Art by @Ruttika_Shin on twitter
“Alright, so you’ll take care of the B-team for me will you? I’ve hired a new coach of course to help you but to be honest you know most of the athletes better and can steer him in the right direction okay?”
“Sure thing coach, I’ll take care of the little ones”, I laughed and the coach snickered.
“They are almost the same age as you Kuroo, please be sensible!”
“Right, right, I’m no different than them, but I’m still curious why you chose me”.
The coach sighed and patted my back, “to be honest I hate that I can’t take you in after tryouts. I mean I maybe could but you sai-”
“No different treatment! I’ll wait for next semester. My shoulder is still not completely there yet anyways”, I rolled my shoulder back to show him my current mobility, and he furrowed his brows when I winced.
“Still hurts a bit, but I can move it”
“That’s good, I really hope to see you in the team soon, and until then at least you’re with the team in another way!”
I knew the coach tried to comfort me with that. I mean it was ultimately my decision to help out, if I couldn’t play volleyball I wanted to coach it.
Still, the fact that my shoulder took longer than I wanted to heal was frustrating, and seeing the others train to their heart’s content did sting a little.
“Exactly coach! I’m here to get the ball rolling for your B-team”, I grinned and hoped to conceal my slight disdain.
Another shove from the back made me topple over, and I snickered as I opened the door to the locker room.
It was empty, but the bags on the floors and the shoes splayed everywhere showed that everyone was already warming up in the gym.
The smell of the hardwood floors was uncanny, and the squeaking sound of the soles around the court brought me right back to the international camp a couple weeks ago.
None of the athletes noticed me, but I quickly found a beta stepping in front of me to hand me a clipboard.
“Ah, thank you!”, I nodded and she returned the gesture only for her to vanish again and prepare towels and water with some other assistants.
There were three of them in total, with their badges I assumed one of them was the manager and when she looked up to lock eyes with me she waved.
Okay then Kuroo, we’ll see where this goes.
“Ah, you must be Kuroo Tetsuro!”, a voice bellowed from behind me and I looked at the new coach who had a bright smile on her face.
A female coach. Interesting.
Not unusual at this university, something like that didn’t quite matter to me as long as the job was done. And depending on if the person was bearable to talk with.
“Correct! You’re the new coach I’m supposed to show you the ropes!”, she extended her hand and I shook it.
“Yeah I hope so, to be honest this is all new to me and most of the traditional coaches tell me I should assimilate”, her fingers drew air quotations, “so I’ll let you show me my new athletes”.
She said all of that with a tone that dared you to talk back, and I grinned at her obvious confidence.
From what my nose told me I had an alpha standing in front of me, although I didn’t want to assume anything.
The scent of fresh cut grass infiltrated my nostrils and I wouldve started some sort of stupid joke if I wasnt interrupted.
Turning around to find Oikawa walking towards me, I couldn’t mask my excitement.
With Iwaizumi trailing behind him and Sakusa with a healthy distance, I knew this season would be very special.
Oikawa’s arm drew around me in a friendly hug and I coughed out a laugh as he hit my back a little too hard.
“Uh! You’re breaking a wounded man!”, I whined.
“Am I supposed to have compassion?”, he held his free hand on his chest to feign sympathy and pouted.
“Didn’t know you had empathy in you”, I shot back and his pout formed into a challenged grin.
“Nice to be back people”, I said a little louder for everyone to hear me and Oikawa drew back to stand with the others, “A new season is starting and you all landed here with me and your new coach.”
The alpha made her way next to me and introduced herself quickly, while I thought of how to start this practice.
“Okay then! Since I know most of your abilities, we will be showing our new coach here what the Guardians can do! Let’s demonstrate!”
Quickly after a joined warmup, we started to go through rotations of serves and digs as well as practiced blocks.
“Oikawa! Give us another one! Sakusa, you better dig it!”
One of the betas quickly scribbled down some statistics and I took a quick glance.
I knew Oikawas from the stories in highschool, but I’ve never had the chance to try and receive them until college.
Monster serves are a good way to describe the almost disgusting precision and strength, but Sakusa didn’t let himself get played.
“With a bump he caught the impact with a grunt, but it swerved wrong and landed out of bounds”.
I kissed my teeth but was still impressed, after a while Sakusa quickly adapted to the setter, and I liked the harmony between the athletes so far.
“This is the B team?”, Coach Mei mumbled next to me, “how good is team A?”
I shook my head, “I don’t know. I was away last semester and haven’t seen the new recruits in the other team, but I know for a fact that these are some of the best players the Guardians have.”
“Head coach told me we were adjusting the teams to test stuff out, but honestly why now?”
I had no idea.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid to win?”, I laughed and I was jabbed in the side.
“Stop kidding! I was just thinking to myself. If these guys are that good, I hope the others are better. For their sake”.
That left something in my brain.
For their sake.
I knew that the coach wasn’t stupid. He was maybe an older man, but seemed smart enough to know his athletes. He knows that he had some of the best athletes on the B-team, and the way he talked to me he seemed sensible enough to know what it would mean for someone like Sakusa who had a pro-career in his sights to play less.
He knew what it would mean for someone like Bokuto not to have the best around him, a support system that can push him, or someone like Oikawa and Iwaizumi who both had the abilities to soar in front of a bigger audience now.
Was that all for naught?
I’m seeing all of this from the perspective of an athlete more than that of a coach right?
My hand drifted up to clutch my shoulder to massage it a little bit.
It’s just that I’m projecting onto them too heavily. If they do well here, which of course they will, slowly I will let them bleed into the bigger game rosters.
The sound of a ball crashing into the ceiling sent me out of my internal monologue and made me look up at the incoming ball before Mei took a perfect step to land underneath the ball and bump it towards the players with ease.
“Hoho~ that was clean”, I murmured.
“What? Didn’t expect the female coach to get a stray ball?”, she replied with scepsims in her eyes.
I merely let my hands shoot up in defense and shook my head, “Nope not that, I’m just impressed. Did you used to play setter?”
Nodding she walked a bit closer to instruct everyone on a new exercise and I asked the beta assistant for the current stats so far.
“Here you go”, she handed me a notefile and I quickly went over it while she commented, “It’s interesting to see this dynamic play for the first time. Sakusa is helping out a lot in the defense and Oikawa has yet to fumble a pass. Same goes for Iwaizumi, as well as number 3 which I don’t know very well yet”.
I nodded over the quickly jotted notes and numbers.
A grin started to form on my face.
The new season can come.