As a sports writer, I have the opportunity to attend several sporting events during the week. In fact, most of the time I am overwhelmed with events and cannot attend many of them because of time constraints. I did however have the opportunity last week to attend a Helper Junior High volleyball game.
I particularly enjoyed this game because I was able to stand at the side of the court and watch these young athletes compete. It was a junior varsity game and most of these girls have never competed before or have only a few times.
The girls practiced with excitement yet nervous smiles graced the faces of each athlete. As game time neared, the Helper girls seemed to become even more nervous, yet they would never admit to it.
This was really exciting to me. When I was in junior high, I played volleyball for Notre Dame. This was a school that every student in junior high had to play every sport or there would not be enough players to form a team. For the most part, our teams did not do very well, but sometimes we would surprise everyone and win.
The Helper team reminded me of our teams in junior high. They are a small school and many of the girls I've seen compete are the same athletes who play other sports, particularly basketball. But what really brought back memories was the excitement and surprise that the girls revealed after winning their game against San Rafael.
As the first game flew by and Helper lost, the girls seemed a little disappointed, yet they played strong and hard in the next set. The determination paid off and the team won the second game.
The third and final game was dominated by Helper who easily defeated San Rafael. The celebration afterwards was exciting. The look of surprise graced the faces of each Helper athlete. They knew that they could do it, but they really weren't sure that they had. It was truly an exciting moment for both the team and myself.
As a junior high athlete, the most important factor of competing in sports is to become an experienced sportsman and to acquire the knowledge and skills for a particular sport.
Volleyball in junior high is about learning the rules and skills. These girls play at a slower pace and often times are unsure of their own talent. As spiked balls fly over the net, surprised girls gloat that the ball went over the net. It is refreshing to see athletes who are humble and enjoy playing for the sheer enjoyment of the game.
It seems as if junior high sports is the final stop for athletes to have fun. By the time these athletes compete at the high school level, it seems as if the game is taken much more seriously, and often times the excitment of participating is lost. It becomes more of a demand to be good than it is to have fun and do your best.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching high school athletics, but it seems as if the junior high athletes savor the moment of the game much more than the older athletes.
I remember when I competed in volleyball the feeling that I would get as the game began. The butterflies would flutter in my stomach, but at the same time, I put on a front much like most of the other athletes that we weren't nervous to play. We were cool after all, nothing bothered us.
Once the game was over and we had actually captured a win, we would all run to the side of the court and jump up and down cheering. We were so excited that we could not help but shine with pride.
This was exactly what I witnessed at the Helper game. I just want to thank the junior varsity team for bringing back many fond memories of competing in a sport which I truly love to play and watch. Don't be afraid to celebrate, it is a wonderful feeling to be successful.