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The Gazette KCRG
Posted November 6, 2012
HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM: The heart of an athlete


There something about volleyball for Dyersville Beckman senior Samantha Vorwald. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette)

Editor’s note: Here is your chance to tell your story about your team, your school or your favorite player. If you’d like to join The Gazette’s growing list of high school contributors, contact J.R. Ogden at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

By Samantha Vorwald, Dyersville Beckman senior

DYERSVILLE — Throughout my high school years, I participated in volleyball even though I was not the greatest. In other words, I could have found plenty of better ways to spend my time rather than going to the practices, running all of those miles and getting hit in the face by a stray ball.

I had my struggles, but I believe it helped me to make some of the best decisions in my high school career.

Samantha Vorwald, Dyersville Beckman senior

It started when I was entering my junior year. That summer, I was wrestled with the idea of quitting volleyball and taking up cross country. I had heard cross country was fun and I saw the benefits for my spring track performance. But there was something about volleyball that still allured me: the chance that I might improve. So I stuck with volleyball. My junior volleyball season flew by and I enjoyed the season while rarely stepping foot on the court in the junior varsity matches.

The next summer, heading into my senior year, I had no doubt about it. I wanted to play volleyball again and finish up a four-year career. Seniors almost are guaranteed a jersey on the varsity team — unless they have a lot of room for improvement. I was one of those who had a lot of “room for improvement” and I didn’t have too high of hopes of making varsity.

My biggest challenge was how I was going to cope with it. If I didn’t make varsity, I would be stuck on junior varsity with players a grade below. I considered that an embarrassment — being the only senior stuck on junior varsity level. No offense to them, but I wanted to play with my peers, the players I’ve been with for the last four years.

I remembered hearing some past volleyball players say things like “If I didn’t make varsity my senior year, I’d quit.” After seeing the list of those who made varsity, I was sorely disappointed and fought away tears.

I wanted to quit, but there was something that wouldn’t let me. I thought about it and found I wasn’t angry with the coach — I could see her point — but I was disappointed with myself for not being better. I, however, still had a spark of hope. There were two jerseys left to be handed out to players who started showing improvement.

Now I had a big decision to make — quit or fight for those last jerseys. I’ve always had the mentality of either quit with a purpose or fight to the end. I knew I wasn’t a quitter and I knew I had little chance of getting the jersey.

Toward the end of my final season, those last two jerseys were handed out to players who had improved and deserved them. I wasn’t one of them, but I could still dream of getting that kill or that ace serve. I had lost the hope of getting a jersey and had every reason to quit then, but I still couldn’t.

All through the season, I often asked myself, what’s the point? Why don’t I just quit?

Now that my volleyball season is over, I can look back with a fresh perspective and see why I didn’t quit. It’s because of what all athletes have in their heart — an immense amount of determination. This determination keeps us going, despite the pain in our muscles, the burning in our lungs and the suffering of defeat.

Samuel Johnson, an English author, once wrote, “If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.”

For athletes, determination is vital, even for those who are not skilled. I have discovered the amount of determination required to stay active in a sport changes the heart and no matter what, all athletes reach success — even those like me who “have room for improvement.”

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