Living on the Edge

By Rose Ann Sinay

Living on the Edge

“We should get a bunch of people together and play some volleyball,” my husband said as we walked by the volleyball net on Ocean Isle Beach. My husband and I enjoy walking on the beach late in the afternoon, after all the sun worshippers have gone home, and we noticed that the volleyball area was never being used at this time of day. He kicked the sturdy poles like he was checking a tire, and surveyed the ample playing area.

“Oh sure, that’s something that we could do.” I laughed, picturing the U.S. Olympic volleyball team in their skimpy spandex suits jumping in the air, spiking the ball over the nylon net. Most everyone we knew was 55 and older. Some of us sported newly replaced knee and hip joints, or nursed suspicious shoulder twinges. When my husband didn’t laugh, I wondered what there was about the limitations of fake body parts that he didn’t get.

“It’s beach volley ball,” he said, reading my mind. “If you fall, you land on sand not a hard court. Just try it.”

Maybe I was too careful…maybe a little heart pumping, body stretching exercise was just what I needed. How could I say no? My refurbished knees began to ache.

I’ve never been much of an athlete. In grade school, I was never a first pick for Red Rover or dodge ball. In junior high, I was one of the benchwarmers for the girls’ P.E. basketball team. At less than five feet tall, I could guard no one and making a basket was a pipe dream.

Needless to say, I was no speed demon on the softball diamond, and the bat and ball rarely connected. I was so short I probably would’ve been walked every inning, if I hadn’t been so hellfire bent on trying to hit that ball.

When my own children were old enough to play organized games, I wanted to be involved. I attended our town’s Parks and Recreation meetings, watched the mandated sports league videos and became a coach for my children’s team. I could direct with the best of them. I showed my soccer team (made up of six-year olds) how to throw the ball on to the field. I demonstrated the corner kick and how to head the ball, all without ever having actually played the game. For the first time, I felt like a jock…well…sort of.

My kids moved on to higher planes of athleticism: high school gymnastics, soccer and track. My questionable expertise was no longer needed. I didn’t want to lose my pseudo-physical momentum, so I bought a pair of Nike running shoes. I tried jogging to the end of my street – to the stop sign – a whole half mile. The “Just do it” slogan just didn’t do it for me.

And now, after all this time, I was going to learn a new sport and play it, too. We assembled a team and met at the net late in the afternoon. We brought our collapsible canvas chairs, just in case listening to the waves and watching the sunset might be a better use of our energy.

We mapped out the boundary lines with a yellow rope and started our first game. After ten volley attempts, we realized we needed to make up our own rules.

1. Unlimited hits: Hit it once, hit it twice, three times – just get the damn ball over to the other side.

2. Didn’t get the serve over the net? Do it again, and it can be helped over by another player on the same team.

3. Keeping the ball in the air is more important than how many points are scored.

4. Have fun.

We’ve been playing beach volleyball for the past three years. Team members change by the week and nobody sighs when I run (walk) on to their side of the net. Our more agile players feel air between their feet and the sand when they jump. I have not yet experienced that feeling. They take diggers in the sand on a regular basis and pop up, unscathed (they are the ones who still have their original parts).

The first time I fell, I stayed down for the count, waiting for the pain, imagining the ambulance screaming down the beach, red lights flashing, to take me away. And then I realized that there was no pain – just the awkward movements of getting myself back to an upright position.

Our rules have changed as we have improved. We now have only one attempt at the serve, although it can still be “helped” by a team member. And we can no longer juggle the ball more than three times per person. The ball sails back and forth over the net. Our moves may not be pretty, but contributing to that ball staying airborne is a great feeling.

We have invested in team shirts: Bright pink for the ladies and baby blue for the guys. No feminist remarks, please. It works for us. We even have a fancy logo embroidered on our uniform – Living on the Edge, it says.

And so we are.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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6 Responses to “Living on the Edge”

  1. Betsy Bergstrom says:

    Another great story. It almost made me want to join you for vollyball. I still have all my bones and joints and I plan to keep it that way. You have a special wat with words and I love to read your stories.

  2. Maja says:

    as usual, a great story. Made me laugh out loud. You really know how to tell a story. Please keep it up so we can enjoy future stories !

  3. Colleen Wenthen says:

    I am reliving the moments now! Great story, cannot wait to start it up again with my new titanium hip😀.

  4. Tammy Rohlf says:

    Love your stories. After reading Living at the Edge even I want to play volleyball – that is if my knees will allow me!!!!

  5. Mary Ann Miller says:

    Still enjoy playing volleyball (part of the original group) but even more so, reading what you have written about us. Your stories are SO entertaining, but most of all, SO REAL AND RELATABLE!!

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