ALEEYA JONES, 11, of Wiscasset, is hoping someday to make the Olympics as a volleyball player.

ALEEYA JONES, 11, of Wiscasset, is hoping someday to make the Olympics as a volleyball player.

WISCASSET

Last year, Aleeya Jones, then just 10-years-old, traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to learn, what her mom Julie calls, “real volleyball.”

Aleeya, who lives in Wiscasset and attends Wiscasset Christian Academy, will head to Las Vegas on July 28 for a four-day USA Volleyball camp, having recently been selected, for the second consecutive year, during a tryout at Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

She will join many of the top young volleyball players in the U.S., hoping to pick up some new skills.

 

 

This 11-year-old has dreams, with the one at the top of the list to one day represent the U.S. in the Olympic games.

“Since I could pick up a ball, I have played volleyball. I saw mom play and I really wanted to try it.”

“Her passion is all volleyball,” said Julie, who coaches the club girls volleyball team at Brunswick. “If you ask her, God is first, but volleyball is second in her life.”

With a full-size beach volleyball court in her backyard, Aleeya finds herself outside often.

“She is out here a couple hours a day, and her goal is for that Olympic dream,” said Julie. “Everybody says that is farfetched, but you have to start somewhere. She has that dream, and we encourage her and teach her how to accomplish those dreams.”

“My goal is the Olympics. I think I have the ability to go there. With a court in my yard, it’s really fun because you can come out and practice your volleyball without going on a trip. Me and my sister do little scrimmages one-on-one.”

Playing the sport

Aleeya describes herself as a “spiker.” Using her 5-foot-6 frame, the soon-to-be seventh grader has played on the Wiscasset Christian Academy varsity team since she was in the first grade.

“She is going (to Las Vegas) as an outside hitter,” said Julie. “Last year her eyes were open to a new game of volleyball that is just not taught up here. She goes down there and finds a different game of volleyball, and tells me before she goes to bed each night what she has learned.

“We have a school with just 25 kids, so we are pulling kids from young ages, like my 9-year-girl daughter (Madison),” said Julie. “It is a lower standard volleyball because you have several different levels of girls who come out.”

Maine Juniors Volleyball

Aleeya also participates in Maine Juniors Volleyball, based in Portland.

There, she plays with and against players who reside mostly in southern Maine. Again, Aleeya is typically the youngest player on the court, competing against high school-aged players. Aleeya has even learned how to play a different position, serving as a libero.

“In Maine Juniors I was a libero. It is the person who always gets the ball first. It is cool. It makes me learn how to do different stuff.”

According to www.volleyball.org, “the libero is a player specialized in defensive skills. They must wear a contrasting jersey color from their teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height.”

“Most of the players in Portland are from down south, Biddeford, Greely,” said Julie. “The director is from Gray, and they hold their practices down there. We travel over an hour each week. All the girls on the team are 15, turning 16, and Aleeya is 11. We travel to Massachusetts, Connecticut, to New York. Tryouts were in Sarasota Springs, New York, and we traveled there two weeks in a row.”

Aleeya’s volleyball play doesn’t end there. She makes weekly summer trips to Hampden Beach, N.H., to participate in beach volleyball, where she saw success last year.

“She plays through Spike University in New Hampshire,” said Julie. “Tournaments are held in Hampden Beach, N.H., with divisions up to 18-years-old. Last year her and her partner held the number one ranking in New England for their age group (Under 12). This year, they are shooting for number one in the 14-year-old division.”

Three-team U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kerri-Walsh-Jennings is Aleeya’s favorite volleyball player.

“She plays really good, and I want to follow her footsteps. She inspires me to play beach volleyball.”

After this year, Aleeya will work to return to the USA volleyball camp, where down the road her training may include facing teams from around the world in highlevel, and competitive, tournaments.

“She is in the future select division because of her age group (Under 12). She gets selected for these training programs to get her ready for the selection process for teams, which are in the select group,” said Julie. “Next year she will be in the select division, a new division and even harder to get through the selection process.”

Aleeya also enjoys playing basketball, and wants to give lacrosse a try. Next year at Wiscasset Christian Academy, Aleeya plans on playing soccer.

“I like all kinds of sports.”

As far as Las Vegas, Aleeya is hoping to continue to grow as a volleyball player.

“I always come back hoping I have learned more stuff. I want to keep learning, and one day make the U.S. Olympic team.”

“On July 28, she begins the fourday training program, literally a boot camp,” said Julie. “She is the only one from Maine, and amongst only five from New England. “It is very nerve-racking. Last year she was 10, and we had to bring her to Nova University (in Fort Lauderdale) and just drop her off, in the hands of USA team directors.”

The family is fundraising to offset the $2,500 needed to travel to Las Vegas. For those wishing to donate, go to www.gofundme.com. As of July 10, Aleeya has raised nearly $1,500.


Comments are not available on this story.