Little Giants: Small Athletes Stand Tall at CHS
By Mustafa Agha
Athletes -- they’re most often described as tall, big and strong. But no one thinks of them as short, fast, and aggressive. This is typical; many people underestimate short athletes and even look down on them as weaker performers.
Athletes such as Francisco Ruiz and Muggsy Bogues are considerably shorter than other athletes competing at their level in their respective sports. Francisco Ruiz is 5’10” and is a power hitter for Spain’s national volleyball team, while Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues is 5’2”and played in the NBA as a point guard for the Toronto Raptors from 1999 to 2001.
As part of my feature on short athletes, I interviewed two Canterbury athletes, Alex Nita and Talia Wright, and one coach, Roy Hoople. Alex is 5’5” and plays volleyball -- a sport dominated by people that are 6 feet and taller. Alex plays as a libero because of his fast reflexes and good ability to receive the ball. Talia is a mere 4’10” and plays competitive hockey; she plays defence because of her speed and aggressiveness. Mr. Hoople coaches volleyball, badminton and soccer.
I asked both athletes two important questions: “Why do you play a sport dominated by tall people?” and “Do you think people underestimate you when they see you playing as the same level as them and do they play differently with you?”
Alex answered the first question by saying: “I play this sport because I enjoy the feeling of spiking the ball hard and scoring a point. I believe short people have as much as a chance as the tall ones. Everyone has their advantages and disadvantages. And I know this sounds kind of cliché but I believe that as long as you work hard, it won’t matter if you’re tall or not.”
I expect them to step up to the challenge." Roy Hoople
Talia’s response was: “Well, hockey is a mixture of both. There are a lot of tall people, but I do see small people too. Why I play is because I’m passionate about the sport.”
As for the second question, Alex responded that he is “not so sure if people underestimate me, but I know that I would give it my all no matter what.”
Talia’s response to the same question was: “Yes, they underestimate me because they think I’m weak and can’t stand my ground, but in reality, it’s the opposite way around.”
Both Alex and Talia are confident in their abilities as athletes and they know that their height is a small obstacle that can be overcome by believing in yourself and working hard. While other athletes might complain about their own mismatches in competition, Alex Nita and Talia Wright are working hard with what they’ve got.
Mr. Hoople believes that height doesn’t matter if you’re well placed in your sport. “For example badminton, you don’t need to be tall to be good,” he said. “But sports like volleyball, you can make it as a short player but you’d better be a good setter or libero because the rest of the positions you won’t make it.”
Mr. Hoople was asked if he expects short people to work harder at tryouts. “I expect them to step up to the challenge,” he said. “I will choose players based on their hunger for victory and ability to work as a team.”
To all the short athletes out there remember hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.