I was looking for a way to capture the essence of my daughter’s volleyball season, which ended today. A story seemed like the best way to do that. Hope you enjoy the detour.
The volleyball was mad. I suppose if you were hit thousands of times in your life, you might be a little upset too. Kids would hit it, punch it, kick it, smack it, and occasionally try to head butt it. This did not bother the volleyball. What irritated the volleyball was the missed hits, the flubs, the nubs, the scrubs and the ‘what-was-that-bubs.’ Volleyballs should be hit, and hit well. When the volleyball got poked, nudged or grazed, it got angry. This time though, it was not just angry. It was mad.
The offending child was a little girl, no older than eleven. She was struggling with her serve. She would toss the ball up like all the other girls on her team, then swing at it with all she could muster. Unfortunately, her swings were wild and the volleyball was sent everywhere. One swing and the volleyball flew left. The next swing, a hook to the right. The next, a complete miss.
The final straw for the volleyball most was that instead of abandoning it for another ball after each of these atrocious attempts, she retrieved it. Over and over again, the little girl swung. Over and over again, the volleyball was retrieved. It was mad.
Now, it is highly unusual to think that an inanimate object such as a volleyball has a will but this one did, and it wanted something. It wanted revenge on that little girl who could not hit it straight.
The volleyball made a plan. It resolved to never let itself be hit by this little girl again. At first, the volleyball tried to scoot out of the way when the little girl came near but she was too fast. Volleyballs are not very quick. Next it tried to move itself in the air just enough to make the little girl miss. This worked! The little girl would toss the ball up and the volleyball would move to the right. Swing and a miss. Another toss and it would moved to the left. Swing and a miss. Over and over again, the little girl swung. Over and over again, the volleyball would move. Eventually, the little girl was called to practice with her team and the volleyball was abandoned. It rolled to a corner by a big blue curtain. It smiled.
The weeks went by and the volleyball continued to evade the little girl. Every time the little girl tried to serve, the volleyball would move and she would miss terribly. This would confound and frustrate her but since she, rightfully, did not think a volleyball could be malicious, she would assume each miss was her fault. The volleyball was getting it’s revenge.
In spite of it’s success, the volleyball did not know something. This little girl was persistent. She would practice her technique with her coach. She would watch the high school girls and try to copy them. She practiced her serve with other volleyballs. Most importantly though, she did not give up.
The volleyball noticed this. From it’s position in the corner along the big blue curtain, it watched as her serves went farther and straighter than before. They would fly over the net more often than they would fly to the side. It also noticed a change in the little girl. Her confidence was starting to grow.
The end-of-season volleyball tournament came on a Saturday. In order to advance to the final round of eight, the team needed to win one game. The first two games did not go well for the little girl’s team. They tried hard but they did not win. They had to win the final game in order to make it to the final tournament.
The volleyball was chosen to be game ball. It was proud and in a very good mood. The game began and the volleyball was batted around. The teams were evenly matched. The lead changed hands several times until the little girl’s team pulled ahead.
Needing only one point to win and make it into the final tournament, the little girl stepped up to serve. The volleyball looked at her with admiration. She was a different girl from that little girl who could not serve all those weeks ago. Not every serve went over, sure, but many more did now. She hustled and cheered her teammates. Her confidence had grown. The volleyball liked that.
The little girl threw the volleyball up. Spinning through the air the volleyball thought, “You’ve done good, little girl. I’ll give you a chance.”
As it fell back down, the volleyball just fell. The little girl swung with all her might. There was a loud thud and the volleyball felt itself flying through the air, straight and true. It flew so far and so fast that it sailed over the net, over the first defenders and landed … in.
The little girl had done it! Her team had won! Her coach jumped up and down. The little girl’s friends ran over and gave her high fives. Her mom and dad gave her big hugs. The little girl smiled proudly.
The volleyball was forgotten. It rolled quietly over to a corner by the big blue curtain.
( Based on a true story. )
Volunteered to be the line judge all day at my daughter’s end-of-season tournament.