Heart and Hustle

Alex - Moraga, California
Entered on December 2, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: courage

I believe in floor burns. Floor burns and sweat. I believe in liners. I don’t like liners, but I believe in them. I believe that if you hold anything back, you’re only holding yourself back.

People say I’m crazy. I promise I’m not. My sport is volleyball. I love everything about the game: long rallies, big swings, jump-floaters and backsets. My position is Outside Hitter. I love everything about the role: delivering the crushing kill, blocking the other team without mercy and ending rallies. But to be honest, my favorite thing about volleyball is diving, full force, into the hardwood floor, just to keep the ball off the ground. Well, maybe I am crazy. But I believe that there is no replacing heart, or hustle.

Everyone hates running. But nobody can possible hate it as much as I do. However, when my coach sends my team to the end line, a small part of me can’t help but feel glad. Because over the years, I have come to realize that, by sending us to the end line, my coach is giving us a chance to work as hard as is humanly possible, in order to reach a goal. And I know he’s not sending us to the end line to jog. We are there to sweat. I believe that nothing beats sweat.

Remember how I said I liked diving? I lied. I love diving. I believe volleyball players wear kneepads for a reason. It’s exhilarating, throwing yourself to the ground, popping the ball up just before it falls, saving the play. Last year, my volleyball team was at a tournament, and we were losing. The other team had game point, match point, and serve. Translation: we were in big trouble. I had just come into the game when it happened. The other team served the ball, which hit the top of the net and rolled over. It was only feet away and I couldn’t stop myself. I dove. What happened after that is a little fuzzy; I got the ball up, but not before my face slammed into the floor. My head was buzzing, but the play wasn’t over. I stumbled to my feet, trying to make sense of the blurry shapes around me. I saw the other team going up to hit the ball, and tried to block them, falling over in the process, confused at the sudden cheering. As they whisked me off to the hospital, I heard someone say we had won.

Luckily, the blow to my eyebrow wasn’t serious, and one week and 22 stitches later, I was back on the court. And you know what? I still love diving. I’m not scared of the floor; I believe in hitting it hard, giving it all you’ve got.

Heart and hustle. I believe that’s all you really need in life. If you’re willing to pick up a few floor burns, or stitches, if you’re willing to run liners and sweat, I believe you’ll be fine. You’ll be more than fine. You’ll be a champion.