On Tuesday night, my first volleyball season as a head coach came to an end. Volleyball really has been my life for the last 12+ weeks. It has consumed my time and my thoughts, took me away from my job and my family, and caused a roller coaster of emotions. I have been stressed and challenged more than I ever thought possible. But, it has been one of the best, most exhilarating experiences of my life.
I honestly can’t NOT write about it. Maybe because it’s been a ghost town on my blog for the last 12 weeks with posts few and far between and I feel like I owe you guys an explanation. But, I really feel like I just need to get out my thoughts to get some closure on the season. To deal with the emotions I’m experiencing and to reflect and remember the experience.
I took this job position last May and it has been about every other thought in my mind for the last 6 months. I had originally turned down the position for a lower level job when I first got hired for my teaching job. I ended up taking the JV position last season and struggled through the season, mostly because I was too busy trying to make it through my first year of teaching. I didn’t dedicate much time to trying to develop my players and really focus on what I could do to make my team better.
Maybe my heart just wasn’t really in it because I longed for that Varsity position. In hindsight, I do wish I would have taken the position originally, but I know that a year coaching the JV team was exactly the experience I needed at the time to figure out how to run this program and where I wanted to take it. But, I knew my heart was wanting something bigger and better.
I took 8 players on the Varsity team this season – 4 seniors, 2 juniors, and 2 sophomores. Only 1 of them was a new-to-Varsity athlete, and after just 2 weeks of coaching her, she improved to be a solid player. I really lucked out with some awesome talent and have told them as much as I can how lucky I was this season to be able to have them to coach. I couldn’t ask for better players on my team: they were talented, smart, and most of all, coachable. They were receptive to me as a new coach and respected my decisions as a coach. They made it easy to manage, and definitely fun!
Last year, this same team was an “Under .500” team. They had the talent but couldn’t execute it. Some of the other teams we played were just better at the time and lost some great players from last year to this year. But, this team lacked a lot of confidence. The school and athletics are not known for being competitive. In fact, when I was in high school, they were always the team I knew we could beat. They didn’t know how to be successful and didn’t know how to be great.
We ended this season with a 20-9-2 record – the best ever in school history. And while we didn’t win a single title this year, we went from being 5 out of 6 in our conference last year to 2nd this year (we could have split the title but blew it in our last 2 conference matches). We also went from being the 5 seed in districts to being tied for the 2nd seed (we ended up being seeded 3rd due to our common opponents record with the 2nd seed team).
These girls were not only my athletes, they became my 2nd family. I love them as if they were my sisters or nieces (I’m definitely not old enough to be their mom). It was a season of ups and downs – we didn’t always get along, and we definitely didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but I loved spending my time with them. (Shoot, if I hated it, I would not have been happy spending so much time away from my family.)
It has been a long season. 12 weeks of practices and games, weekend tournaments, practice planning, and behind the scenes “head coach” duties really took a toll on me mentally and physically, and made it really hard on Matt and MacKenna. I missed them so much with the late nights and weekends.
But, I am really, really going to miss my girls. After our final game on Tuesday night (a really close loss to our conference rivals), I broke down in tears. I just couldn’t help it. I wasn’t mad or sad about losing. They played a great game and a great district tournament and I couldn’t be upset with that. I was sad that I wasn’t going to spend every afternoon with them, that I wasn’t going to ever get to coach THAT team again. They were the best team I could’ve asked for as a first year coach and I will absolutely never forget this season.
While I am so sad that this season had to come to an end, I’m so ready to have my LIFE back! I have missed Matt and MacKenna so incredibly much and can’t wait to spend so much more time with them! And to not have to run at 4 AM anymore. In fact, yesterday I was able to go pick MacKenna up from the babysitter and then go for an incredible run in the rain. It was exactly what my mind and soul needed.
So, I am hoping this is my return to regular blogging. It probably won’t be my last post regarding volleyball, as I think it has a pretty permanent spot at the top of my priority list, but it’s not going to consume nearly as much of my time. I have a ton of posts I can’t wait to share with you guys, including a race recap from almost a month ago and my plans for “winter” training, which has now become my “pre”-season since the fall is really my off season. It is nice to be back! 🙂