There was a time in Dripping Springs Tiger senior Madi Certain’s life when volleyball didn’t encompass her entire being.
During her grade school years, Certain tried her hand at a variety of sports, including basketball, which she was fairly successful in.
None of those sports, however, had the staying power and intrigue volleyball could offer Certain. Six years and a plethora of kills later, Certain, who plays at outside hitter, aims to become a key figure in Dripping Springs’ quest for the postseason, and possibly state, in 2018.
The life lessons learned on the volleyball court, however, go far beyond wins and losses for Certain.
Certain’s path in volleyball was forged during her 7th grade year at Dahlstrom Middle School. At the time, Certain was vying for a spot on the middle school team, and eventually grew to love the competitiveness of the sport.
One of Certain’s motivators was her mother, Kimberly, who herself was a volleyball player at Hays High.
During her first few years in the sport, Certain said her mother would work with her in the back yard, offering tips and advice.
“In the summer, we would just go outside and mom would teach the basics and the skills of it,” Certain said.
It wasn’t until she became a freshman at Dripping Springs High that volleyball began to take root in Certain’s mind. At the same time, Certain was starting to branch out into the club volleyball scene, which offered a more competitive atmosphere to play in.
Playing at the club level also meant squaring-off against friends, and at times teammates, who played on opposing teams. While it was a “weird” feeling, Certain said the experiences helped to improve overall competitiveness on both sides.
“It helps you be a team,” Certain said. “It was fun going up against someone you know, but who’s on a different team.”
The team dynamic, which involves constant communication at all times, ultimately was the factor that keeps Certain between the lines. Certain said volleyball is much different than many other sports, which often revolve around contact of some kind.
The chance to make friends and building cameraderie is an equally important factor. Certain said playing volleyball has helped her forge skills such as mental toughness and leadership, which extend off of the court.
Providing assistance toward that goal is Dripping Springs head coach Michael Kane, who Certain said is “awesome.”
“He just does a lot of team commitment stuff. He focuses on skills, but also the team as well,” Certain said.
As the season draws near, Certain said she and her fellow seniors are working to keep everyone accountable and at the same level once the first ball is served.
Encouraging fellow athletes to participate in off-season summer workouts, in order to ensure commitment, has been one of Certain’s tasks.
“That is what helps the team and program stay together,” Certain said.