Raelyn White, Emma Grome: There’s Never Enough Volleyball
Pick a day of the week. Any day will do. Pick a month of the year. Any month will do. Now throw those two random selections – a day and a month – together, and it is almost a guarantee that Emma Grome and Raelyn White are playing volleyball somewhere in the country, on some type of surface, be it sand or indoors or on the sand indoors.
When Grome, an Ohio native, isn’t playing beach, she’s playing indoor. When she’s not playing indoor for her high school team, she’s playing for her club team. When she’s doing neither, she’s playing beach. And so the cycle repeats.
White, on the other hand, has given up the indoor stuff. She picked up beach her sophomore year of high school, was offered to play for Florida State, one of the top beach programs in the country, a few months later, and committed to the Seminoles, one of the top teams in the nation. As a Floridian, there has never really much need for White to take a break. Beach Bums, a Tampa Bay-located organization, puts on monthly tournaments in Florida, allowing, if not encouraging, White and other locals to train year-round.
“I took off a little bit after summer,” White allowed. “I didn’t play until October. But now I’m back in it, pretty much.”
It is funny to note that the two, while they play an incredible amount of volleyball, either beach or indoors, do not do much playing together. It’s a testament to their abilities as players that they were able to win the p1440 Elite tournament in Cincinnati this past November. They had played together before, in California the previous summer. Aside from that, the only preparation they had prior to the Elite event was four hours of practice the day before.
Then they just did what they do best, and do quite frequently: They played volleyball.
“It was cool to play with someone I hadn’t played with in a little while because we hadn’t played together since the summer,” Grome said. “It was cool for her to come up and figure things out and come away with a win.”
How they were able to “figure things out” is a nod to their willingness to simply play, and play with whomever may be available on any given weekend. White said she plays with someone new pretty much every weekend over the summer. Grome has competed with players from every corner of the country, from Florida to California to New Jersey to Ohio and wherever else you might find someone who’s willing to travel and play in a beach volleyball tournament.
“Every person plays different so when you play with a new partner you just have to adapt as you go and that makes it easier to play with different people,” she said. “I’ve played as a defender when I’ve had a taller blocker and I’ve played with people where I split block. It just really helps you grow your game because you have to adapt your game and get better from it.”
They have both grown exponentially in their games, no matter the surface. Next year, Grome will be setting for the University of Kentucky, which made the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA Tournament. White will be competing for Brooke Niles and a Florida State team that has made the NCAA Tournament every year the tournament has existed.
“I still hope to continue beach now,” Grome said. “And then after my indoor career is over at Kentucky to get back on the beach and play in some AVPs.”
Because there will always be more volleyball to play.
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