With such differing backgrounds and schools, such “teaminess” is remarkable. It’s also not quite as organic as the players would like to believe.
“It’s taken a little bit of work,” said Beamer, a 30-year volleyball coach and player who has seen firsthand how conflict and selfishness can whittle away at high hopes.
“We stressed bonding from day one,” he said. “We talked about getting things out in the open and supporting each other. Last year, we had a long talk about it and since then, everything has been great.”
While Northern Lights has been clearly been among the best teams in the nation for two years — “People know who we are,” Wilhite said — the task ahead is tougher than it was a year ago. To win the titles they’re shooting for, they’ll likely have to beat two archrivals on their home courts: Orlando Amateur Volleyball in the AAU tournament and Texas Amateur Volleyball in Dallas. Seeing the difficult road ahead, Beamer spoke realistically.
“There are some really good, athletic teams. We can’t make mistakes and expect to win,” he said. “But the best part of this team is that no one gets down on each other. They’re all pulling for each other. That makes a huge difference.”
Win or lose, team members are aware of their place in Minnesota volleyball history. They are also aware that this will be their last time playing together. Seven of them are headed off to college (Goehner and Seliger Swenson are still in high school), ready to take the next step in their volleyball careers.
“I’m excited to see what I can do in college,” said Wilhite, who will share a dorm room at Minnesota with the Tapp sisters. “But I’ll never forget this team. They aren’t just friends. Their like sisters.”