Written by Marissa Erwin

Hold the ladder

For as long as I have been a part of Greenville College Women’s Volleyball, the team of 2010 and their story has been almost legendary. If there had been any team that exemplified our philosophy, it was them. Their prevalent history of servant leadership, solid faith, competition, and pure love became a foundation of Greenville volleyball; To be as they were was our goal. As they progressed to the regional tournament, this solid love and appreciation for their team was exemplified in their seniors especially.

I don’t know if there is another team that can say that they value each and every player as much as they could say it. The seniors, faced with the reality of their final career game, could have easily pouted and clung to their medals and their memories of competition. But they took it a step further, and without a single thought of hesitation walked to the girls that were unable to dress (and thus get a medal) and embraced them before giving their senior NCAA championship participant medals to those players.

While I cannot recall a conversation that I had with any of those seniors from that day, it is evident the impact that their actions had on the team. I had the pleasure of playing alongside and being coached by one of the recipients of those girls’ astounding selflessness. Their impact on the coaching staff has been displayed with the clear philosophy of true love and acceptance. The team of 2010 has, and always will be, a legend to us sisters and a staple to who We are as a whole.

From the very beginning, that story was told to us. To me, this story really resounded the impact of “holding the ladder”. This concept is so important in our lives as a team. As we begin our climb, we are at first able to climb by ourselves. But as we reach for higher and higher goals, our foundation shakes. We simply cannot succeed without someone holding and supporting the ladder on which we are climbing. As we come and go through GC volleyball, we at first contribute as players before fulfilling our final role as part of the huge family holding the ladder for our sisters after us. Who We are could not have been accomplished without our sisters before us, without their influences shaping who We are. They say the apple does not fall from the tree, and we are lucky to fall into the arms of a family that is full of a love and support so unique and hard to find. If we were to forget our base, we would fall. It is clear to me that with each successive alumni class, We become stronger.

This morning, we woke up with the exciting realization that today we were to play in the NCAA DIII championship, something that had not been accomplished since our 2010 sisters before us. The atmosphere in which we conducted ourselves was amazing; the positive comments and air of determination was clear. We ate lunch at an adorable sandwich shop called Jamwich, with the anticipation mounting every moment.

Arriving at Berry College dressed in our best, we watched the game before ours. The excitement bubbled over, and before we knew it we were on the floor. Some teams may shy away from the fact that they were facing the team projected to win the entire tournament, but our foundation has made that impossible to be our style. We rose, minimizing errors and putting up an amazing fight. We lost in four, but we put up more of a fight than any team in that gym would have ever expected. As I found out after the match, the general opinion of our little team from Nowhere, IL was that if we had been placed in a different bracket, we would have made it very far. No matter the outcome, I think I can speak for my sisters when I say that we feel so blessed to have been able to face such a challenging team, and were able to learn so much about ourselves and our game.

After the awards presentation, we seniors followed in our 2010 sisters’ footsteps. We took our place at the base of the ladder and approached the five sisters who were unable to dress for the match. We embraced them, and gave them our medals.

I’m honestly at a loss of words to even begin to describe the emotions of the ten of us. To give up the medal that absorbed all four years of my blood, sweat, and tears was so much easier than I ever would have thought. Those four years transformed me from a selfish and vindictive girl to the woman I am today. Those four years taught me love, grace, and maturity. If there has ever been a moment when Jesus has been present in those four years, it was then. The joy was indescribable, as I type here with tears freely flowing. (No surprise there). To give something so precious without a hint of regret is an amazing thing, one that I believe can only be achieved in the presence of our Savior and the legacy of our sisters before us. Every single instant of this journey that We embarked on will be everlasting.

We are so blessed. This family is more than anything I could have ever asked for. My only hope is that I will have an impact on my sisters after me as I join the sisters before me. We thank our team, as we are so luck y to have led such a wonderful team of young, godly women. We thank our coaches, who stood by us, taught us, and transformed us into better players and women. We thank our fans and family for supporting and cheering us on. But most importantly, we thank our sisters before us. Without you, We would not be a We. We would not have accomplished this much, both athletically and spiritually. Its an amazing thing to have hundreds of sisters before us, holding the ladder for us. I simply cannot stress that We would not be the team that We are without our foundation. Thank you for inspiring us and for holding us steady in the pursuit of the sport that sets our souls on fire.

As Jamie, Loves, Merb, Hannah and I start our new journey of holding the ladder for our sisters before us, we enter new roles. We hang up our knee pads and Nikes for the last time. Our careers as collegiate volleyball athletes are over. However, our four years here as players is not our legacy. Our legacy is as teammates and sisters, and we can only hope that our influence adds to the influence of those before us in the pursuit of making GC Volleyball all that it can be. So I will repeat to my little sisters what you all said to me on Senior Night:

I will hold the ladder for you.