Never give up

Published 12:40 am Saturday, October 22, 2011

There are many important lessons teens can learn as members of high school sports teams. In fact, since the vast majority of those who play high school sports will never play competitively again after graduation, imparting such life lessons are a big part of the reason those teams exist and that many parents resign themselves to the sacrifices they must make so their children can participate.

Members of the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams at Nansemond River High School have learned one of the most important of those lessons this season, and their experience should be instructive to other teens — and even many adults.

Nansemond River has never been known as a volleyball powerhouse. The last time one of its teams won a district championship or season was in 1996. But this year, both the boys and girls are headed to the district tournament. As recently as the midpoint of the season, though, things didn’t look good for the Warriors.

Email newsletter signup

The girls, playing under first-year coach Deidra Rader, were winless through their first seven games. Since then, they have put together a 9-4 record. The resulting 9-11 record leaves the team just south of .500, but the late-season performance was enough to give the Lady Warriors a berth in the tournament, which starts Wednesday, where records don’t matter so much, and a trophy is just a series of wins away.

For the boys’ team, playing under the direction of first-year coach Michael Blei, things were even more exciting this season. Starting off with a 2-6 record in the district, the Warriors put together a six-game winning streak to end the season, finishing with a 12-7 record. With a squad consisting largely of boys whose first love is other sports — baseball and basketball for its star players — the volleyball team’s eventual success speaks well of Coach Blei’s ability to motivate his boys. That motivation helped lead his team right into the tournament, which starts Thursday.

And that’s part of the lesson. With the right motivation, even underdogs can do the most unexpected things. Which leads to the even greater lesson: Never give up.

When things looked bleak for the boys and girls on Nansemond River’s volleyball teams, they kept on trying to find ways to win. When it would have been easy to assume that a poor start meant that there was no possibility of post-season play, both teams chose to keep pushing on, to do their best in the face of what may have appeared to be overwhelming odds. They chose not to quit.

Most of us will experience a time in life when it seems that everything is going against us. These two volleyball teams have shown us how to handle such situations: Never give up.