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The City Journals

Bingham volleyball builds positive skills, wins games

Oct 28, 2016 01:04PM ● By Billy Swartzfager

Bingham’s 2016 volleyball team at the beach after a tournament in California (Austin Linford/Bingham Volleyball)

By Billy Swartzfager | [email protected]

South Jordan, Utah - The Bingham Miners volleyball team had a successful 2016 season. As of the middle of October, the Miners were looking up at only Brighton in region standings, sitting close to comfortably in second place. At that time, the Miners were a tough-looking 7-1 in region play and 14-8 overall, with four of those losses coming to out-of-state opponents while at a tournament in Southern California.

This year’s team is young and had big shoes to fill. The 2015 Bingham team took third at the state tournament, and many of those players graduated and some moved away. But, those who have returned have played like seasoned veterans according to Bingham’s longtime coach, Melissa Glasker. She mentioned junior setter Seleisa Elisaia as being a large part of the team’s success both last year and this year. 

“She jumps well, swings well, and it has been fun watching her evolve in her leadership role,” Glasker said of Elisaia.

One of the few seniors on the team, Callie Whitney, does a lot to motivate the team on and off the court. Whitney is also a team captain. 

“Callie does a great job spearheading the kids, rallying the troops,” Glasker said.

Sophomore outside hitter Journey Tupea and Sisi Kaili are doing a fantastic job in their roles as well, according to Glasker, who also thinks this year’s team is exhibiting some of the best team chemistry she has witnessed in many years. A lot of that positive team dynamic has to do with the various focuses the team has. The Miners like to win, just like any other team playing competitive sports, but that isn’t their only focus—it may not even be their biggest.

“We tend to focus a lot on old-school basics of sports, the things that translate into real life skills, like being on time and determination,” Glasker said.

Beyond those “old-school” musts, the team spends a bit of time building and growing relationships between teammates and coaches, holding each other accountable and balancing each other out. In early September, the team travelled to California to play in a large tournament. The trip accomplished many things for the Miners. They were able to share time together and build chemistry on and off the court. They were also able to see some very successful, large volleyball programs and were able to get their swings in as well, winning three of their matches.

Another nod to old-school practices that Glasker imposes on her players is that they are required to turn their phones off while they are on the bus together and when they are playing a game. Glasker states that having the girls turn off their phones leads to them sharing their experiences interactively, making them more attentive to what is actually going with one another. And, all of that has helped the young team overcome adversity and win matches as well as helping to develop great life skills that will certainly come in handy down the line. 

“Do they want to be remembered for going 26-2 or for supporting each other when they needed it?” Glasker asked rhetorically.

The Miners are winning more matches than some thought they would. They are doing it all while having a great time and becoming pillars for each other and the school they represent.

“I love these kids,” Glasker said. “More than anything, I want them to become good people.”