A parent's perspective on the memories made through club volleyball.
Youth athlete's last trip to a club volleyball tourney at the USAV 18's National Championship.
As the families of older athletes attend open houses and plan for tryouts, a few reminders about why we do this and how to calm the nerves.
On the last day of the 18’s USAV Girls National Championship, bright and early on a morning in May, my daughter and I parked the car to grab her things and go inside. As I opened the trunk, I asked her, “Got your shoes and knee pads?”
Her eyes welled up and she blurted out, “That’s the last time you’ll ever ask me that.”
That was a rough day. Coach was on the court early and sent the parents a message about what an honor it had been to be part of our kids’ lives. He made sure to get every athlete in rotation for playing time in the event it'd be their last club game. At the end of the match, the coaches had an uplifting, encouraging talk with the team in one final huddle.
This was the end of the club journey for a majority of the team. Knowing I’d have to say goodbye to long-time friends was something I didn’t think through beforehand.
Watching my girl leave the building after her final match was filled with emotion. Some of our best memories were the trips we took together for volleyball tourneys.
My daughter played club volleyball in the Arizona Region since she was 11 years old. Highlights of her high school career included playing for the region’s High Performance program in 2019 and 4 years of varsity volleyball in the AIA 4A Conference.
Everything we did for the past 13 years as a family was scheduled around this sport.
My kiddo now plays volleyball at the collegiate level. It's quite the transition. I commented to a friend about how odd it felt not going to open houses and scheduling a morning of tryouts this time of year.
Yes. Open Houses can be stressful. Yes. Tryouts can be stressful.
Yes. Practices, long days on the court, and travel can be stressful.
Just like everything else worth going for, though… this process is a rewarding effort.
Sports teach kids lessons which can’t be taught in any other way.
Time management. (“If you’re not ten minutes early… then you’re ten minutes late!”)
Importance of sleep. Eating healthy. Washing hands. Taping fingers. Wrapping ankles.
Planning head. (“Got your shoes and knee pads?”)
Most important, sports teach kids communication skills which will serve them well as adults.
How does your child react to criticism? Does your child know how to approach a coach and ask questions or do you jump in and do it for them? Can your child resolve conflict? How does your child interact with other players on the court? And off the court?
Coaches Tonya Lee and David Chavez have one last huddle with their 18's team in May 2022.
Sports also teach kids to push through. When a loved one is going through a health crisis, or the family is wading through tough financial times, or your athlete gets a poor grade on a test at school… sports might help your child refocus and push through. Being active and spending time with friends is a great stress release and an opportunity to focus on goals outside the home.
As adults, sometimes we forget kids get stressed, too. It's our responsibility to make sure the kids are growing and learning under positive leadership.
That’s why I like coming back to a quote by Coach Matt Lisle...
Coaches: Try to remember for many, athletes’ practice is the best part of their day. Make sure they leave feeling the same way!
The same can be said for parents. It’s not necessary to grill your kid in the car on the way home from practice or a game. Give them space to rest and process their day.
It’s not cool to yell at the refs and make a scene while your athlete is on the court… or the bench. Referees are hanging up their whistles at an alarming pace because of the parents who hassle them at games.
Lastly, no two journeys are alike. Even if your child has the same skill level as another player on the same team, those two athletes are having different experiences, can peak at different times, and have their own challenges.
Record numbers of teens drop out of sports because of the pressure by the adults in their lives. The game isn't fun anymore for them. Don't let this happen to your child.
Coaches are always grateful for the team parent who gets to game sites early and stakes out a meeting spot to set up the tent. Team parents are great at helping organizing bonding events and coordinating holiday parties or fundraisers! Grandparents are always welcome to attend games and cheer on the team! Everyone loves to hear, "Job well done!"
Positive role models make the season memorable.
Because someday, it all ends.
This week, my daughter’s collegiate team hosted Senior Night and honored 3 talented, hard-working, kind hearted, student athletes who have big futures ahead of them. As I sat there, I realized this journey goes by so fast and why it’s important to soak it all in.
Without volleyball, I really don’t know what this year would have looked like. My daughter’s new team is a new “family” for her. New friends. New experiences. Travel to new places. Tougher competition. It’s another journey made possible by volleyball and lots of hard work over the years.
As parents, we stress out pre-season, during the season, and post-season about the next season.
The most important thing is this; Listen to your child and make sure they have a say about the decision-making process. This is their journey, too. From rec, to club, to high school, to pursuing a collegiate career in sports, the athlete must be involved in the process.
Whether you make a team, search for a new team, or choose to take another direction, relax and know everything happens for a reason. The big picture can be hard to see now. But it will all make sense soon.
I wish you all the best of luck and I’d love to see your photos throughout the season. Be sure to tag the region on our Instagram page and we’ll share the best photos!
And for the record, I still ask my girl, “Got your shoes and knee pads?”, before every game.