Making Hard Choices…

This post gets personal and touches on mental health a little bit.  I will put a disclaimer on here of everything that is stated is my personal perception and I acknowledge that it might not even be true…But feelings and interpretations without conversations to support contradictory statements are valid and should be acknowledged.

Last spring thanks to the world of COVID and pandemics, the collegiate volleyball season was in the spring rather than in the fall as women’s volleyball is a fall sport.  Here in Wyoming, in fall of 2020, there were some accommodations and changes but we had our high school sports seasons as standard.  I officiate volleyball and love that I am able to provide expertise on a subject I am passionate about, love that I am able to interact with the girls, without the drama of being their coach, and know that through my efforts, Wyoming volleyball is improving.  

With the delayed season for college, I had a great opportunity present itself and I leapt in full force both feet and started down the path to become a collegiate level volleyball official.  I was contacted to help officiate a junior college tournament being held in Riverton and went over to assist.  It was amazing, and to be able to perform my hobby on such a high level year round elated me and my mind filled with potential and possibilities. 

The atmosphere, officiating styles, cadences and rhythms fit my personal style and I knew then and there I had found where I really belonged in the volleyball officiating world and I was going to do absolutely everything I could to adapt to knowingly combine those two world of high school and college as I have to commit to helping the high school in Wyoming due to the dearth of officials who can officiate at the higher varsity levels.

I had the privilege of working three tournaments and three matches over the course of the spring 2021 season and loved it.  I was getting arrangements made and preparing to try and figure out scheduling for the fall season…but there were already some wrenches being thrown into the plans.  High school fall sports start scheduling officials for fall sports nearly immediately following the previous fall season.  SO I already had four two day tournaments scheduled, and additional two planned to work for post season and about five or six JV/ varsity combo matches where my partner and I would work the Junior Varsity match, switch positions and then do the varsity match.  Additionally, training sessions and meeting are required and the closest one was five hours away.

All of the requests are completely understandable and similar requirement are in place for high school…But I also starting with the summer training had some choices to make.  You see, for my current real job, I try to and have to schedule my vacations and let not just my coworkers know, but more accurately industry know when I am not going to be available and in the office.  We had planned our vacation more than 6 months before and the date of the training session would be on the last day of our vacation, our travel home day.  I had a choice to make in that regard.  Now the closest training session was not the only training session but by not going to the “local” training in Denver, Colorado…I knew that I likely was not going to be able to make it to the required training. 

At this point I knew that in a way, I had to make a choice.  Cut my vacation short by two days, one to travel home and another to travel to Denver, go to the training and be eligible to officiate volleyball for college in the fall or acknowledge that this is a selfish endeavor that impacts more than me and that I should stay on vacation with the people that really matter, especially the Dogfather.  At that point when I looked at things like that, the decision at that junction became easier but the mental repercussions hit hard.

I was letting people down.  People I thought that needed me I was disappointing, showing a lack of commitment and laisse faire attitude which could not be farther from the truth.  But my relationship with the Dogfather is more important and it’s not fair to him to have a hobby of mine impact the quality of his vacation time. 

I let them know that I couldn’t come to the training but would investigate rural training options.  Now fortunately NCAA is savvy enough to know that even with the plethora of training opportunities, there are going to be some officials serving rural locations that just can’t make it to a formal in person training and I qualified as one of those people.  But there is more to the story…obviously…

While I could not make it to one training there was going to be an on court training that I was signed up for and was excited to travel down to Colorado for with my high school partner to get some higher level training opportunities.  But fate was not on my side…My sister in law who still technically was living with us but was living more with her boyfriend got COVID…and we had close contact.  I found out 3 days before the training…I couldn’t go…And I consistently tested negative.

In addition to the scheduling that occurred throughout the summer I had every Thursday, Friday, Saturday booked from August 27-November 6, in early July, our agency supervisor retired and there remains to this day almost nine months later the workload burdens of having one less person here, and that includes the work load that I have.   Therefore between my job that pays the bills, high school volleyball, middle school volleyball, helping out at the local rec center, I had no time for college and it killed me as I felt like a failure, disappointment and that I was letting people that needed me down.

Once the fall season started though, it is a two month blur.  When I did my taxes for travel purposes, I traveled over 15,000 miles in 2021 for volleyball which blew my mind.  It’s an amazing fun blur but it’s a blur none the rest and going full speed 7 days a week for 2 months; you are ready for a break come mid November.

I already have tournaments planned, matches committed to for fall 2022 and about a month ago I received a text message.  The message asked me my plans for being able to make it to trainings and pursuing my college certs in lieu and dropping my Wyoming commitments.  But this time it was a lot easier…I am NEEDED to help the schools here or else they might not have matches…I am NEEDED to help answer questions for the club volleyball that is trying to develop here and to the extreme that the Wyoming board for club volleyball wants me to become their president for next year.  I can make a profound impact on my local community and help start things that otherwise would not be able to start here…in Wyoming.

I have to be present for my family more importantly.

With college officiating, there’s enough people who are wanting and willing to come and officiate in Wyoming for our junior colleges.  Their matches aren’t going to be cancelled.  They’ll be fine.

But If I can help spark the interest of a girl in a sport I am impassioned about, make the sport fun for these youth and enable them to have matches through my presence that might not happen or not be held to the quality levels that officiating will help them to improve; I need to be here for my home state.

I told my contact that between real job workloads and need to help out where I feel I am really needed, that I would be continuing my education on the higher level, that I would be continuing to work on becoming the best official I can be, but I would not be pursuing NCAA certification.  I haven’t heard back.

It hurt initially that I had no response, that something I had invested so much time and passion for, that I cried over missing trainings and not being able to make it to meetings…

But it proves I made the right choice, and I honestly harbor no animosity, they have to ensure the certifications of those who will be able to make it and cover those matches at the NCAA and JNCAA levels and I’m not that person.  Coming to terms with this choice put so much stress and pressure on me last fall that I cried, I was torn, I felt so many emotions but so glad that I made the choices I did.

Ultimately, the choice you make has to be what is best for you even if it’s the hard one.  You can do it and it may take time to get there, but you will know if it’s the right choice or not.  Take care of yourself, physically and more importantly, mentally.

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