“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”–Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.
It was summer 2011.
My daughter Julia had decided earlier that year that she was ready to follow her big brother and leave homeschooling behind to enter the local high school as a freshman.
Years ago, her dad had taken her to see a volleyball game at the high school. She was 10 years old and remembered being totally enthralled by the game. Now that she was entering high school, she decided that she wanted to play.
Fortunately, we discovered that the volleyball coach was going to hold a summer clinic on the local beach. This was good news for Julia. Most of the girls had been playing volleyball since 5th grade, but she had never played competitively before and had much to learn. And learn she did. What she lacked in skill, she made up for in pure heart. She dove, she ran, she hustled, she spiked. She soaked all that knowledge up until she she was ready for tryouts. She earned a place on the JV team and made tremendous progress by the end of the season.
The following year she made the JV team once more.
When her junior year rolled around, she had improved a lot and had high hopes of making the Varsity team.
It was not to be.
She was devastated.
Several girls (also juniors) quit the team in protest rather than play for the JV team for the third year in a row. It was outrageous to them that 4 freshmen made Varsity instead of them. However, everyone knows that this particular volleyball coach is only concerned about ability, not age. There were girls who played on JV all four year of their high school career. Everyone who was on Varsity earned their spot, whether they were 14 or 18.
These girls joined the cross country team in “defiance.” They thought that that would really “show” the coach who had denied them what they felt they deserved. All it showed the coach was that they were quitters.
But Julia refused to quit. After a good cry the night before, she walked into practice the next day with her head held high, determined to be the best player she could be. She went on to help her team have one of their best seasons ever and became a fierce middle hitter.
“I WILL make Varsity next year,” she told Doug and me as we drove home from the last game of the season.
She was true to her word. This past summer she worked out several times a week despite working full time at the local bookstore. When the first day of practice arrived, she was ready.
On the third day (when the teams would be announced after the morning practice), Julia came into my room and said she felt sick. “What if I don’t make it?” she asked, her blue eyes meeting mine, filled with trepidation.
“All you can do is your best,” I told her. “You’ve done the work. Go and play your heart out. Leave it all on the court.”
I watched her drive away with a lump in my throat. I think I wanted this more for her than she wanted it for herself.
“I MADE VARSITY!!!” came the joyful text a few hours later.
As soon as she came home after her victory, I didn’t even wait until she came into the house. I sprinted out into the driveway to greet her. She ran into my arms and we jumped up and down, squealing with excitement.
I have never been so proud of my daughter. She had a goal and a dream and she never stopped reaching for it, even in the face of intense disappointment. She didn’t stay down. She didn’t give in to self-pity. She didn’t play the blame game.
She simply refused to take her eyes off the goal. She knew she had one more chance to achieve a dream and she did what it took to get there.
This gives me great hope for her future. We all know that life is full of disappointments and as a parent, you wonder how those inevitable moments will affect your child. I now know that when life gets tough for her, she will get tougher.
Julia’s perseverance over four long years inspires me to deal the same way with the disappointments in my own life. I am amazed by her courage and her grace under pressure.
It is a beautiful thing as a mom to be encouraged and motivated by your child.
I am so proud of my girl.
Here’s to a winning season!
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow.”—Mary Radmacher