Canby High Senior Reflects on the ‘True Strength of a Community’ Amid COVID Uncertainty

As a senior at Canby High School, I have been down in the dumps with the coronavirus and the uncertainty that it brings. This has caused myself and lots of my senior classmates a lot of anxiety, angst, and sadness. I want to share my favorite memory from this year.

This year, Canby showed me the true strength of a community during our state volleyball playoffs. Our expectations at the beginning of the year were honestly pretty low.

In most of our minds, we would probably get third or fourth in league (if we were lucky), make the playoffs, then lose in the first round. That was kind of the norm. Every year since I was a freshman ,we had lost first round, which meant we had still made the playoffs at least, so most everyone was happy with that.

Somehow (with lots of hard work, determination and team camaraderie) we were in the state tournament for the first time in over 10 years.

We were matched up against the third-ranked Mountainside High School. We were ranked 11th 😳 They were definitely more athletically gifted, and everyone expected them to win, so you could definitely call us the underdogs.

Volleyball plays best three out of five sets. We lost the first set, but it was pretty close. Then we got absolutely slaughtered the second set. We lost 11-25.

I remember looking into the bleachers and seeing the hundreds of Canby supporters. The bleachers were so full, they looked like they might collapse. It was a sea of navy blue from the bottom to the top. Not only was the student section massive, but parents, teachers, the mayor, the school board and other community members were in attendance.

They were still cheering loud for us even though we had just got our butts kicked. My head felt like it was underwater. My ears plugged from the noise. I could barely hear myself think, let alone call out the plays loud enough for my team to hear.

We all huddled up. I looked at the team, and we all started laughing. It lightened the mood, but we knew we had to get to work right away.

I remember looking into the crowd and saying to the team, “These people did not come here to see us lose in three sets. We are winning this next set, and the one after that, and the one after that. OK?!”

And you know what? That’s exactly what we did. We won three sets in a row, and beat the third-ranked team in the state.

I have never felt more proud of my team. We did the seemingly impossible. And I honestly don’t think we could’ve made that comeback without the support that we had from the community. How could we lose with so many people supporting us?!

Local businesses had donated meals and sponsored us, the school paid for us to stay in a hotel, the district got a rooter bus for the fans, and most importantly: People showed up!

I can’t even put into words how big of an impact it made to see hundreds of “Cougar Faithful” up in the bleachers to cheer us on. It still brings tears to my eyes to think of this moment. It felt like a movie. We couldn’t let all those people down, the community that put so much faith in us.

This year of high school volleyball felt like a dream. We ended up getting third place in the state, the highest Canby High School has ever finished.

That experience really made me appreciate Canby. I’m so glad I’ve grown up in a community that supports everyone so much.

This coronavirus is scary for everyone, but I know that we will get through it with the support of each other.

Photos courtesy Ruby Kayser:

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