One Parent’s Perspective

Gyms are sweaty, smelly places.

Today I spent the majority of my day in a hot, humid gym. Yes, on this beautiful 80 degree, but breezy weather day in northern New Jersey I was inside a gym. . .from 8:45 am until about 3:30 pm. I was watching our local high school team, my daughter Tory’s team, compete in the Clifton Volleyball Invitational, an 18-team sweatfest of girls.

Walking into the gym where the three nets were set up for play I felt like I had just been hit by a bath towel that was used about 15 times without ever having been washed. The sweat, BO and intensity had me taking a half-step backwards even as I entered the gym. By the time I found a spot for my chair, jammed up against a hot concrete wall and surrounded by sweating girls waiting for their next games to begin, I questioned why I had taken a shower only 30 minutes prior. Then I looked around, saw the other parents from our town who were there to cheer the team to victory and I remembered. I am here because I want to be, because I want these girls to know that they are special, that they are worth my time.

That said, I had entered a kind of volleyball hell. That place where girls play game after game, where sweat pours off their bodies and flies into the air, only to be absorbed in the very air particles around them. It’s a place of tension; of sweet victory for a select few but bitter loss for most.

Our town's mascot.

For our team, for Tory’s team, it was magical for a time, unlike the team’s regular season play to date.

Today, the girls worked together, diving for balls and coming up with the saves, setting the ball brilliantly to their teammates who smashed it over the net and into the floor unreturned by the competing team. It was our girls diving onto the floor like pancakes, arms thrust out so the ball would successfully bounce off the backs of their hands, into the air, to be launched across the net for another point.

And there I was, a middle-age mom rooting for the home team and sweating right along with them. The sweat trickled down my back into the waistband of my skirt. It rolled down my arms and pooled between my fingers. Sweat made meandering trails down my legs and into my sandals. It was disgusting, but the game play made me forget the sweat, forget the discomfort. Our girls were playing and they were winning. Until they didn’t.

a couple of our senior players

They played in the “B” Pool and won 4 of their 5 pool play games. And they advanced to the playoffs, where they lost a hard-played game to the team that had beaten them in pool play. No matter, though. Our girls shook hands and congratulated the winners, then trotted over to us parents, smiling and full of themselves for having played so well and gotten so far.

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