24 January 2008
It was a Tuesday night in the old gym at Ames High School. A cold breeze blew through the gym that sent chills up my spine. The gym was packed to the top; it was so loud I could hardly hear the person next to me. My palms were sweating and my heart felt as if it was in my throat. I thought to myself, “I wish I had not eaten that hot dog.” Looking at the other team, I felt as if I was David looking fearfully into the eyes of Goliath. It was to be the game of my life.
It was our first volleyball game of the year. We were playing the number one team in the state, the Ames Little Cyclones. We were the underdogs and not expected to win. Our main goal was to play well enough to avoid embarrassment. Game one began. I do not think I have never been so nervous for a volleyball match. I stood there looking at the other team. Just by their presence on the court, people knew they were good. We started out strong; our middle hitters could not be stopped. It seemed we could do nothing wrong. We stayed ahead the whole game. I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted, as we scored the final point to win game one. Game two was an instant replay. Everything went our way.
We were up two games to none. We were all thinking one more game that was all we needed. Game three was back and forth. Every time we made a point, they matched it. It came down to the last few points, and Ames pulled ahead to win by three. We were not crushed though; hope was still on our side. We still only needed to win one more game. In game four they came at us strong. It appeared as if the Ames coach had placed a brand new team on the court. They knew if they wanted to beat us, they needed to step up now. Game four went to the Little Cyclones.
This is what it all came down to, game five. We were tied two games to two. This was where all of our hard work and determination came in. In all my years of playing volleyball, I had never seen us play with so much emotion. It went back and forth. Everyone in the gym was ecstatic by this point. We were up by four when their coach called for a time out. The gym was roaring. I could hardly hear anything that our coach was saying. The time out ended and we continued play. I do not know what their coach said to them during that time out but they brought their A game. Then it was over; we had lost by three.
We stood there in shock. Could this really be? We played with so much heart, yet came up empty. As we sat in the locker room waiting for our coaches to come in to talk to us, tears began rolling down our cheeks. As the coaches entered the room it was dead silent. No one knew what to say. Our coach has a good sense of humor and all he said was, “Well, we weren’t expected to win, but you girls played great!” I felt as if our summer months and weeks of practicing twice a day for hours had accomplished nothing. Before our coach left the locker room he said something I will never forget. “I know it may not seem like it but tonight we took a giant step forward. If you are going to fall, fall forward.” I could not think of a better way to put it. We had just fallen to the number one team in the state, but we, as a team, had fallen forward. I have fallen plenty of times in my life. I believe if you are going to fall, fall in a direction that will help you achieve your goal.
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