I don’t know how to wrap up all these years of volleyball for Claire.

I don’t know how to wrap up volleyball for our whole family for that matter.

This sport has been such a big chunk of life for us around here. There have been years when it has felt like we have been fully submerged in this sport for crying out loud!

From those years watching Max grow into himself on that court. Two years of college volleyball too, the hype and excitement.

And then Claire picking up where he left off. Growing from the child we thought would be the tiniest in the family (back in her gymnastics days), to almost catching Elle in height. (Oh and we can’t forget Elle’s volleyball team in junior high and Grace’s reign as the volleyball team manager in the same junior high a couple years later!:)

All those tournaments that have flung us far and wide.

All the decisions for which club to join.

Dave and I looking at each other with our eyes so wide, in awe of the plethora of emotion on those courts filled with hundreds of girls at Claire’s first big girls club tryout day. Yow, right then we realized girls volleyball was a whole new ballgame from boys! (SO many more teams, so many more choices, and because of this, so much more competition.)

All those coaches and all those teammates who have taught my children so much.

The heartbreak of losses, the glory of teamwork, and of course, the agony of sometimes trying to figure out that teamwork!

All the highs and lows mixed in together.

And this last weekend was the culmination of all that.

The last.

Nationals for Claire.

You see, after much thought and worry and stress, leading to peace, Claire has decided not to play college volleyball.

It was such a tough decision for her, so many pros and cons, so much talking to coaches (that has been such a cool process I have to say).

But she made her choice, and a couple weeks ago we had a little huddle prayer together, just the two of us, before the scheduled time when the Point Loma coach was calling for her final decision.

She was a ball of nerves going in, but came out like this:


Of course, as our bishop has wisely counseled Claire deep in her decision-making mode: there are no dead ends. You can always change your course if you decide differently, but the important thing is to keep moving. Keep progressing.

And right now she has decided that that progression for her looks like heading to college without a volleyball attachment. Which is awesome.

But also sad.

So sad.

Because as you may know, we don’t like to say goodbye to things around here 😉

Life has been in such constant motion we haven’t had a chance to dwell on the end drawing near.

It feels like Claire has been in tournaments practically every weekend. And OH! She has had the best club season.

She adores these girls and they adore her too.

But suddenly there we were getting ready for Nationals this last weekend. (Nationals for 18-year-olds is earlier than it is for everyone else since so many of these girls are committed and need to be working with their college teams by the time regular Nationals rolls around in July.)

And then we were standing in that cavernous convention center, the familiar volleyball courts stretching as far as the eye can see, at home with all the extremely tall people meandering around, watching our girl play in her very last matches.

Her team qualified for the “Open” division of Nationals, which is the very top tier in the country.

While this was a big honor, being counted amidst the very top teams, it also meant they were playing against the very best of the best.

And they sure fought hard.

We drove back and forth from that convention center 72 times (ok, that’s just what it felt like, it was probably more like six or seven) in those three days, and watched volleyball match after volleyball match.

We so lucked out that Nationals happened to be in our own home town this time around with everything else, because it was intermixed with Lucy’s big MCO concert (a practice one night, the real-deal the next two nights…more on that tomorrow).

And a baby shower for my niece.

And PROM (which was a stress in and of itself as explained back in that prom post yesterday over HERE).

Loved that one day we got to watch with Nana and Papa:

And love that this awesome big sister was here to be with us in all the hype:

All the while watching this team work together and have so much fun while they were at it.

Love these pics when these sisters were heading out after the last match of the day making up a game plan as to how they were going to pull of prom prep in the little window of time they had left:

Love them.

Back at it for the end of the end:

They sure fought hard but lost that single-elimination the last day.

All those seniors with so many years of volleyball under their belts…some heading off for more in colleges all over the place, and others opting out, simple college bound…all hugging and grateful.

….Grateful for the time they had in these formative years of life playing the best sport in the world (a little biased I know:) and learning so many great life lessons along the way.

One last teary team huddle:

The moms all wore our daughters numbers:

(Those are rockstar moms up there I have to say!)

So strange, but as we were standing there hugging up, half of the lights at the convention center went out.

And then they came back on, then went out again.

A few times. They had to stop play so many times that finally on one court both teams sat down in a circle and started playing some sort of game. When other courts saw what they were doing, they all started running over too until there was such a huge circle….all different teams, all different levels, just joining together. It was a sweet moment.

Love these coaches who, like all Claire’s coaches before, have been such incredible influences:

And sure love this volleyball girl of ours forever:

Thanks for taking us on such a fun ride, Claire Bear.

Other volleyball posts:

pandemic volleyball

end of high school and a big decision on to club

a volleyball recruiting trip to NYC

a cute new member of the BYU volleyball team

college kids are fun and some volleyball excitement

the finale of high school volleyball (Max), and a good-luck bracelet

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  1. I think I missed the college decision post. Is she going to Point Loma, but not playing volleyball there? She will thrive wherever she goes! Congratulations on making it so far in the tournament.

    1. It’s kind of jumbled in up there at the beginning of this post but now I’m realizing I said she decided against playing volleyball in college but I didn’t say where she decided to go: she has decided to attend Utah Valley University up in Provo. Such a tough decision but totally hers and we support her! Excited for her to be there with Grace and Max & Abby and so many cousins.

      1. Would love to hear about her decision making process. Maybe a guest post? Why is everyone going to UVU? They want to live in Provo? There are so many choices out there in the world!

          1. Here is the thing. The church has this great deal on tuition. You could have an average act score and got there in the 80’s early 90’s. But with family size not every child can get in cause there are too few spaces. So the church decided to open up another school in Idaho but people still want to live in Utah. Especially those never having lived in Utah. It’s almost like a class system within the church. Also being Utah it’s school that understand things like missions/interruptions in education, marriage and parenthood during the college years and they will be surrounded by likeminded people all thinking of marriage in the next 6 years. It’s a perfectly fine place to attend.

        1. Jenny also & Missy, I know! So many choices! And we sure tried to expose her to as many of them as we could. But in the end she just felt best about this one. I’m not holding my breath on a guest post from her about this, I barely see her with all her senior stuff, but maybe one day! From my perspective as her mother it’s been pretty cool to watch her search and ponder and even struggle/wrestle with this decision, and then come out with peace about what she feels is the best path for her.

  2. This past year my two youngest sons made the decision to enlist in the Marines. It was very hard for me and my husband to understand as well as accept. I spent a lot of time in prayer and mediation to understand…mainly to have peace. I had already decided to just accept it, but I wasn’t at peace with it. After many months of praying, I received the sweetest moment of peace and understanding. I know they are where they should be. Heavenly Father said they need to be there to not only learn, but to help others; to be missionaries to others. They have found the other LDS Marines and have become very close friends who help and support each other.

    1. I would be so nervous if my son was in the Marines. Especially now.

      I am not LDS, but admire the way LDS members have such high regard for families, life, helping others. Which leads me to wonder, if – in the Marines, or any other branch of the military – your sons had to actually pull out a gun and kill another human being from whatever country we are fighting at the time – maybe even another LDS person from another country – could they do it?

      I know they are not pacifists per se – but how do members of LDS reconcile killing other human beings, maybe even another LDS member?

      1. We (LDS) do our duty and let God work the other stuff out. I lost (not dead, just dead potential) my hs friend to USA military duty never to see him again and now I’m very involved with the current high drama situation because that’s where I ended up. It’s a lot to deal with. We believe in serving our own country and we have LDS everywhere.

        1. Understood. I still think that would be even harder for an LDS person because family seems to be the main emphasis (and rightly so). Never mind the “thou shalt not kill” commandment – It would be even more devastating to comprehend that whoever they killed was someone’s son, husband, father…. such strong emotional feelings surrounding LDS mother not seeing their son or daughter for their two year missions… this is so much worse.

          1. Suddenly Ukraine was invaded by Russia and all Ukraine men 18-60 were expected to remain in the country for possible military service. Every male in Russia is expected to do one year of military service. Lots of Christian men have no choice. You were not at peace with it because you planned their life and this was not in your imagination as a path for them. A parent’s role is to provide as many choices as possible and to let them go. It is their life.

    2. Shel, I am so glad you felt that peace. Sometimes it takes a lot to feel at peace with our kids’ decisions, right? I have learned over and over again, and still have to be reminded that they really can make their own great decisions:). I bet they will have an amazing experience. There’s a part in the book “Hillbilly Elegy” that made me so grateful for military service and the structure and work ethic it can give kids.

      Interesting thoughts, Lydia, I don’t have answers but I’ll just say war is so awful. The scriptures are full of wars people standing up for their families and liberties, and sometimes that standing up and protecting is what must be done. So grateful for those who serve and protect. Life is just so tricky sometimes without clear-cut answers.

  3. So exciting! I played volleyball at Point Loma so I’m a bit biased but she will thrive wherever she goes!

    1. Oh that is so awesome Sarah, I love that you got to do that! Claire loved the coach and the girls at Point Loma so much, they were so good to her.

  4. Of course, your daughter (and her family) are entitled to your choices, and it sounds like this was a hard but good one. I’ll still add my two cents. As a college professor at a very sport-centric college in MA, I see first-hand the grind and pressure on my students who are athletes. For instance, I have one student right now on the baseball team who has missed 5 classes (we only meet 2X per week) and that is typical and incredibly frustrating for me since I am required to accommodate him. Another lacrosse player got a bad concussion a couple weeks ago and missed 2 weeks of class when he could barely walk and couldn’t use any screens. Their schedules and expectations are crazy. The student athletes often express appreciation and positivity for their sports experiences (friendships, discipline, etc.) but I see a lot of unneeded stress, emotional and physical strain and an overwhelming sense of obligation. They stay over breaks and weekend and have to often return to campus early in the summer.

    Again, the students overwhelmingly express gratitude for being on their teams, but I tend to interpret that as a “you’re lucky to even be here” mantra they have internalized that has unfortunately lead to a lot of toxic sports environments. I could go on, but my strong (and controversial) belief is that NCAA sports have no place on college campuses. I see students being taken advantage of and huge racial, social and economic issues that are both perpetuated by and reflected in college sports. [Please understand the individual athletes, coaches and staff are by and large amazing people, but the systems and expectations are incredibly problematic. Club sports seem like a much healthier and more balanced alternative.]

  5. Congratulations Claire, Volleyball will always be apart of you, and note you’ve made the decision not to play college ball you can have peace and go into the next chapter. Such an exciting time!!

  6. I am impressed she is ready for some life balance and decided against college volleyball. College sports is a job during college that is physically demanding and time consuming. One that took lots of time and a ridiculous amount of money to get to the point to apply for the job. Some career paths really don’t allow for athletics during school. There are things parents and kids just don’t know at age 10 what the future holds.

  7. Congratulations to Claire on a big decision! For folks such as your family who are very close to immediate and extended large families, the transition to college can be jarring and overwhelming, especially for Claire being one of the younger siblings who has always had family around. I’m pleased that she made the choice that was best for her, and that she’ll be so close to 2 big siblings + a sweet sister in law, as well as cousins and grandparents in state. Those are precious memories and experiences that she will treasure forever!

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