Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Bitter and The Era comes to An End....

 Hallie and Gina, Steven and I headed to Dallas for her final Nationals volleyball tournament as a high school player.  Kadie Grace Dewey rode with us down to Dallas, and it was a fun, laughing, joyful ride.  And then we got to the hotel, and as the kids are pulling their luggage out of the back, Hallie asks,  "Who packed my suitcase?" which actually was code for, "No one packed your stupid suitcase, including stupid you, and now stupid mom has to stupid drive back to stupid Oklahoma and spend all stupid night stupid driving".

Lacey saved me and met me halfway (well more than halfway, since I got lost and looped 635 for almost an hour before I realized I was lost) and by 1 am, we were all asleep.  (Sort of)

Friday games.  Winner Winner chicken dinner all the live long day.  Looked great, felt great, kicked some volleyball booty.

Friday night, some of the girls dined together across the street from our million dollar hotel (SOOO nice, and almost the price for three nights), and Alli Evans gifts them with tshirts from their soon to be colleges.  Amazingly enough, every girl on this terrific team is college bound playing volleyball. That is spectacularish.  I mean, for reals.

 / //>>>>>>>>>

But more about that in a minute.

Saturday, first game- big play on the outside and all of the sudden Alli Evans is on the floor holding her knee.   I cannot begin to express the panic and terror that goes through a parent's heart when you see your athlete on the floor.  It's just mind numbing.  As her dad and another dad carry her off, we all just say a prayer over her that it's nothing too serious.  As I'm typing this, I believe that she is getting an MRI and we will have results soon.  Still praying, asking for yours.

After Alli went down, we won that game, but lost the next two.  Fast forward to last day... just lost the first set of our match, and we are now down 18-23 in the second set.  2 points and it's all over ...  I'm going to (with permission) borrow Greg Dewey's post about that match....

 And just like that my baby’s club career comes to a close. I can still remember her first club season when her spandex were as baggy as NBA shorts. But in the blink of an eye, she is serving the final match point at her final nationals. So why was this one of my favorite points in nearly 3 decades of volleyball? I have been fortunate enough to be a part of some pretty fun Sunday finishes over the years, yet this is the championship of the silver bracket. Sometimes it is hard to get motivated after missing out on a chance to go gold the night before. Especially when one of the team’s great players is hurt on the sidelines. Compound that with now being down in the first match of the silver division 23-18 after losing the first set. Many…dare I say most…teams would have packed it in and called it a season. Two points from elimination.
What is there to play for at that point? Pretty good question, huh? This may be one of those incredible lessons that sports can subtly teach yet stick with you the rest of your life. What is there to play for? How about the person next to you? The one that has made so many sacrifices just like you. Missed out on social events due to practice and tournaments. Stayed up late to study for a test or finish homework in the backseat of the car headed home from a long weekend. The one who has played through all kinds of ailments and illnesses just like you over the years. Or how about playing for the one who has gone through one of life’s most challenging seasons of life this season? A season of life where quitting and throwing in the towel is just not an option. Where picking yourself up and giving your best the next point…the next day is all you can do. Or how about for that injured player who is sitting on the bench watching for the first time in her illustrious career. You know she would kill to be out there so you play for her as well.
What is there to play for? How about for the most incredible set of parents in club volleyball? As a group they are a supportive, unselfish, self-sacrificing, giving, loving, sharing, Jesus-modeling bunch. Sure they are focused on their kids BUT they view all the kids as their kids. They have given so much financially and with their schedules to make club possible, but they have also been a primary beneficiary.
What is there to play for? How about that audience of One who created you and gave you the ability and opportunity to play a sport, this sport, with this group of girls and this is your last day to do it.
Well, they did not pack it in. They did not give up. They played for each other, their parents and the Lord. They scraped and clawed back to win that set and ultimately the match; then went on to win every set the rest of the day culminating in this, one of my favorite points ever.
I was reminded yesterday of one of my favorite points by watching one of my favorite points…and that is, there is ALWAYS something to play for. Sometimes you just have to pause long enough to answer to the question. Well done chicas. Well done.

Well done, Dewey, well done.  :)  I would attach that video of Kadie Grace serving her whomping serve and then the pass to her perfect set for Mia K to ace us to victory...but alas, I am a short bus when it comes to technology and cannot figure out how to do that.  So you will have to just imagine it in your head and go from there.  (close your eyes, best play ever..there ya go).

I loved Dewey's take, and it sums it up better than I could do.  So we took home the silver.  9th out of 48 isn't too shabby in my opinion.  But what we took away from that tournament was far more than wins and losses.  We come away winners, with friends, that are more like family for life.  

I'm going to introduce you to the Who's Who of volleyball in the state of Oklahoma...starting with Miss Malia Leatherland..

Malia has been at peak for a few years, but always has played up.  We were lucky to have her this year and her stellar skills as an outside hitter and passer....just LOOK OUT.  She may not be the tallest on the team, but she can FLY when she jumps, and her arm...I always felt a bit sorry for anyone that got smacked by a ball she hit, because whoa, she has got an arm.  Malia's parents Mike and Heidi tirelessly drove her from Tulsa (mind you!) to practice, and her sweet grandma never missed a tournament.  Just adore these sweet people, and will miss them!  Malia will be attending OBU next year, playing volleyball for their team!  Outstanding job, missy!

 Glen & Rachel

Next up, one of the players Hallie has personally played volleyball with the longest time, is our Defensive Specialist and Libero, Rachel Krutz.  (krootz, say it right, please).  Rachel is a tireless energizer bunny who can defend the back line like the boss of it.  She has a wicked serve that can spin right out of the unsuspecting receiver's hand and go sailing into the far blue yonder.  Hallie and Rachel played ball at Norman North together, and also played beach volleyball together, going to Nationals in California, and together, I'm thinking these two beasts can do about anything.  Her parents, Glen and Julie are an amazing force.  They raised (in addition to the non stop Rachel) two boys that are sports geniuses as well.  Matt played golf in college and Ryan is playing soccer at Notre Dame.  Rachel is going to attend Colorado College this fall and show them how to defend a back line, too.  This family is a well traveled, sports playing bunch and I take my hat off to them.  Just love me a whole lot of Krutz.  (say it right).

Next up is Ericka Scholl.  I feel dumb as I scroll through all my pictures, because I didn't get one of Ericka with her parentals, Rob and Zona.  Maybe because I was scared to take any more pictures of Rob (see above) as he is the picture taker, and NOT the picture Takee.  Zona has led me through this club volleyball with humor and good grace.  Remembering the phone call to her, "Hallie just got offered Peak 16-1's, do we take it??"   a slight pause, followed with, "ARE YOU STUPID, CALL THEM BACK."  Zona Scholl, you know you said that to me.  And with that we were teammate parents.  I love everything about Ericka Scholl.  If you look up "Kind" in the dictionary, there is a picture of her.  She is so stinking nice.  To everyone.  About everything.  Kind of annoying.  But in a really NICE way.  :)  (I'm totally kidding, she is terrific).  She is going to UCO this fall and play volleyball there.  Also study forensic science, so she can start her own CSI: Oklahoma show.   Ericka is our setter.  She is also our Right side, in times of injury.  She is also the most amazing getter upper in the land.  I have seen her dive straight for the ball, use ONE HAND and up it over to the outside, perfectly getting it into the hitter's reach.  She is a powerful force to be reckoned with, and I am thrilled to watch her grow and go.  CSI: Oklahoma, Nice to Know you.  

Speaking of UCO, they are going to be one lucky program.  Garnering 5 of our 11 players.  Jordan Cramer, our Libero and defensive specialist is one of them.
 Jordan and her mama, Stephanie

The Cramers

When I first met Jordan, I couldn't believe that someone so short, could cover as much floor as she could.   Jordan is everywhere at every second.  She is a blur, she thinks absolutely NOTHING of diving straight out, arms out, pushing that ball to the front line, getting that pass going.  Her serve makes the other side weep with anguish (how's that for drama) and she was the first person that admitted (proudly) that she stalked Hallie before she knew her.  I LOVE this family.  Her mama, after watching me and hearing the story of my fosters, decided to foster for herself, and she and her husband Chad have opened their home to 3 littles this year, and have been shown the blessing of loving outside yourself in the way only you can know it, when you take in other's children.  Stephanie will tell you she was TERRIFIED before it happened, and after getting the baby, the thought of taking his older bro and sis (all under 5 years old, mind you), didn't even really faze her.  It's like God destroys your fear brain cells when you foster.  You just take it minute by minute and let God do the rest.  This family is blessed BIG by this, and in turn blessed all of us watching them walking this very obedient path.  Sister Aubrey, (her own beast mode player 14's) is part of my pop tart club, and will be missed by Gina and Steven every day forever.  Cramers = Love and that is NO joke.   (oh and PSA, if you live in Edmond and you don't use her Puppy Paws Salon you are missing out, your best friend Fido has a new home away from home, find them on facebook)

Chad and Stephanie...

Teri & Callie
Callie Bangasser is attending UCO, playing volleyball this fall also.  Callie is the calm on our back row, Miss Consistent and the most talented at stopping a kill shot and ruining the other team's mood by effectively digging up even the most ridiculous kill shots.   I love this kid.  She is seriously the calmest cucumber I have ever seen.  Her parents are Terry and Teri (so that made it easy on me) and I know where she gets it.  I love this chill family.  Callie Jo (I love that) has the most wicked serve too.  The best part of that serve is this little hop and kick she delivers (every.single.time) right before she wails the tar out of it.  It is magic to watch.  I love this wonderful family.   

Also heading to UCO is Malia Kaaiohelo.  Don't let this beautiful face fool you.  She is a BEAST.
Malia is our Middle Blocker and she is a fierce, fierce presence.  I LOVE it when she gets a block, she is one of the most enthusiastic celebrators we have.  It's just delightful.  She has a wicked kill shot and is so quick on the block, she can be just about everywhere at once.  She also has a wicked serve that flies over.  This girl is just as beautiful inside as she is on the outside, and she is going to go Far Far Far.  Her parents, April & Jason are just the best cheerleaders ever.  Her older brother Hayden is playing football in Texas and her younger brother, Cason, is Steven's best good friend.  They LOVE hanging out together at the games and it's pretty fun to see.  Back 2 years ago when they were just starting out as friends, Cason was just a tiny bit taller than Steven.  Now, he is almost as tall as me, and could tuck Steve in his pocket.  It's just so much fun to watch them together.  I'm so going to miss this family.  I truly love all of them so much.  

The three amigos, Cason, Ben & Steven

And speaking of Ben Emmert...we will just go ahead and talk about the Emmerts.  Ryan Emmert is our beast blocker heading to University of Houston this fall to play volleyball.
Ryan and her parents Jennifer & Greg
Ryan had one of the best days I have seen her play on the Friday play of Nationals this year.  It became sort of thing with another mom and I, because I am not kidding here, she couldn't miss anything.  If she just "kind of" blocked it,  she would still be airborne and hit it again and knock it to the ground.  Just kind of hovered up there, waiting.  it was EPIC.  I'm serious.  I was glowing with pride at her that day.  And HER MAMA WASN"T THERE!  ACK!  But I live streamed it, so it was kind of like she was.  LOL.  Anyhoo, these people are great people and if you need a vet in Norman, this is your guy.  Even though a 90 year old woman literally drove through his clinic on the Friday we were in Dallas
seriously, can't make this stuff up!
Just sit on the south side if you go to his clinic and take your pups and cats.  :)  Good Luck Ryan, I'm expecting GREAT BIG THINGS from you!

Speaking of Big Things, Kassidy Muse is going to RICE UNIVERSITY!  Can I hear a collective AMEN?  Is that just the most incredible thing?  
Kass and her mom, Ashleigh
This family has gone through some hard stuff this year.  Our volleyball family lost Keith to a heart condition right before our first tournament in Kansas City, and watching Kassidy overcome that loss and just PLAY HER GUTS out every single live long game, would have made her daddy so proud.  She is ridiculous.  She had to play middle awhile at the first of the season, and back row awhile, and then outside on Saturday after Alli got hurt.  She slayed it.  I mean.  SLAYED it.  Rice is lucky as crap to get her.  She is so smart she could have gone ANYWHERE and she chose them.  Lucky lucky people.  Her mama holds an incredibly special place in my heart.  Strongest lady I know (literally) as she pops my neck like a boss and makes me feel like a new human after every fall I have (and that's been too many lately).  If you need a chiropractic wizard/genius/doc, she is your gal.  I can't talk about Kassidy and not mention her grandpa Jim, and ole Mo.  (grandma, Janet Muse).  Jim, to my knowledge, has never missed a tournament.  He is there, like clockwork, cheering on his girl and her team.  He hit most of the practices too, and is the first one to make friends with the other team and knows all the best ways to get around all the places we go.  He's your travel guru.  Janet is a shopping genius.  They bought the girls bracelets for graduation presents, and Hallie declared it "the nicest thing I have ever owned".  (says a lot for moi).  Holy moly, I am going to miss the Muse's.  (though chances are I will never quit seeing Ashleigh, as I'm falling about once a month lately)
What a trio.  Strongest people I know.  I just love these faces. 

Kadie Grace Dewey.  Her daddy wrote the post I borrowed, and this family....  This Family.  Alicia and Greg Dewey adopted two little boys as newborns just shortly before I met them.  I've been honored to watch these little scamps grow up, and Kadie is the best big sister ever.  
 Eli and Ike.  They know me as the lady with marshmallows in her purse.  And Gum.  And vanilla wafers.  And Steven's mama.  They call me Lolly.   It melts me in two.

And so does this.  Steven just LOVES them, and the feeling is quite mutual.  They were not happy campers when he ran off with the big guys to go do big guy things.  He is their MAJOR bud.

So, the first time Dewey watched Hallie at the tryouts, other than saying "Who in the world is this kid??" (he didn't get to Norman North games much, clearly) he told me it was one of the best tryout performances he had ever seen.  Now maybe he was saying that for me to pick his club  (CALL THEM BACK STUPID AND SAY YES, is ringing in my ears right now, Zona) and maybe he was just THAT surprised a kid had flown under his all watchful radar, my kid Loves her some Greg Dewey.  Now I probably couldn't have typed that last year, when he coached her.  She came home bawling just almost every time.  Fast forward to this year,  "I do better when Dewey is there".  "Can we call Dewey and see when he will be here?"   Greg Dewey, you feel like moving to New York and going to all the West Point games??  You certainly helped get her there.  Greg wrote one of Hallie's recommendation letters, and it seriously made me cry.  He told me it made him cry too.  Greg Dewey is the real deal.  And when you have real deals, you have real deal Wives too, and Alicia Dewey is the real deal.  These two.  And their kids.  What am I going to do without some Dewey fixes?  I really don't know.   (cut to go cry in a kleenex).

Last, but certainly, not least, are my best dear good friends, the Alli Evans family.  We have traveled to several tournaments together, and Jon feels like an ornery little brother and Johnelle is the sister I always wanted and never got to have.  She says I look and act like her sister, so there ya go.  We seriously share a brain, and usually say the exact same thing at the exact same time and it kind of freaks us out.  When Norman North lost at state this year, ultimately to Alli & Malia Kaaiohelo's team, Edmond Memorial, it was with pride and respect I honored Alli, because as MVP of the state tournament, she played her heart out and she and Malia just stopped Hallie dead in her tracks in that tournament.  And that ain't too easy.  But, what I'm trying to say, it's easy to honor Alli Evans.  This example of Jesus in a human is an easy kid to love.  She is kind, gentle, good, humble, caring.  There aren't enough words to describe this gentle giant.  And when she fell to the ground on Saturday after making a kill shot (tore her ACL and miniscus, surgery on friday, prayers appreciated), my heart just stopped.  It hurt me as bad, as if it had been Hallie.  I seriously LOVE this girl.  Her mom and dad have stepped up and up and up for me.  Steven needed a bicycle, boom, he had a bike.  They had a ping pong table laying around, You want it?...oh having a garage sale, need $300 worth of stuff?  No problem.   They have super powers of kindess and I'm not just saying that.  I ran out of gas coming home from a tournament last year, and after she stopped laughing at me, she and Alli came right out to bring us gas.  Friends with no limits.  That's what the Evans are to me.  

Sometimes in life you get lucky to have 4 or 5 solid good friends.  Hallie's volleyball life brought me 10 families that I consider my own.  We have experienced traumatic loss this year.  We have experienced the sweetest of joy, winning a national bid, all the girls wearing Keith's socks.   I watch this group of people, surround each other with encouragement and love and pick themselves up and keep on moving.  We've shown each other love and respect and pride and I know that will translate to our children's futures.  I can say with no irony, that this is the best group of ladies I have ever had the pleasure of being with.   I know their futures are so very bright, and it is with great sadness I watch this era end.  These families, these girls, the fun times and the hard are what make memories to treasure.   As we were driving home Sunday I told Hallie that the day was so bittersweet.  Her response, after thinking about it for a minute,  "So much more bitter than sweet, mom.  I'm going to miss all this.  My childhood is coming to an end".  So many feels, people.  Big Gooey Sad Ones.  

I will miss all of you, and think of our years together as the best of my life, and I promise, I will NEVER EVER stay at La Quinta in Indianapolis EVER again as long as I live.  

Love and hugs,   Laura   

Forever live...Lolly's Pop Tart Club

Oklahoma Peak 18-1's - Friends Forever..-