Varying athletic backgrounds set the tone for success

Unlike other varsity teams at Redwood where most players have been involved in the sport their entire lives and also play for a club team, the boys volleyball team consists of players from different athletic backgrounds.

Teammates cheer after scoring a point.

Teammates cheer after scoring a point.

 According to the most recent Bark survey, 23 percent of students self-reported playing a club sport in addition to a sport at Redwood, and 13 percent solely play a club sport. In most cases, these players have been involved with their individual sport for many years and are simply furthering their career in high school.

However, for the boys varsity volleyball team, many players only began their volleyball career in high school. Each player on the team has a unique story, whether they grew up playing different sports or none at all until high school.

There are many positive aspects to playing on a sports team, as it is a great way to meet new people, stay in good shape, and possibly discover a new field of talent. These were the motivations for many of the players on the 2016-2017 boys volleyball team.

Senior Tanner Jacobberger considered these benefits when making his initial decision to play volleyball.

“I was going to a private school in Reno, Nevada and I transferred back to Redwood. I had upperclassmen friends who were on the team and they told me it’s a great way to get involved,” Jacobberger said.

Jacobberger adjusted quickly to the new sport, and is now part of the starting lineup, playing the majority of each game.

Different from most stories about becoming involved in the sport, junior Jacob Zimmerman’s motive stands out among the group.

“I started playing basketball when I was two, in my garage on a little mini hoop. I played all the way up until eighth grade and then my doctor couldn’t clear me to play in high school,” Zimmerman said in a phone interview.

Zimmerman was diagnosed with a heart condition known as bicuspid aortic stenosis, which is caused by a leaking aortic valve.

“There are a bunch of ranges of how intense [the leaking] is but right now my heart leaks 40, mid 40’s percent of the blood that’s flowing in and out so my heart’s working [harder],” Zimmerman said.

Due to this condition, Zimmerman was forced to stop playing basketball. When he began high school, he decided to try out volleyball as it seemed similar to basketball and didn’t exert as much energy.

Junior Jason Silberman, senior Adam Kreitzman and junior Jacob Zimmerman (from left to right), prepare for their teammate to serve the ball.

Junior Jason Silberman, senior Adam Kreitzman and junior Jacob Zimmerman (from left to right), prepare for their teammate to serve the ball.

This heart condition didn’t stop Zimmerman as he has become one of the most impactful players on and off the court, adding many points to the scoreboard and contributing to the team’s 14-4 overall record and 8-0 league record so far. Zimmerman currently plays an outside position, however he set for the team last year. He excels in whichever position he plays due to his overall talent and athleticism.

At press time, the boys volleyball team has dominated with final scores of 3-0 in all of their league games, with only four losses overall. These shutouts show the team’s ability to maintain a comfortable lead throughout the match and seal it off with a win.

Coach Tahan Minakov has lots of experience with volleyball, playing at Drake in addition to a club team in the East Bay growing up. He competed in the Junior Olympics and has been coaching for about 15 years, 10 of which have been at Redwood. His past experience in both playing and coaching the sport is beneficial when building up the talent of new players who are athletic, but unfamiliar with the skills needed to play volleyball.

Minakov doesn’t dwell on past seasons and the inevitable loss of seniors each year. Instead, he continues to build off of the new and returning talent.

“We lost a couple seniors, we try not to compare teams year to year. This team’s strong, we have a really strong core, all the new kids are really athletic and are picking up fast so we are just continuing, picking up where we left off,” Minakov said.

After dominating in their season last year with a record of 12-0-0 in league, 25-10-0 overall and a strong start this year, they will continue to work on building team chemistry. Minakov is confident in his players and knows that if they continue to give their hardest effort at each practice, they will be successful.

“This team is strong in every position and the kids, they know what to expect. We’ve been there before and they know the amount of hard work it takes to get back to that point and everybody is on the same page and is willing to put in that effort,” Minakov said.

The boys volleyball team is unique compared to other sports in terms of the different backgrounds that players come from. Despite these differences, players are united by the same desires: playing the sport they love and wanting to succeed in doing it.

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