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Sports Volleyball Hands In
Sports Volleyball Hands In
Tiffany Meh / Spoon
Life > Experiences

It’s Okay, Sports Can Be Toxic Too

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Throughout our development, we’re encouraged to try many things such as sports. This can lead us to step into an unknown world of great experiences but also a world of great disappointments. It’s important to note that this is not a general opinion and that everyone’s experience can be different. Sports are supposed to be fun and frustration free, but that often depends on where you are and who you are with. While my story may not be totally unique, it is still important to share it so it might reach the person that needs to hear this. 

When I was nine years old, I wanted to get involved in a school sport. I decided to follow my friends and go to a tryout for volleyball which I knew nothing about. When the team was selected, I was crying because I saw all of my friends’ names and not mine. With that exact feeling of disappointment, I walked over to my grandmother who proceeded to ask me “What’s wrong?” and I simply replied, “I didn’t make the team.” My grandmother changed her mood from confusion to furious which I didn’t understand. She contacted my uncle who knew of a team in his neighborhood. I played for 3 years straight until the practice time conflicted with my other activities and I decided to take a break. The break only lasted only 1 year and was almost the worst year ever, but not as difficult as the one that would follow.

Most of my classmates convinced me to try out for our season, but little did I know that I would learn so much from it. At the beginning of the school year, I made many changes to my schedule so I could have enough time for varsity, extracurricular club sports, school assignments, and family. Even with the changes it still turned out to be very difficult to manage time since there was always somewhere to be. During practice, our coach was very nice and supportive when saying “If you stand this way it will be better”, “Try again”, or “Don’t give up.” That only lasted until our first tournament, where this respectful and humble man completely transformed into this yapping and aggressive chihuahua. “No, no, no!” he would scream while hitting the board on his tiny legs.

The game ended with us losing, 10 minutes of screaming and negative comments, and me not being able to even touch the court. This behavior lasted until late November when I decided to talk with him and ask him the reason for his behavior. His reply was “You are not at the other girls’ level of ability.” Then he smiled and said “Basically, learn to do everything again” and walked away. I tried to get better and even went to different places and had different people help me out. When I explained my story to other coaches they were simply speechless. I decided to switch to another team for after school activities, but it was the same team he would potentially coach. However, news spread quickly around the team that I was going to be a new teammate and he decided to leave. Throughout that entire season, his presence was still there but you could see by the look on his face that he was not satisfied with my achievements. I thought it would stop there, but sadly it just became worse after that.

I dedicated the last month of my 2018 summer to practice with what could potentially be the varsity team until it came to making the cuts. “Everyone is staying, I will inform which girl gets to play in which game, and that way you don’t waste my time,” he said with a blank expression. Our first tournament was just three days away, all 18 girls were there from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm to see who was playing, and he would only respond “I don’t know yet.” Game day arrived and we still didn’t know who was playing, many classmates asked “Who’s playing?” until a message was spread at 10 am that we would have a meeting to discuss who would be playing. There our coach said, “I have not made my decision on who will be playing today, I will have a list posted at 2:15 pm where I will put you on the list.” He took a deep breath and looked at the floor once again with a blank expression “If your name is under the line-” he looked up to see all of our faces of despair “You will not be participating today, you will switch with the girls who are higher than you” and with that, he ended the meeting.

Once the list was posted, all hell broke loose. I was embarrassed since I was placed last on the list. I stormed out of there hoping it was a joke, my only response was “This is a joke. He just wants to make me look bad.” I grew the confidence and courage to talk to him, walked into the office, and asked “Why was I placed last? What can I do better so I can also participate?” Once again with a blank expression, he said “Well, just like the other girls, be tall, good, have good coordination- just be like the others” and smiled when he finished. “But I can’t be them, I’ve practiced for years to make the team,” I said with a disappointed face. From August to November, I played the role of “the water girl” until I was tired of him treating us like scum, so I quit the team which led to backlash from people that weren’t in my position nor understood it. They said, “You just can’t handle the heat”. Word got to the principal of the way he treated us and all she did was cheer on his behavior.

            The nine-year-old girl wouldn’t want any of this, she would want to play where she was accepted. I stepped into a better environment and fought for my respect as a player which made me a much better person and helped me with other things other than sports. In the end, I value this experience since it helped me grow and showed me what value is and how important it is. Sadly, I feel I am letting my nine-year-old self down but deep down, I believe she knows that I did the right thing.

I am a Senior from Puerto Rico going to Michigan State University to major in Psychology. My goal is obtain a psyD in Neuropsychology or Clinical Psychology and open my practice to help children and people who need help.