Monday, May 21, 2018

Volleyball Sportsmanship: Going In With The Odds Massively Against You, But Putting In 100% Effort Anyways

Sports often is a opportunity for a character building exercise.

Leah began playing volleyball 6 months ago and fell in love with the sport. She joined a local travel team (not as high-rated as a travel team) for those that care about such things) and has been working hard.

Yesterday was her second tournament ever. This made for a romantic anniversary of watching her at the tournament in a stifling hot arena in uncomfortable portable chairs for over 8 hours, but you do what you gotta do.

The problem is she should be in the Under 12 category for competition, but her local team lacks enough players so they have a couple 13 year olds on the team, making the team classified in the Under 14 category, which means her competition can be as old as 13 and 11 months old with a lot more growth as well as playing time and experience.

To say the odds were stacked against her team is an understatement. In short, the expectation was they would be massacred on the court.

The teams they played against were composed of players typically a full head taller than they were, and some of them were taller than that. Also her team was only assembled in April and some of the opponents teams had been formed and playing together for years.

For example in terms of size, her team in blue, the opponent in black:

Or her team in blue, another opposing team in red:

You could tell the other teams knew more what they were doing and had some definite playing patterns and sequences that our team didn't have.

On top of that, they had no substitutes as two of the girls had quit after April and one other had broken her leg, so there would be no rotations unlike the other teams that could rotate in fresh players.

So against all that, they assembled on the court ready to play.

While they lost game after game, it was not the anticipated massacre.

They made the opposing teams work for every point and often lost by as close a score as 23-25 or even 25-27.

There were some tears of frustration from some of the girls, and some were crying as they made mistakes that cost points or even a game. Yes, unlike baseball, there is crying in volleyball.

But, Leah was very supportive of her teammates and acted as a peacemaker even after one of the other girls snarkily criticized her on a play.

Yes, they all made mistakes, but they all made up, supported each other, and kept playing. Most people would have given up and forfeited after such a losing streak against impossible odds, but these kids kept at it and never quit.

Then, having not won a game, they were seeded near the bottom for the final stages of the tournament.

They then won their first game in the tourney, lost the second and then won the third game of the set to get out of the basement of the tournament.

Moving on in the tournament, they had two more close-fought games and while they were beat by their opponents both times, each game was very close and they had nothing to be ashamed of.

They placed 12th out of 14 teams, which was, to be frank, far better than anticipated given the sheer disparities in size, strength, and experience seen on the courts.

It was a good lesson in sportsmanship and having resilience and tenacity in the face of impossible odds. You may not even have a chance at winning, but you don't give up and keep on fighting anyways and make the other team work for every point and don't give an inch. I think that attitude will serve her well in life.


Counter Jockey said...

The younger sister played in high school. And was quite good. The level of skill and competition required for that was boggling to a guy who only batted the ball around some in college while quoting Top Gun.

Beans said...

I always seemed to end up on teams like your daughters. Doomed to act out Ragnarok over and over again.

The need to go down fighting tooth and nail, and taking as many of the 'bastards' with you, is one of the best learning lessons one can have.

Failure is always an option, but it is how you fail that matters.

Aaron said...

Mack: Yep, it's pretty amazing what some of them can do.

Andrew: Yes, they certainly showed some tenacity and refused to give up. I'm quite proud of the team and her for their perseverance and their holding their opponents to every point, making them work for it, and not giving an inch.