From the Other Side of the Net

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been crazy about sports. Maybe it comes from having two brothers. Maybe it originated with my parents, who both love sports as much as I do. Wherever it came from, I caught the bug early–and I caught it bad.

I’ll gladly waste an entire Sunday on the couch watching football, you can’t pull me away from the TV once March Madness starts, and I get swept up in the frenzy of the World Cup. Cardinals baseball and the Olympics clearly have very special places in my life. I even played softball for 9 years and was convinced I would be gold medal gymnast.

But it’s volleyball that’s captured my heart and stuck with me the longest. It’s the sport I spend hours watching and playing and obsessing over. While it seemed for years that softball would be where I excelled, I found my niche in volleyball, and I’ve never looked back. And lately, it feels as though my life is starting to be consumed by it yet again.

After getting involved with a local volleyball club in January and starting to play in a few leagues of my own over the summer, it’s as if I’ve fallen in love with the sport all over. I didn’t know that was possible–I’ve played and watched and loved this game since I was in 5th grade, but having a chance to teach it is crazy exhilarating. I find myself always, always, always leaving the gym with a smile on my face and a resolve to make the next session even better.

It’s a feeling that takes me back to long days in sweaty, dusty gymnasiums. Back to two a day practices and open gyms and workouts I thought might actually kill me. Back to road trips, team building, and friendships that got me through some of the hardest years of my life.

Most importantly now, it takes me back to coaches I respected as they pushed me to be the absolute best player possible. The drills they pounded into my mind may have faded, but I’m realizing that those doesn’t actually matter. The more time I spend hitting balls from this side of the net rather than passing them myself the more I’m reminded that all those years were more than just a list of drills. The techniques and fundamentals have stuck with me, but what’s more is the encouragement, the camaraderie, and the feelings of family I felt nearly every time I stepped into the gym.

And now I have the chance to share my passion with the next generation. I have the chance to be the voice in those girls’ heads, maybe for years to come, just like the coaches of my past are still the voices in mine. Their first tournament won’t be until January, but the season officially kicked off with our first team meeting last night. It’s finally sinking in just how excited I am to be back in the gym and coaching this great group.

Last year, when I assistant coached for my first ever team, I was placed with a group of 14 year olds that I absolutely fell in love with. The girls I have now are even younger than that. At 12 but soon to be 13 year olds, they’ve got a crazy amount of potential, and I can’t wait to see how far they’ll go. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help push them to the next level and get just as much out of their volleyball experiences as I did.

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