On November 11, 2017, my volleyball team and I walked into the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, Louisiana, ready to begin our preparations for the state championship game. As I walked into the building, I heard the referees’ whistles blowing, volleyball shoes squeaking against the court, and fans from a variety of schools cheering on their players. The smell of french fries and popcorn filled the air, which made my stomach feel more queasy than before. Reflecting to myself, I recalled the small amount of times that I became nervous for any volleyball game. However, at that moment, I realized that I had never felt that many knots in my stomach since I was seven years old going on my first roller coaster ride. When the buzzer on the clock rang through the gym and knocked me back into reality, I reset my focus on my team and the big game that we were about to play that would have a strong impact on my life as an athlete.
Just as we had done during the season, the team gathered around our coach as she reminded us of all of the hard work that we put in throughout the season to get us to this moment. She continued to describe all of the accomplishments and achievements we received, and she told us to keep our focus on the game and our final goal in the midst of the distractions from the stands that surrounded the court. Finally, the minutes to game time were winding down, and the stands began to fill up with more students and parents. My team could hear our fans cheering, “Go, Cubs!” in the distance. I could sense my nerves intensifying as I wiped off the sweat that was dripping down my red face. Even though my team was nervous, I knew deep down that we had all of the determination, heart, and will to win the game.
The final seconds ticked down on the clock for us to warm up before the game began. My team lined up on the back line of the court while we prayed, sang the National Anthem, and the announcers called out our names. After both teams shook hands, we did our team cheer and motivated each other that we could win if we put in all of our effort and hard work. Sailing through the first two games, we were pumped. As we entered the third set, we were feeling confident in ourselves that this would be the last game, and we would be holding the state championship trophy in our hands in no time. However, the other team fought back hard, and we struggled to maintain the lead, which caused us to lose the third set. Before the fourth set of the game began, our coach restored our focus, reminded us that the game was not over, and to go back on the court with the same enthusiasm and intensity that we displayed in the first two sets. During the fourth set, it was important for me to make sure that I was cheering on my team to victory. After every point we earned, I recall leaping off of the ground so high I felt like I was on cloud nine. I realized in that moment, although the fans were cheering, the only sounds I could hear were from me and my teammates as we shouted with joy and excitement as we approached the final game point. I watched the ball hit the other team’s side of the court, and I knew that we had just won the volleyball state championship for the fourth year in a row. I will never forget the moment that my team rushed onto the court and made a huge dog pile. The sight of my teammates laughing and smiling filled my heart because I knew that I would never forget this special moment. Receiving the gigantic state championship trophy and gold medals confirmed that all of our hard work that we put into practice throughout the season had paid off. After our last team meeting, I ran out into the crowd and immediately hugged all of my family and friends who attended the game to support me and my team; I would not have been able to accomplish such a goal without the support and love of my friends, family, coaches and especially my team.
Throughout the volleyball season, my team put in a large amount of time, effort, and hard work that was difficult. However, in the end, our hard work paid off. Winning the volleyball state championship taught me that not only does winning take a team to win a championship, but winning takes love, dedication, and hard work. Although I may not have had many opportunities to play on the court during the season, I learned that every person on the team has a job to do that is vital to the achievement of a successful season. As an athlete, being the best teammate and contributing to the team in whatever way they may need is always my goal. In addition, this experience taught me to never give up and put all of my trust in God. After we lost the third set, I continued to hold my head high, and I prayed to God to help us and guide us to victory. This special moment of winning the volleyball state championship taught me how work as a team, be a supportive teammate, and to never give up.