Mercer Island High School volleyball players assembled and donated six bikes as part of a team bonding activity on Aug. 25. The bikes were donated to a Mercer Island family identified through Youth and Family Services. Photos courtesy of Elise Quinn

MIHS girls’ volleyball team bonds by building bikes

Mercer Island High School volleyball players had a special bonding and leadership training experience planned on Aug. 25, after a long week of tryouts and practice.

The volleyball booster club, with the team’s coach, Susan Rindlaub, had planned for the 34 girls on the team to put together six bicycles, which would then be donated to a Mercer Island family in need.

The family was identified and connected through Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, and the project was funded with a generous grant from the Mercer Island Community Fund, said the booster club’s Elise Quinn.

“We feel this training will be powerful in transferring leadership, problem solving and community bonding opportunities to the athletes and also help local families within our community that have been in need of bikes for local transportation,” Quinn said. “We would like the athletes to challenge themselves by bike building and then in turn, see that [their] efforts are worthwhile.”

When the players walked into the high school gym on Friday afternoon, they were told to split into six groups and sit around unopened cardboard boxes. They had to answer trivia questions about the sport of volleyball, and their teammates, to earn points before they could start the activity. When they looked inside the boxes, they found a bicycle frame, pedals and other parts.

With the help of some of their dads, who were volunteering for the afternoon, and some power tools, they worked together to assemble the bikes. Helmets were also donated and fitted by Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Rindlaub said that communication and teamwork are important on and off the court, and that she liked the community service aspect of the project. She is an MIHS volleyball alum, playing for four years and graduating in 2000. This year is her ninth as the head varsity coach at MIHS, where she teaches English and social studies.

The booster club has supported the girls’ MIHS volleyball team and their coaches with training, leadership, organizational efforts and fundraising since 1989, and became a nonprofit in 2014.

The Mercer Island Community Fund’s mission is to benefit and serve the residents of Mercer Island by receiving, investing and distributing funds to support community goals and interests. For more, see www.micommunityfund.org.