Two weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure to travel to the beautiful campus of Berry College located in Rome, Georgia to watch one of our daughters play in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament. It was the first time that we had attended the end-of-the-season tournament but we wanted to watch her finish her collegiate career.
As we watched her play, I kept remembering back to the beginning of her long athletic career. All the T-Ball games, slow pitch and fast pitch softball, YMCA basketball, AAU basketball, Junior High basketball and volleyball, High School basketball and volleyball and ultimately, watching her play as a collegiate scholarship volleyball player. All those miles of traveling, the money spent, the time spent, the heartaches and the joys. Finding out that you don’t wear a white shirt to a fast-pitch softball tournament because of all the blowing dust! There are all the people we met and with whom we have become friends. Then there were the “Road Trips” with Scarlet and Randy during the club volleyball seasons. I would not trade the experiences for any amount of money. That is why I was surprised when I talked to our daughter after her team lost their elimination match in the final four of the tournament. Her sad comments were, “What’s the point? What’s the use? All the money spent and all the miles you traveled. It’s all for nothing.” Obviously, I discounted much of that because of the emotionally charged atmosphere of her playing in her last collegiate game. However, it did cause me to reflect on those questions and why do parents sacrifice all that time, money and voluntarily take a trip on that emotionally charged roller coaster ride?
I speak as a former player who still remembers the emotions I felt when I realized that I was lacing up my shoes for the last time and was putting on the pads for the last time. Each movement, at the time, was etched into my mind as a “last”. Though my team lost that last match and I don’t remember the match, the pre-match emotions are still crystal clear. I also speak as a dad who, along with my amazing wife, has had the pleasure of watching our three wonderful daughters not only play but become very successful in their respective sports (soccer, fast-pitch softball, basketball and volleyball).
I realize that if the reason I coach volleyball is just to teach how to pass, set, hit or block, then I believe my reasons are very shallow. If parents are pushing their children to play sports in order to get that elusive scholarship, then their missing the point of sports.
I hope that families enter into the world of sports and specifically, volleyball, to help their child grow as a person. Through volleyball, a person learns the meaning of being a servant. One individual can’t do it all. There must be a person who can pass and then there must be a person who can set the ball and finally, there must be someone who has the ability to hit the ball. Each is depending upon the other. Therefore, each should be supportive of the other. Putting the needs of the team above the selfish desires of the individual is critical to a team’s success. When the team suffers a loss, players learn that, to blame others only breaks a team apart. I have seen teams with great players but, because they were more interested in their own success and not of the team, there was bickering between the players and the parents.
All this is to say, that if the “point of all this” is to just win games and to get a scholarship, then when it is all over, what do you have? Fortunately for our daughters, they have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, we know that there is so much more than the game of volleyball.
So, when our daughter asked me the question, I reminded her of all the fun we had and that we would not have had any of those experiences without her playing volleyball. I also reminded her that volleyball does not define her. This is a point that I have made with another player who was going through tough times. Volleyball is a sport. It will not fulfill all of a person’s needs. I believe that comes from the Lord.
Therefore, as a parent or a player, enter into the world of volleyball, not just for the game, but for all the life experiences that the player and the parents will learn. It is an exciting and wonderful sport. I think it is the ultimate team sport because everyone on the court is vital. You can’t “hide” a player. As a parent, I can assure you that you will get almost as much out of the sport as your child. Remember — take lots of pictures (your daughter will be totally embarrassed but will later enjoy looking at the pictures)!
These are some of my rambling thoughts that I wanted to share with you. If you have a comment, please feel free to post a comment.