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A Challenge and a Triumph

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“Can I have some Skittles, too?”
“Sure!” my teammate sarcastically replied.
I watched as she emptied the candy, shoving it into her mouth. She then threw the wrapper at me…empty. The girls laughed.

I received the MVP award that year and my team glared with hatred. Their eyes like icy spears, piercing my sensitivity and broke my walls.
Excluded, Ignored, Uninvited, Abused.
You live for the game…PERSEVERE!

Skip ahead three years to freshman year. I’m a varsity starter on the volleyball team. Proud achievement, at least until the unbelievable events began. A freshman, taking a senior’s spot on the team? No way! Not on their watch! Talked about, laughed at, excluded, physically abused, and mentally torn apart… sound familiar? In front of hundreds of spectators, players, coaches and Referee’s, I hit the court floor. The back of my head the target, a volleyball target. Ears ringing, head pounding, I couldn’t see the stars on the flag. Where am I? What is she saying? Who’s this ‘Rycki’ they keep talking about? Pre-meditated, team-approved attack. Victim: Me. Perpetrator: our team’s statistician, a male, college, volleyball player.
Volleyball is the essence of your being, the bane of your existence… ENDURE!

Club Season 2010: “Richard! Why didn’t you pick up that ball?” My coach screamed at me. He called me Richard to hurt me.
Isn’t that obvious? It wasn’t my ball to get.
I heard the ref’s whistle. I turned to see someone in the sub box. Tears welling, I was subbed off the court. Backed into the gym wall, six inches from my face, a demeaning coach’s screams begin. The wall against my back—its coldness bore into my skin sinking deep into my furthest senses. I saw my team, and the refing team, gaping at his actions.
“Oh my gosh… Are you ok?” inquired a girl at the ref table.
Tears staining my face, I said, “I’m fine… this isn’t the first time.”
Playing is nourishment for your soul… STAY STRONG!

Since the age of eleven, I have been in receivership of many forms and images of bullying. A team mate, coach, and yes, a trusted friend. Bullying knows no limits, boundaries, nor length of time. It is not prejudice or biased. It seeks the weak, the strong, the gifted and the standard. Bullying empowers the offender only to destroy the defender.

You see, in my case, what the bully didn’t see was that God has given me the passion to love, live, and play great volleyball. He has equipped me with the ability to overcome by His strength. Though my bullies have sought my demise, I have risen above, gaining strength, courage and giving forgiveness.

Even though it was a shattered glass road, I managed to take on life’s challenge. And succeed. With a gracious heart, I am thrilled to be on my journey to play collegiate volleyball in spring. The best part? My team, the men’s team, and my coach… are my family, my friends!



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