Monday, November 2, 2009

There Is No I In TEAM

Yes, I know. I have been extremely remiss in posting anything on my blog the past few months but I do have a good reason. Volley. Ball. As some of you know, I coach high school volleyball (it's a second job) and the joke in our house is that come August when the season starts, I throw out a wave as I'm heading out the door and tell my family, 'see you in November.' It's actually not that far from the truth as regular practice days I put in 12 hour days and will work upwards of 15 hours on game days. It's a huge commitment and I don't do it for the pay. I do it because I learn a lot about teenage girls and myself and this year was no exception.

Halfway through the season, one of our Varsity starting seniors lost her dad to cancer. Doug had been fighting the deadly disease for over a year and just after our season games got under way, we received the news that he had days to live. On the morning of our game with the cross town rivals, Doug passed quietly away.

Our Varsity girls rallied around their teammate, visiting her at home that afternoon so they could express their concern and show they truly cared for her. As I entered the main gym after my Freshman game I was astonished to see this young lady warming up with the rest of the varsity players and she was doing so because it was her dad's dying wish that she continue playing volleyball and finish the season. Black ribbons with Doug's initials were in each players hair and while there was a somewhat somber mood amongst the players, there was also an air of determination to play their hearts out no matter what. For Doug. And his little girl.

The gym was packed with people from both sides of town who were there for our player and the rivals had Doug's initials embroidered on their jerseys for the game, in show of support. It was at that moment that they quit being our rivals and became 12 girls who maybe didn't understand what it was like to lose a dad, but were willing to put school boundaries aside and be there for someone who needed them to be.

It was an emotional game with some of the best volleyball our girls played all season. Doug's little girl went out there and gave her best under the circumstances and at one point, us four coaches commented that there was a peace about her that we'd never seen before. I don't know why, but maybe it was because she knew her dad was no longer suffering and cheering her on like crazy from above.

Our team played their hearts out that night and they did it not for themselves but for a teammate who suffered a great loss and they did it for her dad. It was the most unselfish act I've seen by any team I've ever coached.

When the last ball hit the ground and the match point was awarded to the other team, as I looked up at the scoreboard, I realized that the scoreboard may have shown us to be the losing team, but in lessons of life, our girls were the winners.


Candace Jean July 16 said...

You are so much more than a coach, Annie. There is no doubt those girls see your heart. Bless you, and praise God for teens who are willing to support each other in the hour of need. None of them will forget that night.

sherri said...

Beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this.

Marni said...

That was beautiful.

I still remember your player in my prayers. Thanks so much for the update on her and what you've learned.

Billy Coffey said...

That's so awesome, Annie. I'm with Candace, none of those girls will ever forget that night. And I'm sure more than one of them will never forget you, either.

Wendy said...

So glad you told us more of the story! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Helen said...

Yes. Beautiful.

katdish said...

If kids only learn the mechanics and rules of a game, the experience is so empty. Thanks for showing these girls life lessons through your coaching.

~*Michelle*~ said...

WOW....can I tell you that I welled up reading this?

Beautiful.....and what a blessing you are to be such a mentor to these girls. So happy to "meet" you.