It was 3 p.m. Friday when I received a call from my good friend and volleyball coach of one of the best programs in Indiana, Jeff Case. He was wondering if I might be able to come in and give an inspirational team speech by 4 p.m. before their regional match at Morristown. Even though I'm not particularly strong with impromptu speeches, I agreed considering it was a great honor he would ask and considering how much I had enjoyed watching this team develop.

I referred to my volleyball folder that had been untouched for years and found eight words used another time. So, I gave each young lady a card with the following words: creativity, determination, elegant yet powerful, energy, enthusiasm, goodness, harmony, and loyalty. Then, I asked them to share how their word had made a difference in team play during the season. I quickly realized why they played the game so well and performed better than many expected. It is one thing to have the skills to play the game and totally different to know how the meaning of such words relate to success in a sport and in life.

The only senior, Taylor Henderson, was last. Taylor was a key to last year's state team, but her play was extremely limited this season due to physical battles. Yet, she found other ways to lead. I asked her to speak from her heart. She got emotional with tears flowing down her face. She apologized, but there was no need for an apology. All understood! Taylor had been through a lot. And, a volleyball season has emotional ups and downs for all, and this one included one classmate dying due to a heart condition and other classmates being in a car accident. Such experiences can build character as demonstrated by this group of ladies.

I discussed what the program meant to my daughters but tried to convey how life changes after high school while using them as examples. Like my daughters, they likely will not play the game that much unless receiving a scholarship to play college volleyball. I stressed that this would be their moment, that they must make the most of it individually and collectively.

We did several other activities, and I was impressed with how many times I heard thanks. After being out of the classroom for nine years, I felt a small part of me longing to return. Then again, my life has changed. I now spend a lot to time as a volunteer for HSJ Online.

I felt confident they were ready to face Bloomfield and the next opponent if winning. We lost the first set to the Cardinals 18-25 while only being close one time, 11-12. We won the second set 25-22 with the score close throughout. We then got behind the third set 11-18, and a part of me was thinking we were going to lose the set and match. Shame on me! Time after time, this team had shown they could come back which they did. We even won by 5 points, 25-20.

Now, it looked as if we had gained a lot of momentum going into the fourth set and proved it by going up 16-8. A part of me was now thinking we were going to win this set easily and the match. Shame on me again! I know better due to my playing experiences and watching a lot of volleyball. Bloomfield found a way to close the gap making it 20-20. From that point, one team got ahead and then the other team. Somehow, we pulled it out 32-30 and advanced to the final match against Indianapolis Lutheran who defeated University.

Against Indy Lutheran, they had complete control in the first set with the final score 11-25. Could we possibly reverse their momentum? Well, we did while taking a substantial lead only to have the Saints get back in the set before we won 25-20. We continued our momentum in the third set and won 25-15. However, Indy Lutheran pulled away in the fourth set until we once again made a run only to lose 22-25. In the fifth and final set, we could never find our rhythm losing 5-15.

Despite losing, I was very proud to be a Hauser Jet. They hustled and played with heart. I have watched a lot of Hauser volleyball over the years and would have to rate this team as being one of the best inch for inch and pound for pound. They reminded me a lot of their coach when playing mostly against him as he was beginning his volleyball career while I was ending mine. They are to be commended for winning the conference, the sectional, and advancing in the regional. Like many others, I thank the Lady Jets for the wonderful journey and look forward to following them next season.