Athletes of Irvington: Cynthia Liu

Athletes of Irvington: Cynthia Liu

As an elementary school kid, my dad tried to teach my sister volleyball because she wasn’t the best at basketball. Meanwhile, he’d always bring me along just to see if I could beat her. Eventually, I just started learning from whatever I saw her practice. Then, I’d actually start copying all the things that she was taught and I got a lot better really quickly. My main motivation was to prove that I was better than her because I thought, “Wow, she sucks. I could do so much better than her”, and then I did.

 I started playing for the volleyball team in seventh grade, but then I started playing club volleyball in eighth grade and I’ve been playing ever since. I started for the team out of curiosity of how fun it would be and I eventually got the hang of it. I started getting more committed to it after I watched this anime called Haikyuu which was very inspiring. I really looked up to the main character of Haikyuu because he gets so many points and everyone would be scared of him when he plays. I also looked up to Oikawa, another character, because Oikawa has a crazy strong serve, and he was really good with the team and uniting them. And I also looked up to Nishinoya, because of his team spirit and getting into that energy from the core.

One of my first goals in volleyball was to start blocking, because my height was around 5’9″ at the time, and I thought that my height could be extremely useful. I definitely wanted to use it to my advantage, so that’s what I tried doing. 

The first time I felt like I accomplished something in volleyball was in eighth grade. I remember during the first game, a teammate told me that I shouldn’t block because I couldn’t block properly, and if I blocked, I would just lose the point. But I decided not to listen to her because I was really stubborn, and that day, I got a block at the very end of the game. That got us the match point, and everyone got really excited. That really motivated me to try doing more blocking, but then eventually, I realized that I didn’t like blocking. Blocking isn’t fun. I was playing middle blocker, which means you don’t get to set the ball a lot and it’s just a really tiring sport. So I tried to change to outside but throughout the process of that, I got injured and tore my ACL. For my recovery, I just used it as a set point to restart everything and try new things.

Cynthia Liu

I honestly lost a lot of hope after my ACL fracture because freshman year was a great year for showing off your potential, building off it, and showing how coachable you are. But then, since I got my opportunities stolen and taken away from me, I felt like I lost it. But I didn’t give up, mainly because before my ACL tore in the summer of 2019 I went to lots of open gyms. I remember that feeling of going to those open gyms just gave me so much adrenaline and made me super excited, so throughout the recovery, I just kept reminding myself of how I felt during those open gyms in the summer. I reminded myself how good it felt to play volleyball. I just kept telling myself that I would get through this.

I definitely looked up to lots of the people at the open gyms. I really admired one of my own teammates. She’s now an alumnus, and her name is Samantha Chou. I admired her form a lot and I saw her as a competitor, but I just used that as motivation because I felt that I needed to get as good as she was.

My most recent favorite moment is from last summer when I tried out for lots of teams and I just got exponentially better, even though I just came out of recovery. Then, since I was getting so much better so fast, I thought, “Wow, this is crazy!” I tried out for a bunch of teams, and that was really fun because you’re trying out new things and finding newer, stronger people with higher skill levels. Eventually, I got accepted to my current team, which is called Academy 17HP. I really enjoy playing with them because my team members all have great energy and really good experience and skill.

My favorite part of playing volleyball is when you hit the ball, preferably when you try bouncing. It’s because the feeling of seeing the ball bounce super hard and high and that loud smack sound is just super satisfying, especially when other people try to receive it. They are just powerful, like I’m the person controlling the game.