Ropes course encourages teamwork among v-ballers

Varsity M-P solleyballer Emily Wiseman navigates the first leg of the vaunted alpine tower at the Jim Creek Naval facility near Arlington. -
Varsity M-P solleyballer Emily Wiseman navigates the first leg of the vaunted alpine tower at the Jim Creek Naval facility near Arlington.
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The drive alone to the Jim Creek Naval facility, curving through a bright green blackberry patches and setback country homes, would help anybody relax and put things in perspective. And if you couldnt come up with any perspective, the alpine tower and ropes course waiting at the end of the road would find some for you.
Perspective and trust were the mantras for two vanfuls of M-P volleyball players who came to the facility for a teambuilding exercise. They were greeted by eight Marines from the Whidbey Island Naval Base, recreation specialist Mike Petrowski and M-P ROTC advisor Randy Brasfield. Through various exercises, climbing, belaying and swinging, the team would learn how each member reacts in stressful situations. So when theyre on the volleyball court at school, theyll be able to read one anothers moves better and coach Shelly Johnson would determine who has the character to play in the tougher positions.
They balanced on the tower base, helping one another past each corner. Then crawled through a cats cradle of thin rope. The goal was to climb through the holes without touching the rope or the bells cliped to it would sound. Teammates had to figure out together how to do it and how help each other through. Each of the girls voiced an idea, and eventually they formed a strategy.
You need to communicate, but you also need to hear the coach and tune out the outside noise, Brasfield said. Until the whole team is through, it wont work.
Then several of the girls, harnessed and helmeted, took to the tower, trusting teammates to be their belayers.
Emily Wiseman, a senior and outside hitter for M-P, pushed back her fear, encouraged by her belayer and the assisting Marines, and confidently scaled her way to the platform atop the tower.
It was pretty scary because Im afraid of heights, Wiseman said. I wanted to challenge myself.
The team spent about four hours climbing, belaying and working with one another. Johnson has organized team trips to the facility before. Its a useful exercise both for the players personally, and for the team.
You find out a lot about kids who do this, Johnson said. You find out who the leader is and you find out whether theyre mentally tough.

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