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Positive Players Keep a Season on the Rise

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s game point against Wells. A sticky gymnasium goes silent. All eyes intently watching the server. One whistle, one toss, one hit, and a roar of voices as the ball goes over the net. All six Trojan players hold their breath and stare waiting to see if the ball will come back over to their side. Wells gets it back over, and now it is all up to the trojans to end it. Winning this game against Wells, a seventh place team, would move the team up in standings for the state, and shock a stand full of fans. The Thornton team revelled in the hard fought victory, not knowing yet, how precious it would be in this rough season with only one win.

The volleyball team has been around for five seasons, starting back in 2012. They started off with two first teams, no varsity or JV. This means the varsity team has only been around for four seasons, starting up in 2013. Overall, they have had 19 wins and 38 losses throughout the four seasons as a varsity team.

Back in 2013 during their first year, they had a season record of 1-13. The following season their record was 5-9 and last year they improved leaps and bounds to a 12-3 record. That winning year made their uphill battle this season when they had a 1-13 record again especially hard to take. In 2013, they were building the varsity program from scratch. During this 2016 season they were back to rebuilding it again because ten players had graduated last year. Coming back after a successful season they now had tremendous pressure to be deliver big wins. They had to figure out new positions and improve their skills to fill empty spaces. They battled to overcome adversity and stress, often feeling tired and helpless when the games got difficult. It is hard for a team to not get down on themselves with so much pressure. Although, many say that this team showed perseverance unlike any other –coming back after tough defeats, trying their best during the next game, and never giving up.

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Sophomore Laura Fortier

Sophomore Laura Fortier is a strong player and shows her aggression on the court.

“My favorite part of volleyball is hitting the ball down people’s throats. I enjoy winning,” Fortier said.

Her teammate, a junior, Noelle Michaud also loves to win but said, “I think the years leading up to me being on a varsity team have helped me become the player that I am today, but I think that I have really found myself as a volleyball player this year.”

Even with so much confidence in their own skills, their confidence in the team was shaky. They came into the volleyball season with mixed feelings. The team had a new coach and had to adjust to new roles since so many people graduated last year. After winning the playoffs last fall, starting fresh was daunting. Fortier said she felt, “upset because a lot of them I was really close with and they were very good mentors.”

The remaining and new members of the team initially struggled on and off the court as they worked through differences of opinions in the absence of previously strong leaders. It has been a developing year for the team and as a result everyone has had to make more of an effort to work together.

Michaud is proud of how the team has been able to come together despite the challenges and differences of opinion. “There is a sense of family with the team that we have and that is one of my favorite things about this season. We work really hard to overcome adversity,” Michaud says.

This year was not only hard on the girls but for the new coach as well. He has to make an effort to prepare himself and the girls for any situation on the court. He never played volleyball before, but Fortier thinks that given his lack of experience on the court, he did a very good job. Even with such a hard season, the coach never gave up on them. Michaud agreed that their coach helped them feel more confident throughout the transition.

Mid-season Noelle said, “I think it is cool having a new coach on varsity because it gives us fresh ideas. He is learning and we are learning. I think it is turning out pretty well.”

Corey Huot, the varsity head coach admitted that the lack of experience on their team led to a tough season. “17 out of 18 of our players hadn’t competed above the JV level before this season, so I think that was a big adjustment for everyone,” Huot said. They planned to rebuild, develop techniques and chemistry amongst the players, and stay competitive.

The team grew from their mistakes and competed the best they could. “Most of our games ended around the 25-18 mark. We weren’t finishing games, but we weren’t being blown out every night either,” Huot stated.

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Junior Noelle Michaud

This season they focused on trying to improve and gain confidence back. Although, playing some outstanding teams made that a challenge. Many of  the teams they played were “phenomenal”, Fortier said, “walking past their trophy cases I can see all the state championships they have had, which can definitely be very intimidating.”

Even losing 13 games and playing these winning teams, these girls never stopped believing in themselves. The scores were not telling of who they actually were as a team. “I feel that some of games that we did lose were actually wins in our hearts. Some we won mentally but the score says otherwise,” Fortier said.

Every game, no matter the score, this team fought hard. People believed they would be awful and they would get crushed every game. “We hit double digits in a lot of games that we didn’t expect to pass five,” Fortier said, “I think that because we have been surprising people, the teams we are about to play do not know what to expect.”

Having so many losses was hard but their will to win paid off. One win against Wells helped the team gain some of that confidence back. Michaud and Fortier felt very good about the win. Michaud in particular said, “I think it brought up the team and gives us a sense of confidence.” The team had been through a losing streak and they were happy that the streak has ended when they won the game. For this game in particular they “did all the little things needed to win,” Huot said, “The girls communicated, transitioned well, and had controlled passes.”

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Coach Huot

Huot said, “What I’ll always appreciate about this team is that they never bought into their record. When most teams drop to 0-5, 0-8, 1-10, etc., they stop believing in their ability. I don’t think this team ever felt like they couldn’t compete.”

After a tough season, the team looks at what the future holds for them. Fortier said, “I feel next season is going to go very well, soon we will have played a few seasons together and that is important. You need to be able to trust your teammates and play together for a while. Next year moving forward we will have a better grasp.”

Fortier and Michaud both stated, “In the end we are a family.”

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