On Sunday, March 22, 2015 at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Field house, a culmination of a seasons hard work was about to pay off. It was time for the Volleyball Championship Tournament! There were over 20 teams fighting for 3 championship spots.
The day was full of excitement, not only for the players but also for their families. Tables of food spread around the gym as proud families cheered the teams on. They screamed when spikes where blocked and quieted when the ball constantly flew back and forth across the net, waiting to see who would score first. Several matches before the championship games had people on the edge of their seats.
While this day was about teams bringing their seasons to an end, it was also a day of firsts for several of the players. Allison Martin is an example of that. Allison plays for Woodbridge and this was her first year participating in any Detroit PAL sport. She was part of the JV Championship team. “I wanted her to do something besides play video games. Mr. & Mrs. Wilson from the Woodbridge Community Center said to have her try-out; she did and she made the team,” Allison Martin said about her daughter, “I’m proud of her.” Allison wasn’t the only first time Detroit PAL participant and volleyball player that won a championship title that day. T’yana Rutherford, who plays in the Varsity Silver division for MTA, did just that. Roshonda Peck, T’yana’s mother, said, “Since she joined Detroit PAL and the MTA team she has grown in how she works with other girls, teamwork and supporting others.” T’yana just likes to hit the ball and plans on returning next year and joining the travel volleyball team.
The main goal of Detroit PAL is for their athletes to learn sportsmanship, leadership and character building for the rest of their lives. This is evident in their players and coaches. Winning is not the focus and not necessary for players to achieve these goals. Coach Jermain Kidd of Woodward Academy is no stranger to Detroit PAL, having coached basketball for three years and volleyball for one. He displayed the spirit of Detroit PAL when talking about his team’s day. “They started out slow but as the game progressed I could see the girls gaining confidence and momentum,” Kidd said, “They didn’t win, but it’s more about learning sportsmanship, leadership and having fun.”
That weekend was a busy one for the volleyball program. The All Star Game took place the day before, on March 21st. “We had a great weekend of volleyball! Saturday we had our JV and Varsity All Star Games that wrapped up with an exciting coaches vs. PAL alumni game!” said Associate Athletic Director Ramona Cox, “I am proud of all of the girls that participated this weekend. They gave their all the entire day and had a great time!”
Congratulations to everyone who played in the Championships! Our winners were:
Varsity Gold Division: University Prep Academy
Varsity Silver Division: Michigan Tech Academy
Junior Varsity: Woodbridge
Coach of the Year: Coach Mary Thedford (MTA Varsity)
Academic Team of the Year: Michigan Technical Academy Varsity Team
Sportsmanship Team of the Year: Detroit Service Learning Academy
Organization of the Year: Michigan Technical Academy