The children weren’t even as tall as 6-footer Sequoia Lofton’s waist as they craned their necks to look up at her while she explained how to serve in volleyball.
Lofton and the Salt Lake Community College volleyball team in October visited the Boys & Girls Club in Sugar House for two hours, showing their tiny admirers a sport they love. Amid the echoes of laughter and shrieks inside the gym, everyone came away richer.
“It teaches me to have patience with these little kids,” said Lofton, a sophomore on the team. “And I like making them happy.”
Coach Sue Dulaney
Every year Head Coach Sue Dulaney takes her current crop of players out in the community to do service projects. Sometimes it’s reading to children, others it’s showing people the game of volleyball – at times with a colorful, soft beach ball if the participants are too small to handle a real volleyball.
“It’s fun watching everyone on this team and seeing how much they’re engaged and the smiles on their faces,” Dulaney said. “I think our energy gets funneled into the kids a little bit. It’s a good afternoon for us to give back with what we love to do.”
At least five of the players on the 2014 team are six feet tall, the rest not far behind. So, there was a lot of kneeling, tying shoes for the little ones and bonding in the short time they had together.
“I want to be a teacher – so, seeing these kids makes it all worth while,” said sophomore Alyssa Koki. “I like that they’re so absorbed by what we do, that we’re such an example to them and that they want to be like us.”
Some of the children listened intently before trying to replicate with a giant beach ball the returns and serves they were witnessing.
“It kind of reminds me of how hard volleyball is to teach,” said Cassandra Fenton, also a sophomore. “But seeing the smiles on their faces makes it all worth it.”
They took cell phone pictures together as one group of children left and another queued up for their turn with the towering volleyball players. Some had a hard time leaving so soon after making new friends with the young women. Freshman Jessica Quayle reduced her 6-foot frame by half to hear a little girl’s answer to a question of where in the world you would go if you could go anywhere. The little girl didn’t know – Quayle answered “Europe,” because she’s always wanted to see a castle.
“I liked teaching them what I know, passing it on,” Quayle said. “Because no one taught me volleyball when I was little, and I would have loved this opportunity.”
Next up: The team is headed to Casper, Wyoming Nov. 20-22 to play in the NJCAA National Tournament for the second year in a row. They face off in the first round against Missouri State University, West Plains. Visit the team’s homepage for information about the team and tournament schedule.