Melia Patrick: Volleyball During the Spike

Avery Fraser, Staff Writer

She stood on the volleyball court, the score 14-13, the fifth set, game point. Melia Patrick, Captain and setter of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Guardians, knew that the game was in her hands, metaphorically and literally. The Guardians were facing a tough team, and this was it. The ball was served over the net, and the team executed their plan. The Guardians won. Melia went up to her team screaming with excitement, knowing that this was the best way to go out with a final bang. “I was so proud of my team and all we had accomplished,” said Patrick. “We worked so hard the whole season, so it was such a fun moment.”


Patrick, a senior at Ida B. Wells-Barnett High School, has been a vital part of the school’s volleyball team for the past four years. She has been a starter all four years and has received multiple awards for her outstanding performance. 


Patrick started playing volleyball in the fifth grade at St. John Fisher and during her middle school years played through the Ida B. Wells-Barnett recreation league. It was in sixth grade that she knew that she wanted to play competitive volleyball at Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy, OJVA. There, Patrick played club for the next six years on their top team every year. “Club volleyball has really helped me become the type of player I aspired to be,” said Patrick. “It helped me learn, grow, and create life-long friendships that I will cherish forever.”


Seniors graduating in 2020 had to miss out on a junior and senior prom, a proper graduation, and all of the other vital high school experiences. In Patrick’s case, missing out on a normal volleyball season for her final year of high school. The season was cut short, ending up to only be about five weeks because of COVID-19. 


However, Patrick managed to make the most of it. This season was different than last due to the volleyball team losing seven seniors, requiring a rebuilding of the team. Along with rebuilding and bringing in new members, there was a large change in the team dynamic because of COVID-19. 


No spectators were allowed in the games, every time a ball was dead it was wiped down, and then there is the mental aspect that can change the dynamic of the game. Coming in with a positive mindset was very important for the varsity team because without that optimism and positive attitude, it could make for a very difficult season. Teammates could turn on one another and blame each other for messed up plays, or they could come together and help one another grow. 


With all these changes due to COVID, Patrick knew that it was going to be difficult to bring a positive mindset to the table. “When I heard we were going to have a season, I was hesitant to believe it was going to actually happen,” she said. “After our first practice, that’s when it finally hit me that I was going to have a final season. I think in that moment, something switched and I knew I had to change my mindset and be a leader on and off the court.”  


Patrick also knew that in order to have a full and successful season, there were conversations that needed to be had with the team about being safe and healthy during this time. “After one of our first games of the season, I had a discussion with my co-captain, and we talked to the team about precautions to take during the season,” she said. “We told the team to make smart decisions for the next five weeks and be aware of who you associate yourself with. I didn’t want our season to get cut short because I love the game.” 

Patrick and her team had a successful season, despite their losses. They stayed after practice to work longer, put time in outside of practice, and each and everyone one of them had the mindset of working hard and getting better. Patrick felt like it was a successful and well-battled final season with lots of heart and grit.

“Even though we were a young team, we were able to work hard and succeed. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to play with my teammates and friends,” said Patrick. “We were a young team, but I was eager to mentor and be given the opportunity to help the younger players become extraordinary volleyball players and people.”