I was never picked first for a team, but I was never picked last. I was not in the popular crowd, but I was not in the loser crowd either. I have always been the tall girl, awkward and klutzy. I was not born to be a champion; I was just another face in the crowd. At least that is what I thought.
Muhammad Ali was a great American boxer. He once quoted “champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision.” To me, a champion does not have to be a 10 time Olympic gold medalist. I believe that a champion is someone who can overcome all obstacles to reach a goal they have set before themselves.
I always knew, even before trying out for a team, who was going to make the top team. My seventh grade year, I decided to be adventurous and go out for the volleyball team. From what I could tell I was a decent player and I came with the added bonus of being tall. Much to my dismay, although, that is not what the coaches thought of me. I went from a very high spirited seventh grader, who was excited to pursue a new sport, to a girl whose dreams were crushed in a matter of seconds. I was at the bottom, the D team, and all my friends were at the top. I was embarrassed; I denied it for as long as I could. And for the longest time I was afraid to dream because I did not want to fail again.
My eighth grade year, I decided to give the horrible sport of volleyball one more try. It was the week before tryouts and I was sitting on the gymnasium floor while the varsity volleyball coach came before me and the other one hundred camp attendees. I was expecting the usual “try your best this season” or “practice makes perfect” lecture, but instead his words helped me to embark on a journey that would take me years to accomplish. He stood facing us, looked around at all of our faces, and then down into his hands. In his hands was a varsity volleyball jersey. It was black with gold numbers, outlined in white. He began to speak in a gentle tone, “There are over a hundred of you here, but by your senior year in high school, only thirteen of you will wear this jersey.” That jersey became my desire, my dream, my vision. From that day, on I believed in myself and my dream. Everyday when I went to practice I found this desire that kept fueling me to be the greatest. Soon enough, I had passed by all of my teammates and was on the road to the top.
Before I knew it, I was a sophomore in high school. Our first game of the season was in a matter of minutes. I threw on my jersey and walked over to the mirror to pull my hair back into a ponytail. As I was gazing into the mirror, reality hit me, and I stood in awe. I was wearing that black jersey with gold numbers, outlined in white.
I am now 16 years old and a junior in high school. Every home volleyball game, I wear that jersey. Every time I put it on, I am reminded to chase after my dreams. I look back on those years and remember how it did not always come easy, but I overcame the barriers. To most people, a jersey is just a jersey, but to me it symbolizes something so much more. I believe in myself. I know everyone can do great things if they just believe in it. And I believe we are all born with dreams, and therefore we are all born to be champions.
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