When Connor Bloom’s Orange Lutheran volleyball season was cut short last March due to COVID-19, the Huntington Beach resident headed outdoors, temporarily trading the gym court for the sand to continue his training. Although his experience playing beach volleyball had been limited up to that point, pick-up games in small groups allowed him to keep his skills sharp and stay in shape, both physically and mentally, during the uncertainty of the spring and summer months.
“It was fun, and it made the best of a bad situation,” says Bloom.
The schedule and timing of this year’s boys volleyball high school season is still to be determined, but the Lancer senior is taking it all in stride. Having received his start in the sport in middle school at the suggestion of his mother, a former collegiate player, it is the team dynamic and adrenaline of the game that hooked him almost instantly.
“I like the high-energy moments that you get and the satisfaction that you get from playing the game,” says the 18-year old. “It’s a lot of technique and skills-based stuff, but it’s not like the biggest guy wins all the time. The little guy still has a chance.”
After initially playing middle, Bloom transitioned to outside hitter and opposite a few seasons ago. The unusual position change was challenging, but allowed him to find his niche as an attacker.
“Connor is a one man wrecking crew,” says OLu boys volleyball head coach, Henry Valiente. “He is truly blessed with all the right gifts to be a great athlete. He works super hard at his craft, and it shows on the court. Other than being gifted, what stands out the most about Connor is his willingness to be a positive role model. He is the pure definition of a great leader.”
Bloom’s leadership style as a captain for the Lancers’ varsity squad comes from leading by example, but he acknowledges that volleyball is a team sport, and no one player can do it alone.
“You’ve got to rely on people around you,” says Bloom. “You’ve got to rely on your friends and family. On the court, that’s what you have to do. You’re not a one-man army. [That has] taught me the importance of leaning in on your companions and supporting them as well.”
The sense of community Bloom has found at OLu during his time with his Lancer teammates has provided no shortage of memories and heart-stopping moments, including a 2018 CIF state championship. His next steps include joining the men’s volleyball program at Long Beach State, the back-to-back defending NCAA champions.
Playing at the highest level possible has always been at the forefront for Bloom, and the four-year varsity player is excited to take his next step in the sport. Grateful for the guidance provided by his parents and coaches, he will continue to utilize his God-given abilities as a way of living out his faith.
“My faith has always led me to use the gifts that God has given me and be thankful for them, because I recognize that not everyone is my height with my athleticism,” says Bloom. “I’m thankful for the gifts I’ve been given, and I want to use them to help glorify God.”
Learn more about Connor by watching "The Walk".
*Photo credit: Kitano Photgraphy