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Maiah Moorehead, 2022 2nd Place First-Year Writing

Any student enrolled in English 101P, 101, 102, or 112 during Spring 2021 through Spring 2022 may submit an essay of any kind on any topic. There are no length limits for this category. Emma Finnegan wrote the 2nd place submission in the First-Year Writing category for the 2022 President’s Writing Awards.

About Maiah

Maiah stands in the middle of an apple orchard, sun shines through the trees

Hafa Adai! My name is Maiah Moorehead and I live in Mountain Home, Idaho. I am from the tropical island of Guam, where I was not raised, but embrace my culture wholeheartedly. As I venture through life, I embrace the journey to explore new opportunities. Through this journey, I found an interest in the medical field and will pursue a course of pharmacy studies in college. However, the path outside of my school life is where I strive to better my mental health through taking initiative and finding peace in moments alone.

Winning Submission – Finding Success in the Face of Adversity

On September 30th, 2021, George Gonzales was hunched over on the side of the volleyball court. He had his hands pressed against his knees, and his eyes intensely watching the game against Jerome play out. It was the fifth set, and the tension of who would win was thick. At this point, the game was toggling back and forth between Mountain Home and Jerome. Everyone, including the student section and the Mountain Home players, were eagerly anticipating this win. As the score crept to fifteen, George intently put his hands on his head and could not believe what he was seeing. His team was finally working together and wanting to win. In the blink of an eye, the score board for Mountain Home pointed up to fifteen, then the roars, wails, and cheers of excitement in support of the Mountain Home Lady Tigers filled the gym. As George straightened up from his crouched position, he towered over his players with a proud grin on his face. This winning game against Jerome was the culmination of all of George’s relentless efforts invested in his team. In his interview, he shared that this moment almost brought him to tears. He said, “ [It] made the struggle and the sacrifices I made worthwhile during that game.”

Before George played volleyball, he was quite an athlete. He was actively involved in soccer, baseball, football, and basketball throughout childhood and high school while growing up in California. Senior year of high school is fleeting, yet filled with thrilling new experiences. For George’s senior year, volleyball became his new thrill. Volleyball was a foreign idea to him, until his P.E. coach suggested for him to try out for their school’s team. The men’s volleyball team was a new sport at the time, only being its third year when George joined the team. During one of the open gyms, he learned jumping techniques and the game’s dynamic. The volleyball coach noticed George’s drive for the game, approached him, and personally asked George to try out. At that point, he earned a spot on the varsity team with a starting position and found a new
passion. He proudly recalls that during this time, they were competing for the league title. Several years after he graduated, his teammates persevered on to win the state title. After high school, he continued playing pickup games of volleyball and occasional tournaments. Eventually, he discovered that adult leagues lack a certain level of discipline and a competitive edge. He said, “Something that I truly miss [with] playing 6 on 6, [is] being able to go all out and not feel bad [that] someone on the other side does not know how to play.” Despite that, he appreciated the opportunities to enjoy the game he loves.

As George’s high school career ended, he stayed active in volleyball through coaching. George started coaching soccer, baseball, and then volleyball for ages five to six and ten to thirteen. Initially, he first began to coach as a way to log community volunteer hours for his EPRs in the military. Once he retired, he continued coaching, but not as a volunteer gig. Instead, his passion to coach fuelled his desire to teach the game of volleyball. In Mountain Home, he started with coaching for a local club team, Club 3D. Here he learned a lot about his own coaching methods and how to interact with his players. He learned the truth and value of, “Coaching is patience,” since he was training a team that was learning the basics of volleyball. From this experience he said, “Just because I picked up something quickly, or I understood it one way, doesn’t mean that a student or athlete will understand it the same way.” After Club 3D, he was given an opportunity to apply for head coach at Mountain Home High School. Currently, George is responsible for running an entire volleyball program. The venture was overwhelming at first, but then he soon found stability in growing and nurturing a collaborative and helpful coaching staff and team.

During George’s first year, he felt as if he was “thrown into the fire.” The responsibilities of leading a whole program, being new to the school and athletes, and following COVID guidelines was not an easy task. Amongst the task of revamping a volleyball program, he soon realized that there was a pressing need for new equipment. With the previous year’s leftover funds, he was able to order new jerseys for all three teams at Mountain Home High School. This brought excitement to the athletes, preparing them for a season of confidence and new beginnings. After a successful Snap-Raise fundraiser, George purchased a serving and setting machine and new balls for the next season. However, new equipment is not a distraction towards George’s true goals. His main focus is to change the efficacy and fidelity of the program. He hopes to “bring the want to win, pride in the school [and] in the team” (Gonzales). By slowly instilling a fresh mindset, teaching and fine tuning playing skills in his athletes, he believes they can accomplish great things.

It is astonishing how George has formed this goal-oriented attitude; although, he did not learn this on his own. He encountered a great mentor on his journey to be an efficient volleyball coach. His former volleyball coach is responsible for shaping his enthusiastic attitude and inspiring George to teach others to love the sport. Under his former coach, George said he was constantly pushed to do hard things. This was no cruel hardness, rather, “Hard to the point where [I] understood the price of winning.” He admires the determination it took his coach to train a team from the ground up. As an avid lover of quotes, George stays inspired by them as well. His favorite quote is one from Nelson Mandela, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

Regarding the volleyball program, he feels he is also working with a start-up program that is in its early development. In his own coaching, he wishes to create “That balance of pushing them but not killing the joy of the game.” Even with his ambitions and inspirations,
George believes he still has a lot to learn as a coach, a leader, and a teacher. He continues to grow and be better by staying open minded, learning from peers and mentors, and looking to his coaching staff for guidance and strength to persevere as a team. From them, he learns new drills, different perspectives, and how to keep volleyball fun, engaging, and ever evolving. By humbling himself to become a better coach, George’s actions reflect positively on the program.

Furthermore, George offers an innovative mentality that is needed for Mountain Home athletes. Many of the Mountain Home sports programs have success; however, it is not long-term success. Throughout the years, it is evident that students and athletes all have similar conclusions: we are a losing school. George’s first impressions of the program were similar. He saw firsthand how the negative mentality permeated to athletes. However, he did not see it as irreversible. Instead, he teaches his athletes how to think otherwise. George said, “When athletes see adversity, it is hard to get their mindset [to change from] accept[ing] diversity, [to] accept[ing] that they can change it. To want[ing] to push to change it, [to] make it a priority and find the drive within themselves.” He mentioned this is one of the hardest things about coaching for the school, because there is a general lack of confidence within the players themselves and as a team. When asked what his ultimate goal with the program is, he did not hesitate to say, “Compete.” He loves to just play, and understands that his players do as well. George does not count all the wins or losses. Rather, he concerns himself with knowing if his team earned their wins and if their losses were against a formidable team. As an athlete that is a hard truth to accept. But George then explained how he wants to create a stigma where playing Mountain Home is a “dog fight” where “We are going to fight it out. And win or lose, you will get a fight.” He hopes to have instilled this mentality towards his younger athletes so that they can carry this into their senior years. By then, the program would have a better dynamic with success.

What is the next step for the program after gaining all this insight? Well, George plans to instill an attitude where volleyball beyond high school is possible. He encourages his seniors to pursue a volleyball career. He wants to set his athletes up for success by eventually incorporating a scouting profile for each athlete, motivating them to set goals that they can be proud of. Now the offers may not be D1 level, but he believes any opportunity to continue playing is better than none. As that process is in the works, George is ultimately excited to simply keep playing. He often says, “Don’t accept where we are and don’t think there is no room for improvement.” Not only does this apply to himself, but to his teams as well. As he trains them to the best of his ability, George hopes they recognize their own passion to play and harness it for success. He wants to instill the desire to achieve great things in each and every player. “Even if we win the league, [do] not be content with [that] and [think], how many times can we repeat that now?” (Gonzales). As these changes slowly help the volleyball program, George plans to reform the program in the best interests of the players.

Nevertheless, George Gonzales is actively working to help shape the potential of our athletes. Whether it be through new equipment, gathering advice from peers, coaching, playing a silly scrimmage game against his team, or sharing daily quotes; he is trying and he is persistent. To be a successful team, each player needs to find their niche and drive to thrive. “You don’t chase success, you chase the mentality of the program and have pride and love for what you do and wanting to get better, and everything else will align by itself.” This is the drive George is instilling for success.