A Volleyball and Belief

She’s 4’9”. All sorts of spindly wonderful. Her limbs stretch out and out. She’s danced throughout her life but competitive sport hasn’t been her thing. Soccer was her first real go in team sports earlier this spring.

Landon has always been the athletic one. He’s into anything and everything that has a score and ball. He’s a tiny dude but is a quick learner, fierce competitor and damn good athlete even at 8. Selah has been happy to be the support. She hasn’t cared to sweat in the past or look to beat the other girls.

But volleyball has entered the picture. We signed her up for a week long camp at her school with the older middle school girls. She’s a perfectionists so HATES going into anything if she doesn’t feel capable. Embarrassment of being the awkward newbie is about the worst thing possible for her. So immediately upon learning that volleyball camp was coming, she started practicing.

She had to start ground up in every way. She could barely hit the ball a month ago. But the girl is a learner. She’s as coachable as they come! So fast forward to this week and she’s got the prettiest set I’ve seen from an 11 yr old if I must say so myself. Her hands have a touch that is hard to teach. And she bumps the ball with ease! The awkwardness is gone and confidence is rising.

But serving from the line has been hard. She only had those 4 days of camp to really try it out so she’s felt like there’s a gap. The coach had an informal practice of sorts for the girls on the volleyball team and those looking to try out on Aug 1st. Selah was eager to show her improvement. We were out on the sand the morning of practice working hard on her serve.

She said, “Papa, I just can’t get it over from the back line!” I assured her that she could no matter how she felt. We worked on it for about 30 minutes, shifting weight, focusing on arm position and so on. By the end of our sweaty practice, ball after ball sailed over the net. Her face beamed as she yelled, “I can’t believe it! I can do it!” Her little brother stood on the other side, diving for balls in the sand (and returning them over the net of course. This kid!) It was a great few moments between the two. The supporter now being the supported.

Selah hopped in the car and mentioned how confident she felt going into the afternoons practice.

— — — — — — — -

As I pulled up to grab her at 5:30, I saw her face sink as she sat in the car. Her eyes puddled and she couldn’t speak as I asked what was wrong. Finally after a couple moments, she quietly said, “I couldn’t get the serves over. I don’t know why! They just wouldn’t go like all of them this morning.” Her body sagged with defeat. I put my hand on her leg and assured her that it was ok and that I understood her disappointment because of her expectation to show the coach the new and improved Selah. She nodded. We talked through all the facets of overcoming disappointment and how all athletes have to practice SO much to get “simple” parts of the game they play to be automatic and even then they often aren’t. Her shoulders lifted as we walked through the next 3 weeks before try outs and how we’d be ready.

— — — — — — —

But today wasn’t about volleyball. Today wasn’t about serves or making the team. Rather, this whole process IS about a girl finding new belief in herself! It’s a vulnerable exploration. It’s about a little girl that is finding new strength and power in her growing body. It’s a process of becoming the girl she may or may not know lives inside. As I saw her pain tonight, my chest ached because I knew these feelings were SO real! I understood that this little ball meant far more to her than getting it over the net. So much more-

We all still have a ball in our lives that we won’t pick up because we’ve stopped believing in ourselves. We haven’t seemed to be able to get anything over the net of life for awhile. But it’s time to pick that ball up like Selah and start practicing again! Start believing in who you are and what you’re capable of. Do the work! Get the reps in. Belief is found one successful serve at a time. Start a new chapter to your story!

And if you see my daughter around, tell her she’s a beast! Because she is and I couldn’t be more proud of the way she’s gone after it the last month. She is strong! She is capable! Let’s believe that with her.

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I create space and experience…. and write a bit.

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