This month, we take a look at 13-year-old Emma Barber who’s motivated to improve her skills on the volleyball court. Emma and her parents set very specific goals including:
Increasing her vertical jump
Building overall strength
Reducing knee pain from quick growth (She’s tall for her age)
Building endurance and stamina
Improving eating habits
Emma has been playing volleyball since she was 7-years-old. She started in the City of Goodyear’s recreation league for girls and has continued to grow to love the game advancing through top level club volleyball.
We first met Emma while CrossFit training with her team in 2016. Over the summer, when club volleyball typically takes a break, Emma and her friends casually started a #jumpchallenge because advancing to a new age level – from 12’s to 13’s – would mean a higher net. The net height at this age level is 7 feet 4 1/8 inches. The only way to play front row is to be able to jump high enough to spike over the net.
Caption: This is the #jumpchallenge setup in the Barber’s home. The blue line represents the heigh of the volleyball net. The 3M sticky notes show improvement of jumping over time.
A family friend saw the jump challenge posts on social media and suggested Emma look at moving up.
“An evaluation showed Emma has the technique, the upper body mechanics, the focus… but she wasn’t jumping nearly as high as she needed to. The only thing holding her back was her inability to jump high. When we were advised to get Emma into CrossFit training to build up her leg strength, the first person I thought of was Peter Egyed – and CrossFit Fury,” says Emma’s mom, Jen Barber.
Barber and Fury Owner, Peter Egyed, had partnered together through a children’s health and wellness nonprofit about 8 years ago in Goodyear. The collaboration with a number of local businesses and the City of Goodyear kicked off when Egyed had just opened up his CrossFit Fury business. Egyed has always had a passion for youth athletics which continues to grow at Fury today.
“When Fury opened in 2008, youth athletics was an integral role in our vision. Our school systems are doing the best they can to provide strength and conditioning but we are committed to providing the most professional and effective youth training possible. We train nearly 200 individual kids a month including entire teams, athletes and kids who just want to be fit. Many of our student athletes have successfully achieved scholarships in college for their sport of choice,” notes Peter Egyed, CrossFit Fury Owner and Coach.
Emma’s schedule allows for training just once a week, but she says she’s seeing big gains since she set her goals in August, “Over time, I have jumped higher and higher with every training. It takes time and effort, but it has definitely been worth it. We use sticky notes to see how I have progressed and, right now, the latest jump I did is a couple inches over my last one.”
More important, when Emma started getting serious about her training in August, she was battling common, teenaged girl knee pain from growing so quickly. In fact, she spent most of the 2015-16 school year sidelined from gym class, wore knee braces, and could barely run without pain. All of that is gone now.
Fury’s Peter Egyed does not endorse single-sport athletes as his goal is for all young athletes to have exposure to as many sports as possible. But, he also understands the world we live in today and adjusts as his main goal is to support the kids who want to achieve their fitness goals. Egyed says, “With so many athletes playing a single sport year-round, a strength and conditioning program is critical. Single-sport athletes perform repetitive movements month after month and the goal of a strength and conditioning program is to help balance the stress these movements cause. Conditioning also addresses the deficiencies that will develop with even the best athletes who play year round. Building a foundation of general fitness allows athletes to practice safer and play harder.”
Emma’s mom tell us, “I have full faith in the training Emma is getting at Fury. Peter takes the time to show her how to recover and respond to tight and sore muscles. As an outside hitter, she’s continuously putting her shoulders to strenuous use. Because of her training at Fury, she now has the knowledge to manage the aches and pains after volleyball practice. And because she’s more physically fit, she’s having a lot of fun!”