Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...



Note: This was a written as a writing assignment for my English Comp I class. I'm supposed to sit down with Dr. Orrick and go over this with him in about three and a half hours, at 9 am. Why am I awake? Probably because I didn't write this earlier :) This is, by the way, supposed to be the rough draft. Thanks, Jewel, for the inspiration :)

I’ve touched many volleyballs in my life. Some have been very soft to the touch, filled with the perfect amount of air. Others have been horribly hard and inflated far too much, kind of like my stomach after Thanksgiving dinner. Yet, of all the volleyballs that my setter’s hands have cradled, all of them pale in comparison to one in particular.

Two years ago, I was coaching in a youth summer volleyball league. My church played an integral part in the league, which served as an ongoing outreach event to the junior high and high school kids in our local communities. Being one of a handful of people within my church who was able to not only coach volleyball but to outreach to the kids marked me as a coach very quickly. The fact that my oldest sister, Lisa, was overseeing the league was also no small factor.

Within our league, the B Division was considered the novice and beginner division, where the casual or inexperienced player could join in and have fun. The team I was given was comprised of a few core kids in our youth group, along with a few who were considered to be on the fringe. Since none of them had any real volleyball skill to boast of, we were entered into the B Division.

As the season went on, the number of losses our team garnered towered high above the number of wins. If I recall correctly, we won exactly zero games during the regular season. The young men, try as they valiantly might, could not muster enough athleticism to counter the inconsistency their gangly bodies haunted them with. Time and time again, the volleyballs would carom violently off their tense bodies rather then gently ascend off their forearms to the setter. The young ladies stood there in shy silence, batting their eyelashes at me whilst I smiled on the sidelines in encouragement.

Now, it might have appeared to the casual observer that I was a horrible volleyball coach. It might have even appeared to the skilled observer that I was a horrible volleyball coach. I probably would have agreed with them, had I not known something that they did not. I had decided early on in the season that my ultimate goal was not to coach these young people in volleyball, but in life. The wins and losses on the volleyball court came second to the enjoyment of the game, and more importantly, their enjoyment of one another. If I were able to impart to them some deeper sense of life, then I would have considered it a successful season. If I were able to impart a sense of who God is, then I would have been overjoyed.

It surprised me greatly then when in the latter portion of our summer season, a few of the girls approached me for some additional coaching. Julie, Sam, and Bevin wanted to know if I could help them improve their game by coming out to the park one Friday evening and going through some drills with them. Their reasoning was that they were tired of losing, and felt that they were not doing all they could to contribute to the team. Although I was a little surprised by their sudden desire to win, I was delighted that they had asked for additional help.

That Friday, I met them on the grass at Moanalua Park. The lights were on, and the girls waiting for me along with several other members of our team. We went through the drills, and they diligently obeyed my every command to the best of their abilities. Despite the fact that I would have pronounced their ability lacking had we been a serious volleyball team, I found a smile on my face as they slowly gained even the most rudimentary levels of skill.

After the drills, we went out to Anna Miller’s for a post-practice dinner. Once we were seated and had ordered our meals, the girls went off to the bathroom to wash up. They reappeared several minutes later, grinning mischievously with their hands behind their backs. Sam, Julie, and Bevin presented me with thank-you cards and a brand new Wilson volleyball, signed by each member of our team.

I think about that volleyball every now and again. It sits in a box in my sister’s house, over four thousand miles away. I’ll never play a game with it, and I’ll probably never even take it out of its box. It’s far away from me now, much like those kids. The permanent ink on the synthetic white leather has more than likely faded somewhat, much like the memories from that summer. Yet, as I look back in my mind, I can see their faces, I can hear their voices, and I can feel their smiles.

posted by Bolo | 5:30 AM
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