Monday night's match between Burris and Central was perfect. With the Owls down 2-1 after the first three games, we were talking amongst ourselves saying, "They just can't lose tonight, especially before sectionals." So much for being impartial as filmmakers.
My first experience with the Owls was at Cathedral. Being an extremely competitive person, I was a little upset about the loss, but never expected to become this involved and attached to the success of the team. While Aaron and I were shooting behind-the-scenes footage we didn't have to try hard to capture the emotions of our peers as they were engrossed by the games. I particularly remember Audrey walking out of the gym after Burris' second loss of the night, returning with more pep to cheer the girls on, and even getting frustrated when the Central team cleared the bench and blocked her view. Few of us came into this project with a great understanding of volleyball, but as the project moves along with us becoming more involved, we want them to come out on top more than anything.
Witnessing the dedication of these girls, Steve, and other community members to the team is also amazing in itself. I grew up in Northwest Indiana, which is a softball breeding ground. I began with t-ball and continue to play intramural tournaments, so I understand what it is like to be a part of something you love dearly and want to see succeed. However, I have never seen a volleyball following like this. The intensity of the crowd in Ball Gym on Monday was awesome, and reminded me of high school basketball games. I can't stop thinking about how privileged these players are to have such a great coach and program within this community.
Talking with the 1982 players who returned for the reunion also reinforced the whole community aspect. The women were so excited to see Steve again and reminisce about their playing days. I am extremely grateful to have spoken with some of them about their experiences with athletics at Burris and later in their lives.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Jones, who was only a freshman on the State Championship team, but had a lot to contribute. Jones went on to play volleyball at Tennessee and was able to witness how support for teams fluctuated throughout the country. She is also a mother of two children with a husband who coaches them in his spare time. Jones and I spoke about athletes in the news recently, Marion Jones in particular, and how they influence players today. She spoke a lot about the impact athletics have on our youth, and how important it is to present sports to them in a positive way. I was impressed with her knowledge on Title IX and feel she offered a lot of information pertinent to our project.
We are all very pleased with how well the reunion went, and we appreciate the time they spent with us. Hopefully, they enjoyed themselves as much as we did.
I also want to say thank you to Steve Shondell and Wes Lyon for their cooperation. They have been wonderful dealing with us, which probably isn't the easiest along with their already busy schedules, and we are thankful.
Good luck tomorrow night Owls, and stay strong during sectionals!