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Jessica dove towards the solid gym floor, arms outstretched. Her face was red and shiny with sweat.
“Just leave it, Jessica!” called Andry, one of her team-mates, and the other girls chimed in.
Jessica crashed loudly into the floor, feebly knocking the object of everyone’s attention—the volleyball—out of the court. Her whole body ached.
She immediately pushed herself off the ground to retrieve the ball and toss it to her coach.
Andry sighed and shook her head; a few girls sniggered.
It had been this way all along. On the eighth grade volleyball team, Jessica made far too many mistakes. And the season had just started...
“Okay, girls, enough.” the coach commanded.
Jessica’s face grew even redder as the exercises carried on. She knew she looked stupid when she ran all over the court although she couldn’t get to the ball in time. She sometimes hit the ball when the other team had knocked it out of bounds. She accidentally collided with her team-mates.
She was trying her best, which was all she could do. But it wasn’t good enough.
After the practice, Jessica approached the coach. Ms. Shirley, who was sorting through tournament permission forms, looked up.
“What can I do for you, Jess?” asked Ms. Shirley, smiling warmly at her student.
“I’m not good enough to be on the team, Ms. Shirley,” Jessica admitted. “I only made it on the team because barely anyone came to the tryouts...”
Ms. Shirley raised her eyebrows.
Jessica continued, “I would say sorry, but I guess you’re glad I won’t be coming back—“
Ms. Shirley laughed lightly. “Stop it, Jessica, stop. I was just about to ask you to be the setter for our tournament this Saturday.”
“What—me? Why?” Why would Ms. Shirley even consider giving her the most venerated position on the floor?
“Jessica, you’re the only one who really understands that you have to move around to play. Remember all those saves you made yesterday? That was pretty impressive; the girls didn’t try to keep it up, though. Jessica—we need you. You’re staying on the team.”
Jessica came out of the gym, baffled. Seeing her friend, Tracy, down the hall, she ran to catch up.
“Hi, Jessica,” Tracy said glumly, “How was volleyball?”
“It was... surprising. Ms. Shirley told me that I’m good at volleyball, but everyone knows that I’m not.”
Tracy pointed out that she thought Jessica was pretty good.
“I can’t take this,” Jessica sighed. “I may seem good to Ms. Shirley, or you, but in reality, I spell failure!”
“Look on the bright side.” Tracy bit her lip. “At least you’re good enough for your teachers.”
Jessica tilted her head in silent question.
“I failed my music exam,” said Tracy. “I’m going to go to high school with you after all.”
“Oh... well... you did your best.”
“I know. When will you see yourself in the same way?”