Throughout the Scenic 98 Coastal communities, graduating high school seniors celebrate the end of their primary education and make plans for the future. It is an exciting time for all involved, but a bit of trepidation and separation anxiety is thrown in, too. Our next-door neighbor, Jake Prati, a recent St. Paul’s Episcopal School graduate, is off to Auburn in the Fall. 

Linda and I attended the Fairhope High School Choir Concert at Trinity Presbyterian Church last week because our friend Leslie’s talented son, Rawlin Hoffman, performed his last concert with his choral group. Next Fall, Rawlin is attending the University of Alabama on a full scholarship as a testament to his hard work, artistically and academically. I must admit, I got a little teary-eyed after the concert, as we all watched lifelong friends realize this may be the last time they sing together as a group. 

Another young lady, Maysie Douglas, just graduated from Bayside Academy where she was a star volleyball player for longtime state championship coach, Ann Schilling. Maysie will also attend Auburn in the Fall. I spoke to Coach Schilling after I received an essay Maysie wrote titled Pressure is a Privilege. The essay, which follows, speaks to the maturation that comes with competitive sports, especially at a place that is legendary for girls' volleyball.  

Bayside Academy, a private school in Daphne, Alabama, had 21 straight state championships before losing to Mountain Brook in the Fall of Maysie’s senior season. Her essay, written before the season began, reflects on the pressure of playing on a championship team, and the responsibility that grows with each forthcoming season as leadership passes to the next senior class.

Coach Schilling, who has been coaching girl's volleyball for 36 years, graduated from McGill Toolen High School, where she began her coaching career before joining Bayside. We talked about The Streak, and how it ended last fall. “I started here in 1987, and we won our first state championship in 1992. We’ve been climbing the ladder ever since, moving up from one classification to another higher classification along the way.”

As her teams have moved from Class 1-A to 6-A over the years, she tells me the target keeps getting bigger and bigger. Bayside won ten state championships before The Streak began. At some point, success manifests itself within the team. Good coaches are known to instill a competitive spirit because the team believes it will win under any circumstances.

“These kids are champions, whether they win or lose. They fight and scratch, and never give up. It’s a game of inches. These girls have embraced the mental toughness of being in the limelight. When it mattered, they always seemed to find a way. When The Streak ended after we lost in five games to Mountain Brook last Fall, I was proud that our team turned a negative into a positive.”

I asked Ann how she handled the loss after 21 straight championship seasons. “I have so many great memories. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I stopped worrying about a lot of things. I want my girls to understand where to look in good times and bad. I think I began handling things better after the battle with cancer.”

Regarding Maysie, Coach Schilling says she was the MVP of the match that ended the streak her Senior year. “We had a chance to win and keep The Streak alive, but we just didn’t close the deal on that particular day. Maysie performed great. Throughout my coaching career, it’s been fun to see the kids gain that confidence and develop that winner’s mindset.” 

“As a coach, it’s my responsibility to help create the competitive monster mindset.  That winner instinct, if you will. It wasn’t just me but success builds over the years and you can find a gear that will prevail. It doesn’t always work out in your favor, but watching these ladies buy into that privilege that pressure brings has been a privilege.”

Maysie’s last season ended in the state semi-final state championship playoff, against Mountain Brook last Fall. It’s been a gritty, great ride for Maysie. Her essay reflects her mental attitude and shows how her viewpoint on accepting responsibility increased throughout her career at Bayside. 

Here is her essay written as she reflects on the pressure to take the reins and lead her team while riding a 21-year winning streak as State Championship in Girls Volleyball. I think it is an outstanding example of how sports prepare you for life, especially as you embark on a new adventure following high school.

Virginia Stallings Scholarship Essay
By: Maysie Douglas, Bayside Academy

“Pressure is a Privilege” is something I have been told my entire life. Imagine having to defend a streak of 21 consecutive state championship volleyball titles and dealing with that pressure as a 17-year-old girl; that is what I have had to do throughout high school. In my freshman year of high school, the streak was something I feared. I always admired the girls ahead of me and how they seemed to accept The Streak and played like it did not bother them. I never thought that one day I would have to learn and accept the pressure of The Streak.

Sophomore year I got my first starting spot on the team. The pressure immediately hit me. I realized that almost every high school in Alabama hated us because of The Streak. To beat Bayside Academy would make a team’s season. All I wanted sophomore year was for the season to be over with The Streak still intact. Having four senior leaders that year helped me stay calm during the state finals, but I could not wait for the game to be over. I could not stand the pressure and the idea of the team losing and it being my fault.

Junior year rolls around and we only have one senior who did not play which meant the juniors needed to lead the team. Our team was so young with six freshmen, three sophomores, and six juniors. Since I was on the team the previous year I was familiar with the pressure but the freshmen were not. Having experienced this pressure, I knew I needed to start embracing it so my younger teammates would as well. Freaking out inside before every game, but showing composure to everyone else is what I would do. Heading into the state finals that year I knew I could not show how nervous I really was. The amount of anxiety I felt this year was unmatched by the year before. All I could think about was ‘If we lose, this is all my fault.’ I would let down my team, coaches, parents, and the legacy of the program. Going into the fifth set tiebreaker, I knew we were going to win. When the final whistle blew it was the best feeling ever. I was overcome with relief and also excitement because all I could think about was next year’s team.

Now that I am beginning my senior year, the pressure is something I have accepted and learned to love. The idea that everyone wants to beat us makes me excited. I have learned over these past years that I needed to turn these nerves into excitement. I wish I had realized sooner that this pressure is truly a privilege. No other team in the nation can say they have to defend a streak like this. To say that I have broken a national record, state record, and won 4 state championship rings, is something not a lot of people can say. Having to learn how to deal with such a tremendous amount of pressure at such a young age allowed me to learn so many life lessons early. Going into my senior season I know that I am ready for the pressure of life on and off the court for the many years ahead of me.

Congratulations to all the High School seniors from Scenic 98 Coastal! We wish you much success in all your future endeavors. As was said after the Fairhope High School Choral Concert event, pay attention to the company you keep. It can be the difference in the rest of your life. High achievers gravitate toward other high achievers. But you know that in your heart, already.

May 22, 2024
Sports & Fitness

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