The Southern Vance High School varsity volleyball team, located in Henderson, Nort Carolina, won only 3 of their 20 games in the 2015 season. As with any high school team juggling schoolwork, part-time jobs and transitioning to adulthood, their focus and motivation varied from game to game but they shared a strong bond as a team and call each other family.
The team started off the year with a brand new coach, Coach Tracie Twine, and some players left the team because they didn’t like her coaching style. By the end of the season, the transition seemed to have settled in, leaving a tight knit core group of players. Junior, Ayeshia Teasley said "We really played together, like really well and as a team. They really became like really my sisters."
Like any family, they help each other out. Two or three of the girls would braid everyone’s hair before each game and girls often brought extra socks or knee pads for their team mates that forgot them. Senior Shiquasha Williams said, "We got along very well, it was a nice vibe with each other."
"We were around each other a lot,” said Senior Brittany West. “Volleyball… unlike a lot of other sports, we don't have a lot of time in our season, realistically compared to other seasons. Having to learn everyone's buttons, that was like the hardest thing. You know, learning how everybody was."
“It's kind of like sisters,” said Junior Kendall Harris. “One minute you're all happy and chipper and the next minute you're like man I want to kill you kind of thing. So it's a love hate relationship. We love each other but sometimes I'm just like ‘You go be in your corner, I'll be in mine’."
Most of the girls worked part time jobs in addition to being full time high school students and participating in several sports. They did their homework in the stands before games and leaned on each other for help in subjects where they were struggling. Often they didn’t get to eat dinner before their games, and would complain about how tired and hungry they were because they’d been up late doing work the night before and hadn’t eaten much since breakfast.
Despite a long losing streak throughout most of the season, the girls always showed up enthusiastic and positive before for each game. As the game started to go poorly, you could see them struggling to maintain their focus and keep a good attitude. "I think in the beginning, learning how to work together and learning how to stay together was the biggest part, irregardless of how the game was going or the outcome of the game,” said Senior Brittany West. "I think that is the biggest thing, staying consistent, that was a really big frustration for us as a team. Consistency was really hard for us to achieve, and thats what I think made everyone so frustrated."
Many of the girls on the team were part of pre-college programs and some of them, including Freshman Kierra Gray, were already being scouted by college volleyball programs.
"At the beginning of the season there was a lot of problems,” said Junior Kendall Harris. “There were certain people that we started out with and then they decided, like, I don't know... they didn't like some of us or I don't know they didn't like how our coach was coaching us. At first we started out like we were really frustrated with one another and we were just like kind of mad at everything."
“As the season went on it got better,” said Junior Kendall Harris. “We learned to work with each other, and I think that's one of the best things. When you start off working with a team you don't, you're not for sure how it's going to go and how it's going to play out. I Guess that's why it feels like a family, because you work with each other so long that you just, you bond."