"Behold, we count them happy which endure..."
I've been thinking about my freshman daughter, Sami, who tried out for the volleyball team at the beginning of the year. On the Friday they were to find out who made the team, Sami and a two other girls were asked to come back on Monday for a final decision. Sami was pretty excited.
She'd started attending open gym over the summer, since she had never played volleyball before. She couldn't serve or bump, but being the diligent girl that she is, she kept practicing and was thrilled that she actually had a shot at the team.
When she came home from school that Monday, she struggled to hold back her tears as she explained that the number of positions available had been cut, so the coach asked her to be a manager. Sami had accepted the position. She hoped that she could still practice with the team and maybe improve enough to be a player as a sophomore. We all were hoping that if any players quit or were removed from the team throughout the season, that maybe she would get moved up to player.
Of course, as parents, my husband and I were thrilled to have our daughter exhibiting such strong character, and although we grumbled a bit about the times for practices and games, we gave her our full support.
A week or so went by and Sami seemed to be enjoying her job as manager. She talked nonstop when she came home about everything that happened in volleyball and school. Then the games started.
And I'm not talking about volleyball games. As players began to get kicked off the team for bad attitudes and failing grades, Sami's hopes for playing would climb, only to be dashed by her coach as she brought freshman players down from the JV and Varsity teams to play in games. During practices, the coach would sometimes throw Sami into a scrimmage and then compliment her on how well she played. Then the next game, she refused to listen to Sami's pleas for a chance to play.
We knew things were bad when Sami started talking about how much she wished she'd joined cross country instead. As good parents, we encouraged her to "endure to the end" and that when it was over she'd feel good about herself. She resolved not to let her coach get to her, despite being taking out of a scrimmage game for running off the court to kick a loose ball out of the way of another girl who was moving back to make a play and was about to trip over it.
Sami was doing okay until the uniform incident. She dealt stoically with her coaches hints about letting her play, and then refusal to do so. Every day she showed up to practice or games with a renewed determination to just do her best, even if only on the sidelines.
Then one day, a few days after Sami found out that the JV manager had been promoted to player, just before the first game started, the coach tossed Sami a uniform and walked away. If Sami's anything like me, her heart had to have been slamming around in excitement. She jumped from the bench and ran after her coach.
"What's this for?" she asked hopefully.
"I want you to hold it."
Hold it? The coach wanted her to hold a uniform? That was definitely the low point of freshman volleyball for Sam. She realized that her coach was just toying with her, and more than ever she wanted to emerge stronger for it. Sami kept going to practices, hoping everyday that her coach would at least let her play in the scrimmages and praying for the day she could play in a game.
The school's last game is on Sami's birthday. Yesterday, with just two practices to go, she mentioned to her coach that her birthday was the day of the last game.
"We should do something special for you on your birthday," her coach told her.
"You could let me play!" Sami supplied.
Her coach laughed and walked away.
Sami told us that story last night with a shrug of her shoulders and a smile. Today I saw her carrying her knee pads out the door when she and her brother left for Early Morning Seminary.
Right now, Sami is my inspiration for enduing...and we count her happy.