Bitten by a Wulff
Agonizing drops of sweat gradually seeped down the side of my face as I swiftly sprinted
towards another ball. It was the fourth and final day of the grueling boot camp, otherwise known
as Varsity volleyball tryouts. My high school’s volleyball team was known to be invincible, one
of the top ranked squads in Michigan for our division. Very few ever considered joining the
Varsity volleyball team; it mostly consisted of veterans, those that had been training since at least
I played volleyball once. I was one of the well respected superstars of the sixth grade
team. I was one of six starters and I was well known for my superb setting and serving skills. I
once served 11 out of 15 points during a championship game, helping my team win a trophy. As
seventh grade tryouts commenced, my stomach weakened when I did not hear my name called to
be a part of the team. It was the new coach that year, Mr. Wulff, who rejected me so heartlessly.
I still remember his enormous protruding lips uttering an apologetic speech to all those that did
not make the team as tears crept up from under my lower eyelids. I no longer desired to play
Why was I here, trying out for the team once again in eleventh grade? Mr. Wulff was still
the merciless coach, and I was still the stunted, scrawny girl that was discarded years ago. I had
dedicated so many hours over the past summer towards improving my volleyball skills; I
convinced my mom that it was imperative for me to go to a volleyball camp. I attended the camp
for an entire week, five hours a day of grueling drills that caused blisters to sprout on my heels
and redness to stain my arms. When volleyball camp commenced each day, I would scurry home
and haul my younger brother outside so that we could practice over our backyard volleyball net.
My brother and I would bump, set, and spike consistently for at least an hour and then
progress to serving. We would then take turns setting and spiking. When the sun became too hot,
weakening our bodies and scorching our faces, we would commence for the day and then return
in the evening to play along side the crickets and mosquitoes. At night, our backyard was vividly
lit by a gigantic streetlight, hovering over the volleyball net. My brother and I would begin our
routine once again, talking and laughing as we played. We went on like this for the entire
summer, almost every day, twice a day, a total of at least four hours a day. Even when my
brother was absent, I would hit the ball against the side of my house for a mere hour, building up
my arm strength. I was determined to excel at this sport that I once played so well; however, I
only had a thread of confidence that my hard work this past summer would help me shine at
Volleyball boot camp was a never-ending stream of push ups, sit ups, running, hitting,
serving and passing. My forearms were sunburn red by the end of each day and my thighs ached
and just screamed out for some rest. I couldn’t reveal how dreadfully exhausted I was feeling. I
had to run faster, jump higher and hit harder than the others because I was the only foreigner to
the Varsity team. I had to justify my worth. I wanted to show Mr. Wulff what a huge mistake he
made eliminating me from the team so many years ago.
Three thunderous smacks resonated throughout the gym; it was Wulff dismissing his
troop for the day. All the girls pranced on over to the corner of the gym that contained their
heaps of sweatshirts, water bottles and purses. As I was trudging towards the corner, my shirt
soaked with beads of sweat and my hands sticky from perspiration, I heard a thick, robust voice
bellow out my name; Wulff wanted to chat. The instant I heard his voice, a thin layer of ice
covered my body, goose bumps rising to the surface of my skin. I reluctantly turned around only
to see Wulff beckoning me with his stubby, old hands. My feet did not want to move; they feared
that Wulff would only utter disheartening news to me once again.
As I sluggishly hauled my body towards Wulff, thoughts flashed in and out of my head.
Why was he singling me out? Was I really that unskilled? I’d worked so hard to play at the level
of the other girls, what more could I have done? What does he have against me? By the time I
was about five steps away from him, the tears were already built up and just waiting to creep out
of my eyelids. The ball in my throat had grown to the size of a tennis ball; I could hardly breathe.
I inhaled hard and pushed the tennis ball and tears back.
I stood looking up at his thick glasses and abnormally wide nose that had nostrils the size
of golf balls. His inflated lips flapped and his speech began. There was a full three seconds of
excitement that rushed throughout my body when I heard him mumble that I was a hard working
decent player; then the pleasure came to an abrupt halt with the single word “but.”
The tennis ball grew in my throat again. This time I could not swallow it back down. I
tried to mask my emotion of fear and dismay with a weary smile and pathetic giggle. He
chuckled uncomfortably, his stale, heavy breath washing over my face.
“Kathleen deserves the open spot on Varsity,” he said.
I could feel my face immediately flash bright red, burning with anger and resentment
towards Mr. Wulff and Kathleen. I couldn’t even hear what else he was mumbling at me;
irritating thoughts just kept scratching my brain. Kathleen was a sophomore and I was a junior.
She did not even try out for Varsity; she was on the junior varsity team. Why was she so special?
Her skill level was identical to mine.
“Even though you don’t technically deserve to be on the team, I will hold a spot
for you. That is, if you want to put in all your effort and time into the team; however, I cannot
guarantee you playing time. If you choose to accept this offer then I will see you at practice on
Monday,” he said.
His icy, aloof comment left me frozen, unable to move as he hobbled away. I felt as if he
had just punched me in the stomach and laughed at me with his arrogant, loud bellowing voice.
The tennis ball progressed into a sharp knife, marring my throat. The tears under my eyelids just
down poured onto the gym floor.
I had never felt so worthless in my life. Letting me join the team was an act of charity.
After all my hard work, countless hours of practice and dedication, Wulff still bit me, injuring
my self-esteem and confidence. All I could do was clean out the wound, put a bandage on it, and
prove to Wulff that he did not scare me and that I could not be injured so easily. After playing a
successful season of volleyball that year, Wulff begged me to join the team my senior year. I
heartlessly declined his offer.