Through the air, on stage, Saints unite
EDWARDS This leap wasnt for a spike. Still, the Vail Christian volleyball team cheered each other on as coach Cathy Alexander watched, and even joined in.Last month, the Saints spent some time together off the court and in the air while ziplining in Wolcott. It was a blast to watch them, Alexander said. They turned into a bunch of little kids. To see 17-year-olds screaming like my 9-year-old is fun.Jumping off cliffs and soaring through the air had little to do with a back-row attack, although it did bring out some teamwork.Im afraid of heights, said middle hitter Kristin McGinty, who often makes opponents afraid of volleyballs with her spikes. After watching her teammates leap, and with some encouragement, McGinty was ready to go.It was so much fun. After my first jump, I wasnt afraid anymore, she said.McGinty got paired up with another tall hitter, Bianca Jensen, while the two setters Britni Beagley and Brooke Bowles got to glide together.It was a first time a lot of us had done it, Beagley said. We laughed and had a good time. Theres not the pressure of everything (in volleyball).While it may have been their introduction to a zipline, hanging out is second nature. From school plays, to school trips and yes, even in classes, the girls are often together.We know almost everything about each other, McGinty said. Last year when we had our first soccer team, most of the volleyball team was on it.All the hours have helped the girls perform seamlessly during matches.We focused a lot last year about learning what people like and dont like. … So, you know what will make someone play better, Sammantha Francis said. We are so close mentally.Its certainly helped that the team has played into November for two years in a row. And Alexander likes that there arent any superstars among her squad.They really just trust each other, she said. They dont try and play each others position and dont try to do it all themselves.
Before the season started, the entire school went on a trip to Buena Vista, and the volleyball team decided to get its legs moving there.We did some hard-core running, McGinty said. We had all the incoming freshman and others who wanted to try out come along. It was good for the seniors to show them how its done and bring them along.Like any team, though, there can be problems.Because we are so close, when something small comes up, we notice it and it makes a bigger rift, Beagley said. So we solve it right away.Most of the time, though, they just end up joking around.Were not afraid to make fun of each other a little, either, McGinty said. We do have some silly moments, and coach has to reel us back in. We cant help it.Alexander, who sat back and relaxed during the zipline adventure, is happy to assume her role during practice and matches.I get to see them mature and grow up as young women, she said. But its funny because I do keep a coach-athlete relationship. I dont become their best friends. When they go to college, I loosen up and sign my e-mails as Cathy.The Saints wouldnt want it any other way.Ive played club and for a lot of different coaches, and shes the coach that has pushed me the most, and Ill remember her the most, McGinty said.
Before and after volleyball season, the girls have a wide array of interests that often intersect. Beagley and Molly Brooks acted together in a musical last winter.Its fun to see people involved in different things, Beagley said. It was nice to see (Molly) in a role other than middle blocker.There is one uniting factor among the team other than volleyball: their faith.When a group of kids or people have something in common, its easy to hang out, Alexander said. They understand where each other is coming from and can build each other up in tough times.We pray for each other every day and make it a point to support each other off the court, Francis said.The team gets plenty of support from kids who may one day take their place. Recently, a group of elementary school kids wrote a letter to the team.They wanted us to know how much they admire us, Francis said. It brings you to the realization that you arent just playing for yourself, but your team and your school.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.