As many of my readers know, my sons took at advantage of the opportunities they had to participate in athletic competition through our local public high school. And all through their teen years, they were very dedicated athletes, making that commitment a top priority in their lives. 

However, while my two daughters desired regularly athletic activities, they weren’t looking for the time commitment that my sons had made.  So quite a few years ago, we threw our efforts into the fledging home-school sports leagues in our area. And we are very happy we did. 

The first year my good friend Cindy McKeown started CHESS family school, our weekly co-op, she also started a volleyball tournament.  I’m not sure why she chose that sport, but I know one factor was the possibility of putting together a co-ed team.  We held a tournament, inviting other area co-ops to put together teams as well.  With few of the teams investing more than a few hours practice beforehand, it was a pretty pathetic display of athletic talent.  However, we had so much fun and the officials hired to referree the tournament were so impressed with the character of the kids involved, we were inspired to press on. 

One of the officials volunteered to coach our CHESS volleyball team, and, five years later, he remains the head coach of a burgeoning program.  We have grown to include a senior high varsity team, a senior high junior varsity team and enough kids for a couple of junior high teams. Our senior high athletes play weekly in an adult recreational team, plus practice once or twice a week most months of the year.  All of our teams are involved in two regional home-school tournaments yearly; we also have volleyball clinics and scrimmages intermittently.  CHESS puts together the fall tournament; another home-school group picked up the ball and put together what is now an even bigger spring tournament. We draw teams throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states. 

How did it get so big?  By everyone contributing a little bit of effort for the overall benefit of all.  That’s the beauty of networking – the synergy of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Cindy McKeown, the original innovator, doesn’t have any responsibilities for our volleyball program these days except as a supportive parent in the stands. Others have built upon her contribution.  Some of our players even went on to play volleyball in college, and some have now returned to join our five-member coaching staff.    

For my daughter Kayte, volleyball has become an important high school experience—not just for the physical activity it’s provided, but also, for the healthy friendships she has formed.  There’s been plenty of character-building as well. Kayte has worked very hard to make the varsity team.   

The program is competitive, and kids do have to invest a respectable amount of time into developing their skill levels and focus.  I’m most grateful for the Christian philosophy of coaching the head coach brings to this program.  He does expect excellence. He also expects the players to make a commitment to serve and trust one another.  And he expects to take timeout for character issues, including his own.  

Largely because of the success of the volleyball league, others were inspired to start a girls’ basketball team.  (There are boys’ basketball teams in our region as well.)  Again, our heavenly Father was pleased to draw a former girls’ basketball coach at an area high school into home schooling and then into coaching our team.