Originally published Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 12:40p.m.

As we gathered together for one last time after our final game (Senior Night), I asked everyone to go around and say one thing they were grateful for this season.

Teamwork, battling through adversity, learning/growing their skills and building meaningful friendships were just a few themes that stood out. Our theme for the season was “Going the Distance” and this team continuously rose to the occasion on and off the court.

Camp Verde should be very proud of its small town High School Volleyball team and the many challenges that stood in our way.

At the beginning of the year, our Varsity team had 12 young ladies on the roster. Throughout the season, several players had to make difficult decisions to leave the team for a variety of difficult circumstances.

We were challenged with illness, injuries and academic responsibilities as well. As we approached the last few weeks of play, there were only 7 of those 12 girls who remained.

Our lineup was constantly being changed and girls were asked to step up and play in positions they had never played before. This, however, provided some great opportunities for younger players to step in and get some experience at the next level and taught the girls how to persevere and “just keep swimming”, like we would always say.

It was important for us to not only strive to improve on the court but to also be character leaders in our community. We visited the 8th grade volleyball team for some team bonding and character building.

This was an awesome opportunity for our future student athletes to gain some valuable insight into what their future could hold. We also participated in several community service projects which included spending time with the residents at The Haven Retirement Community and cleaning the schools travel buses to keep them looking good.

We even bonded with one of our top ranked opposing teams in a word of prayer and dinner following two of our matches. Several opposing coaches and spectators have used the words “Grit, hard working, and excellent examples of sportsmanship” to describe this team and for that I am incredibly proud!

Everyone always asks, “Did you win?”....

What I have come to learn, understand, appreciate and now try to teach my players is that there is more than one right answer to this question. As a student-athlete, you are given an opportunity to learn, practice and implement skills; many of them life skills that can help prepare you for a better future. In a sport, you are expected to show up on time, be prepared, be respectful, work hard, stay committed and be a team player... all qualities we want to see in the relationships we have in all aspects of life.

No, we did not finish with a winning season but ultimately the lessons learned on the journey will always outweigh a win-loss record.

It probably sounds crazy for a coach to say they are grateful for a losing season. The growth that our young ladies made this year is unmeasurable and though it has not been easy, I am thankful.

We will continue to learn, improve and grow. We will focus on working hard from the bottom-up and emphasize character building along the way.

As coaches, we are focused on changing the culture for Camp Verde Volleyball and these young ladies are the building blocks and foundation for our future.

The future is bright and our Camp Verde community should be very proud.

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