In the world of sports there are winners and there are losers. I’ve mentioned before that winning is easy, but it’s how you handle losing that shows your character. I think our girls had a teachable moment on this subject during their finals game this past Friday. We were guaranteed a second place medal, but a first place medal was certainly a possibility.
I wasn’t as sure about our outcome for this match as I’ve been in the others we’ve played. Esther was sick, Julianna was continuing to improve but still on a learning curve : ), and Janessa continued to struggle with her confidence, though it was getting much better. Don’t get me wrong, I knew they could give Immaculata a run for their money, but Redeemer had to “show up” to play today.
We arrived and had to wait a few minutes for the gym to clear out. There were other activities going on before our game that was scheduled for 3 pm. We warmed up in a smaller gym close by. Eventually we entered the gym and the girls began their warm up. I took the time to finally get a team picture, something I had neglected to get all season long. I put the teams I've coached up on my wall at home.
I knew that the team picture at the end of the match would be one with a medal around our necks, the question was would it be a 1st or 2nd place medal. Megan and Chris came along for the game. Chris to video, and Megan to take pictures. Megan took over 200 pictures. She did her job very well. : )
In order for us to have a chance to win against Immaculata there were some things we had to do. We needed to have stronger hitting at the net, good blocking, use our three hits and not simply hand the ball to Immaculata so they could play offence. That’s the game plan I gave them. I put Janessa, Janelle, Rachel, Jillian, Kelsey and Julianna on for the first set. I wasn’t sure where Julianna was at, but I wanted to give her a chance to show me what she had. I rested Esther because she was sick and I knew I’d need her soon enough.
We handled the first set very well. Good solid hitting, good service return, and Immaculata seemed off their game. I expected more from them in that first set. That worried me.
My talk for the second set was to remind the girls that volleyball is a game of momentum and Immaculata wasn’t about to take that loss sitting down. They were going to come back with a vengeance and our girls had better be ready for that. I put Esther in and took Julianna out. Not because Julianna played bad, in fact she played very well. Again, they are just so interchangeable now and Esther deserved to play too.
Immaculata did what I feared. They found their feet, and summarily beat us quite good in that second set. What I feared could happen was happening. After some understandable mistakes, our team dynamic changed and they no longer were playing as a team, but a bunch of individuals. I hate to say it, but that’s when more mistakes get made, and focus is lost, and sets are lost. One of my setters wasn’t listening to me either, and that usually gets you on the bench for the next set, no matter what’s going on on the court.
So, I decided (and I still think it was a good decision) to change things up drastically to see if the girls would get the message that they had to play as a team, not individuals. I pulled one setter, replaced her with another, changed up my powers and released them to play.
I wish I could say that this helped, but it didn’t. Immaculata was killing us on great serves and solid back row hits and front row spikes. Redeemer was losing (or maybe had already lost) their edge and confidence. I felt bad for them, but didn’t want them to give up this early. There was plenty of game left. The question was how much did they want to win.
We were now down 2 sets. I knew already that we were headed for second place, but of course I didn’t tell the girls that. I returned the line up back to what I had in set 1 to see what would happen. The girls had to work things out on the court. There wasn’t much more I could do/say as their coach. I was still very proud of all of them, but I think they just decided in their minds that this was it; at least that’s how they played in the 4th and final set.
I always look to these times as great teachable moments. I’m not sure if anyone on the court felt that way. : ) I was reminded during this final set of when I grew up and watched ABC's Wild World of Sports. The theme line for that show was, “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat!”
This was agonizing for all on the court, and the bench, I know. I could see the frustration coming out of some of our players, and yes, it was affecting others. I substituted a couple of times to allow players time to refocus, but that didn’t help either.
In the end we need to accept that Immaculata was the better team mentally today, and hold our heads high with a second place finish. It was bitter sweet for me as the final point was completed by Immaculata
, it’s something you live day in and day out, and it applies in sports as well. I’ll leave it at that. Redeemer Christian High School
So, it was time for the medals to be received and it was an honour to give them to most of our team members. Immaculata deserved the win today, and cudo’s to them for having a great season.
Below are some pictures for you to see, with comments. I'm also including video of our first set, and yes, our final set. You can’t only show the thrilling stuff of life. Life is filled with struggle too. The question is how we handle that struggle as followers of the King.
I will miss this team. No more practices, no more exciting matches, win or lose. This was a special year for me, and I hope for each player too. We will be losing several grade 12's this year, with next year being a rebuild year. That happens when you only have players for 2 years, maybe 3.
Jillian, Esther, Kelsey, Rachel, Janelle, Leanna: thanks for the last couple of years and the memories, both great and challenging.
We will see what next year brings when it rolls around. I hope the others of you will come back and play for the purpose of learning, improving, having fun, and competing. We need you.
The above two pictures are of us warming up in the smaller gym.
Before the match begins.
People are happy and ready to go.
Service warm up.
Spiking warm up.
Janessa serving. You did very well Janessa.
Time to start the match.
Kelsey if focused.
I am focused. : )
A time out needing to be called.
Refocused and ready to play.
Hey, Shawn showed up again to support. He ended up being a lines person as well. Thanks for coming Shawn.
Jillian asking a question of the Referee because I didn't like one of his calls. I wasn't that happy with the Referee for this game. I'm also not sure why we didn't have 2 Ref's for a final game.
Julianna going up for a block, or is that a spike....hmmm
I think the team was a bit frustrated in this time out. I just kept encouraging. They had to work things out on the court.
Time to shake hands between teams.
I had the privilege of handing out the medals to our players. I was very proud of them for the great season they played.
Yes, I'm on the phone.
Someone called, and I had to take the call.
Medals to the winning team. Congrats Immaculata.
You played well and smart today.
A final picture with our medals.
Now all that's left are the memories,
some teachable moments I hope.
Time to end with some thanks, and then you can see the video of the 1st and final sets (though I'm not sure if the team will watch that final set) : ) :
1. Thanks to the parents who drove all season long and
came out to watch
2. Thanks to Mr. L. for allowing me the opportunity to
coach again. A great way to get those volunteer hours
in. : )
3. Thanks to all those who came out to our quarter and
semi final games. GREAT support and I know you enjoyed
watching the girls play (not as many came out for our
final game as it was on during school).
4. Thanks to our two captains, Jillian and Janelle. Your
leadership on and off the court was wonderful to watch.
5. Thanks to each and every team member who played to win and gave their all this season. During my coaching time at Redeemer this has been the best finish at the Christian School Tournament, the best finish in our regular season play, and the best finish in city play-off play. You should be proud of yourselves. Many others certainly are. : )
YouTube link to Set #1
YouTube link to set #4