Volleyball Stories
Sharkie Zartman

One of the world's famous volleyball players, Sharkie Zartman, describes what it’s like to be “obsessed.”

Sports and games were always my passion. 

When I was young, the kids went out and played--We made up our own games, our own rules, our own teams and would have fun for hours and hours on end.

I always loved PE, but we had a teacher who was very strict and took most of the fun out of sports. 

Still, it was worth putting up with to get to run, jump, compete and play with my friends at school. 

When I was old enough to make the school teams I tried out for all the sports.

Even though I wasn't the best athlete in those days, the competition to make a team was somewhat limited, since most girls that I knew had "moved" to other more important feminine things--like makeup and boys.

I loved all sports and continued to play them in high school. 

My parents were a great support to me, but I knew they were a little concerned that their second daughter had not outgrown her "tomboy" stage.

Most of my grammar school friends stopped playing sports in high school and became cheerleaders, which did not appeal to me at all. 

I didn't want to cheer, I wanted to play!

At some point, I gravitated towards volleyball as my favorite sport. 

It wasn't that I was good at it---I just liked how I felt when I played. 

After school I would go to the beach and play with my friends. 

We used to pretend that we were the US volleyball team playing against Japan. 

When my friends went home I would stay and go up and down the beach looking for volleyball games. 

I guess you could say that I was obsessed.

One day my high school volleyball coach asked if she could talk to me.

I thought that she was going to tell me how good I was, since I used to throw my body on the floor all the time to get the ball--it didn't matter how many bruises I had.

To my surprise, she told me that she thought I should QUIT volleyball.

She said that I was too short, too uncoordinated and I should stop playing volleyball before I hurt myself.

I was shocked! I was mad! I was hurt! I also think that at this moment I turned my life around. I felt very determined to prove her wrong.

My search began for someone who would help me. I wasn't ready to give up volleyball and I didn't just want to play anymore--I wanted to be good!

One of my friends told me of a teacher at our school who went on trips to the volleyball nationals and played on a team.

He told stories of how great the volleyball teams were, and about some outstanding female volleyball players---like Mary Jo Peppler.

I knew I had to talk to him and ask him to help me. I asked Mr. Zartman if he would teach me how to be good enough to go to a National Tournament like the ones he described.

He told me if I got some friends that were athletes together that he would coach us!

So I did! 

Unfortunately, most of my friends were not what you would call athletes, even though Pat taught us how to play, the "Ramrods" did not play well enough to go to the Nationals. Some of the girls would scream and duck when the ball came to them.

The next year, we got some great volleyball players. Linda Lehde and Rose Duncan to name a few. 

We also changed our name to the Spoilers! We actually qualified for our first National Championships!

We were off to Hawaii! I remember how excited I was to see all the great players that Pat had talked about.

We even got to play against Mary Jo Peppler!

As the years went on we had several great athletes come onto our volleyball team. I'll never forget when Flo Hyman came to play with us! What a sweet person.

I remember at the start she was very shy and somewhat self conscious about her height (6'5").

It didn't take Flo long to fit in with our energetic style and enthusiasm. We also had Elaine Roque in her first year of club.

She was so young and timid at the start we used to call her '"Pampers".

In 1977, the Spoilers won their first National title! We beat an "unbeatable" Adidas team.

What a feeling! We were so excited that we all jumped in the pool at the hotel after and one of our volleyball players broke her toe.

Volleyball has given me a lot in my life--many titles, awards, experiences, best friends, a sense of accomplishment, and oh yes, my husband.

Eventually I married Pat.

We have been married for 28 years. Our daughters both play volleyball. We even revived the "Spoilers" for Teri and Chrissie and their friends.

My family has learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and everyone we have come in contact with through this sport.

I really believe that the purpose in our life is to experience it as fully as we can.

It's almost ironic how things come to be. I could have quit when my coach suggested that I do so for my own good.

However, I think we all intuitively know what we want to do with our lives. 

Following your heart will always get you where you want to go.

Let God work out the details.

This story is an excerpt from Sharkie Zartman's book "Shark Sense" and is reprinted here with permission.

Get more volleyball info on Sharkie Zartman.

This excerpt was contributed by Sharkie Zartman exclusively for the Volleyball Voices project created and produced by April Chapple.

No reproduction is allowed. All rights reserved. Volleyball Voices copyright 2018-19.

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