5 life lessons I learned from my volleyball coach

So, I’ve been playing volleyball again. Every Monday they have a ladies drop in, and usually there’s enough to play 6 on 6. I don’t necessarily go every Monday…because…ow. Man, if only someone had told me that if you don’t stay physically active, you tend to get out of shape. Information that would have been useful ten years ago. Seriously, I’ve never had the bottoms of my feet hurt like that before. The bottoms of my feet!

I do love the sport though. I played from grade seven to grade 12 in high school, and was fortunate enough to have the best volleyball coach ever for all 6 of those years. Coach Clay. In grade 9, he promised that if we won zones, he would take us to Hawaii in grade 12. And then we won! And then, true to his word, my entire volleyball team went to Hawaii in October of grade 12. It was amazing. Something I will never, ever forget.

His lessons have stuck with me throughout the years too. Volleyball lessons, but when I think about it, they can easily be translated into life lessons.

Balls up…

1. 13-9, and we had the serve.

I can still remember the way he uttered that, shaking his head in disappointment. We were at a tournament, and we were up 13-9, and we had the serve. (By the way, this was back in the day of old-school volleyball, where games went to 15 and  we didn’t play rally point. Also, you couldn’t kick the ball with your foot. And you had to serve between the two little tabby dealy’s along the line. What has happened to this sport!?) Anyway, somehow, with that much of a lead and that much advantage, we lost the game. Why? We got cocky. The life lesson here…don’t get cocky. Stay focused, stay humble, and play. Don’t get cocky.

2. Make every serve count.

This was basically the only way to even have a chance of getting a point, back before the rally days. If you couldn’t get the serve over the net, everything else was pointless. Life lesson here…make every day count. Just like every serve is vital in a game of volleyball, every day is vital in the game of your life. You have zero chance of any kind of success if every day is just wasted.

3.Don’t be afraid of the ball.

You’re in six back and its time to receive the ball. Odds are, that serve is coming to you. If you’re afraid of it, you’re more likely to shank it off to the side, hit the lights or maybe receive that serve with your chest. Or your face. Don’t be afraid of the ball! Just like life will throw some serves at you, the really difficult, sidewindery type serves that come at you a trillion miles an hour, you can’t be afraid. Know that it’s inevitable, that it’s coming to you. Prepare yourself and receive that ball, with the comfort of knowing that even if you do screw it up, that serve will come again and you’ll have another chance to do it right.

4. Lots of ra-ra!

I’m pretty sure we won zones in grade 9 because of ra-ra. Because of the cheering and support that always came from the bench, no matter which line was playing or what was going on. We all need ra-ra in our lives. We need support and encouragement from the bench…be it your family or your friends…we all need someone to cheer when we do it right and to encourage when we do it wrong. People that have our back no matter what the circumstances. Coach Clay loved ra-ra.

5. Sometimes we all need a little magic tape.

In grade seven, I was too weak wristed to even serve the ball underhand. Coach Clay came up with a little solution. He taped up my wrist with white athletic tape, you know the kind, similar to what horses wear. Anyway, he taped up my wrist, and voila, suddenly I could serve. It was like magic, seriously. I didn’t find out until way later that the tape didn’t help my wrist at all, that it was all in my head. But he knew how to bring out the best in me, Coach Clay, he knew how to make me believe in my own ability.  Life lesson here: wear your magic tape every day. Believe in yourself.

I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s taught me, for all the years he invested into our lives. For his influence and support over the years. A coach is someone who teaches you, who pushes you to do your best, someone you respect and admire. He called me Pupperoo number 2 when I was growing up (my friend Jami, his daughter, was obviously Pupperoo number 1), and he called me Motorcycle Mama when I was going through my rebellious stage.

But I called him coach, and I always will.

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