What would a victory be without a trophy? We faced that awful question this week.
In the championship game, my daughter’s volleyball team battled their opponent and their nerves to win that coveted trophy, to claim the top honors in their division, and to cap off a successful and rewarding season that involved floor burns, mishits, turned ankles and all manner of emotional challenges as they went toe-to-toe with teams in gyms filled with exuberant fans.
Nothing went right in the beginning of the match. They gave away point after point, until the unflappable coach, whose only sign of anxiety was a few extra gulps of water, called timeout and told the team to relax and play their game.
They were down 12-2 in a 25-point game. Maybe, my wife and I thought, they’d make the first game respectable, get their bearings and then win the second and third games. The benefit of a best-of-three-game set is that they didn’t have to win the first game.
And then a funny thing happened on the way to a potential lopsided loss. They pulled themselves together and they made important shots that landed just inside the line. Momentum, which is such an intangible, shifted quickly, forcing the other coach to call a hasty timeout.
Ultimately, they won that first set, 25-23. The second set was closer throughout, but they also won that one, 25-20, leading to a euphoric celebration. They took turns holding a trophy, which had a volleyball figurine and a plaque.
The coach handed the trophy to my daughter, who was the captain. She cradled it like it was an infant, passing it gently to her teammates who posed for their own pictures with the team’s prize. She got to take the trophy home for the weekend. I drove her friend and her to a diner for some celebratory curly fries and raced home to relatives who were eating a wider variety of food.
After the meal, I offered to take Uncle Jordan, who had come out from the city, back to the train. My wife graciously suggested he sit in the front seat. As soon as he sat down, he asked, “Hey, what’s that?”
Yup, he sat on the trophy, wounding our daughter’s “baby.” When I turned on the light in the car, I saw that the figurine was still intact, but the plaque dangled at an angle.
Jordan laughed. Our son was in hysterics. My wife, who was in the back seat, laughed nervously, while I considered going into panic mode, wondering if I should call the factory in Singapore to ask it to ship another trophy overnight.
We thought about gluing the pieces back together, but that would be like bringing a messy art project to school. Maybe we could take it out of the car and run over it 20 times, and then say we lost it. No, destroying it wasn’t the answer.
“Take it to Home Depot,” Jordan suggested.
What if they couldn’t fix it? What would we tell our daughter?
When she got to our house that night, I did everything I could to keep her from asking about, or looking for, the coveted trophy.
The next morning, we raced to Home Depot, where a couple of good-humored men at the tool rental section got to work. Fortunately, they repaired it. When we returned, we shared the story with our daughter who laughed, too, even as she compared the pictures of the trophy from the night before to the rescued object in her hand. Somehow, like her team, the trophy endured.