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"Bump, set, spike" COLLEGE ESSAY ADVICE! Volleyball Struggle Essay!

zdiflo13 1 / -  
Sep 4, 2016   #1
Hi! So I've really been struggling with a college essay topic and ended up writing about the struggle I've had with volleyball for the common app essay. I haven't heard back from my counselor about it so I'd really appreciate some feedback!

"Bump, set, spike". Those were the first three words I heard at the volleyball camp my friend begged me to go to two summers ago. I rolled my eyes and watched as the other girls played, wondering why they were even at a camp if they were so talented at volleyball. I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. I would hit the ball with my wrists instead of forearms (which is considered one of the seven deadly sins of volleyball) and it would fly all over the place. I couldn't serve and went home everyday with bruised arms, wrists, and knees. Through all this, somehow, I began to genuinely think that volleyball was fun.

A few weeks later, school started and volleyball tryouts had commenced. I made the rash decision to try out and, surprisingly, made the team. I was overjoyed! Maybe, I thought, by being on the team, my skills would improve. Oh, how wrong I was.

Volleyball season was short, but it seemed endless. Everyone seemed to be having fun, playing on the court, while I sat on the bench for the duration of every game. Luckily, the season eventually ended and I went back to living my volleyball-free life. I joined track in the spring of that year, but that's a different story.

Before I knew it, it was August again, which meant that preseason was soon approaching. I decided to give volleyball another shot. I was surprised to see at preseason that I had improved after ten months of not touching a volleyball. My coach even commented that I seemed "less afraid of the ball". Not the strongest praise, but I took what I could get. I made the team once again, and was benched for an entire season, once again.

This year was different, though. I started to get angry. (One might think that my rage would help me to serve the ball over the net. Don't be fooled.) I couldn't stand watching games from the side anymore. I realized that volleyball was taking a detrimental toll on me, and considered quitting mid-season. However, after thinking long and hard about my situation, I decided to be patient.

I learned to laugh at myself, which I have come to realize is one of the most important skills you can have. Being able to laugh at your own mistakes and move on is much more valuable than being able to serve a volleyball over the net. I started to forgive my coach, rather than resent him, for leaving me on the bench. Honestly, that was probably for the best, anyway. Being a part of volleyball allowed me to experience team spirit, respect, and cooperation. I created friendships with girls I would have never spoken to if not for being on the same team. I even became close with my coach, which I never thought would be possible, and am excited to be taking one of his classes this year. Something I will never forget about that volleyball season was during one of our last games. The other team was clearly going to win, and in what I am sure was a rash, heat-of-the-moment action for my coach, he subbed me into the game. All my teammates were screaming and cheering me on. I may have seriously bruised up my knee during those two minutes of fame, but I managed to bump the ball over the net.

While I have been reminded that I am not a sports person, especially not a talented volleyball player, I am still proud to call myself one. I have been able to learn and appreciate the value of a support system (my team) and all of the friends and experiences I have made along the way. While my volleyball career may be over, the memories and relationships I have made will surely last a lifetime.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Sep 4, 2016   #2
This is great! You definitely have strong writing skills. Most people can't write so well. I think you'll enjoy reading books like Strunk and While's Elements of Style, or anything by Diana Hacker or Ursula LeGuin. We have a writer on our hands, people.

So, I'll tell you about one of my favorite writing tricks:

Scan through the essay, and find a spot where it has some really intense energy. Experiment with moving that part up to the top, so it's the first thing the reader sees. Image if the essay began like this:

I started to get angry. (One might think that my rage would help me to serve the ball over the net. Don't be fooled.) I couldn't stand watching games from the side anymore. I realized...

Why it works: When we write, we sometimes take a few minutes to get to the heard of the matter. But when we get there, we can move the heart of the matter up to the top where people will see it immediately. Then, they read the rest of the essay with intrigue.

Is it necessary to keep that first paragraph, or can you build on this intriguing part and scrap the introduction? To me, it seems the value of the introduction is that it demonstrates your excellent writing skill. But no matter what you write, that will be apparent. It might be better to begin with the 'getting angry' part, intrigue the reader, and then transition into a discussion of how this volleyball adversity relates to the challenge of pursuing your clear goals for college & career. Make the connections, so the reader can appreciate the way you notice common principles underlying sport and academia. Show that you have a crystal clear vision of the future.

No matter what the essay prompt is, the goal remains the same. Help the reader reach a conclusion that the writer of this essay should be given any opportunity that interests her, because she's one of those rare people with real drive, inspiration, and clear goals/plans.
TJLuschen - / 241 203  
Sep 4, 2016   #3
I see what Kevin is saying, and it is definitely a good idea. But I like your introduction so much, it would be a shame to lose it. Is there any way to implement Kevin's idea yet still keep your intro? I realize now I am committing the common error of falling in love with your rough draft so much that you don't want to make any major changes to it - and it's not even my writing! Here are some more specific, smaller suggestions:

... at a camp if they were [already] so talented at volleyball.
... wrists instead of forearms (which [I learned is] one of the seven deadly ...
I couldn't serve and went home everyday {two words here - "everyday" is an adjective}

... I couldn't stand watching games from the side[line] anymore.

Something I will never forget about that volleyball season [took place] during one of our last games.

While I have been reminded that I am not [an athlete], especially not a talented volleyball player,
ichanpants89 [Contributor] 16 / 777 309  
Sep 5, 2016   #4
I personally love the way how you deliver your thoughts in writing. And both the above comments are great inputs toward your essay. I agree with Kevin's idea; but at the same time, I find a pleasure reading your essay with such an attractive introduction you have. And so, my suggestion is, because I'm not the one who write it, to post the revision of the above essay based on the ideas from Kevin and you still retain the introductory part of yours. In other words, how if you combine the two parts into one? For instance, take one or two main ideas from "the angry" part in your essay as the introduction of your essay. So, how if you try to find the correlation between these ideas and restate it in your language style?

And to ease the reader to comment your essay, please use 1-enter every time you start a new paragraph because this will make your essay more impressive. Wish you luck and keep up the good works. Regards.

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