Sunday, March 10, 2013

Coach Jaime: The Beginning

When you try out for a team, audition for a musical, or apply for a job, there are many things you can expect. New relationships and a new schedule. Different people and a new atmosphere. The second the phone rings with a confirmation call or the list is posted outside of the gym/auditorium, one thing is certain. Your life changes. Its up to you to decide if this change will make or break you.
I tried out for the Kiski Area Volleyball team as a seventh grader in 2009. I remember being nervous and excited all at the same time. There were more than 60 girls trying out that season. We'd tie our hair into ponytails, pull new kneepads over our knees, and hit the court to show the coaches what we could do (which was not that much, let me tell you). We wanted nothing more than a chance to wear those blue, gold, and white uniforms. By the end of the week, I was making inside jokes with girls I had never even heard of a few days earlier. The list was posted on a Friday after school. 60 was reduced to 15, and I was a part of it. You can probably imagine my seventh grade excitement.
Under the watchful eye of Coach Jaime Vick-Moran, my team began to grow. Serves were missed, passes were shanked, and a pass-set-hit to get the ball over the net was unheard of (excuse my volleyball lingo). Nonetheless, I was a part of a team. We all were. And that was special. The picture below was taken at a volleyball tournament minutes after a messy battle using the icing from Jaime's engagement cake. I can honestly say that I remember this day like it was yesterday.
Jaime was an amazing coach. She was an amazing woman in general. Just look at her smile, so effortlessly beautiful! Those of you who have referred to probably have heard about my coach. If not, let me give you a quick refresher. Jaime was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) when she was a freshman at Kiski. She overcame her cancer in high school. Unfortunately,her leukemia relapsed when she was in college. Jaime's twin sister, Jodie donated her bone marrow to grant Jaime six more years without cancer.  Jaime was re-diagnosed in 2010 when she was coaching my 8th grade team. My teammates and I were scared. She was a fighter, though, so we knew she could overcome it again. As the years went on, we watched Jaime gracefully battle a terrible disease that not even the smartest doctor could understand. I'm constantly reminded of her strength, positivity, and poise in her fight.The years passed, and two Jam The Gym events took place at my school to raise money for charities in Jaime's name. Jaime's mother frequently sent out informational emails regarding our coach's condition. Some weeks were better than others, but we kept faith.
In July of 2012, the summer before my 11th grade year, my team was at the University of Pitt for a grueling week of volleyball skills training. On the last day of camp, Coach Ellen sat us down and told us that Jaime had become very ill from her treatment. She was is so much pain and just was not going to make it. I was devastated. The tears poured as the girls and I clung to each other trying to make sense of the harsh reality we didn't want to face. On August 6, 2012, my coach passed away.
If you know me personally, you've probably figured out by now out that I do not take things lightly, nor do I struggle with crying in public settings. Needless to say, I was a wreck for weeks after. I just could not understand why bad things happen to good people. I still don't understand. Through all of the sadness, though, I can say something that some people aren't lucky enough to. I didn't only have my parents and sisters to help me through my grief. Unified under Jaime's fight and legacy, I had  my coaches, my entire volleyball team, their families surrounding me, offering words of hope and encouragement.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am blessed. I'm blessed to have met Jaime. I'm blessed to be a part of the KAVB family. I'm blessed because I had the opportunity to let being on the team shape who I am today.  I'm blessed to  be able to share this intricately beautiful story that started with one strong woman with you all.
Thank you so much for reading and finding out how the fire was started. Please keep checking this page for more pieces of the Ellen On Ellen puzzle.

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