Oh, they played so hard, those junior varsity girls! The Indy Lightning team is our nemesis, our greatest rival, mostly because they are so wickedly fast and good. We played them at our invitational and managed, at least to keep up with them, even though they ended up winning.
Which is what happened tonight. It was best two-out-of-three and Indy Lightning won. But at least it wasn't a total humiliation. We lost respectably. We maintained our dignity. We ate walking tacos afterwards and pretended that we'd really kind of won.
Two incidents marred the evening, however. Incident #1 concerned One of Those Dads, who was sitting in the stands behind me and my parents. He's one of those tall men who stand with the chest pushed forward intimidatingly, arms squared off and fingers curled inward, leaning into you with their shoulders in a subtle act of dominance, even if all they're doing is saying, "Great weather we're having lately." Which, you know, I really hate. I mean, really hate. There's something about that type of male aggression that makes my spine stiffen and my teeth bite down hard against each other.
He's the sort of person who has a snarky bit of criticism for every player on the team out there, and from the sound of it, the girls are missing returns and goofing up their serves on purpose to offend him. He whined and complained and shouted KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL, GIRLS in his big, bellowing sarcastic man-voice until I thought I was going to have to turn around and damage him physically. Because you know what he said every time his own daughter sent a serve into the net or bumped a ball out of bounds?
It's very hard, because his daughter is a treasure - funny, sweet and smiling. Easy to coach; anxious to please and develop her skills. And she's a good volleyball player, too. But how that lovely girl sprung from those obnoxious loins is something I'd do well not to contemplate, or I may never sleep again.
Incident #2 was Aisling's playing only about two seconds in the entire match, which makes me so impatient with the coach. I'm resigned to it because that's the way it works in this coach's purview. I don't agree with him; I think the only way to challenge players to become better is to give them some worthwhile time to play. I'm not reconciled to bench-sitting. It's counter productive, in my opinion. But....it's his team. And it isn't my business to be One of Those Mothers. And I have to admit that Aisling did spend a lot of time back in August getting clocked in the face with a ball at almost every practice, which resulted in a lot of tears and the coach having to deal with her. I can understand why his confidence in her ability is underwhelmed.
It's a learning experience, we tell her. For you and for us. Not an easy one. But the world already has its quota of parents who make idiots of themselves shouting at coaches, and we're not going to add to that sum.
Meelyn spent a lot of time at the net, which is her least favorite place to play. She made another great tip; her serves were strong and her setting was impeccable. She looks so beautiful and grown up out there, her entire being focused on what's happening on the court, radiating an energy so intense, even her ponytail seems to be zinging. The coach's wife, who was sitting next to me keeping stats, looked over once and said in admiration, "I can't believe how much that girl has improved this year." I glowed with pride. It's true! She has!
So. Another loss, but we're still very encouraged. If we can hang with the Indy Lightning, that is a sure sign that things are moving in a positive direction.
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