An application I filled out recently had this question:

"Tell us about your proudest moment"

This caught my attention, and after I had filled in all the space in the text box, I found that I couldn’t stop writing. Here’s the result:

"The moment that sticks out in my mind took place a couple of weeks ago in Louisville, Kentucky. I was there with my team for the men’s college club volleyball national championships, and we had just played our final game. That game was a very close loss in the semifinals to a high caliber team we really didn’t like, so spirits were low. The loss burned deeply, and we were all bitter that our season had ended prematurely. However, while walking out of the arena we started talking about the tournament as a whole; how we won huge games against top level teams and played our best volleyball of the season by far. By the time we got to the cars, everyone had forgotten the tough loss. We were grinning from ear to ear, laughing loudly, and talking about how incredible the whole experience had been.

In order to understand why this made me so proud, you have to understand my relationship to this team. I am the club director, team captain, and also serve as our coach due to the lack of any suitable candidates here in Eugene, Oregon. Last season we had a very solid team and won nearly every tournament we entered, but this season was an entirely different animal. Out of twelve players on the team last year, there were only two returners (including me) as everyone else either graduated or quit due to time constraints. This meant that I had to rebuild the team from scratch, bringing in thirteen new people (including starters and practice players) to fill out our roster. Unfortunately, of the thirteen I originally brought in, four quit (time constraints) and one was concussed so severely that he couldn’t play for the rest of the season. So I adapted; I brought in an old friend, convinced a former player to return for nationals, and adjusted the lineup several times over the course of the season to make it easier on our younger players.

Running (and playing on) the team this year was the most stressful and problematic thing I have ever done, but it was worth it because everyone bought in. No one complained about the struggles we faced both on and off the court; everyone focused on getting better every week. Everything went wrong at one point or another this season, but no one got down about it. We practiced hard to turn our weaknesses into strengths, and everyone stepped up to make the most of every opportunity we came across. So when we walked out of that arena and my teammates, my brothers, and my best friends were so obviously excited about both our performance as a volleyball team and the experience as a whole, I was incredibly proud. I put everything into that team, and while there were more problems than I can list, the results were more than I could have ever predicted at the beginning of the season. Not only did I enjoy playing and celebrating as a teammate, I earned the pride of seeing my hard work to keep the team together and moving forward pay off on the season’s biggest stage. I was proud of my teammates, proud of myself, and more proud than ever to be a part of that team. It’s not only my proudest moment, but also one of my all-time favorite memories despite only taking place a couple of weeks ago. What an unforgettable season. Go Ducks!"

2016 NCVF Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky