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That’s the way the ball bounces

After we walked off the court — before we even got out of the gym, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It surprised me; I knew I would miss volleyball once it was over, but I didn’t know the disappointment of never playing with the same girls again would hit me as hard as it did.

In the locker room at Orion High School on the night of our last regional game, Coach gave us those final words; congratulating us on how far we had come and pushing us to keep working hard. Each of us seniors gave our two cents worth to the rest of the girls, but the words didn’t mean as much as just being together — knowing how hard we had worked and all that we had gone through together throughout our four years. I love all of those girls.

And for those of us who were seniors ... it was finished. We were done. We would never play volleyball together again, and some of us were done competitively playing volleyball for good.

Pathetic as it may seem, I cried the whole time we were in the locker room. And when I left to go find my mom, all I could do was smile and give her a hug as the tears rolled down my face. It wasn’t a bad thing, just one of those bittersweet moments when you realize you will never do something again. Something that you love.

I came so far this year in our season, trying new things, and gaining a confidence I’ve never had on the court before. I’m a setter — well actually I might take that back! I used to set, and I absolutely love setting ... but this year after our first few games, I didn’t play as the setter once.

Coach came up to me after the first game of our first tournament and pulled me out into the hallway of the school. She first told me I would probably think she was crazy after she told me what she had schemed up! Then she said we just needed to change things up a little, and that we were going to try something new. I started to get jittery and excited, but I didn’t really know what to expect.

When she asked if I would be willing to play as the libero, though, I was a little stunned! Me, as libero? What? (The libero, by the way, is one of the back row passers that can rotate in and out in the game without substituting.) I’d never played that position in my life, for starters, and until last year, I had hardly ever even played back row! But then I thought, “Ya know, what the heck! I’m a senior. I won’t get this opportunity again, so I might as well give it a shot. What is there to lose?”

I went into the next game with way too many nerves, but I had so much fun! I don’t know if it was beginner’s luck or what, but I felt good and played pretty decent as well. Not once have I regretted my decision to play as the libero. I felt strange leaving behind the setting, but I had never felt more comfortable than I did in the back row, scurrying after shanked passes, digging up hard spikes, and finding out how much I really didn’t know about being a libero!

The biggest factor in my playing, though, was my teammates and coaches. They encouraged me constantly and were nothing less than amazing to me. We had our differences at times, but we always got through them (and secretly I feel like when some of them may have had their doubts I played even harder to prove that I deserved to play in my position!).

I learned so many things this year, but most of all I realized that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I’m not always a very confident person, but I know that when an opportunity comes knocking I need to grab it up quick because I’ll never get anywhere in life if I’m always holding back. And you know what? At the end of our season I made the All Conference Second Team. It’s awesome how God always works things out!

On an end note I just want to thank my coaches, teammates, family and friends for always being there and cheering me on. I couldn’t do it without all of you, and even though I might not have always told you, I’m so thankful for you and all you do for me! I had the best season of my life this year, and even though I’m sad to leave it behind, I’m excited for what’s to come. Change can be a little scary sometimes, but embrace it, you never know what good might come out of it!

Danae Ross, 17, of Wyanet is a senior at Bureau Valley High School She can be reached at diamondspride30@yahoo.com.

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