Sunday, November 10, 2013

champions in the state ... champions in our hearts

a blue ribboned medal hangs in her room. i saw it dangling there today in the midst of some jewelry and a stack of clean laundry.

seeing it on the hook in her messy bedroom this afternoon took my breath away.

it's real.

it really happened.

yesterday, my daughter's volleyball team won the state championship. after a long season and a lot of hard work, these girls are class A state champions.

i'm not sure there are words for this kind of moment. at least not for this mother. words usually come pretty easily, but watching my daughter and her team win the state title on saturday afternoon, pretty much wiped me out of something to say or write -- at least for a little while.

today is sunday.

we've barely gotten out of our pjs. we've barely left the house. we've barely done anything but walk around in our daze of day-after-excitement. (and, of course, checked social media for the countless pictures and comments).

it was a big moment.

a moment she will remember the rest of her life -- her senior year winning the state title. the six starting seniors out on the court together for the final point. add to that our emily (who is, by no means, the superstar of the team) had the final kill of the game. these are the moments athletes (and their parents) dream of.

when they are little kids out on the field or court and we watch them in their pee wee sports ... we think to ourselves, "man, someday...maybe someday..." but how many kids get to go this far? how many kids get to experience what a state championship feels like? not many.

and so, of course, we are thrilled for her. i'll be honest, i'm thrilled for me. it's fun to be the mom of a state champion. i won't lie, i've probably lived a little bit vicariously and i've loved this week watching these girls lead up to this final moment.

wednesday night banquet with our girl
after a celebration banquet wednesday evening, they won the quarter final on thursday in three games. they won the semi finals on friday in five nail biting games. and saturday they moved on to play for first place. these girls went up against the top seeded team in their class. a team which had already beaten them earlier in the year. but from the first point, it was clear southwest christian had come for the "w." they never faltered. point after point, the girls controlled the game. they had trained for this moment. they were ready.

these girls, in front of their fans and thousands of people, defeated a team which was seeded higher and expected to win. but this little

Christian school from chaska minnesota came ready to play -- and play they did. these girls battled hard, leaving everything on the court. they brought attack after attack, save after save, point after point ... like champions.

what victory looks like
most of these girls have played together for many years. our daughter was new to the team last year when we moved to minnesota. i can't tell you enough how sweet it has been to watch this team welcome her. she had to work hard to earn her place on the court, but they all did. this is a program with some serious and talented athletes. and this was a moment they had been working toward. they have had their eye on this prize for a long time. even last year, when they went to state, but lost in the finals, they left believing that they had what it took to return. and this year, they did return, bringing home the very first state championship ever for their tiny school.

i wish you could have been there in the arena on saturday afternoon. fans and families and parents going wild. this was bigger than just a volleyball team. everyone in the school community felt connected to their victory. in all my years of playing and coaching sports, i've never seen such excitement.

what i want you to know most about this group of girls and their coaching staff though, is not their exceptional athleticism, but their extraordinary character. these girls had that special blend of humility and hunger. they wanted this badly and worked hard for it, but they came to each game in their season willing and wanting to give God the glory. that's not easy as teenagers in this kind of spotlight. that's not easy for any of us, no matter what the light. it's hard to remember that what we do isn't really about us, but about the work God is doing in us. it's doing what we do for His glory. many times i've been humbled to hear these girls talk and watch their witness on and off the court.

because of their love for Jesus, they have a special bond. a bond which made the difference. as a former player and coach, i know that this sport, in particular, takes an extraordinary type of unity. and the girls had that. they had the cohesive quality, the glue, which kept them communicating and cooperating point after point. they've played teams with more offensive power and better defensive tactics, but our girls had that special something.

this team hasn't had an entirely easy road either. the volleyball program has had it's share of challenges. one of our leading players, abby, lost her dad unexpectedly last year at the beginning of the season. a heartbreaking loss for this volleyball family and for those who loved them. last year, after their 2nd place finish at state, i shared the story in a post called, "be amazing."  this year, just a week before the tournament, another girl in our program lost her mom to cancer. volleyball and state championships don't quite cut it in the face of that kind of loss. i offer this up because i want you to know, just because these girls go to a Christian school and believe in Jesus, doesn't mean they are without challenges or trials or pain. no, there's plenty of that. but they have something more than just their ability and their talent and their love of a sport. they have hope. they have faith. they have a God who loves them ... in the win, and especially, in their loss.

that blue ribboned medal will probably hang on that hook in my daughter's bedroom for a long time. at some point, though, we all know it will end up in a box with other good memories. we know that as awesome as these earthly prizes are, they are no more than that -- earthly. they will fade. they will fail. they will even be someday forgotten. but, because these girls weren't about pursuing their own glory, but God's, they will have that for eternity. it is the the ultimate prize and the only prize which does not, can not, and will not ever fade or fail us.

"but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."   ~ matthew 6:20

after each match the girls always asked their opponent to pray together

our seven seniors

here's a link to the final point of the match ... and the celebration which followed!

1 comment:

Paula said...

That is so incredibly awesome! Congratulations to Emily and the entire team! What a super way to wrap up her high school career! You're right....memories to last a life time.