“I’m sorry, Caitlyn, but…you didn’t make the team,” my high school volleyball coach informed me. My heart sank in my chest and I let out the breath that I had anxiously been holding in. Tears swelled in my eyes, but a smile remained on my face. They told me that the bar had been set higher for the season. I took that to mean I was too short; I was about 5'1" at the time. I thanked them for the opportunity and walked out with my head down, ashamed to look at my teammates while the tears ran down my face. As I packed up my things, several of the girls approached me and were shocked when I mumbled the news. My mother had come to pick me up and I cried the entire way home about how unfair life was.
Being cut from the team after being a starting player the previous year broke my spirits. I felt worthless and lost my confidence. Eventually the girls phased me out because I was no longer "one of them," which caused me to have even more feelings of worthlessness. How did we go from being great friends who supported each other both on and off the court to complete strangers so easily? It is actually quite sad that these friendships were solely based on if I made the team or not.
Not only did I feel abandoned by the sport and the girls, but by my school as well. Athletes were looked at in a certain light, and that light no longer shone bright for me. If I couldn't be an athlete, then I felt I had nothing and was no longer important. Luckily, I became close with another girl who was cut from the team. We were in the same sad, little boat, drifting off into despairing loneliness. Not only were we unworthy, but we became irrelevant as well. The two of us vented to each other for a couple of years about the whole situation and moved past it by joining rec teams. We made color-coded workout calendars and stuck to them. And, might I add, we were damn good players on the rec teams, all five feet of us. Don't think we didn't have to go up against the varsity adversaries who played during the off season either. It was quite satisfying when they couldn't return our serves, but we were able to pass theirs. I felt like I mattered again.
This fueled my passion to seek out the volleyball coach at CSE. I set my own bar and tried out for the college team. And guess who made it? Me. At a whopping 5'3.5". The .5 is essential! I earned my spot as an Eagle. My dedication, perseverance, and passion for the sport has helped me become a college athlete. I did not let my failure prevent me from playing ever again.Yes, I was upset and hurt by my rejection, but I learned to work harder and now here I am; I have played in eighteen matches in a total of fifty-one sets, and have earned the respect of my peers. I know my numbers will keep going up because I have coaches who care about me and who don't just brush me off because I need a step stool.
I have achieved my goal. I am an athlete. A college athlete. I made it happen. If you are someone who was cut from a team, or don't think you are good enough, don't give up. Work a little each day for your passion and for your self. High school is only four years of your life and should not define who you are. I almost let it, but found the strength to define myself.