Corona Virus Quarantine Day #161: Slam…August 29, 2020:
So…today would have been the 11th Annual Spectrum Volleyball Slam. This is an event I worked to make possible for a long time. My now friend, Shawn, solidly ignored my letters and emails for a few years, then politely said no for a few years and then eventually he realized I wasn’t going away and met with me.
I can still remember that first meeting at an Applebee’s with his boss. I calmly explained to them that if Metro Sports (the name of Spectrum at the time) could televise 10 year olds swimming or wrestling they could certainly find time to televise some high school volleyball. I should also mention that even though I acted calmly, I didn’t feel calm. It truly enraged me that they’d show young boys playing just about anything but you didn’t ever see girls on tv at any level.
I then went on to list many of the young women in our area who were headed off to play Division one volleyball…and this list was long. I then explained that they were missing out on a market that in the Kansas City area was growing faster than perhaps any other city in the country.
It was an awesome meeting. I think I ate 3 bites of the salad I ordered because I mostly talked and I was to hyped up. They agreed to do an event at that lunch. That was 12 years ago. I didn’t have any kids yet. St. James was only in it’s 3rd year of existence. We planned the event for the following fall.
I then went to work thinking how to make the event possible and awesome. At the time we didn’t have a feature court system and we needed a net brought in. Some of our parents got involved and to make a long story short the night before the event we laid sport court down on the SJA gym floor with SJA parents and David Beach. David let us borrow a net and we set up the event that way, it was not without a few wrinkles and those that were there can attest.
I was a hot mess worrying that somehow the floor wouldn’t work or something would go wrong.
We scheduled three matches. All went three. We didn’t finish playing that night until almost 11pm. But…it was an amazing first event.
That was the year 2009. The next year we played 3 matches on the feature court system and it was a similar outcome. Awesome matches, great day of volleyball and the best hospitality room in town.
In 2011 we stepped our game up after another Applebee’s meeting with Shawn and the big wigs and we decided to make it an entire feature event with 8 matches starting at 8am. It’s been 8 matches every year since.
We are blessed to have the BEST fans in all of the land! The SJA VB Slam is electric and the coolest high school volleyball environment in the country.
This year would have been year 11 and I’m not gonna lie and say that I wasn’t a little distressed all day. I almost decorated my whole house for fall as I thought that might make me feel better. Instead I baked with our kids and played volleyball in the barn with them.
Perhaps the best part of my day was that one of my old KU volleyball teammates and dear friends and her three daughters came over and my volleyball world came full circle when she, her hubby, and our kids played volleyball. It was incredible. We had a blast and it helped me forget, even for an hour, that the Slam, something we worked so hard to create was sidelined for this year.
I mean seriously! So good! I love me a good volleyball game!
I’m going to go to bed tonight grateful that I am able bodied. Grateful that I am still friends with people that I have known over 20 years. Grateful that our kids are now friends. Grateful that our kids love the game we love so much and grateful for our health. I will also go to bed grateful for a sport I love and for my ability to coach it. I love to pass on my love for the game to others. Tonight, I got to pass it on to a room full of small humans that I love. All goodness!
So, while today, we didn’t get to have some high school volleyball matches…and that’s very disappointing, it’s not the end of the world. We have much to be grateful for and I for one am thankful that I can still play the game in any way.
I hope in the coming weeks I am posting about high school volleyball being played!
It is my hope that next season when the Slam comes back in full force that the teams, players, coaches and parents that get to participate in it, are more grateful for the opportunity…remembering that this year, it wasn’t a given. For many of our girls both past and present, the slam is one of their favorite high school memories and I’m very proud to be a part of that!
Until then I will volley on with my people!