Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making the Team

I have been very busy lately. I have spent two hours every weeknight for the last two weeks sitting in a gym watching tryouts for the freshman volleyball team.

I spent two weeks doing this for couple reasons. First my oldest daughter was trying out for the team. She needed a ride to and from the tryouts and she wanted some support. Apparently having Dad sitting the stands watching and whispering advice for her to ignore during water breaks was the kind of support she needed.

My second reason for being there was my middle school volleyball team. In order to improve my 8th grade players’ chances of making the team next year I decided to revamp my middle school practice sessions to mirror the freshman high school program. I discovered that there were already a lot of similarities in our programs. However I need to refine several of my basic drills. I also learned several new ones to inflict on my players. I see lots of running and passing and running and setting and running and serving in my players future. Did I mention that they're going to be running a lot?

A side benefit of sitting through two weeks of tryouts is that next year when my 8th grade athletes ask what high school tryouts are like I’ll be able to give them some idea on what to expect.

The tryouts were an interesting experience. Originally there were 30 girls who showed up on the first night. Six of them cut themselves from the team by not showing up after that first night. This was to be expected. The Varsity Coach had told me that each year there are several girls who show up who have never played volleyball except at family picnics. They see it on TV and think it looks easy, it usually only takes one tryout session for them to learn otherwise.

After three days they cut the team down to 19 players, but then over the next 2 nights picked up four more latecomers. So they had another cut on Monday morning that got the number back down to 19.

After two more practices this week they had the final cut last night. The final list of players who would be on the team was posted this morning on the door of the girls’ locker room at the high school.

There were 15 names on the list. The Coach had mentioned that she was thinking about keeping 14 players. But over the weekend one of the most promising players at the tryouts was injured when she was thrown from her horse onto a wooden fence post. She suffered no permanent damage, but will not be able to play for a couple weeks. She can barely walk right now. Apparently the coach decided to add a fifteenth spot in order to give this player a chance to contribute later.

So this morning I drove my daughter to school so I could check out the list. I don’t know which one of us got the least amount of sleep last night. We are both dragging pretty badly this morning. As we approached the list that was hanging in plain sight my daughter started lagging back a bit. Finally she stopped and told me “I can’t look, you read it.” So I did, quietly, to myself. I spotted her name almost immediately and somehow managed not to react. As I was scanning the rest of the list my daughter finally got up enough courage to look up at the list. From 10 feet away she spotted her name on the list. After indulging herself in a few seconds of subdued celebration she calmed down quickly because of all the other high school kids within view. No sense in looking like a dweeb in front of witnesses. Like a freshman ever looks cool to start with.

We reviewed the list together for a moment and we were both pleased that all six players that I was rooting for made the team. My daughter, the other player from my 8th grade team, the two players that I had coached in the city rec league last spring, and two good friends of theirs who would have been my players at school if they had not transferred to the public schools.

While we were reading the list another player whose name was on the list came walking over. She spotted her name from about 12 feet away, gave an excited little jump in the air and had her cell phone out and dialing someone (hopefully her parents) before landing.

So I now have a daughter on the freshman team at school. I tried to tell her that now the real work begins. But she was too busy being excited to listen. I have to admit that I was pretty excited also, so much so that went ahead and embarrassed her by kissing her good bye in front of her classmates. I’m sure she’ll survive…..

No comments: