In the four years I have been writing in this space, I've talked with head coach Debbie Humphreys scores of times - after matches, before practices, in season, out of season.. pretty much year round. I think Allison Gideon would rank as the single most talked about player leading up to a season that I have ever heard Debbie talk about. During Gideon's redshirt year, the Ladyjacks rotated through various setting situations - some of which weren't very productive, others that were riddled with injury. Humphreys looked forward to stability with Gideon at the helm going into the 2010 season. Nearly every conversation was filled with comments like "next year, we'll have Allison in there".
The 2010 season did feature Gideon as the pilot, but during the off-season leading into 2011, Paige Holland was recruited and as 2011 preseason practices wore on it became clearer Holland would be the primary setter. Gideon went from a redshirt preparing for four years of setting duties to a backup relegated to a much suppressed role in just one season.
A year is a long time.
Changes are always waiting around the corner. This time, "around the corner" is Nashville, Tennessee.
Do you know how rare it is to talk with a centered, courteous, solid-in-their-faith college senior? It's very rare. I've worked at SFA for 16 years. I've seen students motivated by a lot of things: fear, grades, money, parties, parents, boyfriends, but most of all, I've seen them motivated by... well, very little. Now look, this isn't a down and out post lamenting today's youth. I am just simply saying that maturity doesn't always come as fast as the college generation believes it does.
But, with Gideon? With this chat? I felt like I was talking to someone well beyond their early 20s. It was refreshing and comforting. Not only to talk with someone with a belief set common to my own, but just to hear the acceptance and peace that so readily radiates in Gideon's story.
If there was someone to actually feel sorry for last year, it might have been Allison Gideon. I mean, gosh, she was a starter and then barely got court time. But, to listen to her tell it... you become convinced a higher plan was at work. To hear her talk about her relationship with teammates... even the one who "took her spot"... the only response I could formulate in my brain is: This is one grounded, centered and sure young woman.
Allison Gideon is about to embark on a different kind of mission. One that isn't about conference titles and winning volleyball games. No, this story has got a bit more of an eternal feel to it. Allison is being called into missionary training and the interview posted below details her decision making process up to this point.
This space is generally spent analyzing volleyball, not discussing one's faith. Well, not today. This story is just too important. I knew the minute I got a copy of the letter that Allison wrote telling family and friends about her new journey that I wanted to give her this chance to share. It's the very, very least I could do. I want her to succeed. I want her to succeed more in this challenge than at any time I ever watched her walk on the court. It's just more important.
Take a listen to our 15-20 minute chat. Allison will be blogging about her missionary training and experiences both here and overseas during the next few years. I'll keep a link to her blog active on the right sidebar.
A year is a long time. Imagine the potential impact: Allison Gideon is on a mission.