Being a competitive athlete since I was very young has taught me many things about life. I have learned to persevere when all odds are against me. I have learned how to meet new people. I have learned how to push for what I want even when I think I can’t go one more step. I’ve learned that sometimes, even though you earn something, it isn’t given to you and you have to learn how to cope. I’ve learned that sports are great, but I have realized that I won’t remember my team’s record 20 years from now. I will remember the friendships and the laughs, I will remember the long car rides to tournaments, I will remember the coaches who invested in me, and I will remember how much I love to play. My meaningful experience came from a relentless yearning to improve as both a person and an athlete. There is one team that I will always call my team no matter how many teams I play for in the future. My team is Lexington United 16 White, and the season that I played with them will be one that I will remember for the rest of my life.
The main thing that made my team’s season so significant is the love that my teammates had for each other. It sounds mushy, but it’s true. I’ve never seen a group of girls work together so easily without fighting. If one girl was struggling, the other ten were always right behind her to pick her up. If I missed a practice, there were at least three girls checking in on me to make sure I was okay. Our season was a struggle because we weren’t the most skilled team at our tournaments, but it was an uphill struggle. We continuously improved, and were able to build our communication throughout the season until we were finally able to compete for first place at our last few tournaments. The fact that we went through significant struggles together and came out stronger gave us a trust in each other unlike any trust I’ve ever had in any teammate before.
My greatest friendships have come from the United 16 White season. There were four of us: Kristen, Morgan, Christine, and myself, who were particularly close. We sat together, we warmed up together, we roomed together at tournaments, and basically you didn’t see me without one of them right by my side. I had never fit into a group like this before; I had always felt like an outsider looking in on other groups. It felt so nice to finally have real friends who played volleyball. Kristen, Morgan, Christine, and I have been able to continue our friendship throughout this past year and I have come to love them as if they were my sisters. We’re much more than teammates, we truly are best friends and I don’t know what I would do without them in my life.
My teammates of course made the season memorable because we loved each other and went through so many things together, but the season wouldn’t have been nearly as significant if it weren’t for our coach, Sarah. She had so much patience and always knew when to let us laugh and when to buckle down and challenge us more. She really connected with my playing style and allowed me to be myself on the court. She didn’t expect me to just brush off mistakes, because that’s not my playing style, but she did teach me that I’m going to make mistakes and that’s okay as long as I fix them. She taught me to not be so hard on myself and to make my expectations realistic. My love for volleyball was dying because of a series of rough seasons, and Coach Sarah revived my appreciation for the game and made me look forward to practice again.