If you had asked me in late August about the potential of this volleyball team being in the state championship game at the end of the season, if I’m being completely honest, I would have said “no way.” Little did I know, however, that the Lord had something in store for us that would not only lead us to, as we called it, “The Big House,” but also to Mission: Accomplished.
Let’s go back to our very first game at Hill Murray where we started the season out with a loss. I still remember myself and teammate Erin Fallert talking with the coaches afterwards trying to figure out what went wrong. After a long discussion, I said, “we have to remember it’s only our first game. Yes, we were like deer in the headlights, but we can’t change that, what matters now is how we respond.” And let me tell you, we responded well...
The next eleven out of twelve games we came out on top. We were undefeated in conference. We took home the Class 5AA trophy. However, this was no cake walk. We did lose 7 games throughout the season, but with each game we learned something that prepared us for where we would end up, always taking a step forward. Day after day Coach Duis would stress the importance that there was a purpose behind every single ball we touched. Every serve, every pass, every hit, every set; it was the little things that would set us apart. We were dedicated to each other and to the mission of the team.
Although we experienced success throughout the season, we more importantly found success in the why of what we were doing. Every girl on this team understood that it was not about us, but rather it was all about God and His mission for us. During the season we adopted the theme "Mission: Possible," which comes from Matthew 19:26 that says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Our mission was to be beacons of God in all that we did, on and off the court and to carry that role for as long as we could.
This family of 13 women who shared a common goal, who were on a mission for the Lord, and whose middle name was “competitive" will remain in my heart forever. And although we may not have won the state title, we won something far greater: having the opportunity to shine God’s light while playing a game we love. I believe that is a Mission: Accomplished.
Concordia Academy senior Anika Neuman is a member of the Beacons volleyball team. On November 12, the team took second place (for the second year in a row) in Section AA at the Minnesota State Volleyball Tournament.
Sometimes I wonder if being a “CA lifer” (and the school principal) makes me biased. Our Beacon ladies recently gave us three days of fantastic volleyball as they advanced to the championship game of the State Volleyball Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. I left that tournament absolutely convinced that our girls and our student fans were by far the most spirit filled, enthusiastic, and overall “classiest” of all the schools represented.
Our students cheered like crazy, but they were all positive cheers; they encouraged our girls, never mocking the other team or their fans. Our fans were respectfully quiet when the other teams served, only to erupt again when we made a great save or hammered home another point. And I smiled with pride when, during the awards presentation, our girls, who had just lost the championship game, showed exceptional sportsmanship by walking over to shake the hands of the opposing team as they received their gold medals. I saw no other losing team do this during the other award ceremonies. But, as I said, perhaps I’m biased.
Or am I?
After Friday night’s game, as I was walking with my family to the parking lot, we happened to end up walking next to a young family with two young girls. The mother, noticing our Beacon clothing, said to me, “So, you’re a Concordia family. I bet you like your school.” “We do,” was my less-than-profound response. “Wow,” she said. “Just seeing your girls and your students cheer, they were awesome. It makes us want to be part of your school!” We talked some more and then eventually parted, with the family saying they’d take me up on my offer to visit CA and watch many of these same girls play basketball.
These parents had told me that they came to the tournament simply to show their girls what good volleyball looked liked. But I know that, because of our students, they left as fans of Concordia Academy.
I’m not biased. Our students are, in fact, awesome!