Volleyball team shows youth’s promise

Life As I Know It
By Nicole Daughhetee

When we learned that there was going to be a fall volleyball league at the Easley Recreation Center, my oldest daughter, Emerson, decided she wanted to sign up and play.

Prior to her playing volleyball, I’m not certain I would have characterized her as athletic per se. Truth be told, she chose volleyball for two reasons: (1) her love-her-like-a-sister best friend was playing and (2) she wanted to wear funky knee socks.

Punky Brewster-esque fashionista? Absolutely. Athlete extraordinaire? I had my doubts.

Aside from a brief four-day trial of swim-team about a year ago, this is the first time Emerson has ever participated in a team sport. I am both surprised and proud that she not only finished out the season, but also that she approached volleyball practices and games with such enthusiasm that we had to be early for each meeting.

As a mother of two daughters, living in a society where mean girls seem to garner positive attention and queen bees achieve a certain sort of celebrity status, I have been so impressed with the girls on Em’s team — the absolute antithesis to haughty exclusivity — that I felt compelled to offer some very public kudos to these girls, their coach and their parents.

During the first week of practice, the girls brainstormed and decided to name themselves the “All-Stars.” In every sense of the word, these young girls are all-stars who embody and exemplify what it means to be part of a team among whom each player has the opportunity to shine and the grace to share her spotlight. 

Watching the All-Stars, week after week, offering support and encouragement to one another, without being prompted to do so, has been an amazing spectacle. Sadly, I wonder how many adults would behave this well given the same circumstances. This team played with their hearts, and it was refreshing to see them champion one another — especially when mistakes were made.

Not one girl was made to feel, by her peers, like she did not contribute to the overall spirit of the team. I could not have imagined a better scenario for Em’s first team sport experience.

Of course, these girls didn’t come from gardens like Timothy Green, so I would be remiss if I didn’t say that our All-Stars are champions because of all the parents, grandparents and other family members or friends who are helping to shape our young girls into individuals with character and integrity.

Coach Brock reinforced positivity within her team. The girls looked to her for direction in moments of uncertainty. Every foible was responded to with patience and praise for the effort. There was no demeaning chiding. Our novice team was taught how to serve and volley, but they also learned to have fun, treat one another with kindness and to accept one another’s strengths, weaknesses and potential for growth. The genuine sports-woman-ship shown to one another, as well as to the members of opposing teams, is something about which we can all be proud. 

Call me idealistic; however, I can’t help but imagine that this world would be a much better place if, as simplistic as it sounds, we worked together as a unified team, encouraging success, applauding sincere effort, and hugging through moments of defeat.

All-Stars … You girls ROCK!