COLUMN: Thanks for the memories, St. Joseph volleyball team
St. Joseph High School varsity volleyball claimed the title of state runners-up after a loss to Carrollton Prince of Peace in Saturday's TAPPS Class 4A State Volleyball Championship match at Corsicana High School.
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CORSICANA - It's no mystery that this Southeast Texas girl is new to the world of sports reporting.
Though I've covered everything from three-ring circuses to grisly car crashes, I had never sat in a press box until August.
I also have never been able to follow a team on its quest for a state title and be allowed to see exactly what its members have to go through to get there.
Earlier last week, we at the Victoria Advocate knew there was a good chance I would be driving to Corsicana to watch the St. Joseph Lady Flyers fight for the TAPPS 4A state volleyball championship for a second straight year.
Never having covered a state-level event, I was pretty excited from the get-go. The cheers would be louder, the pressure more intense and the emotions would be at a rocket level.
I didn't realize how invested one could get in covering something like this.
On Friday, photographer Angeli Wright and I joined the girls on the volleyball team, their coaches, family and friends at an entertainment complex in town. Some of the girls were riding go-karts, while others were playing games in the arcade.
The smiles were contagious, and the nerves were palpable. The group continued the fun to a restaurant called Sirloin Stockade later (complete with a giant cow in the front).
During dinner, the girls talked about the previous night's game, their season up until that point and how they were going to leave everything on the court.
For five of them, it would be their final game.
Bringing that up brought tears to anyone in earshot.
Though the St. Joseph football team had a game in San Marcos on Friday night (in which it beat San Marcos Academy 41-7), many of the players drove directly afterward to watch their "sisters" play Saturday morning.
"We got in about 1:30 a.m., went to sleep at about 1:45 and woke up at 7 a.m. to get here by 8:30," said Flyer defensive player A.J. Calvo. "It's all worth it. We're all brothers and sisters, and we had to come out here to experience this."
That sense of community and classmate love has amazed me all season with this school. No matter how the teams were doing, the outpouring of support never wavers.
Coming from a community in which football is king, I was taught at an early age to "bleed purple" and never stop believing in the school's teams.
That sentiment is reflected in St. Joseph's community, and it's refreshing.
After the team lost, there were tears in the eyes of the players, their coach, Allyson Griffin, and some parents in the stands.
But the cheers didn't cease. The Pit was in full swing, something that Calvo said will continue into basketball and spring sports.
"I love our Flyer family being out here; everybody laughs when I say that we would have all 300 kids here if we could," Calvo said.
In his second trip to state to support Lady Flyer volleyball, Calvo knows this is a unforgettable memory for all involved.
"You make those high school memories with the people you love and people you'll remember," he said. "I think it means a lot to them for us to be here."
As a newcomer to the world of cleats, statistics and live-tweeting games, this has been an unforgettable experience for me as well.
As Fall Out Boy sang, "thanks for the memories," and congrats on a great season.