Bump, Set, State

November 15th, 2008

Every year, as the warmth of the summer bids us adieu and winter gathers everyone in her cold embrace, the youth of Iowa congregate to celebrate one of this state’s great sports traditions.  Countless spectators will come from all corners of this land, wearing their team colors like a coat of arms.  The competitors come from the cornfields of Parkersburg and the streets of Sioux City.  They will sacrifice themselves, flailing their bodies left and right, in pursuit of the ultimate goal.  Many will fail, but the select few will earn the opportunity to call themselves State Volleyball Champions.

Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about that other state championship decided in the I-380 Corridor.  While most of the state’s attention is focused on the UNI-Dome and the State Football Championships, Iowa’s most popular girls sport is down the road in Cedar Rapids, serving and spiking from 32 qualifiers down to 4 champions.  Some of the teams are from familiar locales: Johnston, Iowa City, Pella.  Others come from more exotic places, with names like Tripoli and Springville.  They all come to the US Cellular Center, confident in their abilities but knowing that the road to Saturday will be the ultimate test of those abilities. 

For the coaches, it is either the culmination of a career spent molding young minds or the springboard to much more.  For the players, it is their chance to shine in their sport’s brightest spotlight.  For the fans, it’s one more chance to tell the rest of the state that it doesn’t matter what the score is, their team’s still number 1.  Many tears will be shed by week’s end, enough to raise the Cedar River an inch or 2, but for the 4 teams who stand alone on Saturday, they will be the greatest tears of all, tears of a champion.