The Big Game

An athlete's daily preparation to play her heart out


Ashley Sanchez

Junior Jade Rutherford stares down the Trojans as they prepare to serve during the third set.

Treasure Olson, Journalist

When you’re both a University Preparatory student and a committed member of the varsity volleyball team, the day of a big game can be crazed and hectic, and finding time to prepare both mentally and physically for a brutal face-off on the court can be a challenge. On the 24th of September, our Lady Jags competed against the Silver Valley Trojans in a vicious battle for the win, and the moments leading up to the match were crucial. For Junior Jade Rutherford, scheduling time for both work and play is not a problem.

5:50 AM

A good start to the day is necessary for Rutherford, and remembering all the supplies needed for a game is essential. “In the morning I wake up at around 5:50, and before I leave for school I make sure I have my jerseys, shorts, knee pads, and a ton of extra water for the game.” She reveals.

6:30 AM 

“At around this time, I eat a good carb-filled breakfast so I can have a lot of energy.” Rutherford states plainly, “I make sure that throughout the day, I drink a lot of water so I can stay hydrated. I eat a few hours before the game so I’m not super full while I’m trying to play!”

3:00 PM

“A couple hours before the game is where I find myself really getting nervous,” she reveals with a sheepish laugh. “To keep myself calm, I usually listen to some music which helps me stay relaxed and keep from stressing out too much. I play pop music first to chill me out, then R&B and hip hop to give me positive and confident vibes and pump me up. I also try to give myself a little pep talk in my head, and I’ll usually tell myself that all I can do is try my best at the game and that it’s okay to make mistakes while playing!”

5:30 PM

At 5:30 sharp, the Jaguars and Trojans took their positions, readied themselves, and delivered the first intense serve of the game. The rigorous back-and-forth lasted for an hour and a half as the two teams refused to back down, spiking the ball sharply over the net and drawing uproarious cheers from the crowd. Our skilled Lady Jags unfortunately lost the game 0-3, but that didn’t deter the resolve of the dedicated athletes that added aggressive excitement to every round. “My prediction for the game was that we were going to win, but although my prediction didn’t come true, I think the team as a whole played really well.” Rutherford added. “I feel like I did alright tonight. I definitely made a few mistakes such as not making the call over the net on the 3rd pass and tripping over another player when trying to save the ball, but then again I also made quite a few good plays this time around. I saved the ball when no one else could be there to get it, and I had some pretty good spikes as well. The hardest part of the game was definitely being able to get the ball back under control from the mistakes we made while playing, but overall, we did really well this game!”

8:00 PM

“After playing for a few hours, I come home at around eight,” Rutherford explains definitively. “I eat a good dinner, take a hot shower, and do some homework. If I truly need to relax and settle down after a really stressful game, I’ll lay down for a bit and watch some TV. 90 Day Fiance is my favorite show!”

Playing a fierce and competitive game requires skill, discipline, and in the case of most varsity volleyball players, preparation and a chance to unwind. By planning out each game day, Jade Rutherford makes the most out of every minute and beats the stress, replacing it instead with appreciation for the sport and a love for her team.