If you started playing volleyball at a young age like I did and continued to play through college, there comes a point when you’ve spent (at least) 50% of your life on a volleyball team. Some extremely talented players will have the opportunity to continue playing competitive volleyball after college, but the rest of us are forced to retire (aside from the occasional rec league) after hanging up our college, high school, or club jerseys for the last time.

It turns out that once you’ve dedicated half of your life to something, such as playing a sport, you’ll never be the same afterwards. For me, volleyball was engrained into who I am as a person and even though I no longer play competitively I still find myself thinking about and being reminded of the sport almost daily. Check out my list of things that only ex-volleyball players can relate to and let me know what you would add in the comments!

When you realize it’s no longer acceptable to publicly live in spandex. After wearing spandex 24/7 for over a decade, I realized that most people actually don’t consider them real pants after the first time I felt the stares of judgment & disapproval.

When you’re now the coach and you finally understand every single thing your coaches have ever said to you. It’s a rude awakening discovering why my coach was so frustrated with us all the time. It just can’t be that hard to say “I GOT IT” or get your serve IN the court, can it?!

Knowing that you’ll never have to INVOLUNTARILY participate in two-a-day preseasons ever again. Ahhhhh…sweet, sweet bliss.

When you can actually keep a manicure intact for more than two days! Who knew they had the potential to last this long?!

You reflexively yell “MINE” when someone tosses something in your general direction. Sorry, it’s a habit!

When you would KILL to have just one more “Christmas in August.” You mean I don’t get huge shipments of clothing and new gear like ankle braces and shoes every season anymore?!  What am I supposed to wear all fall?

You still cringe every time you see someone kick a volleyball. It’s just unnecessary & it hurts.

When your mind giggles a little when you’re coaching and yell “ON THE LINE” at your girls and you can literally see the fear in their eyes. It all really does come full circle.

When you put on a pair of spandex after 5 years and wonder HOW you wore these for 25% of your life. I swear, they used to be so comfortable.  FYI, it’s actually NOT ok to publicly pick a wedgie.

When “carb-loading” turns into “carb-free.” Because apparently a Friday isn’t a good enough reason to carb-load??

When you go out and think you can play like you’re still a collegiate athlete. You end up not being able to get out of bed for two weeks and you look like one giant bruise. My body just cannot do it anymore… time to accept it & move on.

When you’re coaching and your girls take an entire practice to organize their warm up routine and perfect their cheers. There’s just no way we put this much energy into this when I played…right?

Missing that team family bond. There’s just nothing like it outside of the sports world. I will always be missing those 12 crazy sisters you once called your teammates.

The moment you remember this is rec volleyball and not the National Championship. Once I realized I could get my volleyball fix by joining a rec team I was the first one to sign up but it turns out I can only go 1000% or not at all. There is just no in between!

Watching kneepads virtually disappear. What is this 1/4-inch piece of foam nonsense?  Come on, who remembers the 3-inch bubble pads?!

Uniforms just aren’t the same. When back in our day, it was UNACCEPTABLE to wear anything but knee high socks.

When your knees are bruise-free & you wonder what’s wrong. After 15 years of never seeing a patch of normal unbruised/burnt/scabbed skin on my knees, it is a welcome introduction. “Nice to meet you, normal human knees!”

Why is everyone here so short? For the first time you feel a little “out of place” when you realize that not everyone in the world is over 6-foot & you have a mini height identity crisis.

When you finally grasp just how much you owe your parents. Waking up at 3am to drive you to your tournaments every weekend and then sitting in a gym for 36 hours watching you play is a lot more work than I ever gave them credit for. Thanks for being great volleyball parents, Mom & Dad!!

When you actually have to learn how to braid your own hair. Every team had that one girl who you scheduled your hair braiding appointment with before your first match of the day.

As a coach, the first time you say something to your girls that one of your coaches always said to you and you can’t believe those words actually just came out of your mouth. I guess it really is all engrained in my brain forever!

The heartache of knowing you’ll never get to celebrate a championship point ever again. I’d give anything to relive that feeling on the court just one more time.  Too bad it’s not socially appropriate to jump, scream, fall to your knees, and cry tears of elation when you get a good parking spot…

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