Tracee Byrd: The Volleyball Life (8-23-05)
Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A little about me:

            My name is Tracee Byrd and I’m a senior on Centenary’s volleyball team.  I’m a ZTA and one of the leaders in FCA.  I’m from Long Beach, MS, radish capital of the world (yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen a radish growing anywhere), and I love sports, music and FOOD!!  Well, that’s me!  If you want to know more, you can check me out on myspace or facebook.


This week was much like the last.  We continued to practice a few times a day and take our ice baths as we counted down the last days of preseason.  We finally got over our soreness, and our social lives began to improve as more and more people moved onto campus.  The freshmen met tons of other freshmen that moved into the dorms and attended orientation meetings.  I, of course, did not meet any of them because I was spending every waking moment…asleep.  During preseason, naps are an integral part of your performance at practice.  If I miss my nap, then I’m shot for the whole day.  Therefore, the only social life I had occurred in the training room, where I would meet some new soccer players and catch up with old ones who had summer injuries.  As preseason went on, the training room became the place to be as the number of aches and pains doubled and tripled.  So the week went by rather quickly, but here’s the daily breakdown.

Tuesday night we had dinner at coach’s house where she made the infamous chicken casserole while we watched her dog chase his own shadow for three hours.  All of the food was once again amazing, and we ate until we couldn’t walk.

Wednesday and Thursday, the Gold dome was set up for a campus lunch, so we had to practice in the fitness center.  Now this might not sound like a big deal, but it requires about an hour of extra work.  First, all of the balls, carts, and agility equipment have to be transported across King’s Highway.  This is a tedious task…which is why we assign it to the freshmen…he he he!  You see, after you empty the carts into your car, you have to drive all of five inches and then park about three miles from your final destination before unloading the balls back into the carts.  This three mile walk serves two purposes:  it prevents the tickets that occur from parking in the wrong lot, and it helps you warm up as you dodge traffic chasing the balls that scattered when the wheel broke off the cart.  I’ve had to do this a few times and it always makes me feel like those people who shag the balls in tennis matches. 

When the balls have been successfully transported, we then focus on the net.  Lucky for us, the poles have been brilliantly designed to not fit in the holes in the floor.  Also, when the net is fully cranked, the sides are about six inches too high, and the middle is about six inches off the floor.  But we finally get everything set up and then we step on the court to play only to be blinded by the sunlight that is streaming through the upstairs windows.  (Just to clarify to all those runners on the track who happen to see our practices…no, we don’t usually let the ball peg us in the face.)  Well, we eventually settle into practice mode and then the inevitable interruption occurs.  The possessed basketball goal above the net starts to go up and down on its own.  But once that is taken care of, we practice like normal and then go through the entire equipment transport process again.

Thursday was also the day we had the dreaded swimming practice.  Every preseason we have at least one day when we take a break from the running to do a pool workout.  It’s the most painfully humiliating day of every year, but for some reason I will never understand, all the girls get really excited about it.  But not me.  I hit up every store in town trying to find adult-sized floaties because I am a horrible swimmer.  I mean, I love to swim when it’s just people hanging out at a pool or something.  I grew up on a beach and I’ve been swimming my whole life, but the second I have to try to swim laps, you can count me out.  I don’t know why, but when I try to swim the correct way, my legs just sink in the pool, followed immediately by the rest of my body and finally my face.  Every time I try to take a breath, I choke on my hair, and for some reason, I go in circles when I tread water.  I mean, it’s pretty embarrassing when you’re choking in a pool that you can stand up in while all the freshmen are doing flip turns off the wall and lapping you six times.  And I always feel really bad when we split up into relay teams because my team is just inevitably going to lose.  Every time I go three feet, I have to stop and catch my breath and get the hair out of my eyes so I don’t run into the wall again.  I’ve never felt more uncoordinated in my life.  Just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye.

Friday, we got to finish painting the locker room…or I guess start over would be the correct phrase to use because the locker paint from a week ago still wasn’t dry.  So, we had to spend two hours scraping it off before we could repaint with a different type of paint.  After four hours, we were all delirious and you could smell the paint fumes from across campus.  Luckily, I caught some of my teammates on video and will be able to use it later as blackmail.  After the painting was done, we suited up for practice…or at least tried to when we weren’t laughing for any apparent reason and eating everything we could find in the building.

That practice and the one on Saturday were our last two pre-season practices, and we actually got to do some scrimmaging.  This is the first year we’ve had enough people to place a full team on both sides of the net, so we were really excited.  In the past we’ve invited coach’s husband, our SID, and some guys from campus to play against us, but it’s not the same.  For example, when a girl hits the ball, I stand in the area of the court that the block is not covering and prepare to play defense.  When a guy hits the ball, our block does absolutely nothing because his vertical is higher than all of ours put together.  So, since I have no idea where the ball is about to go, I turn my back, get in the fetal position, and cover my head.  Of course, I still stay low, but for a different reason.  You see, the lower I am, the farther the ball has to travel before it gives me a concussion, so I have that extra fraction of a second to enjoy life before I have to get stitches in my face.  But those days are over, and now we can practice against a team that plays more like our opponents will.

Sunday, we had a team lunch in Carthage at our assistant coach’s house, where I locked my keys in my car for the eighth time in two days.  Her family made some amazing Mexican food and let us swim in their pool.  Believe me, I could barely contain my excitement about getting to swim again.  We lounged around and played with her three adorable puppies, and then we each had individual meetings with the coaches to discuss our goals and roles for the upcoming season.  The day was very relaxing and a perfect end to our tough pre-season.

Well, after having a few competitive scrimmages and some humbling swimming experiences, I’m feeling more prepared to begin our season.  Even though our team is very young, I’ve been really impressed at practice, and I have complete confidence that this team can win several games this year.  Just thinking about it gets me pumped up and ready to play!  Our first tournament is this weekend, so check back next week, and I can tell you all about our first wins of the year.