This evening I participated in my second volleyball banquet as freshman team coach for De Smet Jesuit high school. The banquet is a time where the coaches, players, managers and parents come together to share a meal and reflect on the past season, thank the outgoing seniors for their years of dedication and great play in the volleyball program, and look forward to the next season of volleyball.
Our varsity team this year was very close to winning the state championship, and had the best record for a 4A school in St. Louis. Our JV team only lost to three teams, and our freshman team was 13-2 in the regular season, placing 2nd in their first tournament and winning the second. It was an awesome year, and I'm very proud of all the players who put their hearts into every game this season.
What I was most proud of, though, was the exemplification of Ignatian spirituality in all levels of De Smet Volleyball. Our players were gracious in both victory and defeat, and they would often take a negative play or experience on the court and turn it into a positive, often game-changing play the next point. Nobody's perfect, and sometimes our players would show their distaste for a ref's call, but our team, bench, and fans were quick to calm each other down and refocus on the next point.
I think this year's volleyball team displayed grace and dignity in their actions. As in everything, it is my hope that they continue to remember the following, from Ignatius of Loyola:
All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.