The 7 Stages of Grief and Club Volleyball Tryouts

Let’s face it,

Club volleyball tryouts are a difficult time for everyone involved.

It’s this constant battle for creating the “Perfect Team” filled with endless amounts of politics, strategies and penny pinching. It’s a day full of travel for hours upon hours of evaluation and exhaustion for your kid while you, as the parent, are just praying that they get an opportunity because you want what’s best for them. I as the coach am hoping that the plan I spent weeks on works out to perfection and that the player will leave the tryout impressed with the level that was presented at the tryout, creating a better scenario for them to accept an offer to our club.

Whether you are a player, a coach, a parent, a director or on the board of a region. It’s tough, it’s taxing, it’s filled with long hours in the gym and sleepless nights. The club tryout weekend is a rollercoaster and after going through another round of club tryouts, let’s draw an analogy.

Club tryouts and the seven stages of grief.

The seven stages of grief is something we are all familiar with in some capacity. We can grieve over anything in some sort of manner, however it is typical when we face loss of something or defeat with no shot at redemption.

Even if you managed to make a club team on the first or second day, the stages of grief still affect you during this process.

Let’s dive in.

 

1) SHOCK & DENIAL

“You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. “

You just went through your tryout.

You’re feeling great and on top of the world. You just played at your optimum level, but something isn’t sitting right.

The club that you really wanted to play for. The coach you desperately wanted to impress, ends up denying you. Immediately your mind goes into a state of shock, trying to mask the reality. You say to yourself

“Nope. No way. It’s going to happen. I have an offer, right? This isn’t reality.”

2) PAIN & GUILT

“As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.”

Suddenly, you come to the conclusion that you didn’t make the team you wanted.

Like a tidal wave crashing over your doubt, you panic. You heart races and your mind soars. It’s like in cartoons when a realization makes the character spiral and their life dramatically flashes by.

“What club do we go to next? I didn’t have a backup plan! Quick, go see when B Club is having their tryouts, we have to go!”

And off to the races you go, trying to reach equilibrium in your life with another opportunity at a club offer.

 

3) ANGER & BARGAINING

“Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the event on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.”

Emotions give way to pure anger.

You get back into the car after your backup tryout at B Club and suddenly you’re overcome with pure rage at anything and everything. Your lack of belief is overshadowed by a bout of rage and everything anyone says now is wrong.

You want to be with A Club so badly you begin offering things like

“I’ll never eat sweets again if I get an offer with A Club, I promise!”

4) DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS

“Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.”

It is now the conclusion of Day 1 of tryouts.

You are finally back at home and you immediately go to check and see if the website of offers has been updated. Scrolling through the sea of numbers AND…

Alas, your number isn’t on there still.

You lock yourself away in your room for the night and begin reflecting on your tryout and feel this overwhelming amount of lethargy and sadness.

“What did I do wrong? I thought my tryout was awesome? I played my heart out…”

 

5) THE UPWARD TURN

“As you start to adjust, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.”

After wallowing in emotions in your bed, you slowly drift off to sleep.

Just before you are about to fall asleep, a sense of relaxation washes over you. You’re not sure why but it feels vaguely, positive.

And on that note, you drift away to sleep for the evening…

 

6) RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH

“As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life.”

You awake for day two of tryouts and have already set yourself forward to picking up the pieces and rebuilding your club season.

You have two tryouts again today; one at A Club and one at B Club, the one you really expected to get.

That slight glint of positivity late last night propels you throughout your morning and makes you excited to continue into the great unknown that is club tryouts.

You finish your breakfast and your dad piles your stuff into the car. It’s off to the races!

“I can do this.”

 

7) ACCEPTANCE & HOPE

“During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future.”

Right before your tryout with A Club, the first of the day, you accept what situation you’re in.

 

“Not getting an offer from B club is ok. Maybe I’ll land one from A today. I mean their coaches were really awesome yesterday.”

Right before you pick out a ball from the ball cart for your first round of warm-ups, you breathe and know that you can do this. That your situation is controllable and that you control the future for your success.

And, hey wait, that’s the player from yesterday’s tryout who was really funny. And there’s the player from that same tryout who was really good! Oh and there’s one of my teammates from last season!!

Suddenly, the future doesn’t seem so bad after all and maybe, just maybe this cycle provided you with the necessary steps to truly appreciate what volleyball is all about.

* * * * *

Every year I see this happening with club tryouts or even high school tryouts. It’s tough as things for high school don’t seem to come full circle for a while, however for club there are so many opportunities out there to find something that fits you.

It’s honestly insane to think that in the span of 24 hours we can all experience such intense emotional tragedy over a sport, however, I think we can all agree that the emotions that run through this sport we love called volleyball truly are the reason why we can love, hate, loathe and miss it when we step away from it.

And that’s the Seven Stages of Grief and Club Volleyball Tryouts.

 

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