The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Time Out! Ep. 20: Melissa Gonchar

Melissa Gonchar discusses her volleyball journey
Liz Liu
Melissa Gonchar celebrates with her team after a successful block.

LL: Hi everyone, my name is Liz Liu,

JL: And I’m Joyce Li.

JL: Welcome to Episode 20 of Time Out! Each episode, we dive into the sports scene here at Monta Vista and explore the journeys of athletes from various sports. In this episode, we are joined by junior Melissa Gonchar who shares her journey in volleyball.

MG: My name is Melissa Gonchar and I’m a junior.

JL: OK, so what sport do you play?

MG: I play volleyball and I play on the school team too.

JL: How long have you played volleyball?

MG: I’ve played volleyball since fifth grade and I mean I take after my dad.

LL: What is your position?

MG: This one’s a little bit tricky to answer because on the school team, I just kind of get tossed around. I’ve played every single position at this point. I mean, my coach has put me right side, outside, DS, libero. For school, I’d say more right side, but then again, it’s pretty unpredictable. And then for club volleyball, I play right side.

LL: What is your favorite position to play?

MG: Every position is different. So it is hard to say, but I’d say probably outside or right side. 

JL: How did you get into volleyball? Was there anyone in particular that played a big role? 

MG: Yeah, so my dad started playing volleyball and I decided to try it out because he’s like, “Hey, this is a really nice sport, I enjoy it.” So I tried it too and I liked it.

LL: So when did he start playing volleyball? 

MG: He started playing volleyball when I was in fourth grade or so and then I tried it when I was in fifth grade.

JL: Do you look up to any professional players in specific and if so, what do you learn or take away from them?

MG: I mean, there are a lot of volleyball players I look up to, most of them being in Stanford. I mean, I like going to Stanford volleyball games. I think their setters, their middles — everybody is amazing. Watching high-level volleyball like that just makes you love the sport a lot more.

LL: What would you say is one important quality you learned from playing volleyball? Could you elaborate on how and when you learned that?

MG: I’d say the biggest thing I learned from it is time management because volleyball does take up a lot of time. Like when you’re in school season, you either have practice every day or you have a game or you have tournaments on the weekend sometimes which takes up a couple hours of your time a day. Then when you’re out of the school season and you’re in club season, you also have practice about three times a week. During the weekends, you also have two or three-day tournaments, which also take up a lot of time. These tournaments can be anywhere; they could be in Santa Clara or they could be in Las Vegas, for example, or Washington. So you have to fly out, you have to learn to manage your time really well, which is the biggest thing I learned. Especially going from middle school to high school where the workload increased.

JL: Could you tell us more about club volleyball? 

MG: Yeah, of course. I play for Red Rock, and I’ve been playing club since I was 11. That’s the earliest club starts — it goes from 11s to 18s. I’ve always been doing club and I really like it. I enjoy it — the people and the coaches that you meet are really good. I’ve always played club and then I didn’t join the school team until high school. I never played in middle school because I had other after-school classes, so I couldn’t join the middle school team. I personally like club season more than high school season because I think that club season is more competitive because you’re competing nationally. You want to get a bid nationally and you want to compete against teams from other states. So I’d say personally, I like club more. 

LL: So volleyball is obviously a team sport. Have you created any new relationships or friendships while playing? 

MG: Yeah, I think some of my best friends and some of the people I’m closest to in my life are from volleyball. I’ve met all my best friends from volleyball. I think this is because you have something in common and it’s what brings you together. School friends — you’re not as close to them because you’re kind of forced to be friends with them because you’re in the same environment. But with volleyball, you’re becoming friends because of a common likeness that you have of the sport, which is nice. I know there’s people who have played together and they invite each other to weddings in the future. You get really close with some of the members of your team of course. 

JL: What are some challenges you faced when learning to play volleyball and how did you face them?

MG: Some of the biggest challenges are mental. I think it’s learning to talk positively to yourself because sports, as much as they are physical, they are mental. Especially when you’re in games and you’re not doing that well or you’re having an off day at practice, it does get really frustrating. The biggest thing I had to overcome is thinking positively, talking well and saying, “Oh, it’s OK.” Again, I think time management is a big thing to overcome. There are also physical challenges that I face because three months ago I sprained my knee. It’s definitely really frustrating because you forget some things after not touching a volleyball or playing for a couple of weeks or months. And when you try to get back into it, you’re not playing as well. Like my knee still hurts and you don’t know how to get back into it because it feels like you backtracked and you got worse.

LL: So you mentioned club volleyball is more competitive. Can you talk more about the stress? I know you touched on that with your previous answer about being stressed and how you got worse. Could you talk more about that?

MG: Club, especially on the weekends, takes up more time because you have two or three-day tournaments. You have to travel out of state, buy plane tickets, everything. I think that with that, it’s hard for me to manage my time sometimes, especially because I have absolutely no time. These days, you’ll be playing from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. They take up most of the time and you’re doing that for two or three days in a row. You have absolutely no time for homework. You’re either staying up late or you have to ask for extensions. At times that does get overwhelming, especially as a junior because I’m pressured to do well because I want good grades and I want to get into a good college eventually.

JL: What is your favorite thing about volleyball?

MG: I would definitely say it’s the people and the friends I’ve made. It’s all the friends I’ve made, all the connections I’ve made with people.

JL: What is your least favorite thing about volleyball?

MG: It’s also connections in a way because I’ve been on so many teams at this point that I’ve had some teams where people don’t like each other. They don’t get along well, they despise each other, they don’t talk, they don’t do any of that. It’s tough being on a team where you’re forced to be together but you just don’t get along.

LL: What is your favorite moment playing volleyball or your best memory, whether at school or club. You can talk about both if you want.

MG: With school, I’d say it’s making it to CCS and making all those great memories. The Monta Vista Girls Volleyball team haven’t gone to CCS in so many years, and then it’s like, I come in freshman year on the varsity team and then we go to CCS. It was like this overwhelming joyous time.

JL: Do you have plans for playing volleyball in the future?

MG: I’ve thought about it and I would like to. I’ve always liked volleyball and I’ve always thought about playing volleyball in college. But reality is that less than 3% of people who play volleyball in high school play in college. It’s something that I need to think about because college volleyball is more professional and much more commitment is needed. It’s something I’m still thinking about, especially with my knee. I still don’t feel like I play like I used to, so it’s something I’m still deciding. 

LL: What are some of your goals for volleyball? Like whether current goals or future goals?

MG: Right now my club season is almost over. My last tournament is actually this weekend with club, so I think that my goal is just to have fun at this last tournament, not let my knee get in the way of playing, and just have fun. 

LL: That’s it for Episode 20 of Time Out! Thank you so much for Melissa for joining in.

JL: I’m Joyce.

LL: And I’m Liz.

LL & JL: Thanks for tuning in!

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