Luna Finds Work-Life Balance in Sports

Anisa Walji and Zara Paul

Volleyball has been an escape for Upper School Spanish Teacher and Ninth Grade Dean Jacobo Luna as he learns to balance his work life. Luna participates in an LGBTQ+ inclusive volleyball league called the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association (DIVA).

Luna enjoys teaching and prioritizes his students and work life in his life. Yet, volleyball has proved to be a way he can find balance and ensure that he stays grounded in life. Luna has noticed that volleyball aids his mental health in the stressful life of being a teacher.

“It brings balance to who I am as a person,” Luna said.

While Luna’s volleyball team is in an LGBTQ+ league, it is still very inclusive, and many heterosexual family members play in the league, as well as allies. Almost 80% of the team is LGBTQ+, providing an environment for Luna to meet many people from different backgrounds.

Not only is Luna’s volleyball team inclusive within their members, but they also support Luna in his work life. He is able to go to his fellow teammates when he needs help with an issue. By getting unbiased views, Luna is able to enrich his students’ minds.

“I have had one of my friends who is Native American come to talk in one of my AP classes about immigration,” Luna said. “ It was very moving to hear his story, and he was very personal.”

Freshman Ricardo Santisteban Conde has Luna as a teacher in AP Spanish. Students in his Spanish one and AP Spanish classes experience immense support from Luna.

“As a freshman taking an AP class, Mr. Luna helps me adjust to the difficulties,” Santisteban Conde said. “Mr. Luna bringing his teammate was interesting and taught our class a lot.”

This outlet for Luna has had many benefits for his mental health, as his friends and students have noticed how happy he is inside and outside the classroom.

“He loves [volleyball], and it makes me happy to see him enjoy something so much,” said Upper School  April Burns. “Volleyball gives him a place outside of work and outside of school when he was in graduate school to be able to meet people, have fun, and make progress.”

Luna has made progress in finding a way to relieve stress and find balance since he started 3 years ago. Luna was in an adult choir group but ultimately lost interest. One of Luna’s friends from his choir mentioned the volleyball league, and he decided to give it a try.

“I had no idea what I was doing at first,” Luna said.

Luna became a setter with zero volleyball experience. As a beginner, Luna started in the DIVA recreational league, then advanced to the intermediate league, and now he is in the club league.

As soon as Luna joined the intermediate league, he received a letter from DIVA where he was selected to be a team captain. To get this letter, DIVA evaluated his leadership skills as he played.

The club participates in three season:, fall, spring and summer. Every season, Luna utilizes his privileges as a captain to select players to join his team.

Luna leads practices at the DIVA facility for two hours every Tuesday. The team also plays two matches every Friday night. Every season there are a couple of weekend tournaments, with a final tournament at the end of each season.

Luna’s biggest aspiration in volleyball is to advance to the North American Gay Volleyball Association (NAGVA) as a setter.

As Luna looks back on his career in volleyball, he realized how much this sport has improved him as a person, and he wishes he could give himself some advice for when he first picked up volleyball.

“When you play sports, you think about yourself and others, you are a team,” Luna said. “Never stop exploring because why would you limit yourself when you don’t know how it could end.”