It’s been a few days now since our season ended, and I, like all of you I’m sure, have not been able to think of much else since. The pain is still very much present and demanding and dwelling on it in these few days has allowed me to gather my thoughts.
We had an amazing run, not only in terms of our winning streak or our championship titles, but in terms of the interwoven oneness we expressed as a team this year, as a family. The trophies, medals, and banners are all just icing on the sweetest cake of camaraderie that I have been so overjoyed to share with the other fourteen parts of my heart. You all have opened my eyes to the wonders of a team which impacts my life in so many ways, in and out of the gym, and this is my thank you.
To My Girls:
Let me begin by saying that all eleven of you have filled my heart with so much love and respect. Thank you for allowing me to look into each of your eyes and know that I can count on you, that I can lean on you when I must. I can only hope that I’ve moved you in even a fraction of a way in which you have moved me. I never felt so strong as when I had my eleven sisters by my sides, in a huddle, with the simplest gesture of putting our arms around one another to let me know that you had my back. That feeling is not one I can soon forget because it translated into the same support outside of the gym as well. I will cherish every moment I have had with every one of you for all of my days to come. Thank you for pulling me up when I was falling. Thank you for being my sisters. Thank you for being my team. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Our bond began long before either one of us would touch a volleyball, and because of that, I never felt as strong as when I could look up from doing ten thousand burpees or squats and find your face and words of encouragement pushing me to be a greater me. You and I know how to bring out the toughest parts of ourselves when working together and I couldn’t have done it without you. We started this season with an unspoken agreement that we would push one another beyond our limits in order to grasp that SOC title and guess what, Jo. We did it. My passing partner and mutual support system on the court, my sister off the court, you have taught me loyalty and I love you so much.
Thank you for dealing with my shit as a setter. I’ll be damned if I didn’t know every second of every game I could depend on you, and I was never happier than watching that competitive side of you unleash. Yes, you are the happy-go-lucky Brook that everyone knows, but you are so much more than that too. You play smart, you play hard and never once did I have a doubt in my mind that you would be there to fix my mistakes. You were such a consistent part of our team and you need to be recognized for it because playing consistently on a team whose secondary mascot could be a roller coaster is indubitably a very hard thing to do. I loved feeding you the ball when you got hungry on the court, and I will always remember the joy on your face when you immediately turned to me after a kill. You have taught me temperance and I love you so much.
You did it, B. You made it through all of high school volleyball without flipping anyone the bird. You ARE headstrong and determined, and it was always obvious in the way you played. You accepted your mistakes, moved on, and were sure to not make that mistake twice. No matter where you were placed on the court, you knew that position in and out and played your heart out for it every time. You were also determined to not let any single player dig themselves into a mental hole, especially me. My resilience on the court came from knowing that you believed in me wholeheartedly, and that is invaluable to me. Without your dead set mindset and faith in me and the rest of the team, I know I could’ve easily slipped into a rut of no return. You have taught me confidence and I love you so much.
You saw something in me from the very beginning that I didn’t know existed. You dug and pulled and ripped and tore (my ass most of the time) deep into my mental to find it and never stopped searching. To give someone the job of setter is to have full faith in that person, and I didn’t realize how large of a decision that is until this year. For a coach to hand that much responsibility to one single player requires a special kind of faith. You needed to believe that I was one hundred percent ready to play and make the decisions on the court at all times, and I know, and have known for awhile now, that that is why you have nearly pushed me to my breaking point countless times. And I could not ask for a greater compliment. Knowing you had that great confidence in me for all four years, even when I was just a sophomore setting full time on varsity, is what allowed me to be confident myself. I carried that with me through every mile, every burpee, every squat, every scream, every terrifying look. Everything. You have changed my work ethic and the way I view limitations. Thus, you have made me realize that the only limitations I have are the ones that are in my own head. You have molded me into a person I am proud to be. Thank you for holding me to a higher standard, for the relentless hours you spent making me a better, tougher, smarter me. And I love you so much.
Ultimately, all good things must end except this one. The way I feel and how proud I am to be a part of the 2014 Lady Pirate Volleyball team will never end. I look at our season and I do not have a single regret, which is why I am going to get through this pain of finality. Thank you for letting me be one of your captains. Thank you for letting me enjoy my senior season. Thank you for countless hours of work you have put in to get us where we have been.
And I love you all so much.
–H. Duckworth, 18