The shock and sadness were immediate for Bella Higdon.
Volleyball was a big part of her life — a really big part of her young life. It’s a circle where most of her closest friends were and where her dreams of playing high school volleyball, and maybe beyond, rested.
She had played on the freshman team at Central Hardin and expected much more. Just like that, it was over. As a sophomore, she was cut from the team.
“One of the hardest parts was knowing I wasn’t ever going to get the opportunity to play high school volleyball anymore because my heart was set on Central and continuing my education and athletics there,” Higdon said.
She said being told at the time that she “wasn’t good enough” broke her heart. Higdon thought her life as a volleyball player was over.
But there’s a lesson to be learned from Higdon’s journey through her high school years — you don’t give up when you have dreams. You just find a different path to achieve them.
“It broke my heart because I had put so much time, money and commitment into the sport, and I thought it was all gone in that moment,” she said.
In the days after she was cut from the team, she realized the fire and passion for the game she had played since the third-grade at St. James Catholic School and then at East Hardin Middle School, was still there, maybe more than ever.
“I wasn’t me without it,” said Higdon, who lives in Elizabethtown.
So she went back to work on her game, her determination stronger than ever.
She played on a club team from Lexington that fall after being cut and a few months later as a sophomore, she learned about the Rolling Hills volleyball club team in Bullitt County.
“Once I decided to join the team, I immediately grew so close to the girls and felt like they were a real family who loved the sport and had a passion for working hard,” Higdon said.
The coach of the team, Danielle Merrick, also is the coach at Rolling Hills Christian School in Shepherdsville.
For Higdon, it became more than a perfect fit to transfer to Rolling Hills.
“I immediately knew that moving to Rolling Hills was God’s path for me and my life would change for the better,” she said.
At a young age when it’s so easy to quit rather than find a way around a life hurdle, Higdon was persistent. The sadness she had felt when she was cut became the fuel to her future.
“Once I decided to join the team, I immediately grew so close to the girls and felt like they were a real family who loved the sport and had a passion for working hard,” she said.
Higdon, a 5-foot-7, lefty right-side hitter, is now a senior at Rolling Hills. Her dream of playing volleyball at the college level is on the verge of happening. She will attend Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, a small non-denominational Christian school that plays at the NAIA level, much like Union College and Campbellsville University.
She said her love for the sport, despite some hurt along the way from it, is strong.
“Getting that crazy kill or the most intense dig is the best feeling in the world and makes you just love the sport and want to play all the time,” she said. “I’m also a pretty competitive person, so the winning is a plus, too, of course.”
Rejection is cruel, especially at a young age.
Higdon’s journey, whether it comes in sports or in another aspect of life, is an example of never giving up on your hopes and dreams. You just have to sometimes take a different path to your destination.