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School Tryouts, Making the Team, Help for the Parent's Emotional Trauma


I know that this time of the season is very disconcerting to parents who are new to the tryout process. Most all the schools have had their tryouts and are now into their volleyball seasons. I find that junior high parents seem to have the toughest time with tryouts and the results of those tryouts. This is probably the first time that their “Suzie” has had to compete with peers to make a team. Suzie (used here as a generic name for a female player. No…I don’t know any girl named Suzie who plays volleyball but I’m sure there are many but I don’t know them so the use of the name Suzie is purely a reflection of the use of my freewill to pull a name out of the air and not directed at any individual)…now back to the point…goes to the tryout and is put in a situation she has never faced before: the public display of her ability to pass, set, hit and maybe block a volleyball. This is a stressful time for not only Suzie, but for the parents! Think about it, the quality of their ancestral lineage is being put out there for display; the entire future of their clan is being determined by their 12 year old daughter’s ability to make contact with a sphere that weighs about half a pound.

Tryouts ultimately result in happiness and sadness, depending upon your perspective and the emotional state of your child. Even if the child makes the team, parents find out that things are not always equal – there are A teams and B teams; there are game players and there are practice players. These differences provide fodder for the discussions that take place amongst the parents as they sit in the stands while little Suzie is out on the court playing a game and trying to figure out who won the point just then when the ball hit the ground. Parents seem to attain a certain status in the stands when their child has made the volleyball team or has even made the “A” team. These parents feel sorry for all those parents whose daughters didn’t quite measure up. Well, there is always basketball……

The problem with those types of attitudes is that they are visited upon the child. The young volleyball players start to create these invisible barriers between their classmates just because someone can hit a volleyball. How sad is that! Why do we have to put others down in order to make ourselves feel better? I find this same attitude among players of all ages and this attitude can also be found within the ranks of the teammates on the volleyball team. The hitters think they are the most important, the back row passers think that are always saving the day for their teammates and the setters feel that they are the most skilled on the team and that they control who gets a good set or even gets any set during a game.

At the first of every season, I remind the players that there is no position that is more important than another. Also, whether you are a game player or a practice player, whether you start on the court or start on the bench, we are in this together. No person has a greater value as a person than anyone else. As the Apostle Paul said, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." I Corinthians 12: 12 – 27 (New International Version).

I relate to them the story of B (I’ll only use the first initial of her name), who is a ray of bright sunshine in the morning during practices. B isn’t the greatest of volleyball players but she constantly is upbeat and willing to do anything for the team. I’ve used B for the past two years as a life example of I Cor. 12. After introducing the B to the team and discussing the above passage, I then tell them a little bit about B. You see, B is currently ranked 3rd in the state in her age bracket in gymnastics. I then ask B to do a tumbling exercise in front of the team. Once she is through I ask them if they can do what B did. Obviously, no one says yes. The point of the story is that B doesn’t look down on them because they can’t tumble as well as she can so why should they ever look down on someone else who can’t play volleyball as well as they.

So parents, ease up, this is 7th grade volleyball! The season will last only a couple of months then there will be the opportunity for your child to go to another tryout… volleyball or even basketball!

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