Coach Stacy, Head Coach Speedy VolleyballSeveral years ago, before the pandemic, I attended a party at my sister’s home in Virginia Beach. I didn’t know very many people so in order to help me feel more comfortable, my brother-in-law introduced me to several of his friends early in the evening. One of these friends was a single Mom who’s daughters played volleyball – how perfect!
He proudly introduced me as his sister-in-law who coaches youth volleyball in Maryland. We proceeded to talk all things volleyball (which I can do ALL NIGHT, the poor woman) and she mentioned her younger daughter was playing at Wisconsin. I clarified, “Wisconsin Badgers, really? Division 1, wow, that’s impressive!” I asked, how does one get there?  Now, I knew there was probably a lot of time and money invested on volleyball training, but I wanted to hear all about their volleyball journey and what it took to earn that spot.
At the time, I was a closet Badgers Volleyball fan. Being a Maryland Alumni, I couldn’t cheat out loud on my beloved Terps. But let’s face it, Big 10 Volleyball is as tough as it comes and playing against powerhouse programs like Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State, and of course Wisconsin will leave you with a few L’s on your schedule. Anyhow, I digress…I LOVE watching players like Lauren Carlini and Molly Haggerty battle their demons on and off the court.
From that day forward, I have followed her baby girl and an amazing collection of athletes on the Wisconsin Volleyball team. I proudly tote my 3 degrees of separation from my favorite Badger baller. For anyone who would listen, I would say, her Mom is friends with my brother-in-law! And now 5 years later, after all we’ve endured and learned, I find myself star struck by this 20 something college girl who shares a love for a game. Is this silly of me, being a grown woman of small stature who coaches at the very beginning levels of the sport? I just don’t care if it is. I want a seat around the campfire even if it’s a vicarious one.
I am so inspired by these “elite” athletes who sacrifice immediate gratification for the daily grind of their dreams. I eat up, consume their stories of hard work, loyalty, respect, and adversity because this is what makes the ordinary, extraordinary. I strive to understand what it takes to chase their ultimate dreams, to give your all and then some, for what some would say is unattainable. Because these players don’t care about the smoke – they want the fire!
I incorporate their lessons into my coaching Philosophy – that’s my seat at the campfire. If I can provide a spark in my young players…..what can they achieve? This is my why! And Danielle Hart could not have described it more perfectly in a recent blog post.  I can’t wait to see where the chase takes her next! 
Bringing all this back to my own reality, I can’t help but think of another young lady with the same last name, a player I have had the opportunity and pleasure to help train since she was in elementary school, who is about to take her game to the next level after winning a High School State Championship in her senior year.  Continue to chase your dreams through the smoke, play with fire and hart!  Thanks for a seat at the campfire!