besides these practices. For example, last week, Coach James was organizing beach volleyball at Lafarge Park (I assume for fun and not for serious practice), and I took that as an opportunity to not only get small bits of advice from him when I get out but also for more volleyball experience in general.

3. What could be working better?

I do not think that there is much that needs to work better or anything that could be improved. I am actually quite satisfied with how the practices work as they allow me to try my best while not under much pressure. I think that I am in an incredibly fortunate position with many opportunities to play volleyball on any day of the week, so I truly think that nothing could be going any better with meetings/drop-in events right now.

Proof that I am making progress

I was not able to take a video for this blog post, but at the very least I took a picture for evidence proving that I actually do go to volleyball practices.

For the next blog post, I will try to take a video of myself playing volleyball, particularly a video of me serving, setting, and receiving a serve.

Issues that I am running into

I am not running into any issues right now besides the uneven setting as covered in the first section of this blog post, but I am already in the works of attempting to fix this problem. Besides that, the uneven arms/hands when bumping/passing is still there, so I will definitely try to fix this problem this month, as mentioned.

Moving forward

As mentioned, April is going to be the month of passing/receiving. Because of this, I will try to take the “libero” position more often and position myself in the back row, in the middle so that I can be more likely to receive the ball. In this time, I hope that I am able to learn to pass the ball to the setter and not just randomly in the air for more efficient playing.

In-Depth Blog Post #4

Where am I right now?

From the time between my last blog post and now, I have improved a lot, especially in my serves. My mentor had mentioned that having consistent serves would be very important when playing volleyball, and I think that my serves have gotten very consistent. Now that my basic overhand serves have gotten pretty consistent, I can start thinking about jump serves when the time comes for that. March was the month of setting, and I think that I have improved a decent bit with setting, although not as much as I would like. While practicing setting, I picked up on three main points from either the court or from others:

  1. When receiving the ball from a teammate to set, position yourself under the ball with big steps and confirm your position before setting.
  2. Then, set high with your arms and legs. The power comes from your legs, and the arms should be used to sort of direct the set.
  3. I had some trouble with uneven sets for a while. My sets would either drift too far to the left or right because my left or right hand was touching the ball more than the other. Because of this, I try to focus on setting the ball with all my fingers except for my pinky fingers and to keep them symmetrical, like an isosceles triangle.

I will continue to focus on these points when practicing setting, but since it is now April, it is time for me to focus on bumping/passing. A problem that I always had with passing was that when I would clasp my arms and hands together, they would be uneven so the ball would only come in contact with only one of my arms, sending it in an unwanted direction. I should definitely try to fix this habit first among others this month.

About my mentor

I continue to attend as many practices with Coach James as I can, but I must note that they were paused over spring break. However, they have started to happen again last week. I will try to continue to go to as many of these as possible. Here are my answers to this blog post’s reflection questions.

1. What has been your most difficult mentoring challenge so far?

I would say a challenge that we would be running into would be that when I go to these practices, it can be difficult to always pay attention to myself since there are other people going to the practices as well and that I am not the only one. Of course, this is to be expected, but this encourages more attention to be paid to how I perform with a team rather than individually. Because of this, it can be difficult to give precise help with my performance at all times, but this is why I also look for help from other people, not just Coach James. I actively try to get help from the people around me whenever I make a mistake/or perform poorly.

2. What is working well?

I think that something that is working well is how often I get to meet together with my mentor. Take into consideration that the expected meeting rates are once every two weeks, for one hour. However, I try to meet with my mentor every week, for two hours (how long the practices last). I suppose this makes up for the note discussed in the first reflection question, but I also try to meet up with my mentor as much as possible besides these practices. For example, last week, Coach James was organizing beach volleyball at Lafarge Park (I assume for fun and not for serious practice), and I took that as an opportunity to not only get small bits of advice from him when I get out but also for more volleyball experience in general.

3. What could be working better?

I do not think that there is much that needs to work better or anything that could be improved. I am actually quite satisfied with how the practices work as they allow me to try my best while not under much pressure. I think that I am in an incredibly fortunate position with many opportunities to play volleyball on any day of the week, so I truly think that nothing could be going any better with meetings/drop-in events right now.

Proof that I am making progress

I was not able to take a video for this blog post, but at the very least I took a picture for evidence proving that I actually do go to volleyball practices.

For the next blog post, I will try to take a video of myself playing volleyball, particularly a video of me serving, setting, and receiving a serve.

Issues that I am running into

I am not running into any issues right now besides the uneven setting as covered in the first section of this blog post, but I am already in the works of attempting to fix this problem. Besides that, the uneven arms/hands when bumping/passing is still there, so I will definitely try to fix this problem this month, as mentioned.

Moving forward

As mentioned, April is going to be the month of passing/receiving. Because of this, I will try to take the “libero” position more often and position myself in the back row, in the middle so that I can be more likely to receive the ball. In this time, I hope that I am able to learn to pass the ball to the setter and not just randomly in the air for more efficient playing.

In-Depth Blog Post #3

Where am I right now?

Compared to when I was writing my last blog post, I think that my overhand serves have gotten a lot better. Some of my friends have also told me that I am improving overall in volleyball, which is comforting to me as it shows that the time I am putting into volleyball is working. For overhand serves, I make sure to toss the ball nice and high with some knee movement for more consistent tosses and to follow through when hitting the ball. These tips help a lot for me when serving. Besides my serves, I am realizing that I am more comfortable with setting forwards and backwards rather than my sides, possibly since I do not have to worry about hand symmetry when setting forwards and backwards. I also participated in hitting practices in the practices I attended and realized that my vertical is getting a bit higher, my approach is more calculated and my hit is more powerful as I know how to properly hit the ball now.

Now that it is March, it is time to focus more on my setting in terms of the main aspect of volleyball to practice. In order to work primarily on my setting at the practices I attend, I will:

  1. Try to take the setter position when we are doing hitting lines
  2. Try to stay as the setter when rotating in waves
  3. Volunteer to set when playing scrimmages

Before I play in the practices, I will also make sure to warm up my setting by:

  1. Doing close sets against the wall, and gradually moving farther away until I feel I am ready to comfortably set for that day
  2. Set in the air to myself
  3. Play pepper with another person (pepper is when two players just set or bump the ball to each other to warm up before playing) and focus on primarily setting

If I do these warm-ups at practices and try my best to set as much as possible, I think that I will improve a lot in setting.

About my mentor

I have been attending as many of the off-season practices at Pinetree as I can, and I have gotten a lot of tips about my playing. However, in this section, I will be covering my experiences with my mentor in the practices by answering three questions.

1. What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

I liked how I was able to get a lot of advice regarding my performance in volleyball. This could just mean that I did not perform very well and I have a lot to work on, but either way, it is good that I have something to work on for the next practice day. What I am looking for in my mentor (and the other people around me in the volleyball practices) is to provide a lot of ways that I am making mistakes in my performance so that I can work on it and improve on it. If there is a flaw in my performance, I want to know so that I can try my best to work on it, like my serving for example. So far, I have not had a problem with this, and I have actually gotten a lot of advice for my playing, which I appreciate.

2. What learning challenges emerged?

Sometimes when I am practicing a certain part of my performance (like hitting/spiking for example), it can be difficult to keep in mind all of the pointers that I was given while I am practicing and I may forget one of them. For example, here are a few pointers I was given about hitting:

  • Start approaching after you pass the ball to the setter
  • When you jump to hit the ball, make sure that you are directly under the ball beforehand
  • Follow through with your hits

These are only a few tips, not to mention a few tips regarding the approach beforehand and footwork. When practicing hitting, it can be difficult to make sure that I am keeping all of these tips in mind and I may forget about one when practicing. Because of this, it is difficult to build a habit. However, I still try my best to keep all these tips in mind by reviewing them before I pass the ball back to the setter so that I have them in my mind for when I hit.

3. What logical challenges affected your communication?

Sometimes when someone would explain a tip to me, I would not be able to understand it fully. Usually, in the practices I attend, we play waves, which is a very fast-paced activity that involves constant rotation. Because playing waves can be such a fast-paced activity, it can be difficult for people new to volleyball since if they have a question, it can be difficult to have the concept well explained to them so that they can understand it in the heat of the moment. Because of this, I would have to wait until I went out and had to go to the end of the line (where I would then have to wait for the other person to get there as well) to clarify what they were talking about. This would make communication a bit difficult when I am trying to learn a concept, but I would always figure it out in the end.

Proof that I am making progress

Since my serves were not very good a few weeks ago, I decided to spend a lot of time on them, as mentioned in my last blog post. Now, I make sure to toss the ball high and follow through with my hit, as mentioned before. I asked one of my friends to take a clip of me serving a ball over the net. Keep in mind that I was having a lot of trouble with getting overhand serves over the net beforehand, and now I am getting more and more comfortable with overhand serving.

I have also gotten a lot of comments from my friends about my improvement, as mentioned before, and I can’t wait to spend more time towards setting as I am planning to be a setter for the school senior team next year (if I practice enough).

Issues that I am running into

I am not running into many issues so far. I am able to practice well at every practice event that I go to and I am content with how I am progressing right now.

Moving forward

This month is the month of setting, so I will be focusing primarily on that aspect of my volleyball gameplay. Since I want to be a setter for next year’s senior volleyball team, I will need to practice a lot in this week so that I can learn a lot about good technique and form.

In-Depth Blog Post #2

Where am I right now?

At the time of writing this, it has been a little over three-and-a-half hours since I have left the volleyball drop-in at Pinetree Community Centre. At this point, my sets have definitely improved from two weeks ago, but I was not able to properly demonstrate them today as a lot of people had come to the drop-in event today, which lead to longer lines for serving in waves. I have minorly injured myself from taking hits close to the ground, which I think is a good sign as this means I am getting more comfortable with working close to the ground when it is difficult to receive a serve. My serves have also been getting better as I was able to make the majority of the ones that I have done get over the net. I have been having problems with my overhand serves recently, so it is comforting to see a bit of progress on them.

In the schedule I had made for in-depth, I had mentioned that I would be trying to exercise my cardio and vertical jump for the first month. I have made a routine to exercise these after doing a bit of research into effective exercises for these aspects. This is the routine for cardio:

  • Run for a total of AT LEAST an hour a week
  • Use a training bike for AT LEAST an hour a week
  • 3 sets of 15 burpees every day

This is the daily routine for vertical jump (legs):

  • 2 minutes straight doing a wall sit
  • 1 minute of one-legged wall sits each
  • 3 sets of 20 calf raises
  • 3 sets of 20 angeled calf raises

I have been trying my best to follow this routine every day, although there is the occasional day when I am unable to do so.

About my mentor

After contacting many different people, I have finally found someone who is able to be my mentor! His name is James Tecson, and he coaches volleyball for various teams and clubs, like the Ducks volleyball club. He is also the founder of Poco Volleyball. As it stands right now, he has agreed to be my mentor and is completing the paperwork necessary. After that, I will be meeting with him any opportunity I can through off-season volleyball practices.

What about this time that I had spent without a mentor? In this time, I had asked my friends for advice on how to get better based on my current habits when playing volleyball. The truth is that there are many aspects of my performance that I can work on. Here are some examples of advice I was given regarding setting:

  • You are receiving the ball with your hands extended. Try to receive the ball closer to your face, and then push outwards. This could help when you are carrying the ball.
  • Your fingers are very loose. Try to make them more firm so the ball does not fumble around your fingers.
  • Right now, you should not be worrying about each player’s individual wants when setting as you are still new to volleyball. For now, just try setting it high so that anyone can get the ball. When you can comfortably set the ball high, then you can start worrying about each player’s individual wants for ball placement.

Besides setting, I was also given a lot of advice about other areas of volleyball, like serving and movement. While I will start meeting with my mentor soon, I will still try to get as much help from my friends as I can when playing volleyball with them.

James was very kind in giving me a detailed explanation of how he got into volleyball. This lets me get a better idea of what is in store for me as I get better.

I started playing recreational volleyball to stay healthy when I was about 43 years old.

 

I enjoyed it so much but was not very good at it.  I found the volleyball community was very clique, meaning most groups or teams were not very welcoming, especially to newcomers who weren’t very good. So I decided to attend all the drop ins available every night of the week so I could get better.

 

During those times, I noticed 2 things:

 

1. Good volleyball players did not want to play with the beginners

 

2. Registering to play volleyball in a recreational center was very difficult and some times disorganized.

 

So I set out to change that by attending and creating volleyball skills clinics for myself and others to get better at the sport.

 

Secondly, I convinced the City of Poco to create a competitive drop in and recreational drop in for the different skill levels of players & also stream lines their registration process just for volleyball drop in.

 

Third, I created a volleyball community through constantly networking and meeting people at the drop ins and called it the Poco Competitive Volleyball Group.  We started with 15 people and are now up to 1400 members.

 

Fourth, I started coaching youth volleyball at my daughter’s school and created a Youth Train & Play volleyball program called the Poco Panthers to train kids who did not make a club team.  I also started coaching Club volleyball with the Ducks , Focus and now the Cougar Volleyball Club.  I also coached Highschool volleyball for Terry Fox Secondary  & Pinetree Secondary.

 

It’s been a great experience over the last 12 years since I started playing, organizing and coaching volleyball all mostly on a volunteer basis.  The most amazing part is from all the people I have met & become friends with along the way from literally all over the world and to see the youth stay active and improve their skills in a sport that I love so much.

I will admit that I empathize with past James’ feelings about the volleyball community. I will admit that I am a bit shy when playing with people I have never met before at drop-ins, which is why I usually go to drop-ins with friends. In fact, in the drop-in that I had attended today, there were some people from Moscrop Secondary School (the school that is known among my friends for having very good volleyball players) who intimidated me. However, this does not mean that the volleyball community is bad at all. Everyone who I play volleyball with is very willing to give advice to help me improve, which I greatly appreciate.

Proof that I am making progress

I had forgotten to take a picture of myself at the drop-in event, so I will settle for a screenshot of me paying the entry fee of the volleyball drop-in.

In the future, I will try to take pictures and videos of me in drop-in events to further demonstrate my efforts.

Besides pictures and videos, I have heard from some of my friends that I have actually gotten a lot better at volleyball, especially with setting. This made me happy as it showed that the work and hours that I was putting into volleyball were beginning to pay off, and it motivated me to put in even more work to improve as much as possible.

Issues that I am running into

I do not really think that I am running into many issues, but I would like if there was someplace I could go with no people there so I could just practice my serving for a while. I would say without a doubt that my serves are the weakest aspect of my volleyball skills (possibly hitting but serving is certainly close), so it would be nice if I could go somewhere alone to just work on my serves for a while. Besides this, I do not think I am running into many problems when practicing.

Moving forward

Next month is the month when I will be focusing primarily on setting. I will try my best to follow the cardio/vertical jump workout I have created, and then I will try my best to improve on actual volleyball technique. As I am writing this, my love for volleyball is only growing and I am trying to attend any drop-in event I can in order to play and get better. My next blog post will be on March 4th, so hopefully, by then I can give another promising progress report based on my performance in the drop-in events I am attending.

In-Depth Introductory Post

What is In-Depth?

In-Depth is a project in which a student will pick a field (whether it is a sport, a skill, or a hobby like yoyoing) to actively learn about it. At the beginning of the project, they set an end goal for themselves for the end of the project relating to that skill. For example, if someone were to learn skateboarding for In-Depth, an example goal could be to be able to do a kickflip by the end of the school year. This project typically spans a time period of 5 months, starting from January and going until the end of May. Along with making your own efforts to learn about your topic, you are also tasked with finding a mentor who can help you learn about your topic even further, with meetings of at least 1 hour every 2 weeks.

What skill will I be learning?

For this year’s In-Depth project, I will be learning how to play volleyball! I already know how to play a bit of volleyball, as I have taken an interest in the sport 2 or 3 months ago, and I would like to pursue it as my In-Depth topic as I truly think that it is a good topic that I can also enjoy!

Why did I choose to learn this skill?

As mentioned before, I have taken an interest in volleyball 2 or 3 months ago. This is because I watched my friends in the volleyball tryouts for the junior boys volleyball team for my school. After that day, I went home and did some more research about the sport, liking it more and more. Now, I have decided that I want to get good at volleyball, good enough to get into the senior boys volleyball team next school year. I think that a very good way (if not the best way) to get better at volleyball is to take it up as my In-Depth topic so that I can pay more attention to it.

Final goal

My final goal would be to get into the senior boys volleyball team for the next school year, as mentioned before. As it stands right now, I would like to get into the team in the setter position, although I am still a bit unsure of what position I would like to play in. If there is already a setter in the team, I would be fine with being a backup setter or another position if needed. I would also like to be able to comfortably set, serve, and hit the ball. All of these aspects of volleyball require a good amount of time and effort to work on and develop, but I am willing to put in the work and the hours to perfect them.

Where am I now?

Right now, I have a basic understanding of how the game works and about all the positions. I am alright at setting, passing, and serving, not very good at hitting, cannot dive comfortably, and my vertical jump is relatively short. Over the course of my In-Depth project, I will be spending one month each practicing setting, serving, passing, and one month doing cardio and leg workouts (for my vertical jump).

About my mentor

At the time of writing this, I do not have a mentor. However, I have sent an email out to someone who I think could be a very good mentor for me, and am now just waiting for a response from them.

Timeline

Throughout the year, I will be going to volleyball drop-ins at both Centennial Secondary School and the Pinetree Community Centre. At these drop-ins, I will pay very close attention to my form and ask others for advice on how to improve. Here is a timeline specifying what months I will be focusing on what areas:

Feb 1st: Come up with a good cardio and leg workout routine.
Feb 2nd – Feb 28th: Follow the cardio and leg workout routine daily.
Mar 1st: Come up with a good setting practice routine.
Mar 2nd – Mar 31st: Do the setting practice routine daily.
Apr 1st: Come up with a good passing practice routine.
Apr 2nd – Apr 30th: Do the passing practice routine daily.
May 1st: Come up with a good serving practice routine.
May 2nd – May 31st: Do the serving practice routine daily.

So, as you can see, the timeline is pretty simple. However, I do think that practicing each of these aspects every day for a whole month will definitely show results in the end, and I think that it will have developed those aspects to such a point that I can comfortably do them when needed.

To track my progress

I will be posting every 2 weeks on this blog talking about my progress so far. Also, when I go to a drop-in at Centennial and Pinetree, I will try my best to record them and post full recordings on my YouTube channel for form inspection. If I do post one of those videos, I will post a link on my blog for proof of progress.

What can others do to help?

The most others can do to help is to give me advice when I am playing volleyball. I will try to encourage this by asking others directly for advice or criticism when I do something in volleyball. I want to get better and grow in volleyball, and the best way I can do so is by getting advice from others who have been playing volleyball for much longer than me.

Eminent Learning Center

This blog post will be about my Eminent person, Dmitri Shostakovich, the Soviet composer. It is also written from the point of view of Shostakovich himself.

Symphony No. 7 (Shostakovich) - Wikipedia

Why I am Eminent

I should be remembered among influential artists in classical music because of my uniqueness in style. No other composer sounds like me. Although there are some like Schnittke who take heavy influencDmitri Shostakovich | Discographie | Discogse from me, my sound is truly my own. I was able to compose music that complied with the Soviet art limitations of my time and to also compose music that truly expresses what I wanted to express with them. Of course, there were times where the government or public did not like what I was composing (like my opera, Lady Macbeth for example), but every great artist receives backlash and criticism, and that is what I think I am: A great artist.

Although I did not compose as many symphonies as Haydn (with a count of 104 symphonies), I am known for my orchestral works which consist of 15 symphonies and 6 concerti, many of which were composed during the aforementioned time of art constrictions in the Soviet Union. Since I was able to compose such compelling art under such limitations, it shows that I was a very brave individual in such difficult times and I think that one can learn from my experiences to stay resilient in such times, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timeline

  • September 25th, 1906: I was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
  • 1915: I start taking piano classes at age 9.
  • 1919: I compose my first orchestral piece, a Scherzo in F# Minor.
  • 1924 – 1926: I compose and premier my first symphony.
  • 1932: An opera I have composed, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, is completed.
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: biography, videos - medici.tvJanuary 26th, 1936: Stalin visits the Bolshoi Theater, where my opera, Lady Macbeth is being played. Stalin did not approve of the opera.
  • January 28th, 1936: A government-approved magazine, Pravda, releases an issue on the third page of the magazine titled “Muddle Instead of Music,” talking about my opera negatively.
  • November 21st, 1937: My fifth symphony is premiered in Leningrad, and it received an ovation that lasted over half an hour.
  • March 5th, 1942: My seventh symphony (the most popular one, titled “Leningrad”) premiered in the city of Kuybyshev (now known as Samara).
  • August 9th, 1975: After many composition releases, I die in 1975.

Was Shostakovich a Martyr? Or Is That Just Fiction? - The New York Times

Major Accomplishments

I have received many awards throughout my lifetime, and even one after. Here is a list of all the awards I have received:

  • Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1940)
  • Stalin Prize (1941)
  • Stalin Prize (1942)
  • Stalin Prize (1946)
  • Order of Lenin (1946)
  • People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1948)
  • Stalin Prize (1950)
  • Stalin Prize (1952)
  • People’s Artist of the USSR (1954)
  • International Peace Prize (1954)
  • Order of Lenin (1956)
  • Lenin Prize (1958)
  • Wihuri Sibelius Price (1958)
  • Member of the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium (1960)
  • Hero of Socialist Labour (1966)
  • Order of Lenin (1966)
  • Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1966)
  • USSR State Prize (1968)
  • Order of the October Revolution (1971)
  • Léonie Sonning Music Price (1973)
  • Glinka State Prize of the RSFSR (1974)
  • Shevchenko National Prize (1976 (posthumously))

Besides these awards, I am also known for my repertoire of orchestral music, which includes 15 symphonies and 6 concerti, of which many were written under the government limitations of Soviet art.

A Tribute Piece to Myself

I wrote a short piece to commemorate my life. In it, I use my signature motif, DSCH. You can hear this motif in the first four notes of the piece. Here is the score for the piece, and below is my piece played by a computer.

 

Interview Reflection

This is the only part of my Learning Center that is outside the point of view of my Eminent person.

I held an interview with Mr. Trovato, the music teacher at my school, and talked to him about how composers compose music. The truth is that different composers compose music in different ways. “Some people hear a melody they like, some people take a walk and hear a bird singing and that inspires them, it’s different for everybody.” After this interview, I decided to think of ways that I could come up with a melody that I could write a whole piece about. I had to keep in mind that I needed to represent Shostakovich in some way in the piece, so I experimented with different melodies until I was reminded of his signature motif, DSCH. You can hear the motif in the main theme of the piece I composed. Before conducting the interview, I had a lot of trouble thinking of who to email since my Eminent person, Shostakovich, is not very well-known outside of the classical music community. Even then, he is not nearly as popular compared to composers like Mozart and Schubert. So, for the majority of the time, I was stuck trying to find someone who could fit the criteria as an interviewee. However, I soon realized that the person to interview did not have to be incredibly fancy, like a foundation. I then simplified what I could ask the interviewee to “how different people compose music”, as that is directly related to what I decided to do for my learning center: To compose a piece of music. So, I interviewed a person much closer to me than where I imagined: My school’s music teacher.

DSCH motif - Wikipedia

After interviewing Mr. Trovato, I felt relieved that the interview did not have to be such a stressful idea, and that had given me the perfect boost to my “morale” that I had needed. I was then ready to start experimenting with different ideas and what the main theme of my composition could be. A few days later, I was experimenting on the piano that I have at home with my mom watching TV and my dad playing on a Persian instrument, a setar, until I remembered the DSCH motif that I hear so frequently in Shostakovich’s music. Not only did this motif appear so much in his music, but Shostakovich was also generally known for his quotations in music. After experimenting a bit with what could be done with both the left hand and right hand on the piano, I knew that this would be the motif to use for my piece. Soon enough, I had opened a document on MuseScore 3 and started composing.

If I had not interviewed Mr. Trovato, I would not have known to experiment with different themes and melodies to come up with the perfect one to use. I would now like to thank Mr. Trovato for being my interviewee on such short notice over email, and my friends for helping to look over various parts of my Eminent project (speech and musical piece for examples).

Dmitri Shostakovich Music | Tunefind

References

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, November 22). Dmitri Shostakovich. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitri_Shostakovich.

The Wikipedia page for Shostakovich is detailed, to say the least. From it, one can learn a lot about various aspects of his life, ranging from general information to awards and notable works from him, and that is exactly the type of information that I plan on using from this page. The thing about Wikipedia pages is that they can be edited by any party, meaning that multiple parties have contributed to it. Not only that, but considering that Shostakovich is now long dead, I suspect that a lot of information has been gathered about him and that many people have found out what information is correct and what information is not.

Brown, D. (2021, September 21). Dmitri Shostakovich. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Dmitri-Shostakovich.

Britannica is also another source of information that never fails to provide useful information if Wikipedia is not to be trusted. The Britannica site for Shostakovich covers much the same topics and assures one if the information that they have gathered from another site is correct. That is exactly what I used this Britannica site for.

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, June 1). Muddle instead of music. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muddle_Instead_of_Music.

The Wikipedia page above covers the Pravda issue about Shostakovich’s opera, Lady Macbeth. I used this source for part of the timeline of Shostakovich’s life, and I think that this page once again is reliable like other Wikipedia pages because of their ability to be contributed to by any parties.

Dmitri Shostakovich. Preceden. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.preceden.com/timelines/310245-dmitri-shostakovich.

This website presents the events of Shostakovich’s life in a neat, clean, understandable way. I used this website for exactly that: The timeline. I have also skimmed through other sites and found that the majority of the information on this site is correct, so I have come to the conclusion that that site is credible.

Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, November 24). Symphony No. 7 (Shostakovich). Wikipedia. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._7_(Shostakovich).

Finally, this is the Wikipedia page for Shostakovich’s seventh symphony, the Leningrad, his most popular symphony. This source is credible for the same reason as the other Wikipedia pages I have used, and I have used this source for exactly what you may think: For information about his seventh symphony.

Developing Leaders Around You

In this blog post, I will share three quotes from John C. Maxwell’s “Developing Leaders Around You” courses. These quotes stick out to me personally, and I will be explaining how they can be applied to my experience in the TALONS program.

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First quote

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”

– Peter Drucker

Firstly, what does this quote even mean? It may seem like an odd quote, but it is very true once you begin to look into it. Management is pushing people so that they can be productive and efficient, which is difficult if you compare it to simple work which is not managed much. By pushing people to do their best and put in a lot of effort, it may be difficult and tiring, but the fatigue you feel that day is what contributed to your future success. Thus, management is simply making it difficult for people to work, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

This quote stood out to me (and I think it would stick out to other TALONS students as well) because being a TALONS student is definitely not an easy walk-in-the-park. In TALONS, not only are there trips that you plan and go on every once in a while, but there are also leadership classes after school and accelerated non-elective classes. As you may be able to tell from my light description, TALONS is certainly not easy, which ties back into this quote. Since TALONS is a difficult program to be in, it requires students in the program to perform as best as they can so that they can succeed. This is also why we learn about leadership in TALONS: So that we may become great leaders and manage others later in our lives, so that they can succeed, and thus is a cycle from which one truly enjoys the fruits of their labour.

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Second quote

“Learn-Earn-Return. These are the three phases of life.”

– Jack Balousek

This is not so much of a difficult quote to interpret as the previous one, as its definition is within the quote itself. Learn-Earn-Return. This is a cycle in which someone aspires to obtain something. For example, money. First, that person must learn how to make money and what they will do to do so. Then, they must act with their new knowledge. Once they have put in a sufficient amount of work, they will start seeing returns. This cycle is applicable to virtually anything in life, whether it is growing muscle, earning money as mentioned, working on a school project, and others.

Now, why did this quote stand out to me? This quote stood out to me because, as a TALONS student, we plan many trips to go in which involve a lengthy planning process. This process follows the “phases” of this quote closely, as we first learn about the trip and what we must do to plan for it. Then we must act with our new knowledge in the planning process by making itineraries, planning the location of the event, planning equipment needed, and more. Finally, after we have finished planning the trip, we go on to the most fun part of the process: Going on the actual trip. Going on the actual trip is the most fun part of the cycle, as it is why we have been planning it in the first place: To have fun.

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Third quote

“Nothing is more confusing than people who give good advice and set bad examples.”

– Norman Vincent Peale

This quote connects with the previous in the sense that they both involve teaching/learning in the process. In this quote, it states that the wonderful job of teaching that someone may do can be completely useless if they do not back it up with good examples. This quote also somewhat involves the expression “show, don’t tell” in the sense that actions explain more than words. I agree with this statement, and I will give an example to show why. When I am programming a script, there will be a time where I get confused and need to look up my problem. However, a lot of the time when I do this, there are a lot of words but not many actions. This is why I prefer to have someone next to me walk me through it and answer my specific questions, rather than some frequently asked ones.

In TALONS, there is a lot of teaching from both the instructors and the students. When the instructors teach, there is often an example of that teaching in our trips. However, when students teach leadership lessons, they may be particularly good lessons, but if they are not followed up with a good example in the field, it may confuse the learners. I think that I may fall victim to this when teaching my friends how to solve equations, as I may not provide them with the best example. Of course, I tell them how I solve the question, but I often have trouble coming up with good examples that applies my lesson. This is where I could improve.

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Conclusion

I have gained a lot of useful knowledge from this course. This course taught me that being a leader is very important as leaders drive their workers to power through their work. Without a leader, a group cannot achieve much before they find themselves in a difficult situation, like not knowing what to do. I have a question for you, the reader: How do you find yourself leading others in your life? With that being said, that was three quotes that stood out to me from John C. Maxwell’s “Developing Leaders Around You” course.

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References

Maxwell, J. C. (2014). Developing The Leaders Around You. The John Maxwell Company.