Tracee Byrd: The Volleyball Life (9-13-05)
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nothing terribly exciting happened this week, but, I mean, excused absences from class, free food, and running 40 suicides…what more could you want?  We had our first papers and tests and continued to dodge sprinklers.  In fact, I actually made a friend this week when we dodged the sprinklers together.  This basketball player and I were sprinting across this bridge to avoid the water when it suddenly turned toward us.  I quickly ducked behind him and then dove into the grass and volleyball rolled up, losing my keys in the process.  He unfortunately caught a stream of water across his shirt as he was sprinting.  It seriously felt like a slow motion scene straight out of a war movie.  But now we’re friends, so I guess watering the sidewalks does serve some purpose. 


Anyway, the week started with a game scheduled for Monday night vs. Grambling.  We arrived at our gym to catch the bus and began packing and changing.  However, five minutes to departure, we found out that Grambling’s gym was being used to house Hurricane Katrina evacuees, so the game was cancelled.  Unfortunately, some of our parents had driven in to see the match and weren’t able to see us play.  But we weren’t going to waste a day, so we suited up for practice. 


Practice went as usual until we finished, and then Coach asked us to change into our running shoes and come back.  We usually always run in our court shoes, so we figured we were about to run outside or something.  Not knowing what we were about to be punished for, everyone started getting nervous and throwing accusations… “Did somebody say a cuss word?”  “Freshmen, did you not clean the bus?”  We started listing off things we’d usually have to run for, but we couldn’t figure it out.  So we hurried back, only to find out that half the team had broken curfew the night before.  So everyone had to run, and then those people had to run more.  It was pretty bad, but I think it definitely got the message across.  As college athletes, we have to live by a different set of rules than other college students.  Everything we do, from what we eat, to how long we study, to what time we go to sleep, is all regulated.  It’s just something you have to get used to.


The match was rescheduled for Wednesday and we finally got to play.  We went five games and eventually lost after we were up two games to none.  Coach was pretty upset with the way we played, as were we.  We stopped at Waffle House on the way back, because after our almost three-hour match, that was the only place open.  Steph and I picked out some songs on the jukebox, but everyone was so stingy with their laundry quarters that we never got to play them.  And as usual, I got my food last, but I was so hungry that by the time I got it, I had already eaten everyone else’s leftovers.


The next day we left for our tournament at North Texas.  We once again took the sleeper bus, where I once again found a way to get injured before the tournament.  At some points, it really felt like we were off-roading. And lucky for us, the bathroom was out of order.  We finally stopped, though, at what we thought was a restaurant. Little did we know that coach had a surprise planned for us.  When we got off the bus to eat, we weren’t at a restaurant; we were at Lili’s house.  Her mom had invited our team to have dinner there.  It was awesome.  Her house is amazing!  Lili’s closet is the size of my whole house, but I only got lost six times so it’s okay.  We also lost Coach’s baby’s sock.  After searching for over an hour, we finally found it in the trash can of all places.  So, we ate and ate and then had desert.  Then we climbed back on the bus for the rest of the trip, but not before Dani and Becca got into a 20-minute discussion over which shoes were theirs.


We only had one match the next day, so we had mandatory study hall that morning.  When we got to the gym, we got dressed and prepared for the game, which included most of our team standing in line in the training room.  I told the trainer I needed stim on my lower back, but for some reason she hooked the machine up to my butt cheek.  Oh yeah, and we had to walk three miles from our locker room across the campus to the gym.  But we warmed up and took that match against Prairie View in four games.


We played horrible against Wyoming but a lot better against North Texas.  Our biggest problem was our mental game, so Coach made that our focus in the next practice.  We did a drill that should have been easy, but required mental toughness.  We couldn’t push through the drill, so we kept doing it until we finished.  Every time we failed, we ran sprints, then started over.  It took us the entire practice and about 40 suicides (no exaggeration) before we finished.  By the time we were done, my jersey weighed 12 pounds, one side of my throat was stuck to the other, and I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand up straight.  Then I think I drank the entire water fountain’ supply of water, and it only made me feel worse.  But the drill really showed us what areas we struggle with and what we need to work on.  And hey, if we have to run 40 suicides every day, at least we’ll actually be able to fit into our uniforms.


Well, we have two more practices and then this weekend we head to Prairie View for our last tournament.  We hope to improve and take that match in three this time.  And Grambling will also be at the tournament, so we will definitely be getting some revenge.  Hopefully, by the end of this weekend, we’ll have met and surpassed our win total from last year.  So check back next week and see if we succeeded.