Times that tug at the heart of a teenLook, I’ve admitted that I never used to be all that fond of volleyball. I only started watching it 10 or 12 years ago because some Pierre girls that Nancy and I knew were playing. Even then, we’d see maybe a couple of matches a year. When we did, I’d mostly talk with other spectators and look at the court only to see why people were clapping and shouting.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
Look, I’ve admitted that I never used to be all that fond of volleyball.
I only started watching it 10 or 12 years ago because some Pierre girls that Nancy and I knew were playing. Even then, we’d see maybe a couple of matches a year. When we did, I’d mostly talk with other spectators and look at the court only to see why people were clapping and shouting.
It wasn’t until one of the granddaughters started playing for Chamberlain that I really started to get interested in the game. I grew to love the funny sport, simply because Jordan loves it so much.
I can remember a summer afternoon on the Missouri River near Chamberlain when the girls were talking about their favorite sports. Jordan, who was about to start her freshman year at CHS, said volleyball was her favorite. I nodded and thought to myself, “Well, she’ll probably grow out of that nonsense.’’
She didn’t, though. She threw herself into volleyball. It didn’t take me long to see that she meant what she said about her favorite sport. For all the years she has played — from the early times when she was a sub who got on the court for a few points late in a match now and then, to her senior year when she never came off the court — she has attacked the game. She plays hard, dives for balls and yells encouragement to teammates. Always, whether the scoreboard is on her side or not, she has a big smile of sheer enjoyment at being able to do something she obviously loves.
That’s what I came to love about the game — the joy my granddaughter found in it.
In the process of watching Jordan, I had opportunities to watch her teammates develop as players and people. That’s been a treat. I also had opportunities to watch the Cubs’ opponents as their players developed skills and gained success at the sport. Over the past couple of years, particularly, I’ve been able to see some really good volleyball. Miller’s girls play a consistently high-quality game. Platte-Geddes players are very accomplished. Wagner, well, they seem to set the standards these days for how the game is supposed to be played.
Coming into this season, I didn’t give the Cubs much chance of getting out of their district. The Cubs hadn’t done that in 15 years, I was told. In an emotion-packed contest with Miller at the Crow Creek Tribal School gym last week, though, Chamberlain won. We were riding high heading into a regional match last Tuesday with Mobridge-Pollock at Gettysburg. Imagine it. The girls had a chance to go to state. Wouldn’t that be something for a team with all senior starters?
In any sport with a playoff system, only one team each year ends the season with a victory. Every other team finishes with a loss, and sometimes for a while, it’s hard to remember all the good times that preceded that last match. Most high-school seniors finish their sports seasons with a loss. The seniors on only one team get to finish with a win. That’s just the way it is. On Tuesday evening in Gettysburg, the Chamberlain seniors weren’t the ones who got to keep playing.
At Crow Creek, the Miller girls stood quietly along the end line of the gym and watched the Chamberlain girls collect the winners’ medals and trophy. At Gettysburg, the Chamberlain girls found out how that feels as they stood and watched the girls from Mobridge-Pollock collect the hardware.
Many tears flowed. My granddaughter shed a few buckets. She was sad about the loss, sure. Mostly, though, I think she was sad that her opportunity to play a sport she loves had ended. Losses? They come and go. The last match of a senior’s high-school career? That’s a moment that tugs at a 17-year-old heart.
As I watched the sad scene, I thought of comforting things to say to Jordan. But when she stood before me with tears in her eyes and no more matches to play for the Cubs, those words wouldn’t come. I just wrapped my arms around her and whispered how proud I am to be her grandpa.