I have always been a firm believer that playing sports and being part of a team creates well-rounded people who are better able to take on the challenges of life. As athletes, we experience success and disappointment. While the joy of winning fills us with pride and a sense of accomplishment, the anguish of a loss can be a devastating feeling that lingers.
As a member of the media, I was able to be a part of the press conferences that were held after each of the NCAA Division I semi and final matches. That small room, where place cards and microphones wait for the players and coaches on both the winning and losing teams, is where the true emotions of the match can be felt. There are smiles – lots of them. And there are tears.
Texas All-American and Most Outstanding Player of the tournament Bailey Webster said that at that moment in the press conference room after winning a National Championship, she couldn’t recall any specific details about the preceding three sets. “I can’t remember anything, because just at this point it’s just surreal. I can’t remember what happened in the game.”
On the other end of the spectrum was Oregon’s Katherine Fischer. The senior outside hitter led her squad with 13 kills, but the Ducks couldn’t shut down the Longhorns. “This is definitely one of the biggest disappointments of my life,” Fischer said. “I’ve played my entire life trying to get here, and we got here and we didn’t perform.”
It is how we handle these highs (with humility) and lows (with confidence) that make us good players and solid competitors. Everyone likes to be on a team with someone who can share the excitement of a win, but also not pout during a defeat. My sister and I used to call such negativity Poor Sport Syndrome, or PSS for short, and it was the ultimate insult we could sling at one another.
Webster has a memory that will last her a lifetime. Fischer will no doubt take the loss in stride and reflect on the fact that she made it as far as you can in collegiate volleyball, a success in its own right. Congratulations to all the ladies who competed in the NCAA tournament, and everyone who fought all year long for a win, for a winning record, for a point. Keep playing and be the best competitor you can be.
Aubrey Everett, Editor
Originally published in February 2013