All-Star Spotlight: Starburst for your huddle?

Every Tuesday and Thursday in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Kyley Reed, a senior volleyball player at Rocky Hill (Conn.), reveals the importance of the two red Starbursts she keeps in her bag.

Stuffed way in the corner of my volleyball backpack is a tiny red pouch. This pouch travels with me to every athletic event I attend. What lies inside this pouch is not very sentimental, it’s not magical, and it’s not really that cool. Inside this pouch are two red Starbursts.

Yes, it’s my favorite flavor, but I don’t even eat them. The only purpose these Starbursts serve is to sit in my backpack and remind me every once in a while of a lesson I once learned in a rather unusual team huddle.

The team huddle I am referring to was unlike any other in that it was possibly the most unfitting huddle I’ve ever experienced. We were down 24-23, and we had just given the other team match point. Our coach was not happy, and neither were we. So she called a timeout, and we braced ourselves for her fury. We jogged over toward the bench and stood silent.

She waited a moment and studied our faces. Finally she began, “So, what’s everyone’s favorite flavor of Starburst?”

We stared at her with confused looks on our faces. Starburst?

Our coach turned to me waiting for an answer. Hoping I’d heard her correctly, I said timidly, “Well I guess I’d have to go with red.”

She then faced my other five teammates who also listed their favorite flavors with questioning expressions. Once she’d finished listening, she started chatting. It was match point and we now had 43 seconds left in this timeout and our coach was chatting. About Starburst. I wondered if this was real.

“I love the pink ones. All of the other ones I just leave in the wrapper.” She chuckled to herself and continued. “But I’m more of a Sour Patch kind of gal anyways.” Then one of my teammates chimed in, “Oh, Sour Patch all day!”

Laughter filled the huddle, and soon we were all shouting out opinions on the best Sour Patch Kids, Starburst and Skittles flavors.

“Green and yellow Skittles taste like Sprite, it’s wonderful!”

“Yellow Skittles?! Are you out of your mind?”

Our coach was not yelling, but we were.

And before we knew it, the buzzer blared and our timeout came to an end. So our coach began with a smile, “All right, guys. Just play. Keep those smiles on your faces and do what you know how to do.”

We walked out onto that court with no trace of defeat or nerves. We were relaxed and confident and had regained our energy. So we just played, and we won.

And that is the story behind those two red Starbursts that stay tucked in the corner of my volleyball backpack. Whenever it’s game point and I feel on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I think of Sour Patch, Starburst, and Skittles. I relax and just play.