A nostalgic pang hit me this morning. This is the first September in the last 7 years that I'm not preparing for the upcoming volleyball seasons of either Tobias Christian or Rhys Clem or both. It occurred to me that I'll miss it, but also that I'm grateful for many things. For those of you who don't follow or like volleyball, feel free to substitute football, basketball, soccer, softball, water polo, field hockey or any other team sport that you enjoy below.
I'm grateful that volleyball taught them that performance in the moment of opportunity matters.
I'm grateful that volleyball taught them to embrace those moments of opportunity, rather than shy from them, even when it's critical and even with everyone depending on you; knowing you won't always succeed and disappointment will hurt badly, but also knowing that those moments are to be seized, reveled in, and accepted with grace as part of a well-lived life.
I'm grateful that volleyball taught them that preparing for those moments of opportunity is a process of dedication to very hard work that produces incredibly small increments of progress--just get a little bit better every day, every rep--or else the big kill, serve, block or dig doesn't happen in that moment.
I'm grateful that volleyball taught them to depend on teammates, and to be a dependable teammate, to accept that such reciprocal dependence as a sign of respect that is earned in only one way--demonstrated performance.
I'm grateful for every single coach and fellow player who took the time to give them advice and an opportunity to benefit from what they had to offer, asking only for effort in return.
I'm grateful for the fact that in these ways, volleyball is, indeed, just like the rest of life as we all make our way forward.
Tobias Wisner and Markus Melbardis (Class of 2015) react for a pass at the SCVA Classic
Volleyball meant hours, days and weekends of travel, expense, frustration, disappointment, bad fast food, uniform crises, too much Gatorade, injuries, rehab and recovery and never quite getting to the goal of being at the very top of the stand and winning that last game, because only one team does. (But DAAYYYMN didn't that Bay to Bay 18-1 team hold the #1 Gold Seed in the Club Division for a shining moment going into National Championship Sunday at the 2014 BJNC! Sorry I digress)
But I miss that time with them now very deeply, and my gratitude for having had that time is vast and enduring.
Kent Wisner is a former Bay to Bay parent. His son Toby competed for two seasons on the Bay to Bay 18-1's. Kent currently resides in Malta and his son Toby studies Sociology at UC Santa Barbara.