This past week I spent all day Thursday watching CAISSA volleyball in the newly improved Athletic Center as the “site coordinator” and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable experience. Before I start, I just want to say that we received a lot of positive comments about our facilities and the experience we were able to offer for this tournament due to having access to three nice courts. Our Athletic Center truly is a celebration for this school and we are lucky to have such a fine space available to us!
As you may or may not know our Junior Varsity teams were asked to play in this Varsity-level tournament to add one more game experience to the mix for those teams who’ve traveled from afar. As I watched the opening ceremonies and introductions I started to grow concerned, not only for our JV teams’ egos but also for their safety! Some of the players from these other schools are very physically gifted and were quite intimidating to watch play (this coming from a former volleyball player!) However, none of that seemed to matter to our young JV players (mostly middle schoolers and freshmen) as they stepped on the court and matched up against juniors and seniors. Perhaps their inexperience created an air of blissful ignorance but I think it was something deeper inside of our kids that allowed them to face such stiff competition with grace.
The challenge our young JV students faced was certainly steep and in all reality it was a next to impossible task for them to win any matches against such strong and experienced competition. However, that being said, our JV students came to play every single game!! I don’t just mean they showed up and went through the motions, that would’ve almost been understandable considering their position, but they played their hearts out every point of every game! Our JV girls team pulled out two one-game victories throughout their matches, they were gut-wrenching wins that will most certainly last in these girls’ hearts and minds for a long time to come. Shortly after the girls’ first motivating win our JV boys made a run at an upset of their own, taking the ECA boys all the way to a 31-29 finish (a normal game ends at 25 but you must win by two). The grit and determination demonstrated by these young student-athletes was inspiring to say the least; they never gave up, they never hung their heads 🙂
The smiles, the determination, and the hard work that our JV student-athletes exhibited during this tournament should be praised and celebrated. This tournament was never going to be easy for these kids but they pressed on and worked through even the most difficult situations with a grace and energy that reflects a culture that we’ve established here at AC. From their coaches who led them and worked with them continuously throughout the season, to Ms. Darson and her leadership in the athletic department, to the varsity teams’ great examples, to their parents and other supporters along the way, these kids have learned an attitude and work ethic that will help to make them successful in whatever they choose to do in the future. This is the model and example of our school that I know stands as the rule instead of merely an exception!
Our staff and students come to school every day to work hard and achieve more than just academic success. Both groups face challenges on a regular basis and despite those hurdles we continue to watch as our students learn and our staff grows professionally. What we’ve become as a community was demonstrated on a microcosmic level this weekend by our young JV volleyball teams, they represented our community better than anyone could’ve asked. We’re a determined and hard working community, we strive for success always, and never turn our backs on a challenge. This is a wonderful community and one that we should all be proud to represent.