Caleb has been coaching ever since he graduated from high school. He's been the head coach at RCS for 8 years. From day one it has been his goal to some day win the State Championship.
Over the years Caleb has gotten closer and closer to that goal. 4 years ago, he was the first coach to take the school to the championship match, but the team didn't play their best and lost to Fowler in 3 games. They took 2nd in State that year. That was the farthest RCS had ever gotten in Volleyball, and Caleb feared at that time that he would never get that close again.
Fast forward to this year. Even since before the season started Caleb told me that this team was special. He said they had the heart, the drive and the talent to win State. Not just that, but they truly loved each other. So, from the very get go this team was determined to win.it.all.
As the season went on, they started to beat teams they had never beaten before, and the word "undefeated" started to spread amongst the fans and parents.
The first time I saw the team play this year, I could tell they were different. Like Caleb said, you could see their passion for the game, their passion to win, and their love for each other. As cliche as it sounds, they were special.
They continued to be undefeated and the excitement grew. A few weeks before playoffs, they beat Lutheran, the two time defending State champions from last year and the year before. That's when the excitement REALLY grew.
Then the playoffs came. They swept their way through Districts and become District Champions and the following weekend they became Regional Champions!
Hopes were high as RCS knew they were going to State as one of 3 undefeated teams.
Hopes were high, but so were nerves. Caleb wasn't eating or sleeping well, and every time I talked to my dad (a HUGE sports fan and also following the team well this year) I almost started hyperventilating.
Before I knew it, we were bringing a big group of fans just there to support Caleb. Saturday we had his parents, my parents, all 3 of my sisters, two of their close friends from out of State (Kelsey and Amy), two of my brothers-in-law, a close family friend, 2 of my cousins, and my Uncle Randy came to watch and cheer on the team.
The Friday and early Saturday matches against Meeker and Ridgway were pretty uneventful. RCS swept both of those teams (won in 3 games) quite easily.
Then Saturday afternoon it was time for the semi-final match (the top 4 teams). We had to play Yuma, the team that Caleb most wanted to avoid until the championship match. Caleb had been watching Yuma closely and he knew they were seriously underrated.
This was the HARDEST match for me to watch. I mean, in the history of watching volleyball. The stakes were so high, and it was win or go home. Caleb had told me that if they could beat Yuma, then their chances were REALLY good for winning it all!
At first, Rez made it appear like they were going to win pretty easily. Yuma was playing hard and so was RCS, but RCS was ahead most of the time and won the first 2 games. Then, momentum changed. Yuma was ahead most of game 3 and we couldn't get ahead. After Yuma won game 3 my heart started to speed up and my palms grew sweaty. Game 4 was SO very close. Too close. Every time we won a point, Yuma won the next one. Finally about half way through the gamy we pulled ahead a little bit (just enough that I started to breathe easier) and we were up 24-22. We were going to win, or so we thought. Then somehow Yuma won game 4 28-26! It was like a nightmare before my eyes. Yuma's fans started to cheer "Deja Vu" over and over.
Last year, Yuma beat us in Regionals and the games AND scores were almost identical to what had just played out before us.
When game 5 started, the RCS girls came out confident and ready to fight. I breathed a little easier as each point was awarded to our team. Finally, they won 15-12 and the match was over. It was official, they had made it to the Championship match! It took my nerves a LONG time to calm down after that one.
I really like the way CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association) finishes the volleyball season with the State Championship matches. Before the match begins, they do a little ceremony and announce all of the teams (1A-5A) and their coaches while playing some inspirational music. ;) Then they have someone sing the National Anthem. It's a very cool experience to be a part of.
Anyway, we were all sick to our stomachs with nerves when game time came. As soon as the match started though, it was clear that we were the better team and we wanted to win more. After the first 3 points, RCS was ahead of Lutheran and swept them in 3 games! After all of the hard work they were officially State Champions!
I knew I'd be somewhat emotional and overjoyed when they won, but I was not prepared for the emotion that came over me. I screamed and cheered and then hugged my dad and started crying. I mean, I was a bit of a mess. After regaining my composure I looked around and saw tears in all of my sister's eyes, my mom's eyes and Caleb's mom's eyes. There's just something about watching the person you love most achieve a dream that they have waited so long to see come true! And honestly, I'm so glad that dream came true with THIS team. They are quality girls that worked SO hard all season to remain undefeated. They love the Lord and each other.
The celebration lasted all evening and there was a sense of complete joy and disbelief at the same time. It's one of those moments that you never forget and you almost have to pinch yourself and ask if it really happened.
Here's a couple of great articles that were written:
This was the quote I liked best:
“We all wrote, ‘Audience of One,’ on our leg,” senior libero Carly Whitham said. “That showed we’re playing for God and his glory.”
Here's just a few of the many great photos that were taken:
I think it's going to take a long time to come off of this cloud!