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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

At the tender age of six, I decided I would be following in my older cousin’s footsteps and begin attending our local dance academy. I started simply with ballet and tap. I fell in love instantly. Not only was I putting in my best effort in class, but at home as well. I taught my mother, father, and brother the dance moves I was learning in order to keep my skills sharp. I was the top student in all my classes, so much so, I was offered the opportunity to take classes above my age group.

As I got older, I branched out into more classes. I tried my hand at jazz, hip hop, lyrical, and modern while continuing tap and ballet. I loved every minute of it. The classes, rehearsals, costume fittings, performances – everything. Each year, I got better and better and fell more and more in love with dance.

Until I got to high school. Once I hit ninth grade, everything changed. I still loved dance, and I really wanted to continue. But my instructors were not flexible when it came to extracurriculars outside of dance. I was able to manage one class and volleyball in eighth grade because I was only on the modified team. But once I moved to the junior varsity level, there was no way I could keep up with the requirements of both activities. I had a difficult decision to make the summer before my freshman year.

So, with an immense amount of pressure on my fragile, 14-year-old shoulders, I chose volleyball. It was newer to me, and I would be able to spend more time with my friends from school. I was also looking for a little bit of a break from dance. As I moved up to advanced classes, the training became more difficult and the critiques became more personal and cruel, often focusing on physicality.  Had I known how much worse volleyball would have been for me, I would have taken the taxing features of dance ten times over.

I fell in love with volleyball, just as I had with dance when I first started. But our honeymoon phase did not last nearly as long. My first year on JV was mediocre, at best. My skills were exceptional, of course, but our inexperienced coach was not the brightest or most qualified for her position. She did not make the best choices when it came to what players to put together. This obviously cast a pall on our performance and overall connection as a team.

My sophomore year was basically a wash. Our previous coach transferred to another school, so we were left with a last-minute choice. There aren’t really words to describe the way this man operated. He had even less knowledge of volleyball than his predecessor, with just one season of high school volleyball under his belt. The choices he made during games were almost always wrong. The focuses of his practices were always poorly executed. Us sophomores basically ran the team.

And then we had our lovely friend COVID-19 postpone my junior season, my first time on varsity. Because it was pushed back, we had a shorter season than normal. Nonetheless I was still excited to have a coach that knew what she was doing and play with others who matched my skillset. But just as is my luck, I sat the bench. Not because I wasn’t adequate, but because it was the seniors turn! It was their last year and last chance to play the sport they loved. I hope you read those last two sentences in a tone of voice absolutely dripping with a whining sarcasm. So, from the unforgiving bench, I watched our team lose over and over and over just because “the seniors needed a last hurrah”.

Finally, we come to my senior season. I wish I could say it entirely made up for all the insanity I had to put up with throughout the rest of my high school career, but I wouldn’t be honest if I did so. My coach did not have a handle on her emotions or her team. She let her feelings cloud her judgment time and time again to the point where we had about three wins to our name at the end of the season. At least I got to play in every game that year! And at least I helped build the program up so other girls could have a better experience than me.

I usually don’t let myself reflect on my past choices because it will just make me sad. But when I did finally allow myself to think back on that fateful choice between dance and volleyball, I realized I chose wrong. I missed the classes, rehearsals, costume fittings, performances – everything. I am thankful though that I am now at a point in my life I can forgive my 14-year-old self for the decision she made, because how could she have known what would happen? I think I have accomplished enough in other areas of my life to satiate my anger.

Delainey Muscato is a junior journalism major with philosophy and sociology minors. This year she is excited to be the brand deal manager, assistant events planner, and senior editor for the SBU chapter of Her Campus. In her weekly article for Her Campus, she usually writes about her personal experiences at college, as an intern, or just in life. Delainey is excited for her second year as a member of Her Campus and can’t wait to help new members be just as engaged in the club as her. Outside of Her Campus, Delainey is a very active journalist. She writes for a newspaper in Ellicottville, The Villager. These articles typically detail local events or highlight people in the area. She also just began writing for Tap into Greater Olean. This news site covers stories directly rooted in the Olean and Allegany area. This summer, Delainey spent five weeks studying abroad is Sorrento, Italy. In her free time, Delainey loves to spend time with her friends and family. She spends a lot of time reading on her porch at home. Delainey also loves to take her dog Nella on walks. Her favorite TV shows are The Office and Friends. Her favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. She also loves music and spends a lot of time discovering new music and perfecting her playlists. www.linkedin.com/in/delainey-muscato-b10134282