Monday, February 28, 2011

The Spiker in my Sociology Class

Last semester I asked the guy who sat next to me in Spanish class to be my friend on Facebook. Scott Rhein is polite, soft-spoken and overall, just a great student. I was caught off guard when I started seeing pictures and video links of Scott’s intimidating six-foot, five-inch frame, looming over a net, slamming a ball into the faces of teams competing against the USA Youth National Volleyball Team. He can reach eleven-foot three; you can imagine what that looks like on the other side of an eight-foot net.

Scott Rhein might best be described as 185 pounds of volleyball finesse, artistically painting a picture of victory with every spike he makes. Fortunately, I sit across from him in sociology and not on the other side of the net. Now seventeen years old, Rhein has been competing on the volleyball court since he was twelve. His love of the sport started when he was living near Baltimore, Maryland. His mother and stepfather took him to a local sports complex called the Volleyball House.

“I was too young to participate, so I just stood on the side, and I would practice for hours hitting the ball against the wall. A year later when I turned twelve, I got to a level that I could get on the court and compete with the adults.”

Homeschooled since the fourth grade, he is currently a senior in high school and is taking classes in the Volunteer State Community College dual-enrollment program. After graduating this year, he plans to attend Pepperdine University on an athletic scholarship. He plays on two different teams. One is a local club travel team called Impact, based out of Nashville and the other is a USA national team competing at the world level.

Last year, he was selected to represent the United States on the USA Youth National Volleyball Team. The team consists of the best twelve volleyball players from around the country to compete internationally. “We travelled to Mexico to represent our country. We took second place in this particular competition for countries from North America, Central America, and the Carribeans. It was a qualifier for the world championships and for the first-ever Youth Olympics.”

You might ask, why volleyball? Scott said, “I suppose I could have played any other sport, but volleyball is the one God chose for me and has blessed me with this ability. Every other sport I played just felt like another game. When I am on the volleyball court getting ready to play, I feel like I am at home.”

After college, Scott says he will consider pursuing professional volleyball opportunities in Europe and other international arenas where the sport is widely embraced.

Scott is the youngest of four siblings, and the whole family enjoys playing volleyball. In fact, Amanda Rhein, one of his sisters, has been playing on the Lipscomb volleyball team for two years on an athletic scholarship. He was quick to point out that it is not uncommon to see Olympic volleyball players in their 30s. This gives him plenty of time to develop his skills and up his game. I look forward to watching Scott chase after Olympic gold medals.

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