Liz Masakayan took steps to learn how to be a better volleyball
player despite being raised in a single parent household.
Learn about how she did it as she tells her story in her own words.
First, let me explain that everything I'm about to write could only come
from me now that I am an adult, and with that, a much more of an
aware and in touch person with what I feel.
It's easy to look back and know now where my choices came from.
If you were to ask me then about any obstacles I had to overcome
when I was a teenager, I would have told you that everything was fine,
except for the fact that I felt cheated that all my friends had more
material things than I did and that I had the strictest mom in the world.
As an adolescent and a young adult, I never knew how competitive and
athletic I was.
I just played, worked hard, had fun and enjoyed being popular for it.
It was all very simple for me at the time. It was so simple that when I
was 16, going into my senior year of high school and starting to get
letters from universities wanting me to play volleyball at their school, I
had no idea that I could get free college education because of my
I was very excited and very appreciative of what I was being offered,
never once thinking I had actually earned it because I was always just
doing what I loved to do--sports.
I can truly say that I felt as though there were no hurdles that I had to
The biggest barrier then, which is not as big of an issue now,
was the lack of opportunities available for girls to play sports.
I played Little League Baseball at 10 years old when they first allowed
girls to play. Then when I was a junior in high school, we finally got the
opportunity to form the first ever girl's soccer team.
I already had been playing club soccer for 5 years and really wanted to
play in high school like all the boys did.
Also, the closest club volleyball was about 30-45 minutes away.
Today, there's about 10 different one's in the area. I relied a lot on the
other girl's moms to bring me to practices and competitions since my
mom was working all the time having to raise four kids.
Because I believed I didn't really have any hang ups or handicaps, it
gave me every opportunity in my mind to do whatever it was I wanted
That was a good thing and bad thing all in one.
On a positive note, I worked very hard and had a lot of desire to be
better at sports and academics.
That gave me alot of attention and love that any kid in a big family with
one parent subconsciously wants to have.
But, unknowingly, my sense of self was very wrapped up in my
My value as a person was determined by winning or losing and
that can be a very dangerous mindset. If I succeeded, I was a person
and everyone liked me. And if I failed, I was worthless.
It was a very conditional love I had for myself which attacked my self
esteem and led to self criticism and negativity. This motivated me to
improve and do more at all costs because I was never satisfied, but it
came from an unhealthy place and at the expense of having a lack of
balance in my life.
It was an extreme focus, but not worth the things I was sacrificing and
Even though my mother and the nature of a single parent home installed
a lot of great qualities, it also left me with a little sense of balance.
We were all in survival mode, and if we were to stop and really feel and
assess the situation, it would have been counterproductive to enduring
This lack of balance that I experienced in my youth has been a huge
hurdle in my young adult life.
It led me to lose a sense of self awareness--enough to get injured
numerous times, lose a sense of perspective in life, enough to not fully
enjoy the process that got me the result, and lose a sense of how to
choose quality relationships enough to not have had the confidence to
be a good wife and mother in order to have a healthy marriage.
But these are all things I know now and am lucky that desire and
determination I learned as a child, has given me the courage to improve
my sense of balance today.
I'm grateful for the hard lessons I have learned, but hope that young
kids today have a different and healthier avenue to encounter them.
More important than anything I have accomplished in sports, I have
learned and strongly believed in one thing.
I think the most significant purpose for anyone is to put effort into
figuring out a way to have a healthy marriage so that as parents
one can raise their children together (in the same house) to be
complete and balanced individuals.
After all, our children are society's future and we need to be great
role models as parents and people.
Do you have a great story? Share it!
The Volleyball Voices editorial project is an ongoing work in progress and I invite you and all Inspiring Female Volleyball Players readers to contribute their own personal stories of the obstacles they had to overcome in order to enjoy or excel at playing volleyball.
The purpose of this project is to empower, educate and inspire female volleyball players to become self-confident athletes with positive body images and through this collection of stories to provide ideas and inspiration to IFVP readers that will serve to help improve self-esteem.
The ultimate goal is to create the largest collection of inspirational female volleyball players stories on the web and your help is needed to accomplish this goal.
Are you one of the female volleyball players that have had to overcome any of the obstacles in the list mentioned above?
If so, please add to the collection by submitting your own story of overcoming obstacles.
Do you want to learn more about how to be a better volleyball player in
the articles below?
For more inspiring stories by female volleyball players check out the