Volleyball was a huge part of my life during my high school years. I play year-round either for school, a travel team, or with different camps/clinics. I absolutely loved to play, which was interesting because I was an okay player, but nothing great. Heading back to the court yesterday really lead me to reflect on some of the things I learned throughout those years and what lessons have carried with me today.
The number one thing I would say I learned from playing sports was the importance of punctuality! What, were you expecting sportsmanship or leadership to be first?? I should preface this by saying that my high school volleyball coach really scared the life out of me, especially during my years on JV. Coach was very strict about punctuality. There was a clock in the gym where we practiced and we lived by that clock. If one of our teammates was even a second late the rest of us would be running laps and going through conditioning for the rest of the practice. At the time it was annoying and stressful, but today I often hear Coach's voice reminding us about the importance of punctuality - not just to practice or games, but to class and other events in life. She would always talk about how being on time is a sign of respect, and when you are late or hold others up, you are not only disrespecting them, but suggesting that your time is more important than theirs.
You Can Demonstrate Christ's Love Everywhere, Doing Anything
I went to a Christian school and was consequently blessed to have teammates and a coaching staff that shared my faith. As a team and individuals we were constantly reminded that our words and actions would be associated with Christianity wherever we played because of the name written across our uniforms. Now, I should say that I don't think a believer should act any differently whether or not they are known to be a Christian, but as a teenager it was a good reminder to check myself and my attitude. I learned that I could display my faith even in something as minute as playing on a sportsteam - in the way I treated my teammates, respected my coach, and responded to my opponents.
This was a hard lesson to learn. Like I mentioned earlier, I was never a very good player, but I wanted to be! I spent hours of energy working on getting better and many sleepless nights worrying about what my performance would be like at the next game, practice, or tournament. I was very self-consious about how others thought I performed and did not have confidence in my own abilities. The truth is that I defined my worth during those years by how well I performed - and given that I often didn't perform the best, I didn't consider my worth to be very high. Looking back, I think many of these feelings contributed to the development of my eating disorder. As the years went by, my confidence developed, but I also learned to let go. Each game I went into knowing I would strive to give my best, and that was all I could do. At the end of the day I sought to learn from my mistakes, and then let them go. Often times when I find myself dwelling on a worry or mistake I've made the words we used to say to a teammate after a mess-up "Shake it off."
There are many other lessons: respect, leadership, sportsmanship, discipline, perseverance, dedication, etc., but the ones above are those that have really stuck with me into my adult years. Throughout high school and college I've been involved in alot of other activities that have taught me similar lessons (i.e. volunteer work, school leadership team, orchestra, school play, student government) but none that played as big of a role in my life as volleyball did. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to play, and most importantly, to have been able to build the relationships that I did.
What about you? Have you ever been involved in an activity or program that influenced you at a young age? If not, did you learn similar lessons through different avenues?