The divisional tournament is over, as is the Scottie Volleyball season. We fell to two great teams, Fairfield and Choteau, both of whom advanced to State. Although we fell, we can proudly say we didn’t fall apart. We never stopped trying. We forced them to earn every point. We gained their respect as individuals and as a team. In the words of Coach Ann Funk (Choteau), “We are champions because we play from the heart. We are winners because of our integrity, respect and sportsmanship.”
My least favorite chore of coaching is entering the locker room that final time, and not just because it smells like a locker room. I’ve played and coached enough to know what awaits me. All that emotion of dreams realized and shattered – the “what might have beens” and the “if onlys” piling up in the pools of tears running down the players’ faces (even those who cry on the inside, JoLynn).
But there is no shame in crying. We gave it our all and put up a good fight and tears were all we had left. I had long since reached the point where I knew I had not one, but 11 daughters on the team, and two terrific sisters: Lacey, who is now a sister and a mom, and Somer, who is always my rock in every situation, who is wise and kind and laughs at almost everything I say. We dealt out tough love some of the time, but more often appreciated our student-athletes’ commitment and drive to improve, their ability to overcome obstacles and limitations.
Yes, we were short, but we were never short on heart or determination. A team average height of 5-foo-4 forced us to defy the odds every single time we stepped on the court, but that never stopped Amy or Sadie from blocking some of the biggest hitters in the division. That never stopped Megan or Sage from blasting through monstrous blocks. Rather, we were forced to improve – which we did by focusing on our strengths and giving performances of a lifetime (Abby and Dana) when it really counted. And speaking of counting, Hailey rocks that stat!
So when the tears dried, we got together and ate pizza, laughing at anything and everything, especially Mariah because she’s a great sport and a really easy target! We shared our hopes and dreams for the future, even Khloe, whose future has just begun and Haylee who might want to live in Sheridan because she was driving through and it felt right.
It was so much more than a final team dinner. It was a celebration of the family we had become, the memories that molded us into a strong unit. And even though being isolated with 11 female teenagers and some female coaches is frightening to many, these wonderful girls have fulfilled and enriched my life in countless ways. For that I will always be grateful.
So even though volleyball consumes a good portion of our time and sanity each fall, players and coaches alike, it’s good to embrace life after volleyball. Actually, the lessons learned during the season are perhaps not so different from those we must experience during the natural process of maturation. Hopefully we have helped equip them for success.
I am so proud of the respectfulness and good sportsmanship demonstrated by our girls! Parents have worked hard to raise them right, we coaches have tried to reinforce those morals, but ultimately it is the girls themselves whose actions reflect their true character .. and they are a class act!