After all these years, 10 to be exact, I couldn’t thank you enough for all you have done for me. A decade of memories race through my head as I try to express my gratitude for you. Chasing volleyballs on the court has taught me a million things, but I’ll only have time to share my favorite.
Starting as an 8-year-old wasn’t always easy (as the ball was bigger than my whole self), but without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. You made a wide-eyed little girl blossom with unstoppable confidence -- confidence that is still blooming today.
You taught me the importance of practice. Some days, I wasn’t in the mood; sometimes, other obligations seemed to crowd my schedule, but waking up every day and driving to the gym taught me that working hard at something you love isn’t work at all. You have to show up to learn. You have to show up to work. Most importantly, you have to show up for yourself. If someone else is forcing you to be on the court and dragging you to practice, it isn’t worth the time or effort. You taught me how to play for myself because the sole place I wanted to be was on a 900 square foot court.
You taught me power of respect and leadership, which transferred into all other aspects of my life. I see you weaved throughout my relationships, work habits, and lifestyle. You taught me the importance of being a mentor for anyone who is watching. The best way to teach someone else these habits is to do it yourself first. You taught me to lift other up when they were down, yet still being humble when I made my own mistakes.
You gave me thick skin and taught me how to hold myself together when I felt as if I was failing. You taught me nothing can’t be fixed with a short water break and a little “you can do it” attitude adjustment from another player. This mindset of competitiveness would be nothing without you.
You have blessed me with coaches and teammates from all walks of life. You have shown me how every coach has a different style, and that some will always have a special place in my heart. Whether good or bad, they have pushed and molded me into the player I am today. You have shown me that nothing is stronger than the bond between girls who are working to achieve the same goals. The value of family that comes along with the title “team” still rings true for many girls who I have played with, even if we have gone off in different directions.
You have blessed me with another place I call home. From Douglas to Carson City, from Sparks to Hartford, you have given me a place that is familiar as my own house. A court with a tightened net is, and will forever be, a place to escape from bigger reality. It is a place of comfort, but more importantly a place of better energy. This is a place where I can morph into the player I want to be. You have gotten me through some life shattering things, and I could never thank you enough for all the opportunities you have presented me with.
You gave me memories that would last a lifetime. Do you remember being dogpiled on after beating our rival high school for a regional championship? Or the time we got to train with the Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh? The hours of car rides to tournaments, zillions of knee pads, and old hair bows? Locker rooms filled with echoes of singing or gyms filled with spirited chants? Memories that will never fade.
I can only hope that someone else finds as much comfort and joy in you as I do.