Tracee Byrd: The Volleyball Life (9-6-05)
Tuesday, September 6, 2005

This past week was one of the most physically and mentally trying weeks ever.  We got in from last week’s tournament at 3AM Sunday because all of the hurricane evacuations slowed traffic, so we pretty much started out the week exhausted.  Then, the hurricane made landfall on Monday, and I spent every waking moment flipping between news channels trying to find information about my hometown.  A few of the girls on our team were directly affected by the storm, and it was very emotionally draining to sit and wait for information that only got worse and worse.  But we eventually made contact with our families and we could rest a little easier.


With all the drama from the hurricane going on, volleyball became a much-needed time to peel myself away from the TV screen and take a break from it all.  And believe me, there were enough laughs in this past week to brighten even the darkest of moods.


First of all, both of our gyms were being used to house the evacuees from Dillard University in New Orleans.  So, Monday we had to drive to Loyola Prep, a local high school, to have practice over there.  Once again, this meant that we had to go through the dreaded equipment transport process.  Then, to make matters worse, Big Bertha wouldn’t start and I had to buy a new battery for her.  By the way, it’s bad enough that I have to drive the minivan in the first place, but if one more person asks me when soccer practice is, then I’m gonna take my grocery getter and run them over.


Anyway, for the next three days we practiced in the fitness center because the Dillard students had all been moved into the Gold Dome.  As always, this proved really exciting, and it once again took us an hour to set the net up before we could step onto the court and let the sun fry our retinas.  After practice, we headed off to late night as usual, where Dani, the human vacuum, put away 25 chicken nuggets and 3 plates of fries all by herself.


Wednesday was my 21st birthday, so at 12:01 that morning, all my teammates showed up with cake and presents and tried to make me take 21 shots of Tang.  This would be the first of four cakes I received on my birthday.  I really have no idea how I fit back into my spandex after that.  Later that night we all went to FCA and had a blast singing, playing games, and hanging out.


On Friday, we loaded the bus and headed to Lafayette for our second tournament.  This is when the real fun began.


We got to take the sleeper bus this time, which has its pros and cons.  The sleeper bus has twelve beds, a bathroom, a kitchen area, four couches, two TV’s, a VCR, a DVD player, and a stereo system.  However, if you’re not sleeping in your bed, then you’re probably standing up fixing lunch or walking to the bathroom or something, so every time the bus accelerates or slows down, you go flying down the long hallway until someone catches you or you hit a door.  So basically, we all end up injured before we even get to the game.  The plus side of the long hallway is that it’s great for bowling.  In fact, on the way home we pulled out an apple and bowled over some empty drink boxes.  Unfortunately, I was defeated as Ashlee won the Capri Sun Classic and took home the Apple Bowling trophy.


When we got to Lafayette, we had our practice then headed off for pre-game meal before we checked into our hotels to drop off our luggage.  So we strapped on our three bags and waddled to the elevator to go up to our rooms.  But when we opened our doors, we found people crashed out on the beds.  So we got back on the elevator to go back down to the front desk.  Okay, I swear I pushed first floor, but for some reason, we went up to the sixth, then stopped at every floor on the way down when nobody was even there.  So, all the girls were yelling at me like I somehow made the elevator retarded or something.  When we finally got off the elevator, we walked around for twenty minutes just to find the nearest bathroom.  While we were in there, we met an evacuee from New Orleans.  She said she had been sleeping on the floor the past two nights, but she finally found a place to stay…Then she randomly asked if we’d help her zip her skirt up.


We then piled back on the bus to head to the gym for our first match against Lafayette.  We arrived, got our bus injuries taped up, then warmed up for the match.  We’d scouted tape on Lafayette and knew that this was a beatable team if we took care of the ball on our side.  But we had a few short breakdowns, which gave them a run of points, and we didn’t pull out the win.


Defeated, I stared at the ground when I left the gym.  And it was a good thing, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen the lizard that jumped on coach’s shoe.  “Coach, I think a lizard just jumped on your shoe.”  She looked confused and glanced down at her feet.  “I don’t see anyth…”  Mid sentence she dropped everything she was holding and grabbed her calf.  “I think I got it, someone help me get it.”  Everyone around shook their head.  By this time it was up to her knee, so she ran to the bathroom and recruited help from a confused teammate in the hallway.  I walked in the bathroom just in time to hear the screams and see the tailless lizard dead on the floor.  Man, it was hilarious and I don’t think we’ll ever let her live that down.  We even made up a new dance move called “the lizard”.


When we got back to the hotel, we took the four hour elevator ride only to find more people in our new rooms, so we spent another twenty minutes in the lobby until everything got figured out and we were finally able to shower and crash for the night.


The next day we played La Tech and then Jackson State.  When we arrived at the gym, I thought it’d be fun to climb out the moon roof on the bus.  The only problem was that it wasn’t a moon roof.  But I pulled loose a few pins and it quickly became one.  Then I climbed on top of the bus for a few seconds before the excitement wore off, and then I dropped back into the bus.  I guess it was more of a fall really.  You see, to reach the roof of the bus, you have to climb up the three bunks.  Well, I was standing on the third one when I pulled the door closed, but the screws popped out, the door came loose and busted me in the face, and then I fell.  Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good when I stepped onto the court.


We ended up going four games with Tech, taking game three before they came back and won.  Jackson State went five games, our first five-game match of the season.  We pulled out the win to move our record to 3-4.  Overall, we had a good weekend.  We saw a lot of improvements and played some games that went over 30 points, which showed our mental toughness.  There are still some areas that need more work, but that’s the whole point of scheduling these tournaments.  By the time we reach conference play, we’ll have all the kinks worked out and be ready to take some matches.