FARGO — Three years ago, the West Fargo Sheyenne High School Mustang volleyball team held a three-week volleyball camp for elementary girls. Our daughter, Brooke, brought the flyer home and asked to attend. She enjoyed participating for two consecutive years. The camp culminated with the girls being invited to one of the Mustang games. Brooke and I went for our first experience at high school volleyball.

After that experience Brooke wanted to try more camps, so she went to several sessions of volleyball fundamentals at the Fargo Basketball Academy. Once again, she had a great time. As a sixth-grader this year, she asked to join a league and play “real games” as her competitive spirit is branching outside of academics. She joined Volt Volleyball with tryouts this fall and the league action in the spring. She is so excited to give it a shot.

With that as a background, my wife, Teri, asked Brooke a month ago if she would like to go watch high school volleyball and she said, “Sure.” Teri looked up information on high school volleyball and learned that the North Dakota Class A and Class B state tournaments were being held at the Fargodome.

We marked our calendar and decided the state tournament would be a fun family outing. Wow, was it ever. Having grown up in North Dakota, it was such a joy soaking in, once again, the atmosphere of a state tournament.

I loved watching the parents, grandparents and family members come out to support the high school athletes. For the Class B teams it was clearly a community event. The crowds were loud and enthusiasm was high. I particularly enjoyed watching the daughters of several of my friends. It was fun to see how the fathers and their daughters responded to the ups and downs of athletics. Like any sport there were a few questionable calls, but compared to other sports the fans and coaches remained relatively calm.

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The Fargo Davies cheering section was creative and fun. On the front row were a group of guys with “crop tops” on. Brooke was so intrigued as she asked, “Why are those boys wearing crop tops?” Teri’s response was, “That is their way of honoring the players.”

When remembering the purpose of the activity, high school sports bring families and neighbors together. They teach the athletes the value of competition, hard work, developing their skills, the joy of being on a team and how to focus and move forward amidst external pressure. There were some tears after one of the particularly heart-breaking losses.

One of our goals as parents and adults is to encourage our children and students to develop their skills. And to aid them and provide opportunity for them to participate in the activities that fit them; not the activities we like but what they like. For some they enjoy music, drama, chess, technology, sports, speech, debate, art and a wide variety of other interests.

How did Brooke get interested in volleyball? It started when a high school volleyball player and a North Dakota State University volleyball player, both of whom she met at church, shared their passion with Brooke. And it has increased as the coaches and camp helpers have been warm, encouraging and supportive.

It really is true, we all have something to offer the children in our communities!