Making the Cut

12/22/2011 09:20 am ET | Updated Feb 21, 2012

Trying out for a sport is testing. This year, I tried out for my school volleyball team. I've been playing volleyball for over three years now, and I thought I was good enough to make my high school's freshman volleyball team.

My school's varsity girls' volleyball team won the state championships last year, and expected to win it this year also. Lucky me -- I was trying to get on one of the volleyball teams at the highest-ranked school for volleyball in the state.

The first day of tryouts went well; it focused on basic skills such as passing and setting, and a little bit of hitting. On the court next to us, the junior varsity tryouts were also taking place. If we were good enough, we could move onto the JV court and be considered for the JV team. Some freshmen girls were already on the JV court, having gotten invites the week before.

I thought, hey, maybe I have a shot at the JV team. I set my sights that day on impressing the JV coach, who I could tell was watching me. Maybe the next day I would be moved up.

Sure enough, I made it! Three other girls moved up with me, and a few who were invited moved down. I thought I'd definitely make it on the freshman team now if I was on the JV court.

Three days later were the final cuts. Though I had only been on the JV court that one day, I was confident that I was getting on the team, and satisfied with my playing during tryouts week.

At school the next day, I got a text from my mom. The results were supposed to be online the night before, but they did not show up. I was almost afraid to look at the text from my mom; even though I was almost 100 percent sure I would make the team. I opened my phone, and gasped at the unexpected. 'You didn't make it, honey. I'm so, so sorry,' the text read.

'This better not be a prank,' I responded right away, through tears were in my eyes. But I knew it wasn't a prank; I just didn't believe it. That day when I got home, I didn't start my homework until almost bedtime. I just couldn't pay attention.

I just couldn't understand it.

I was frustrated and upset. I wanted to know exactly what I had done wrong, and why I didn't make it on the team. My previous club season had been all about preparing for the high school team. But I was sadly let down.

After failing to make the team or get the part, we wonder what happened. What could have possibly gone wrong? When I tried out for the school volleyball team, I thought I was definitely going to make the team I wanted. Unfortunately, I didn't. But I took the initiative to talk to the head coach, and ask why I didn't make the team. He gave me pointers, and I was able to improve myself before club volleyball tryouts. When tryouts came, I used the different pointers and I managed to get on the team I wanted, in no small part thanks to his advice.

Because I talked to the coach myself and took action, I learned from my mistakes. By learning from my mistakes, I was put on a high-level club volleyball team. Despite not making the school team, I made the club team because the coach was nice enough to tell, and interested enough to take the time to help me improve and prepare myself for the next opportunity.

I believe that is one of the smartest things you can do: when you don't make the team or get the part, ask why. Simply emailing or talking to the head coach or director will help you tremendously. If I hadn't asked for any constructive criticism, I likely wouldn't have made that next team. So don't just shrug it off when you don't get the part or make the team; take action!
I learned not to be overconfident -- but it's just as dangerous to be unconfident.

Overconfidence makes the letdown so much harder. But unconfidence is just not good in general. If you aren't smiling, aren't happy, and don't expect anything to come out of your audition or tryout, don't believe you're going to make the cut. When looking at a team or cast, do you ever see anyone not smiling, or throwing hateful glances every which way? No, because they were chosen for not only for their skills, but also for their enthusiasm.

No coach or director wants to deal with a negative person, even if they have valuable abilities and talents. So at your next tryout, be that person with the smile stretched from ear to ear, cheering on other people.

I was motivated from not making the school team. I realized that regardless of my major disappointment after not making the team, I could move on. I try to remember to ask myself: In five years, will this matter? The answer: probably not. Yet, I still strive for better, and I wanted to make the club team. After putting my best effort forward and using pointers from the experts, I made the team I wanted.

Thanks to all my extra practice, I made the 16 Area team for Diablo Valley Volleyball Club. I love my new coach, and my new team. I'm so glad I stuck with volleyball even after not making the school team; otherwise I wouldn't have this awesome opportunity to play a sport I love.