The squeak of sneakers, the smack of a ball as its sent high in the air, and the sound of laughter and cheers, are all part of a longstanding tradition that occurs at the Rice Elementary School gym every Monday night. The Mountain Top Area Volleyball League, in its 46th year, brings together adults of all ages for athleticism and fun.
“It’s a great league,” related John Schwartz, who was elected for the second year as president of the organization. “We play for exercise and the love of the game.”
While the league recently had registration sessions, anyone can sign up to join at anytime. Schwartz hopes that more players do join the league and encouraged anyone interested to attend one of its Monday gatherings, at Rice Elementary.
Schwartz has been a part of the league for 25 years. He first joined when he heard friends at work talking about the league. He liked the sport and, although he’d never played organized volleyball before, he thought he’d give it a try.
“I just enjoyed it,” Schwartz said. “It’s a way to get fit, exercise, and have fun.”
Players of all ages, from 20 to mid-70’s, were spread out on the volleyball courts recently. As college-age men high-fived women a generation older than them, it was clear the league forged friendships that fate otherwise would not have arranged.
The teams –four on the gym floor
playing two simultaneous games –were organized in a way where stronger players were mixed in with those who were more amateur, and their placement met for a smoothly-run, competitive game.
“We try to keep it competitive,” Schwartz stated. He stressed that, while really talented players enjoy the league –one played on Penn State’s volleyball team –anyone of any skill level can join. “If you’ve never played before, we have a few coaches that would love to work with people,” he said.
Typically the league organizes itself into eight teams total. Four play during the first half of the Monday night meetings and the other four plays the second half. “There are levels of players from novice to very good,” Schwartz explained. “All are welcome and there are no tryouts.”
And while they don’t have referees, the league has “unspoken rules” that ensure good sportsmanship and fairness, he added. The group plays for fun and no stats are kept.
About a decade ago, the volleyball league, having always been men only, switched to become co-ed. Schwartz benefitted from this as the league was where he met his wife, Annie. Her father and brother were on his team and then she joined the league. Married now for five years, the volleyball-loving couple is both involved in the league. Annie is the secretary and treasurer of the organization.
Another benefit of the league, Schwartz noted, is that the registration fee is modest, at $25 per year, much lower than leagues in other nearby areas. He added that he appreciates the generosity of the school district in allowing the league to use the elementary gym.
The $25 cost covers insurance and includes at least one outing at a local establishment. Because of insurance issues, however, he emphasized that players must be 20 years old or older to join.
Anyone interested in joining the Mountain Top Area Volleyball League can contact John Schwartz, at email@example.com,or attend one of the league’s Monday gatherings, at Rice Elementary, from 6:30 to 9:30 p. m. Around mid-November, the meeting times change to 7 to 10 p. m., and the league plays throughout the school year.