When school rolls around and we begin our regular season games, we are constantly asked, How is your team successful? The answer to that question can be found with a behind-the-scenes look at Randolph volleyball.
Many would say volleyball season starts mid- August when school does, but for the Randolph Volleyball program, our season starts well before that. Spring evaluations in March lead up to many team meetings in April, mandatory team lifts in May, then workouts and summer practices start full swing in June and July.
From May 27, everyday at 9:25 my alarm would go off, and everyday I would want to throw my phone across the room, but everyday I knew I had to go. Team workouts started at 10, followed by practice at 11:30. We slowly got accustomed to the fact that there was really no specific "end time" for practice, it was basically when coach felt we had completed what she had envisioned for practice that day.
It's the extra touches on the ball that will set us apart when game time comes.
I'm not gonna lie, this was frustrating for us, but we know that those extra half hours of practice here and there are what made us better. It's the extra touches on the ball that the other teams aren't getting that will set us apart when game time comes.
As much as we dreaded getting up, we knew in the back of our minds that one day, all this hard work would pay off. Coach Spalding would ask us, "Do you want to cry at the end of the year because you didn't put in the work, or do you want to cry because you won a state title?" It never really dawned on me why she kept saying this, but I think subconsciously it kept our team going.
Randolph has prepared me for whatever my future may hold.
Being a student athlete at Randolph means something different than at other schools. Balancing three to five games a week with a fast-paced, college prep curriculum while still making time for family and friends can be very challenging. The skills necessary to maintain these key aspects of my life have been cultivated by my teachers, coaches, and peers throughout my years here at Randolph. Leaving this community next year when I graduate is going to be very sad, but I know Randolph has prepared me for whatever my future may hold.
This past weekend we were invited to the Juanita Boddie tournament in Birmingham. This tournament is of the most prestigious in the state and only the best of the best are invited. We knew going in that we would be playing only the best teams in the state and there would be no "easy games." When day two of the tournament rolled around and we started elimination play, our first match was Bob Jones. Bob Jones is one of those teams that just has a presence. You feel it the moment they walk into the gym and the intensity they bring to the court is extremely intimidating, but in reality, they're high schoolers just like us. After warm-ups, we had our usual quick team meeting before we headed out on the court. Coach looked at us and said, "Just play Randolph Volleyball."
This was what I'd been working for.
At that moment, I had a flashback to every morning this summer I didn't want to get up, every rep I did even though I didn't want to, and every extra minute of practice where I would've rather been at the pool. This was why, this right here, was what I'd been working for.
The score of that game didn't turn in our favor, but I can honestly say it's one of the most well played games I've ever been a part of. Never once did we say. "Oh well, it's Bob Jones—we were gonna lose anyways" or "They're gonna block me so why even hit in the first place?" The only words running through our heads were "This is Randolph volleyball."
Victoria Fennel is a three-season athlete and an Upper School Ambassador.
Photo: summer training for fall athletes