A post on Twitter on Aug. 6 started a string of 20 straight tweets over the course of 14 days as a sort of recruitment campaign for Hopedale.
The Twitterverse can be dormant during the summer.
Especially when it comes to tweets (or posts) from accounts run by high school sports teams and athletic directors.
For the Hopedale girls volleyball team, however, there is no summer sabbatical.
After a tweet on June 20, and retweets on July 3 and July 30, the Blue Raiders started working their collective internet fingers. Swiftly.
On Aug. 6, @hopedalevball tweeted “Come and play for the most fun team in town – Hopedale girls volleyball!!! Captains practices are 8-9 am at town park every Tuesday and Thursday.” After four volleyball emojis (or symbols), the tweet ended by saying “Tryouts start August 22nd!!!!! See you there :).”
That post on social media started a string of 20 straight tweets over the course of 14 days as a sort of recruitment campaign on Twitter.
“I was just trying to catch people’s attention and hopefully get more than one girl at tryouts,” said Hopedale coach Andrew Mainini, who is entering his seventh season with the team. “The girls who are coming out love it. I guess through the tweets that’s the message we’re trying to send out.”
VIDEO: Hopedale girls volleyball tweets out reminder about captain’s practices and tryouts
Come and play for the most fun team in town – Hopedale girls volleyball!!! Captains practices are 8-9 am at town park every tuesday and thursday. Tryouts start August 22nd!!!! See you there :)pic.twitter.com/O7jukYlFpJ
— Hopedale Volleyball (@hopedalevball)August 6, 2019
Last year, Hopedale had a low turnout for tryouts after its best season in program history in the fall of 2017. Only one seventh grader tried out for the team in 2018.
“In Hopedale, there isn’t a volleyball program starting out when you’re little,” senior captain Kate Hockenbury said. “So a lot of girls are nervous about trying a new sport their seventh-grade year.”
“So this year we were trying different things to reach out more,” Mainini said. “You don’t need to know about the game. You don’t need to have experience. Just come out and play.”
Mainini crafted a few questions for his returning players and decided he’d post their answers on Twitter.
Here are a few replies from the Blue Raiders’:
“Volleyball is special because unlike a lot of other high school sports, most of the girls, including me, had no idea how to play volleyball when they tried out (for) the team and over the years we’ve all developed into very competitive athletes,” senior captain Maddie LaPrade wrote.
“Volleyball is special because unlike a lot of other high school sports, most of the girls, including me, had no idea how to play volleyball when they tried out the team and over the years we’ve all developed into very competitive athletes.” – Maddie L, Senior Captainpic.twitter.com/0etyAFj5eh
— Hopedale Volleyball (@hopedalevball)August 16, 2019
“I love volleyball because I feel at home on the court and I know that I can do anything,” Hockenbury wrote. “Plus, getting kills feels amazing :).”
PHOTO: Captain Kate Hockenbury shares her thoughts on volleyball
“I love volleyball because I feel at home on the court and I know that I can do anything. Plus, getting kills feels amazing :)” Kate H, Senior Captain @coachmaininipic.twitter.com/JvPl5aw9eY
— Hopedale Volleyball (@hopedalevball)August 9, 2019
Last season, Hopedale had plenty of kills on the court. The Blue Raiders even earned a No. 3 seed in the Division 3 Central playoffs.
After beating both No. 14 Bay Path and No. 6 Nipmuc, the Blue Raiders fell to eventual sectional champion Whitinsville-Christian in the semifinals.
Hopedale finished its season with a 17-4 overall record.
A year prior, Hopedale beat Whitinsville-Christian in the Div. 3 Central final to secure its first sectional championship as a program.
So that made it even more surprising when only one girl showed up for tryouts before the beginning of last season.
After the low turnout, Mikayla Evans, a senior captain last season and a freshman playing volleyball at Westfield State this fall, decided the team needed more of a social media presence. So @hopedalevball on Twitter and Instagram was created.
“I personally don’t have an Instagram,” Mainini said. “So I didn’t know we had an Instagram.”
“I know not a lot of girls have Twitter, especially seventh-, eighth- or ninth-graders but a bunch of them have Instagram,” junior captain Bianca Fitch said. “So I think it’s good we have both. Twitter is good for parents and Instagram is good for the athletes.”
On a July 30 Instagram post, Hopedale girls volleyball stated the fall season was just 21 days away (technically 23, but who’s counting?).
The post also said there was “NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED” and to “Try one practice and if you don’t love it you’ll get your money back.”
PHOTO: Hopedale girls volleyball posts on Instagram to remind potential players about tryouts
View this post on Instagram
Just 21 days till the fall season starts!!!! Who’s excited?!? Attention to any and all hopedale girls: Captain’s practices are Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00 pm at the Hopedale park (basketball court). NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED!! Try one practice and if you don’t love it you’ll get your money back. Bring sneakers a water bottle and a good attitude! You can DM this account with any questions or talk to our Captains: Maddie LaPrade, Bianca Fitch or Kate Hockenbury. Can’t wait to see you there!!
“The captain’s practices are mainly for younger girls to have them get some extra practice before the season and basically get them to learn how to play the game because they’ve never really played before,” Fitch said. “We’ve had a good amount of seventh- and eighth-graders that are new to the game because they’ve seen some of our tweets and have heard from other girls.
“So that’s really good to hear.”
On Sept. 1, the Blue Raiders will participate in the Volley For Tomorrow charity tournament. Hopedale will play for six-straight hours for a good cause with a few other teams from midnight to 6 a.m.
It will provide another opportunity for the Blue Raiders to bond and build relationships before their season starts on Sept. 6 at Blackstone Valley Tech.
“This is one of those seasons that’s really exciting,” Mainini said. “We have a lot of potential but a vast majority of these girls that are going to be in the starting lineup having never played consistently in a varsity match. So I don’t really know. It’s one of those seasons where we could win a sectional title this year or we could scrape into the playoffs at 12-6.
“That’s going to be kind of determined by how the girls perform in terms of maturity and mental toughness.”
Although the win-loss record may be an uncertainty, the Blue Raiders do have one certainty this season: they will be active on social media.
A necessary chore for a Hopedale girls volleyball program trying to spread the message that volleyball is fun.
And it’s for everyone.
Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 508-626-4405 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.