The news site of St. Francis High School

The SFHS Crier

The news site of St. Francis High School

The SFHS Crier

The news site of St. Francis High School

The SFHS Crier

Putting Your All on the Court

this photo was taken by Karissa Jo Photography

The feeling of the filthy and grimy gymnasium floor as my body slams onto it, trying to keep the play alive. The sound of women yelling numbers and colors that, to an outsider, sounds like absolute gibberish. The smell of the musty air that surrounds all athletes when they play hard, no matter how much spray on deodorant they use. The taste of iron as the sticky sweat goes past my mouth, and even though it’s gross, I don’t care to wipe it off. The sight of a team that huddles together to talk about what plays they should run next or who has “hot hands”. All of it gives me adrenalin; an exhilarating feeling that can not be contained.

A path that is so crystal clear, it’s transparent. A life that I want to live each and every day. A moment that couldn’t be taken away from me. 

Until it finally was.

– – –

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I stepped into the familiar doors of Saint Francis High School with my volleyball bag upon my back and a smile on my face. I saw former classmates and teammates all standing in a line to retrieve their tryout number for the upcoming season. 

I walked over to where all the upperclassmen were getting ready. Putting on my knee pads as I talked to friends about who was gonna make what team and what position they would play. Lacing up my shoes as we joked about not making it this year or being put on the freshman team; and absolutely dominating by the way.

I retrieved my number from my former coach and I talked with her about how I finally wore a volleyball shirt with the right school on it. I only had three shirts that had “SFHS Volleyball” on it so it was a shock to see. 

I suddenly heard a whistle blow.

Tryouts had begun.

The coaches told all captains to lead a dynamic stretch and warm up to get our bodies moving before the conditioning. Each time we counted to ten we switched from arms to legs; different pose, different direction, standing up, sitting down, moving, stationary, and any other way that could be thought of. 

This wasn’t new to me though, it was just a casual Monday. 

Another day at practice. 

We walked outside to start our conditioning. To rule out the weak and to enhance the strong. Every coach and player knew that I had asthma so it was no shock when people saw me putting my hands on my head to get a good airflow or taking my inhaler as players did warm up down and backs in the back parking lot. 

After completing a whole run of “lucky sevens” we went back inside to start the skills portion for tryout day one. We would go to each different station and get evaluated on how well we performed that skill, how good our leadership was, and how coachable we were. I began on the setting station.

It wasn’t bad but I was no American olympian when it came to sets. 

Then I moved on to the serving station. And I triumphed. I was hitting every spot that coaches wanted me to hit. I was jump serving, standing float, top spin; “Ace Ace Ace”. After everyone in my group finished serving what they needed to, we started to prepare for the next station to come, hitting. I was going up to hit a ball out of the middle and when I came down my knee felt a little weird. 

My knee was doing that recently so I thought it was no big deal. 

I would just go home and put Biofreeze on it.

When a whistle blew we rotated stations again.

This was my shining moment, the hitting station. I was told that I was pretty much guaranteed to be a starter already for varsity this year. My strength was top notch, my placement was impeccable, and my vertical was great for someone my height; which might I add is a mighty 5-foot-7-inches. Everyone was told to line up on the outside position to hit a ball over the net.

It was the same thing that we did at practice the year before.

Hit and chase, hit and chase, hit and chase. 

The coach slapped the ball hard, to signal that she was throwing it up in the air. I backed up more to get more running room for my approach. The ball was thrown through the air at a perfect tempo. My footwork was looking good, I wasn’t too far into the court and I wasn’t too far out. I hit the ball with all my might and it went straight onto the floor. Just like another day of practice. 

And something that never happened before.

I landed wrong on the floor. Hard.

My knee collapsed.

I went down.

I got up again. Maybe I could walk it off like any other mini pain that I had gotten before.

I went down again. 

I couldn’t move. I saw my coach run up to me, checking on my knee to see what happened. I heard the sound of her yelling at a teammate to go get the athletic trainer. The gymnasium was absolutely silent, players trying to figure out what just happened. The trainer came in with a bag of ice in her hand. I needed help from both of them to get onto the sidelines. Everyone clapped for me, as was customary when someone got hurt while playing. I clapped for someone who sprained their ankle the year before. I never could have imagined those sounds for me. 

I was originally told that I would be cleared in a couple of weeks.

A couple more weeks. 

A couple more weeks.

A couple more weeks.

My entire senior season passed and I still wasn’t cleared. The one thing that I lived for, the one thing that I wanted to do in the future, the one thing that had been with me since fourth grade, was snatched right before my eyes. It was torturous to watch every practice, every game, be in every pep talk and be able to do absolutely nothing except yelling “good play” every now and again on the sidelines. It was devastating to talk about “one thing you’re gonna do well this game” and when it gets to your turn the only thing you can say is “I will be more positive for my team”.

– – –

It has been three months since the end of the school season and seventeen days since I was officially cleared. Over that time period I learned that this sport isn’t just about being able to play on a court, but being able to help others thrive. While I was injured I got to help the underclassmen prepare for varsity level playing. While I wasn’t the strongest hitter, I was able to be mentally strong for others and help them though tough times outside of the games. I learned the importance of being a leader and how being a mentor for others is just as important as “the game winning serve”. I learned that positivity really does make a difference. Furthermore, I am now a 17’s team coach-player for the volleyball club “Crush” and I was dubbed a “Swiss Army Knife Player”, which means that I can play any position on the court. While I am still not back to the full strength I was, I can finally do what gives me adrenaline. And that’s enough for me. 

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