The 2019 Senior vs. Staff Volleyball Game Written By John Preston Carr
The overwhelming white lights sting like a cold sweat on my skin. The loud, unkempt scruff of senior boys surrounds me in every direction. An abrasive rubber ball scrapes the shiny wood floor, making a sound that would be a screech if it were longer, and a gutteral “SLOPE!” bellows from the throats of the pack (what is the scientific term for a group of seniors? Swarm? Murder? Herd?). The ball’s in the air now; lanky bodies scramble and contort and fall over each other just to tap it. It’s somehow impossible to look away - my body physically tenses with every bump, every set, every strike. I’m at the 2019 NHS Senior vs. Staff volleyball game. It begins with a foul. The first serve is abruptly cut off when a whistle is heard; confused, reluctant shuffling then occurs on the seniors’ side. There had been an uneven number of males and females on the seniors’ opening lineup, it turns out. The staff get seven free points for the infraction. The seniors are less than happy about this. The just-short-of-breakneck intensity in the game that follows can be tasted in the salty muscle tension that seems to fill the air. But the seniors never eclipse the staff’s lead. The disappointment is palpable.
On to game two. This one’s closer. Back and forth and back and forth; the leading score is bunted between sides as rapidly as the ball. Jeremy Saloj’s presence becomes more and more lauded, Henry Locke’s less so. Every time the ball gets within a three feet radius of Mr. Chay, a gaggle (Flock? Band? Gang?) of big-voiced senior boys screams “PEMDAS” or “CROSS-MULTIPLY” or “FOIL.” He seems sufficiently amused, but not enough to knock him off his game. Two minutes left on the clock. For the staff, one point to go. For the seniors, three. Zip. Zop. Bing. Bang. It’s gnarly out there. There’s a spark igniting every senior’s soul. It seems like they can do it. Zap. Boom. Bap. Strike. The staff takes the dub. A sigh that is somehow energetic sweeps the gym. The teams shake hands. I congratulate my senior friends on their hard work. I go home.