This I Believe

Michael - East Brunswick, New Jersey
Entered on December 11, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: sports
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I believe in never backing down.

I had just finished putting on my tuxedo, and was waiting for my friends. This was the first chance I had to take it all in. We were getting ready for prom in a high school locker room. This was no ordinary circumstance. We had played our archrivals that night, who were the number one ranked team in the state. Bigger than us at every position, they also had an army of wild fans. Our student fans were attending the prom. This was not the ideal setting for a State Championship Volleyball game, the biggest game of our lives.

At the start of the match we were transported into the heart of the Roman Coliseum. We were the slaves sent for the gladiators to destroy in order to amuse their people. While the opposing team was spiking balls off our faces, we were hitting into the net and serving out of bounds. Their crowd was feeding off of it. Their excitement and enthusiasm grew with each point they won. After being embarrassed the first game, the other seniors and I bypassed the huddle. Despite the roar of the crowd, we sat looking at each other in complete silence, scared of how it would feel to walk into prom after losing the biggest game of our lives.

We should have given up right there. We were expected to lose, no one would ridicule us. We were criticized in the paper and in online forums for months. “They don’t have the fire power to win a title.” We were supposed to lose two rounds ago. Something in that silent conversation had ignited a fire in all of us and we rallied. We communicated to the rest of our team with words, what we had just discussed with mere looks. As we started off the second game strong, our sparse crowd became spirited. They could feel the emotions we were playing with and were instantly energized. On every point it sounded like either team had won the championship.

After we won the second game easily, the third and final game felt like it was played in Madison Square Garden. The crowd was deafening. The game sounded like a heavy weight bout, but it was only a race to fifteen. Lasting twice as long as normal games, it became a marathon. We eventually stole the momentum and ran with it, delivering the knock out punch. Then we celebrated. We celebrated like we had just won a war. The war that started months ago when they said it couldn’t be done.

As I sat there exhausted and sore, waiting for my friends to finish getting ready, I thought about how much easier it would have been to give up. We would have been at prom with our dates and friends hours ago. I then realized if we backed down we would have never written our Cinderella story. Now we just had to get our trophy to the ball.