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Nothing ever comes easy. For me, sixth grade volleyball was no exception. I had never played on a volleyball team before; therefore, I didn’t completely understand the game. All I knew was that I wanted to be on the team with my friends. At the time, I didn’t realize that it would set the foundation for my work ethic.

On the first day of tryouts, I felt butterflies fluttering in my stomach. Questions raced through my mind. Would I be good enough? What if I messed up? I glanced at the other twenty-nine girls around me. More questions ran through my mind. What if they’re all better than me? I shook the negative thoughts out of my head and focused on what Coach was saying. Since most of us had never played before, she started going through the basics. After Coach finished explaining key skills such as bumping and setting, we practiced using correct form.

After a couple of days, I felt fairly comfortable with bumping and setting. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I hoped I was at least good enough to make the team. Next, we started to work on serving. Overhand serving turned out to be a failure for me since I wasn’t strong enough; consequently, I had no choice but to use underhand. I couldn’t serve it fast or hard, but I could get it over the net, which I took as a good thing.

As the end of tryouts drew nearer, I started to worry again. Would Coach be impressed enough to keep me on the team? Does it matter that I can’t serve overhand? The day before cuts were announced, we had skill tests. Bumping. Setting. Serving. Going home that day, I hoped I would be on the list of those who had made the team. Since my friends seemed to do really well, I was sure they had made it.

The next day was extremely nerve-racking for me. I had no idea what to expect. Anxious, I went through the school day only half focused on what I was doing. When it was finally time for practice, Coach told us we would know at the end of practice who had made the team. Knowing only twenty girls would be left by the end, I bounced up and down with anxiety. Without saying a word, Coach placed the roster on a chair and walked out of the gym. We all rushed to the chair. One by one, the girls looked at the list and left. Some smiled. Some jumped for joy. Then I noticed one girl start crying.

“I didn’t make it,” she sobbed as she walked out with one of the other girls who tried to comfort her.

I urged for the line to move faster. Getting impatient, I couldn’t wait much longer. Crying, a couple more girls headed to the locker room. Finally, I was almost to the front of the line. When it was my turn, I grabbed the list and skimmed it for my name. I prayed with all my might that it would be there. My stomach started to drop when I couldn’t find it. I kept looking, just in case I had missed my name somewhere on the list. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally spotted it. Happy, I placed the list back on the chair and walked out of the gym. In the locker room, I ran into my friends.

“Did you make it?” they asked. I happily nodded, gathered my bags and shut my locker. I walked out the doors of the middle school and into the bright August sunshine.

When I opened the door of my mom’s car, she asked, “So?”

“I made the team!”

“Congratulations!”

I shoved my bags into the back seat and sat in the front. Filled with excitement, I could barely sit still. When I walked through the door, I announced to the rest of the family that I had made the team. Thinking about the upcoming season, I couldn’t suppress my happiness.

Over the next week or so, Coach observed us during practice as she determined who would be on the A-team and who would be on the B-team. At that point, I didn’t really care which team I was on because I had accomplished my goal of making the team. However, when Coach announced who would be playing on which team, my perspective suddenly changed; I wanted to be on the A-team. She read off the names of most of my friends and the names of some of the girls I didn’t usually talk to. Coach hadn’t said which team they were on, but I already knew. I was still hoping she would call my name.

“A-team,” she said after she had read off the names. “The rest of you will be on B-team.” My heart sank.

Going home with a heavy heart, I knew I should be grateful for at least making the team, but I wanted to be part of the best. I couldn’t believe almost all of my friends were on A-team, and I was on B-team. Being on the B-team suddenly wasn’t good enough anymore, so I came up with my own personal mission for the season. I was going to prove Coach wrong. I decided to show her that I deserved to be on A-team and not B-team.

The next day at practice, I walked into the gym with my mission in mind. I dug through the basket for a good ball and started warming up. All I could hear were the bouncing of the volleyballs and a few whispers from other girls carrying on conversations. I blocked out their voices and focused on bumping and setting.

I pushed myself all through the practices and practiced even more at home. I knew I would have to practice twice as hard to be as good as the other girls. Also, I worked just as hard in the games as I did at practice. My bumping skills improved, and my serving was more accurate. Coach started to take notice in my improvement and hard work.

Before each game, Coach always announced who would be on the A-team and who would be on the B-team. I was thrilled when I heard my name called for the A-team. Since I knew I still had to prove that I was good enough to stay on the A-team, I continued to work hard.

At the end of the season, Coach handed each of us individual letters she had written about our season. I smiled with pride when I read mine. She told me how proud she was of me that I worked hard to prove her wrong and that I truly deserved a spot on A-team.

My experience during sixth grade volleyball changed me. I learned that if I wanted something, all I needed was the right mind-set and the willingness to work hard because it would eventually pay off. The sky is the limit; nothing is impossible. There’s no reason why goals can’t be achieved. From then on, I set goals to work toward and didn’t stop until I reached them.





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