The 16-Greg team trip to San Diego kicked off SoCal Sister Program, which connects SoCal members from the Santa Barbara and San Diego clubs, as well as to our sister club in Malaga, Spain. The SoCal Sisters program fosters the sharing of resources, community, and culture both regionally and abroad through volleyball and sisterhood. This program presents our girls with unique opportunities to bond, make new friends, and spread kindness. Here is what Bailey Steelman had to say about the trip down to San Diego with her team.
Normally, waking up at five in the morning on a Saturday isn’t considered the ideal start to a weekend, but this Saturday was different. All the girls on our team met at the train station, the last time we had seen each other was across the net at our high school games. It felt as though we had been on the same team forever as we boarded the train, sitting as close to each other as possible. We tried to be responsible and start our homework as soon as we got on the train, but it was very difficult once the conversation started. Not only did we talk about volleyball, but school, and life in general. Even though some of us had never played on the same team before, we opened up to each other and talked like old friends. Our laughing subsided as the end of the five hour ride neared. Personally, I wondered what it would be like playing with a sister team, and I was a little nervous to play with the girls.
Our team stepped off of the train to meet the San Diego team, we couldn’t miss them in their SoCal shirts. We walked up to them and stood for about a second, then we started introducing ourselves, greeting each other with hugs. Riding in the SoCal bus was so much fun, the atmosphere was fun and friendly, people on both teams were talking, dancing, and eating as the music played. The game was when we really had the chance to talk and meet with the girls on the other team. It was fun finding players of the same position, and having a chance to watch the game and comment on the playing. When the game ended we had a lot of energy from sitting for so long, so the idea of playing volleyball was welcoming. First walking into the gym was almost surreal. It was so beautiful, and we felt extremely lucky to be able to play in it. From the moment we stepped into the gym we felt so welcomed and accepted into the SoCal volleyball community.
Playing started out a little overwhelming, we had never really practiced in a gym so big, and almost all of the drills were unfamiliar, but the kindness shown to us by the SoCal San Diego girls was such a huge motivator when playing. Leaving the gym that night was so difficult, after only spending three hours in there, the gym had already felt like home. I stayed with two girls from my team and one girl from the San Diego team, and we had so much fun bonding over the things we had in common. It was weird to see that these girls live such similar lives as us. I still cannot thank the girls and their families enough for welcoming us into their homes. The next day was almost the most exciting. It was amazing to see so many girls come tryout to be on the San Diego team, all bonding over volleyball and encouraging each other to do better, celebrating their successes together, and teaching one another what they knew to be better. Each and every one of those girls resembled what it meant to be a SoCal volleyball player, using their attitude and kindness to play the best volleyball. Saying goodbye was difficult, but those girls made our whole team feel so welcome, the sense of community within the club was an inspiration, and I hope that SoCal Santa Barbara can create the same type of family the San Diego teams have. Our sisters will always be welcome to visit us, and our team can’t wait to play with them again. – Bailey Steelman, 16-Greg