USC Upstate Volleyball Team Visits Miracle League
SPARTANBURG, S.C.—Last Monday night offered a chance for Spartan volleyball etch one of those unforgettable experiences into their collective minds and hearts, visiting the "Carolina Miracle League" to lend a helping hand and play baseball with the physically and mentally handicapped children. The experience was heart-warming for both the Spartan student-athletes, as well as the children.
One of the more refreshing aspects of something like this was the fact that it takes the edge off of the grind for these student-athletes, and it was especially evident for freshman defensive specialist Morgan Page and senior middle blocker Morgan Thomas. "Events like these in the off-season are great life lessons for us. It helps us give back to the community and creates an environment where we can just have fun. It gives us a good balance," said Thomas.
According to both Page and Thomas, it was also important for them to see their teammates in a different environment-a different atmosphere, and one that's far away from any court or net. What the duo didn't realize initially is the hidden effect it has, revealing the heart and character in a different way. Most teams have one heartbeat and it is bared out on the court in character-building situations. A big come-from-behind win, or a humbling experience can be ways heart and character are revealed. But the essence of that character or heart is often more indelible in a situation where help is needed, and then acting on that need.
"When I saw Mindy (Quimby) holding that little boy's hand and helping him along at Miracle League, how can that not inspire you to see the heart and human side of your teammate. This gives me a different picture and makes me trust not only her but all my teammates in general. It's hard to really find the words to describe a moment like that and then you realize that's what it's all about. Being a student-athlete is so much more than the wins and losses of it, it's about the relationships you develop with teammates that can last a lifetime," said Thomas.
It was also a great memory for Page. "The thing that most people don't know about the event was the fact that we genuinely wanted to be there and no one was forcing us to do so. At the Miracle League, there was this one boy that couldn't open and close his glove properly. I enjoyed helping him and it was seeing and doing the little things that meant so much," said Page. "It develops a certain kinship for us during the offseason, so it helps us because we are all out there doing the same thing as a team. For that night, we were part of their team and it was special for us," said Thomas.
For the volleyball team, it was a rewarding experience and is an exemplification of the kind of character so many of USC Upstate's athletes display. It's these kinds of experiences in the spring that yield positive results in the fall. It's true that being a student-athlete is more about the camaraderie and relationships than W's and L's, but having a foundation of character and establishing roles off the court only enhances what it takes to achieve positive results come August. The Miracle League won't show up in any stats column during the season, but the experience shared on that mid-April afternoon will be branded upon the hearts of the Spartan volleyball team for the rest of their lives. That's what matters most, but these team bonding experiences can only help head coach Jen Calloway parlay these intangibles and their lasting effects into a successful fall for the Spartans.
"I am not surprised by their compassionate and fun-loving spirit. That's who they are—We are blessed to have a talented, yet very competitive hard-working team. I am very proud of them," said head volleyball coach Jen Calloway.