I ran into Katie Reece and her parents at the Irish Festival yesterday. Katie was my second favorite kid of all time, even though she was way behind the other kids on the team I had that year. She was my bench utility player. At the time she wasn't that confident, a little intimidated, and suffered from three years of shitty coaching at the Elms. Something clicked toward the end of my season with her, and she returned to high school for a very successful senior year.
What I loved about her though was her work ethic, and the fact that her desire to be a better player panned out. She even made her college team, though she dropped out as the time commitment got to be too ridiculous. She was one of those kids that you'd throw into a tough situation and watch them crumble or rise to the challenge, and she was not a crumbler.
That was also the team that I had Shirkey on. She was just so naturally gifted. I'd like to think I helped guide her, but most of her success came from something else. She'll be doing her last year, four years starting. Katie and Caity are both seniors. I can't believe that!
I realize now that I think I took those coaching years for granted. I had great kids, an average record, and great parents. The club was one of reasonable integrity with great coaches too. Some days we'd get beat up, and other days we'd win tournaments. But the thing that I remember most were the nights in the hotels, the parents stocking their coolers in the lobby, the kids showing each other photos from winter dances, travel stories... lots of good times. I was particularly fond of the tournaments in Baltimore.
I feel like that time was from my other life, and volleyball is on hold now while I figure out other things and try to establish some level of stability with my future wife and a career I can live with. I'm OK with that, because honestly the experiences I had were so high quality that I could go a long time before jumping back in.
But I can't believe my girls are going to be graduating soon.