I knew it was chaos, I knew that there were loud parents, cheerful teams, and even whistles that raged every 5 seconds. To me it was quiet, there was 35 courts in the whole dome, and I could only hear the sound of my short breaths. I was in the middle court and there were 10 courts that surrounded me and my team. In front of me, there was 6 sets of bleachers, each had 8 rows. Behind me was the same look, I scanned the whole room to find my family. Then there they sat; my parents, my sister and my cousins. My parents both made eye contact with me and gave me a thumbs up. My mom was wearing a red Tommy Hilfiger shirt with dark blue jeans and tennis shoes. My dad was wearing a red stars sweatshirt in favor of our team name, and he had on blue jeans and tennis shoes as well. I knew that they both were anxious for me, they had that look in their eyes. Their eyes had that worried and excited look, like my whole life depended on this game.
I saw my sister, she was always glued to her phone, and she had on a Pink sweatshirt on with black leggings and Bear paw boots. When she saw me gaze at her, her hand awkwardly waved to me and she mouthed the words “good luck”. I knew that she was tired, she was mad at me for making her wake up early.
My two cousins were sitting in the bleachers with a smile slapped across their faces. One’s a girl, she had on a casual shirt and leggings with boots, and the other one was a boy, he had on skinny jeans with a blue shirt and converse. In their minds, this was just a game. To me, this was way more than that, it was, closure. Closure to see if I had really worked hard this season. Then there I stood on the chairs next to some of my teammates and my coach. I was there with my team out on 16th court. Next to me was a table, there were 2 people there. In front of them there was a scoreboard, it read 22-24, and the other team needed one point to win the game. My hands were clenched in fists and my clothes were clinging to my body as the sweat was dripping all over. I looked to my right and I saw my teammates cheering. We all looked alike, we wore blue long sleeve jerseys, dark blue spandex, and white & red stars socks with Asics shoes and knee pads. I looked to my left and I saw my coach, she wore a stars sweatshirt and black leggings. I saw her hands clenched to her pants as she looked at the scoreboard. I could tell that she was worried, it was the 2nd set, and I was up. I remember the week before this tournament, I had been practicing for about 6 months for this moment.
My coach whispered to me, “Anya, when your about to serve the ball, it isn’t about how hard you serve it, it just matters that you get it over and in the court.”
That echoed in my head throughout the whole practice and when I got home. Right now, that was all I could think about.
“Just get it over, it doesn’t need to be hard”
“Just get it over” “Just get it over”
“It is time” I thought. I had get just 2 serves over the net and it would all be done. My teammate walked over to me and there was a rapid loud whistle that came after. My coach scurried to me and told me that it was my turn. At first I hesitated, then I walked up to the line. The down ref whispered me and my teammate’s number to the people on the table with the scoreboard. Then she told me to go in the court. I walked up to the server’s line and all my teammates were all cheering me on. “Oh, no!” I thought, I was totally alarmed. I realized then that I had to serve this ball. My teammates and family were all counting on me. I felt that my heart was pounding so much, that other people around me could hear as well.
“I don’t think I can do this” I thought to myself.
The questions started rolling in “If it’s just me and the ball, then why am I nervous?” “Why can’t I just suck it up and serve the ball?”
I didn’t know the answer to those questions.
I suddenly had a jolt of confidence. I suddenly felt this self-assurance rush over my body. It felt like I could suddenly get this serve over not matter what. The up-ref had finally picked up her hand and blew the whistle for me to serve. I took a couple deep breaths, I put the ball in my hands and started bouncing it.
“1 *bounce 2 *bounce 3 *bounce 4 *bounce” I counted silently in my head. I swirled the ball in my hands a couple times. The ball felt rough and firm. I slowly brought my head back up and started. I tossed to ball up a little in front of me. I took a step and felt the ball make contact with my hand. I opened my eyes wide and saw the serve go over the net. A huge sigh of relief came over me.
“I did it” I mentioned in my head. The excitement was wild. The families on the bleachers all stand to their feet and start to clap. “It isn’t over just yet”. The other team gets the ball and the one of the players passes it over onto our side. My teammate next to me pops it over to the setter. The setter sets the ball and the hitter spikes it. My teammates screech at the top of their lungs. We got the point! We all come together and everyone gives me a high five. The crowd goes wild, I look at my parents and they have the biggest smile on their face.
“Push one, Push one” My team yelped. We only needed one point to tie the game. If we make one mistake, then we lose. I grab the ball and head towards the servers line for the 2nd time. Now the real pressure was on. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I bounce and swirl the ball again. I toss the ball in the air, take a step and then swing through. After a second I look at my family, and they’re happy face suddenly wiped away. The whistle blows and the hand points to the other side, “They won”. That’s when I drop to my knees and lower my head. My disappointed look quickly takes over my smile.
My hand comes over my head and I think to myself “What have I done”. My teammates come running over to help me up. They don’t look pleased, but they don’t blame me. I blame myself, I walk over to the net and shake hands with the opposing team. I repeat the words ‘good game’ multiple times. I look at their happy faces and I get even more upset. My coach brings the players including me to a corner and tells us “You guys had a great season, I am proud of you even though we lost. Volleyball isn’t just about winning”. I was disappointed in myself, but what happened, happened. I walked over to my bag and took off my shoes with my ankle braces. I took off my knee-pads and put on my sweatpants and slides. I strolled to my parents and they all said I did a good job, but I didn’t think so. That was it, I lost. Me and my team lost and there was nothing I could do about it. After a couple days past, I learned that it’s okay if I lose a game or two, it just matters that you learn from your mistakes. I knew that my family were supporting me no matter what happened with my volleyball. I knew that this happened for a reason, it was because I would have more opportunity to be the best at what I’m passionate at. I learned one important thing from this experience and that was, teamwork. I learned about teamwork because you cannot play any game without your teammates help. We are a team and there’s no “I” in team.