After all this travel back here I met up with these two in Ohio:
... to watch a whole bunch of this:
And that one-on-one time is extra fun when it involves watching volleyball.
I think I explained a little bit about this back in Max's volleyball post back HERE, but as a quick re-cap, after deciding against doing Nationals this year at the beginning of the school season, Max had so much fun playing and got invited to play with a club team that was totally new to him. He decided to go for one more steep learning curve experience by joining this new team. Volleyball has always taken a slice out of our summers so I had been so excited to have one summer with no volleyball before Max leaves so at first I was pretty hesitant about this new idea. But man, Max and Dave sure counseled and talked about it a lot and they must have been inspired to take this opportunity because it turned out to be such a great one.
It certainly wasn't an easy adjustment for Max. It was really hard work from the beginning to learn to work with a new setter and whole new team who play so differently from his school team. So many days he came home from practice completely deflated. But he worked his tail off to figure it out with pretty hard core practices that started at the beginning of June (that were luckily scheduled after he got home from work). And all that hard work gave him even more love for this game.
Isn't that kind of how life is? The more we work for something, the more we appreciate it? Max has always worked hard for volleyball, but this was above and beyond what he had done before and it was kind of cool to watch him test his limits.
This experience convinced me even more that volleyball just attracts good kids. I have always adored the great kids Max has played with through the years. Every single one of them seem to be good to the core. This new team didn't disappoint. They had two summer tournaments, one in California before Nationals where Dave got to meet a lot of the kids and their great parents, so it was so fun for me to join in at Nationals and meet all these great families and kids I had heard about.
Not only are they good kids with good hearts, but they are good at volleyball.
I loved watching their libero, seriously he was everywhere diving and jumping and twirling to get just right where he needed to be.
It was so fun to watch this other kid play too (below) who was on the all-tournament team with Max during his Brophy tournament and who helped beat our high school team in the semi finals for state volleyball. He has been recruited to play at BYU and is the nicest kid.
This one jumping below played with Max in High Performance a few years ago and is such an excellent player:
Loved his coach too...super talented lady named Molly who played all over Europe before switching to coaching and her assistant who was also a "Molly." Really, really great ladies.
After the games each day we tried to explore a little bit of Columbus. North Market is pretty awesome.
...and the loaf of chocolate buttermilk bread we got there...ha!
Anyway, here we are at the end of the second day...it was so fun to see these kids just keep winning mostly without even going to a third game. (They are "Spiral.")
...which secured them in the "Gold Division."
By the beginning of the final day (the actual tournament) they were 9-0.
They gave them a run for their money but Spiral came out on top in the third game.
Then it was on to the finals with an 11-0 winning streak.
The upper echelon teams ("USA Open") played their finals first...which were a little hard to get a seat for...or even to see for that matter amidst all these tall volleyball players.
Here's a better shot that I held my camera up way above my head to take:
These boys played their hearts out.
Of course they would have loved to win the whole thing, but they were pretty thrilled taking home the silver.
Who knows what will happen in the future taking into account Max's mission timing (he's leaving in December) and the head coach changes recently but whether or not he ever takes this sport to the next level, Nationals was a pretty great ride. It was a huge learning curve for him and pushed him way out of his comfort level. There were some games in the beginning where he didn't even play. But he kept working and listening and learning and working even harder and was able to play very well and have a pretty great experience.