To many, volleyball is simply just a sport. To me, volleyball is both a mission field and an outlet for my passion. As I wind down my time at Caldwell, I see how the game I love has forged impactful relationships and taught me valuable lessons.
My volleyball journey began in fifth grade at the YMCA. At the time, a close family friend encouraged me to give the sport a try, even though my fifth-grade mind was convinced I would play college basketball. The Lord knew. Coach Bo (Dan Bozarth) was both my first and last coach at Caldwell, from fourth grade to senior year. My love for volleyball only grew, winning the ongoing debate in my mind with basketball. When seventh grade came along, my first year of club ball convinced me volleyball was my passion. Athletes are asked when they knew they wanted to play in college. For me the answer was simple. When you get excited butterflies in your stomach on the way to practice and your favorite three hours of the day are in the gym, you can’t imagine volleyball ending in high school.
While I also participate on a club volleyball team, Caldwell volleyball is different. Coach Bo has established a culture that sets it apart from all other programs. Each year Coach Bo selects a theme for the season that reflects the team's strengths, weaknesses, and goals. In my five years on the varsity squad, our themes were: “To the End,” “Relentless,” “Still Here,” “War is Coming,” and “Move Mountains.” Each theme had a meaning that transcended our time on the court. Because of Coach Bo’s purposeful selections, the team proudly wears the themes on t-shirts. While outsiders find no meaning in our theme, we found unity and motivation.
For example, he could not have chosen a more appropriate and fitting theme for my senior year. I have heard the phrase “move mountains” often. As I returned from a knee injury that cost me most of my junior season and dealt with the burden of college recruiting, Coach Bo constantly repeated these words. He reassured me God has the power to move mountains. I just needed to release my dreams into His hands and surrender my heart to Him.
During the recruiting season and whenever volleyball weighed heavy on my shoulders, you could find me in Coach Bo’s office. He makes sure his office door is always open when I (or any other player) need to talk. Life and high school were never intended to be easy and I am thankful Coach Bo has been a constant anchor and source of wise counsel in my life. My confidence has grown monumentally. I am more secure in my faith and God's plan because of how Coach Bo has intentionally invested in me. His reassurance and a re-direction of both my identity and trust completely changed who I was during the recruiting season.
Volleyball has taught me more lessons than I can count. I have learned how to persevere, to have grit, to be a good teammate, to control what you can control, to be accountable, and the list goes on. However, the biggest lesson I learned roots deeper than volleyball. It’s a lesson that challenged me in my sport but will stay with me throughout the rest of my life. I learned how to trust.
Recruiting became my nemesis and my fear. It consumed me and stole my identity. For a period of my life, I stopped identifying as a child of God. I instead put my identity in the hands of the recruiting process and more specifically, in the university I would attend. As a highly competitive athlete, I set goals for myself as motivation. Little did I know these goals would paralyze me. When the year of extra eligibility was established for college student-athletes due to the COVID pandemic, I received many disappointing phone calls from college coaches with updates on scholarship situations. Months and months passed and I had yet to commit. Thoughts of failure settled in my head. Recruiting superseded the boundaries of a physical battle and I was now in a spiritual battle. I struggled to understand why a girl who worked so hard and put in overtime in the gym was unable to achieve her goals.
The recruiting season surfaced questions only God could answer. The burden and roadblock of recruiting became manageable as soon as I willingly surrendered my dreams to the Lord and accepted that His will for me was good. I released my college dreams into the Lord's hands and gave Him my unsteady heart. God’s faithfulness proved greater than my biggest fears.
Sophia Plasman '22 is a senior at Caldwell Academy. She intends to play college volleyball at Samford University.