I Learned How To Become A Pro Volleyball Player: April Chapple

But first I had to get the leg braces off and learn to walk again

I learned how to become a pro volleyball player, thanks to hard work,

determination, discipline and dedication.

Here's my story.

After I was born it didn't take me long to get sick.

Firstborn children are often sickly. I was no exception. Little did I know

what I was going to have to overcome.

I was born in Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles where at 8 months old they

diagnosed me with...spinal meningitis.

My aunt had spinal meningitis when she was young and the only thing

that saved her life was an intensive penicillin therapy.

But she was older than I was when she was stricken which really

worried my parents. They decided to cross town to USC Medical for a

second opinion.

Luckily the doctors said 'no" meningitis 'yes' measles. I had a 104 degree


Not long after this first scare my parents kept noticing that I continued

to be sicker than usual. Every couple of days I'd have a rash, a fever or

some reaction to some unknown substance.

Later they found out I was allergic to commercial baby food.

My father bought a mixer and started making natural juices and food

substances for me. Fruit juices, carrot juice, beet, spinach and that

awful cabbage juice were the only substances my baby body didn't

react to negatively.

They said I ate that stuff like a football player but I never gained


At 10 months I started walking.

Normally that's premature and a cause for celebration, but for me it was

only another one of life's challenges.

We found out how severely bowlegged I was which apparently was one

of the results of that high fever I had when I had the measles.

I was left with both of my legs and feet turned completely inward.

At night, I had to start sleeping with a metal contraption consisting of

two lateral bars with clasps that my feet were inserted in. Periodically

the doctor or my Mom would adjust a knob which would force my legs

and feet to turn outward while I slept since I was too young to have

formed the muscles needed to turn my feet out naturally.

And yes, I was completely immobile in bed. I couldn't turn and I couldn't

turn over. Think "torture chamber".

How tough is it for a kid not to be able to move around when they want


Now if that was all then this would be a short story. But it wasn't.

During the day I had to wear a pair of huge iron braces that were

attached to these special shoes and were connected along the sides of

my legs all the way up to my waist.

If you saw the movie 'Forrest Gump' then you've seen exactly the type

of contraption I had to wear.

Imagine a young Forrest Gump with his leg braces and you've almost got

the picture.

At age 2, I graduated to these huge weighted metal shoes that my Mom

said were painful just to see never mind have to wear.

I still hadn't gained much weight so by the end of the day my legs were

painfully sore all the time.

In addition to everything else, my hair started to fall out.

Whether it was stress related or  just a result of the high fever I was a

two year old girl with no hair.

Adults thought I was a skinny little boy as a kid and as you can imagine

kids teased me A LOT.

For some reason, as a kid growing up and getting older I never really

focused on my physical aspect. I didn't focus on "Oh man I wish I had

this or had that" nor did I feel sorry for myself. I'm not sure why.

I just was.

I do attribute a lot of this to my father.

My father didn't let me focus on what was "wrong" with me. He always

talked about what was right with me and the things that I could do well,

like reading and writing.

My parents had long discussions on what to do with me and how to

treat me so I'd have a normal childhood.

Remember I was the firstborn, so I was the experiment. They had to

figure out a game plan they could follow, and they did.

They discussed whether I should wear a wig or not. My father

refused. He was totally against it. He didn't want me to hide

behind anything I wasn't born with.

I'd say my father's take was "If God didn't give it to you, then either

you work for it or you didn't need to have it".

My Father taught me that the only love I actually needed in life was

that of God, that of myself, and that of my parents.

His lessons always entailed loving God, loving my parents, my family and

loving myself no matter what.

They talked about my leg braces, my hair and lack of it and/or how

skinny I was. I should have grown up with issues.

And in my mind, I never had any.

That is just how I grew up. I was constantly teased at school and on

the street.

But in kindergarten I was reading second and third grade educational

material. I was smarter than the majority of the kids in my class.

In second grade, I had a teacher accuse me of cheating because

she said my penmanship was too perfect. She insisted my Mom

was doing my homework.

My writing ability was great because my Mom was a school teacher and

she made me do extra writing and penmanship exercises even after I

was done with my homework.

And besides, I loved to write anyway so I didn't look at it as 'extra


A little drama in life is expected but this wasn't a fun situation having to

prove my intelligence.

When I was four and a half, on the advice of my grandmother, my

parents put me in ballet class so that the exercises would strengthen

my legs and turn my feet out naturally.

I loved to dance and it didn't really feel like physical therapy.

With their encouragement I started taking all sorts of classes that were

physically challenging. Swimming, tumbling and gymnastics, tap and

modern dance.

As my confidence in myself and my abilities grew, so did my leg


By this time I developed a new strategy for when kids teased me.

I started to ask them if they wanted to read with me. Nine times out of

ten they stopped teasing and talking about me but they wouldn't read

with me since I was reading material that they couldn't read.

Since I had started kindergarten so early in age it made me the

youngest in everything I did through life.

In junior high and high school I was younger than everybody in my


The same thing occurred on the varsity volleyball team, junior

Olympic volleyball teams and club volleyball teams I played on.

When people thought I was too young and said I didn't belong...I

wouldn't focus on the hurt.

I just became super-determined to improve my talents and volleyball


By the time I was in high school...when I asked anyone to play volleyball

with me, nine times out of ten...they said "Yes!".

I was a sophomore in high school when I set three goals for myself.

One was to earn a college volleyball scholarship.

The second goal was to make the US National Volleyball team.

The third goal was to learn how to become a pro volleyball player so I

could play in Italy and around the world.

Unlocking The Mystery on How To Become A Pro Volleyball Player

I first learned that I would have to be the first one in the gym and the

last to leave, all the time. And I was.

I learned early on that I'd get nearer to accomplishing my goals by

looking for all sorts of opportunities to play with people and players who

were better than I was and who could teach me how to become

a pro volleyball player and a better well conditioned athlete in general.

If I had to arrange a ride to practice I would. If I had to take a bus to

practice I would.

I practiced passing and setting against my garage door so often the

paint color changed on the garage door but my ability to control the ball

improved enormously.

I think I learned how to do things the hard way because I wasn't really

worried much about how people thought about me.

When you grow up with little or no hair and leg braces you learn that

what people think about you isn't important, achieving your positive

goals in life is what really matters.

I made learning how to become a pro volleyball player a priority in

everything I did.

I would stand in front of the mirror before going to bed and practice my

armswing without a ball one hundred times so my elbow was above the

level of my ear when I pulled it back, and I knew my armswing for my

serve or my spike was automatically done correctly.

I did this so much that sometimes I would be asleep and I would sit up

in bed and do my arm swing in my sleep, I was told.

I made myself faster by doing three, four or five series of 10-15 sprints

at a nearby park. While I was there I did my own quick step and

jump training exercises. I went to the beach and ran sprints in the sand

to make myself faster when I played indoors.

One of the keys of learning how to become a pro volleyball player or a

collegiate player or a member or your varsity volleyball team lies in

your ability to improve during your offseason.

I learned the importance of summertime and offseason workouts and I

never if rarely missed any. It was during these times of training where I

like most athletes, made my biggest improvements in speed, in jumping

ability, in ball control and in mental toughness.

I learned quickly that trying "to get better" during my season

wasn't going to make me stand out.

I had to already 'be' better before my season started if I was

going to win a spot or keep a spot on the team  I wanted to be on,

especially if I wanted to be a starter.

More Ways On How To Become A Pro Volleyball Player

I wanted to be the fastest, so I worked on speed.

I wanted to out jump my competition for longer periods of time, so I

worked on leg strength and jumping endurance.

I wanted to get nine out of ten of the balls I was served by the

opposing team ..to the target.

So I worked on controlling the ball to the target  by myself and then I'd

go find some young guys or old men to serve balls at me in my


When you are willing to work hard to reach your goals then many times

the opportunities you are looking for --make themselves available. You

know why?

Because the universe works that way.

You start talking about your goals to yourself, your friends, to others

and then little by little things start to work in your favor.

But you have to be dedicated, disciplined and determined, before that


The fastest way for me to learn how to be a pro volleyball player, or a

standout collegiate player or a starting high school player was to get

beat in practice, over and over and over again.

It didn't feel good, but it made me hungry.

It made me hungry to learn how to get good and how to be accurate at

all six volleyball skills.

When you do that, people begin to notice. Coaches begin to notice.

Players begin to notice. Your game and your skills and your ability begins

to improve.

This type of attitude marks the beginning of how to become a pro

volleyball player, or a highly recruited high school player.

Trust me it has happened to me repeatedly.

I never knew how I was going to get over to Italy to play my first

season. But, that summer after my fourth year of college I just kept

working out and I knew I had to be in shape when I got the

call and I had to keep repeating my goals to myself and I kept telling

people why I was working out and what I was working for.

One day, at the end of summer I received a call from Elaine Roque an All

American player at UCLA who had been playing in Parma, Italy for

several years.

She was ready to come back to the United States to finish school and

play beach and she needed another player to take her place on her

Italian team.

We didn't know each other but she had heard about me. She played

middle blocker and I was an outside hitter. I didnt care, I was ready

to play any position and my bags were packed.

Thanks to that phone call Elaine taught me how to become a pro

volleyball player in Italy by giving me advice on how to get there, what

to bring and what to expect.

I stayed there for 13 years.

Luckily you can make things in life happen for yourself whether its

learning how to become a pro volleyball player, a collegiate player

or a varsity player by working hard, being determined, dedicated

and disciplined.

Life Lesson: Don't focus on yourself and what you believe are your


Focus on your natural abilities and work to develop and enhance

volleyball skills and life skills you do well while constantly

improving your weaker ones.

This will pay off in life both on the volleyball court and off.

This story "I Learned How To Become A Pro Volleyball Player" was written by April Chapple for the Volleyball Voices project created and produced by April Chapple. All rights reserved. Volleyball Voices copyright 2013.

Do You Have An Inspirational Female Volleyball Players Story To Share?

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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.

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Get more information on how to become a pro volleyball player in the pages below:

For more information on how to become a pro volleyball player and other

information check out the information in the pages below:

E.O Learned How To Be A Good Volleyball Player

Famous Beach Volleyball Player Nina Matthies

Famous Female Volleyball Player Rose Magers

Good Volleyball Players Like Heather Bown Prove Critics Wrong

I Learned How To Be A Better Volleyball Player:Olympian Liz Masakayan

The First Volleyball Player America Had To Respect: Mary Jo Peppler

The Girl Volleyball Player Who Got Better Than The Boys: Laurel Brassey Iversen

The Most Famous Volleyball Player, Flo Hyman

The Shortest Volleyball Player On The Court: Debbie Green Vargas

The Tallest Volleyball Player On The Team: Kim Oden

I Learned How To Become A Pro Volleyball Player: April Chapple

Return To Inspirational Female Volleyball Players Stories From I Learned

How To Become A Pro Volleyball Player

Return to Inspiring Female Volleyball Players From I Learned How To

Become A Pro Volleyball Player

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The Weekly Las Vegas Boot Camp Volleyball Class Schedule

  • Monday Volleyball Class (ages 11 - 14) - Stupak Community Center 6 - 7:30
  • Tuesday Volleyball Class (ages 13 - 18) - Mirabelli Community Center 6 - 7:30
  • Wednesday Advanced/Varsity Only Class - Chuck Minker Sports Complex - 4:30 - 6pm - Contact Coach April first before coming if you've never been
  • Thursday Volleyball Class (ages 13 - 18) - Stupak Community Ctr. 6 - 7:30
  • Friday Advanced/Varsity Only Skill Clinics (ages 13 - 18) - Veteran's Memorial Summerlin - 5pm - 6pm - Contact Coach April before coming first if you've never been 
  • Friday Volleyball Class (ages 9 - 13) - Veteran's Memorial Leisure Services 6 - 7:30

Boot Camp Volleyball Class Requirements

  • No online registration for Volleyball Voice Boot Camp classes
  • Arrive 15-20 minutes before class begins
  • Pay $10 at front desk
  • Kneepads mandatory
  • Classes close at 6:05, latecomers will not be admitted
  • You WILL sweat

Monthly Monday 
Advanced Training 

Breakfast Club 60

About Breakfast Club 60

  • Four Mondays 4pm - 5pm
  • 60 minute intense Training
  • Class Max 12 - Coed
  • Ages 14 - 18
  • No Beginners
  • Varsity/Adv/Elite Skill level
  • Breakfast Club/USAVHP
  • Registration is Open
  • Stupak Community Ctr 
  • Pay $195 for a four class pack Breakfast Club 60 
  • Pay $195 late registration (1-3 Mondays)


Elite training for very advanced hard working players who INTEND to play volleyball in college.

Exclusive opportunity to train with teammates/friends with similar high goals and are ready to push YOU and themselves to improve. 

Not for the curious, weak hearted or distracted player, we do more in 60 minutes than most clubs and teams do in three hours. 

If you’ve never attended a Breakfast Club class contact Coach April BEFORE registering.

Brunch Club 60

About Brunch Club 60

  • Four Mondays 5pm - 6pm
  • 60 minute intensive Training
  • Class Max 12 - Coed
  • Ages 13 - 15
  • No Beginners
  • Intermediate Skill level
  • Registration is Open
  • Stupak Community Ctr 
  • Pay $195 for a four class pack Breakfast Club 60 
  • Pay $195 late registration (1-3 Mondays)


Perfect for regular Boot Camp class players and players who've ALREADY played on a City of Las Vegas/NYS Elite local league team and who're interested in more advanced training and/or trying out for the Volleycats Elite 14s/15s/ local team competing in June/July/August. 

Private and Semi Private Lessons with Coach April
Tuesdays and Thursdays

Ten (10) - intensive 60-minute sessions of semi-private (small groups of six) volleyball practices 

Sessions are a specially designed mix of skills conducted by Coach April within the one hour session

  • Private training class pack is $1050 for 10 classes. This includes gym rental fee 
  • Semi-private training class pack is $850 for 10 classes. This includes gym rental fee