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When I was in grade 4 I played volleyball for the very first time in gym class and completely fell in love. From there on I practiced and really tried to get a hang of it. In grade 6 and 7 I made the "A Team" and both years we won the city championship. Our coach was absolutely incredible and he taught us discipline and how to really appreciate this sport. He made me completely fall in love with it and I'm so thankful because it has been such a big part of my life ever since then.
Apart from any other sport that I played, volleyball was so different and so much more challenging. It requires such patience and trust in yourself and your abilities. It teaches you to own up to your mistakes, as they are always right there in front of you and blatantly obvious.
After elementary school, I was playing most of the year. School season from September to beginning of December, club season from end of January until May, and then camp in the summer. It was constant and I loved it all. Playing team sports is such a blessing as a kid because you make so many friends from so many places. I had friends from every school in town and saw them all of the time and it was great. You develop a friendship on a different level with people that you're on a team with because you learn to really put your trust into these people, they see you in very vulnerable places and you see them the same. It becomes a sort of family, and that is really special.
Apart from all of this though, something you don't realize at the time at all, is that playing sports is an escape from all reality. Yes, some practices definitely suck, and sometimes you have a million sets of lines or you keep messing up and are just having a horrible terrible day or you had a bad game and your coach sure as hellllll is making you pay for it. But during that time, you still are just thinking about the next serve, or the next approach or next time you have to throw your body on the floor. And that is something incredible, because you aren't out there thinking about work or the fact that your mom is mad at you about doing something stupid or that you have to pay your car insurance and your phone bill tomorrow and you have like $17.84 in your bank account. None of that matters; just that next move. You just don't appreciate all of these things when they're happening, until they're completely over.
I played my last "real" game in my senior year. I was out of town for Okanagan, we had won and lost a game each and had to win our last game to challenge the following Monday to get into a spot at Provincials. I played middle. I went up for a block and the ball hit my middle finger SOO HARD. It started going purple immediately, and it stung every time I touched the ball afterwards. My coaches offered to take me off and there was NO WAY I was coming off to sit. I played through and we all tried very hard, but lost in 4 sets to the other team. It was really tough to just be done.
I remember cheering and saying good game to the other team. I remember everyone crying and just looking around at very very defeated faces. I, however, felt I needed to keep composure, and I was okay. I definitely felt that horrible empty feeling in my gut but I was going to wait until I got into the truck for the ride home. Then. My dad walked down from the bleachers and he patted me on the sweaty sticky back and he said: "tough loss kid, it's okay." I remember breaking down completely. I felt like what would I do without this, what would I do without my team, how was I going to identify myself. I was so afraid of where I would be in just a short years time because there are just so many unknown things. I cried and I cried HARD. Like horrible sobbing ugly crying. I cried though our last team meeting in the hallway, I cried when I thanked my coaches for all of their hard work, I cried through all the hugs from my teammates, and I cried until I fell asleep in the truck on the 3 and a half hour drive home. I just felt honestly completely empty.
The hardest part about getting older and moving on is that things come to an end all of the time and you have to make a lot of sacrifices for the things that you love. It's hard to come to the realization you won't have something that has been there for like 9 whole years of your life, something that feels like home to you. Something that caused you to form such intimate friendships with your teammates that all share the same love and appreciation for the same game that holds such a special place in your heart and you know it's the same in theirs. At the time you are just so lost, and trust me you miss that so much. But as time passes you remember the good in all of it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, learn to appreciate all of the moments in life that are happening; try your hardest, love every minute of everything so there is no chance of regret, and remember everything for the positives and the things they taught you while you were in it all.