There’s the sign. Bioville, California… “Home to the Most Advanced Technology!”. 2,500 Miles away from what used to be home, but since dad got this important job developing a video game we had to find a place to move quickly and really didn’t have much time for good-byes. Mom says she’s really excited for a new scene and warmer weather, but to be honest I don’t understand how she can be when we had everything in Buffalo. All of our family, friends, my amazing volleyball team who definitely would’ve made it to the championship this year and probably still might. It’ll just be a little tough without their star setter! Last year we made it to the middle school championship and in the final set Luke looked at me right after a shanked pass that went across the court and I just knew what he meant. I pushed the set fast, right above the net and BOOM! Right down the line almost too fast for the line judge to even see, but we all knew it was in. It felt awesome!
The alarm reads 6:59am. One minute before my alarm was supposed to go off, but I was already awake excited for the first day of a new school year. New friends, classes and I mean the weather is much nicer here. I attempt to focus on the positive, it makes the hard times a little more manageable. “These are some of the most important years of your life, don’t let them go by without enjoying them.” mom says as I’m heading to the bus. I really just want to play volleyball and make some good friends. Luke told me on FaceTime last night that he can already tell he’s going to be the captain and can “taste the championship”. That’s 5 months away… and he’s a freshman. I guess he always has had big goals. I just want to find my role and fit in. I get on the bus and see that a lot of the kids have really cool technology that I’ve never seen before. Some have metal earbuds with a bunch of lights and buttons. Some have what appears to be sleeves on their arms and legs,it must be some new style around here. Or just the style, who knows? In Buffalo, just wear Bills gear and you’re set. Everyone has Bills gear on in Buffalo. It’s part of the culture I like to say.
Anyway, the bus pulls up to this huge gray building with light blue accents and large, bright yellow letters spelling out B-I-O-H-I-G-H across the flat roof. I get off the bus and follow the sea of students, a lot more with those cool tech style accessories. When we finally get through the 3 sets of glass double doors I follow the sign to the main office, grab my schedule and go to first period. I find room 212 and enter Biology. The bell rings and the teacher pulls out the attendance sheet. Once all of the back to school chitter chatter quiets down I hear “Oh it looks like we have a new student. What’s your name and where are you from?” “Hello, my name is Jake Lands and I’m from Buffalo, New York”. All of a sudden from the back of the room I hear “Oh God, another normie”. A normie? What does that mean? I mean I look like an average teenage athlete, but I’m in California. All guys do. I didn’t let it bother me too much and Mrs. Lentworth shut it down pretty quick with a “Now Brutus lets be nice”. Pretty ineffective, but it’s the thought that counts. After the dismissal bell rings I head to math class when I accidentally bump into this kid in the hallway and he drops a textbook. “Hey watch it”. I quickly apologize and reach down for the book. “It’s all good man, just watch where you’re going you could’ve unbalanced my chip”. “Your what?” I quickly respond. The kid turns around and I notice he has one of those weird sleeves on his arm. He then waves his arm and says “Yanno, like in my bionic?” “Yeah man, I’m still lost, is that what that weird metal sleeve thing is on your arm?”. He explains to me that it’s not a sleeve and in fact is a bionic arm that has a user control system which works by the user sending a brain signal to the muscles attached to the bionic limb and in turn moving it. “I have a . He says “That’s what this school is. A place where bionics like myself and as Brutus called you in Mrs. Lentworth’s class a normie can intermingle.” While shocked about the news that I am going to school with part computer humans, I give a side grin to show my disapproval of such a negative word and Chase says:
“Eh, it’s just a word man, and you aren’t any different because you’re normal. That’s the idea this place wants to show. Oh and don’t worry about Brutus, he’s a lot more bark than bite, unless you plan on joining the volleyball team.”
“Yeah I guess you’re right, but wait. A normal person can play on the same team as a bionic?”
“Yeah man, another thing that’s really cool about this school they-”
“When are the volleyball tryouts?!”
“Today, after school. I’m an outside hitter so I’ll be there too. What’d you play?”
“I’m a setter,” I tell him.
“Aww man you might as well just not go. Brutus is the setter, a senior and the captain.”
“Then why is he in freshman biology?” “He’s failed it 3 times.”
“Well that won’t stop me. Volleyball is my life and I’m not gonna let anything take that away from me.”
The final bell for the day rings and I make my way to the gymnasium. I go in, sit next to Chase on the bleachers to change into my sneakers and the coach yells out: “Hello everybody, I am Coach N, I am the Varsity coach and Coach Cupris is the JV head coach. Now, to make it fair for the tryouts bionics on one side and everyone else on the other.” “Yup how it should be.” I hear Brutus whisper in the back of the pack.
We split up and the only thing on my mind is making this team, varsity or not I was going to be on it. Tryouts begin and we start with the fundamentals. Continue through with some more intermediate drills and then onto the final part which is the scrimmage. Coach N has been looking at me the entire time, I think I’m doing really good so I’m hopeful I made a good first impression. Whispering to the assistant, Coach N calls Jake over to talk to him. “Where are you from son and what grade are you in?”. “Buffalo New York sir and 9th. I just moved here, I’m a setter.”
“Have you ever played bionic volleyball?” I respond with a “No” and he says “Well we have a starting setter and you can still use some more work, but how would you like to join the varsity team?” Brutus rushes over, “I’m the captain, no way are we having a normie on our team!” I just stand there, ignoring him and the coach responds with “Exactly and that’s why he should be on the team. Now get ready to start training him.” “He doesn’t even have a bionic how is he going to play?” “We’ll give him one.” Coach pulls out this square with an extension and hook designed in it. “This is an eye sensor, it helps you track the ball and plan a move before the ball is even in your hands.” “That’s incredible”, I say. He tells me to get used to playing with it and then we’ll see how it goes.
I spend the next 8 weeks out of the 12 week season understanding the technology and learning the best way to utilize it. Chase and I spend 2 hours after each practice with him just tossing me balls, I set them and he attacks/hits. He also teaches me some of the ways the rules are different from traditional volleyball. The game is much faster so all of the calls in or out are made by artificial intelligence line judges and the net is 8 inches higher so that posed a significant challenge for me to get over. Some of the other guys have joined us come week 8, however, Brutus still refuses to accept me on the team.
It gets to the end of the season and we are in the final game of the season. The 2037 National Bionic Volleyball Championship. Every year it is held at Pauley Pavilion in LA.
We get there and I am stunned. All of the greatest teams play here and only the best have walked out the champions. That will be us.
We are deep into the second set with a tied score of 17-17. Our rivals, the Bionic Bruins serve, Jasper, our libero uses his bionic super speed to get the pass up and just as Brutus is going up to set, he grabs his eye and lets out a big yelp. The refs call a mandatory time out and come over to evaluate.
They come to the conclusion that the only way this could happen is with the use of bPED meant to increase the strength of your bionic. They eject Brutus and Coach puts me in.
There it is, my moment of a life-time to prove I can do this. We made it to the end of the second set with a win of 25-22. Now tied sets 1-1 with one more tiebreaker left.
It begins with them getting a quick lead from a couple small mistakes we made. We catch up without a problem and stay pretty toe-to-toe up to the score being 24-23, Us. Chase and I spent so much time practicing together we knew this could happen and so did the rest of the team. They serve, Jasper makes a shanked pass, Chase looks at me all too familiar and without the bionic I knew. I pushed it across the court. Fast right above the net, before the blocker and BOOM! Chase slams it down the line and the crowd goes wild. THe giant jumbotron above the court zooms in on me and all 4 sides of that giant screen.
It felt awesome!
Goldsmith-Vein, Ellen, et al. The Maze Runner. Twentieth Century Fox, 2014.
In the Maze Runner by Goldsmith-Vein the main character Thomas is a teenage boy also in a new environment that the others around him are used to and has to face many social and environmental challenges that he has to overcome and eventually leads a group of the kids in his maze to freedom. I will be modeling my main character Jake off of this. Thomas has many personality traits of a hardworking leader who wants to prove himself which I plan on reflecting in my character. However, Thomas is a little hot-headed and quick to react and doesn’t have a problem with making enemies. Jake is not going to share these traits and instead will do his best to ignore the problems with Brutus and understand that his moment will come.
UCLA. Inside Look at the New Pauley Pavillion. YouTube, YouTube, 26 Oct. 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew5J7wYnZ70. Accessed 9 Nov. 2022.
My story takes place largely in the high school and the gym of Bio High, however at the end of the story there is the Bionic Volleyball Championship game which takes place every year at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles California. I chose to stay as true to the setting as possible and even keep the name because of its iconic symbolization. In the video posted by UCLA Ken Weiner the senior associate athletic director of UCLA explains that they hold top tier events from kids’ choice awards to top level national championships with 40 teams winning in that arena. One detail about the stadium is that it has a capacity of 13,800 persons which I plan on having “sold out” for this championship game. There is also a giant four-sided jumbotron or scoreboard that hangs right above the center of the court and I plan on using that to show the enormity of Jake’s success when he not only enters the game but leads his team to the national championship.
Williams, Wayne. “A Complete Guide to Bionic Arms & Hands.” Bionics For Everyone, 25 Mar. 2022, https://bionicsforeveryone.com/bionic-arms-hands/.
My story is about a team of bionic volleyball players with different parts of their body being bionic. Some have stronger arms/hands and some stronger/faster legs. To understand more about how to properly incorporate this into my story I used this source to give me an idea of how bionic arms work with a user control system which works by the user sending a brain signal to the muscles attached to the bionic limb and in turn moving it. Williams also explains how there is a product by the Brand Unlimited Tomorrow called True Limb that works around the problems of swelling, sweating and arm repositioning. Being that my story is about a volleyball team with some of them having these limbs I plan on using this product and the method of the user control system in my story for the players that have them.