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Tori Vidales: Volleyball

2010, my freshman year of high school. I had just made the jump to 18U Gold, which was a really big deal especially being so young. I was one of two freshmen that made the team. I had the opportunity to play for an incredible coach sitting right in front of me. I was STOKED! I was going to learn so much and had a huge opportunity to get seen by college coaches early in my career.

That is, until my coach got some bad news about his wife having some health issues. He would have to stay home and help take care of her, so he wasn’t going to be able to coach that year. I had no idea what to expect. I was always the kid who played SS, hit in the 3-hole, but soon enough that would be the exact opposite of what I was experiencing. We had an interim head coach who helped along the way who’s go to line was “freshman don’t belong on the field”.

I sat the bench almost every single game. Especially the ones that meant something. I was gutted. I did everything the coaches asked, all the drills, carried equipment, even stayed after practice to get more reps at different positions thinking I would have a better chance at playing. 

Nothing worked.

I finally realized my playing chances were out the window that year and the only thing left to do was become the best teammate I could. Study the game, relay information to the starters, anything I could do to help us win. That year was mentally the toughest I’ve ever had because my identity was ripped out from underneath me. I had to curate a new me, one that did everything for the team even if I knew it wouldn’t benefit me personally.

This setback was actually the best SET UP of my

life. I learned how to lead without my talent, how to connect with teammates, and most of all mentally I was strong enough to take on anything. Embrace the tough times and let them teach you what you’re capable of.