The ball dropped for the final point, and it wasn’t the major leagues of any sport, it wasn’t the final game of the season, it’s just junior high girls volleyball, but oh it hurt to lose this one. And when one of my toughest, most athletic leaders on the team turned to look at me on the bench and burst into tears, it was so so heartbreaking! Poor baby. She thought it was all her fault. Don’t we all at that age?

We really wanted this win…but we played in a big, scary gym with a vball courted painted in yellow lines on a wood floor…someone explain to me the logic of nearly invisible court lines…and they were a really good team. We got a little “deer in headlights” during the first game, but in the second game my team was back! We were leading! It was gonna be ours!

In the end it wasn’t. And I realized how hard coaching is, how tough it is to find the right words to cheer up sweet little 12 and 13-year-old girls who are convinced that the loss was their fault. I felt much empathy for all my previous coaches, especially male coaches, who had NO idea what to do with all the estrogen that starts flowing when things get hard.

And to sit in the post-game team meeting, at 11 little faces looking to you for words of counsel and encouragement…oh i just wanted to wrap my little chickies in my arms and say it would be alright. but the thing about junior high, is that every day feels like the end of the world, and nothing any adult could ever say would convince you that they knew anything about your world. No one ever understands you. You  can’t even understand yourself.

And to tell the truth, I was really bummed, too. And its hard to be the example that smiles and shakes hands with the other team, that thanks the ref who made five bad calls against us, that checks around the gym for any jackets and water bottles left behind, that thanks the parents for coming, that tells everyone they did a great job, when inside you want to cry a tiny bit, too. And maybe call in sick to work tomorrow and mope a little while longer. Engage in some retail therapy.

Luckily, one of my sweetest friends, a mom on the team, took me out immediately afterwards to drown our mutual sorrows in guacamole and margaritas, and curse the horrible ref (has there ever been such a thing as a “good ref?” have those words ever appeared by each other in all of time??) and curse the other team and vow for vengeance in the area league tournament at the end of the month.

In fantastic news, my girls are super aggresive on the court; they hustle after every ball, they want to hit every third play, they serve hard and pass well, AND we’re really getting our rotations down!! Love it.

Alright. Life will go on, there is another volleyball game Tuesday, and I just refound some Valentine’s Day chocolate I had stashed away for JUST such an emergency!

ta-ta for now.

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