In one of our last-year newspaper meetings, I was asked which of my stories I liked best. While I couldn’t pick a favorite, I judged Mainland volleyball player Tori Huffman’s story as the most remarkable.
In her freshman year, Huffman wasn’t good enough to make the team, but she chose to remain close to the team only as a practice player, meaning she sat on the end of the bench at games, watching everyone else celebrate wins and key points. She could only cheer them on. She had mentioned the difficulty of only watching and not being able to play, or even suit up.
But that wasn’t it. Her mom, Andrea, supported her daughter and the team through the process, and she was awarded Volunteer of the Year, which sent this story over the top.
At the end of that season, Huffman earned a playing spot, and later turned that opportunity into a captain role.
My coach saw my commitment to the team and decided to give me a jersey,” Huffman said. “People don't realize that you only fail if you quit; that's something I’ve realized over these past four years. It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication.”
As the top setter on the team, Huffman has set up so many of her teammates for kill shots over the past seasons, that she recently broke the school record for assists, which was previously held by Bari Tressler, with 634 and counting.
“I never thought I'd actually get even close to beating the record,” she said, “but I couldn't have done it without the support of my teammates and, of course, coach (Sandy) Garner, who always pushed me to be a consistent player.” With more than half the season remaining, she needs less than 180 more assists to break the single-season record.
The Huffmans are an accurate depiction of being American. Tori Huffman could’ve taken her ball and gone home, when she didn’t make the team, as she had seen many do, and Andrea Huffman could’ve pouted from the stands about her daughter not getting to play. Instead, they both pulled off the unthinkable then, only to reap the benefits now.
To read my past story on Huffman, visit Ormondbeachobserver.com (Tori Huffman: The perfect set up).