Let’s Not Talk About Kevin*

(But obviously, I am about to talk about him.)

Summer is my official volleyball season. I play on two different outdoor leagues from May til Sept, and just like my ski-bunny winter ways, the warm weather and sunshine makes me long to bump/set/spike til the sun sets. And I am happy to do it all day, errday.

During this Spring season, we picked up a random addition to our Monday night 4’s league. Kevin* was a total shot in the dark, but had some good skills and seemed like a solid player. As the season went on however, I found myself losing patience with him.

And if you know me, you will know I tend to wear my heart on my face, so I perhaps wasn’t the most stealthy with my feels.

I did some things I’m not proud of.


(Not this. Ha, I WISH I could get over the net for a spike.)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

So even I can admit that when I go full on jock-mode, I can be a bit, errrrr, touchy.

I do try to be nice. And patient and understanding and helpful. I have done a bit of coaching in my life and always enjoyed it.

And though I am competitive, it manifests itself, 99% of the time, in internal competitiveness. I want to be the best I can be. I get frustrated with myself when I know I can personally do better. It is very rare for me to become snappy with my teammates.

There is, however, one thing that will get me every single time.

That one thing that pushes my buttons and turns me into a snarky, frustrated, sports-zilla.

When people don’t try, it drives me up a wall.

Via: averagebro.com
Via: averagebro.com

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I remember playing on a co-ed softball team the summer after my freshman year in college. It was a difficult transition for me, since I had spent the previous six years playing on an extremely competitive year-round fast pitch league.  Shifting from playing with people who received full ride softball scholarships to a mixed age and gender conglomeration of varying athletic prowess was… well… very hard.

I had to learn to tone it down. I had to get accustomed to not being surrounded by other jock-mode 18 year olds in the prime of physical condition. And the ones who helped me the most were a couple of the uncoordinated wives.

If you have ever played in an adult co-ed league of any sort, you are probably familiar with the challenge of finding enough ladies willing to show up and play. In our case, several of the wives had been recruited simply so we could make our minimums.

Let me put this bluntly: They were terrible. Not athletic, no muscle, no coordination and no softball background, or any sports in some cases.

But darn it if these ladies didn’t give it their all. They seriously, if unsuccessfully, tried their absolute best to be contributing members of our team… practicing, asking for tips, and never losing the smiles on their faces even after the most horrendous of whiffs at the plate.

They were awesome. Somehow, simply by their sincere effort, they were immune from my competitive frustration.

You cannot be mad at someone who is trying their hardest. Even when they fail.

Via: worldofvolley.com
Via: worldofvolley.com

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Look, I am not playing in the top division or anything. But I am also not playing in the “let’s get drunk and not keep track of the score” league either. I am somewhere solidly in the middle. Most the people I see on the volleyball court are in good shape and you bump/set/spike whenever possible. There are rules, and you abide by them. And you keep score. And you try hard.

Yes, the point is still to have fun, duh.

(Full disclosure, doing your best is fun to me.)

In 4×4 volleyball, being out of position is a problem. It’s not like 6’s where there’s another player two feet away. And playing in a semi-competitive league, people will look for holes and aim for them. There is strategy to this whole shebang.

As the weeks went by, I started to notice a pattern with Kevin. He was constantly out of position.  And the worst part was that he knew it. When I would gently mention the fact that he was out of position, (at first… I was really nice at first. The 87th time, maybe not so much.) he would say “Oh yeah! That’s right! I know.”

I constantly felt like going all Happy Gilmore on him, “Go to your home!! Are you too good for your home?!?!?”

This built up and built up, and I began to long for June (and the season) to end.

And my ability to be patient and kind and everyone’s cheerleader evaporated.

via: rantlifestyle.com
via: rantlifestyle.com

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now I managed to keep it vaguely light and fluffy… oh I’m just the silly team captain always hollering about being in position.

But I wasn’t kidding. I wasn’t joking. And I certainly wasn’t happy or having much fun.

It wasn’t as if he wasn’t a good volleyball player. It wasn’t as though he was inexperienced or dumb. When he was paying attention, he really was very good. But then he would stop listening. And stop moving. And stop trying.

And I don’t do well around that.

The passive side of my passive-aggressive nature won out though. I was never explicitly a jerk to him. I never screamed or truly reprimanded him. Does that make it any better?

But I quietly seethed. I verbally shut down. I stopped trying to be friends with him. And I let it effect my play and my attitude and my own enjoyment.

via: loving-community.com
via: loving-community.com

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Maybe Kevin was really trying, all the time. Maybe I am just a total jerk-face.

I need to learn to always be a nice, generous person. I need to be more empathic.

I need to not let that sports-zilla aspect come out and bring along the sarcastic-but-not-in-a-nice-funny-way side of my personality. I don’t like that side of me.

I need to be more patient and kind.

via: kashflow.com
via: kashflow.com

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

On my new 4’s team, everyone is better than me.

Seriously, I am surrounded by people with mad volleyball skills. I’m sure I look lazy and sloppy and like I am not paying attention sometimes. I am trying my hardest though, and thus far my team has been nothing but supportive.  No one has yelled at me about not digging out a spike or for not being in the right place at the right time.

They are all patient and kind.

Thanks for the real-world example, Life. 

I’ll try and do better.

Via: cev.lu
Via: cev.lu

*Not his actual name. But seems like bad karma to use real names when you are bad-mouthing someone.

Okay, bad-mouthing people isn’t great karma either. 

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