Go 'Off the Court' with Air Force Volleyball
Aug. 22, 2007
She's Got High Hopes
The U.S. Air Force Academy women's volleyball team went on our first outing to the mountains for a team-building retreat. Awaiting us were numerous team-building exercises, including trust-falls and an intimidating high-ropes course that fully challenged each and every one of us. To make it across the high ropes, we needed high hopes.
After learning all of the techniques and practicing on wood flanks, we each had to pair up with another player and attempt the "V" tight rope, which required us to support one another's body weight by leaning against the other person with our bodies as straight as a board. The goal was to get to the platform on the other side of the "V" ropes without falling. There were teammates on the ground supporting us if we fell, of course, but the thought of falling at all, support or no support, did not soothe any of the girls one bit.
The shakes started to settle in as each person climbed higher and higher up to the platform. The less scared partner climbed first. This allowed the more scared person more time on the ground, rather than hugging the pole on a 3ftx3ft platform. My partner went first. We stepped out onto our tight ropes, slowly and steadily inching away from the platform and the tight grip we had on the pole. Although our gear was hooked on and safe, my partner and I were not in any hurry to mosey our way along the ropes without support. Eventually, after being told to let go of the pole, we gripped each other's hands. And there it was: support. She leaned on me and I leaned on her. Although every part of me was still shaking, I knew I had support. We inched our way across the ropes, until finally we were leaning on each other so much that our arms became unstable and we fell. Still, we had support. The girls on the ground were belaying us, and lowered us to that wonderful piece of nature called the ground.
After a couple of deep breaths, we shared our experiences with the rest of the team and watched the next pair climb up to do the same. Becky (Gerton), a future Air Force pilot, and Kim (Kallabis), our team captain, paired up to take on the challenge. Kim, standing at only 5'5", supported her 5'11" teammate with physical and mental strength. Emily Frick, a 5'9" freshman and recently named "Big Bad Basic", supported our 6'6" assistant coach, Kyle Robinson, and the two made it all the way to the platform. These uneven match-ups reveal to each individual on the team that no matter what level of physical strength you have, your mental strength can overcome anything.
The next event was called the "leap of faith". The leap of faith was pretty much self-explanatory. Jump off of the 30-foot high platform as far as you can and try to grab the suspended trapeze bar. This challenge seemed to be more difficult than the "V" tight rope, because each girl went by herself. Jocelyn Booker, a sophomore with an extremely high vertical, challenged herself and pushed the bar out away from her, as far out of her comfort zone as she could bear. It took her quite a while to work up the nerve to jump off of the platform, realizing that if she couldn't reach it, she would fall. Encouraging remarks and a "just do it, Booker", from Coach V., enabled Jocelyn to "fly" off of the platform. Unfortunately, she missed. Teammates on the ground beneath her lowered her to the ground. Even though Jocelyn did not succeed at reaching the bar in mid-air, she did succeed at setting her personal standard high enough and as far out of her comfort zone as possible. When a team sets high standards, it is not rare that the team overcomes obstacles that they thought were impossible to overcome before setting those standards.
As a team, we believe in the quote by Tommy Lasorda, "The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination". If you are not determined, there is no direction for you to point yourself to, no goal to strive for, and no real yearn to dream. Some girls may have said to themselves, while awaiting the "leap of faith" and glancing out at the bar so far away from them, "I can't reach it". Although some may have said these words to themselves, each and every girl jumped, exemplifying inner strength. Moments like this make us stronger individuals. A team of strong individuals can look forward to success, and may even encounter failure. Failure, however, is not losing a game. Failure is giving up on yourself, mentally and physically, and lowering a personal standard to a level that you're not willing to try for.
We learned a lot on our team ropes-course adventure. We learned about our individual and team strength, and about each other. The new "family" that we are all a part of will be tested on many different levels during the upcoming season, and the team-building courses that we experienced will enable us to trust one another both on and off the volleyball court. The course taught us to appreciate life, and to appreciate each other. Not only did we learn that we've got "high hopes" for ourselves, we've also got "high hopes" for our new team.
Together, we have started building the support beams for one of our most import team core values: "We want our lives (and not just in volleyball) to be never-ending ascensions, but for that to happen properly our fundamental attitude about life and our appreciation for it is critical. This is that humble, gracious high achiever that is thankful for everything she has been given in life, and has a contagious generosity and optimism that lights up a room just by walking into it".