The Benchwarmer

I’ll admit it. I was never an outstanding athlete. Though I played volleyball for 6 years, was a track athlete for 5 years, played softball and basketball as a kid, and tried my hand at a little golf, I don’t have much to show for it. I didn’t break any records or win many medals, but I did enjoy playing on varsity teams.

My sophomore year of high school, I started varsity for my high school’s volleyball team. I had so much fun playing the game as a middle hitter! However, the next year, I became a utility/all-around player on varsity, getting to play wherever my coach put me. Though I was glad my coach thought I could play well wherever she put me, I didn’t get to play as regularly as I had been able to. Then, my senior year, I sat the bench more than I ever stepped foot on the court. 

During that season, I’ll be completely honest: I was really bitter about my situation. I mean, I had played varsity in high school for the last 2 years, and now I had to sit on the bench every game. Plus, I was never given a reason why. And especially during my senior year, being sat on the bench really hurt. Though I was bitter at the beginning of the season, I started to see the value in being a benchwarmer and I learned some lessons:

A coach is just one person’s opinion.

Because I was left behind on the bench, I felt really bad about myself. I thought there must be something wrong with me and that I was a horrible athlete. But as the season went by, I realized that it’s only one opinion. I knew I was capable because I had been in the past! Don’t ever let one person’s opinion affect your motivation to reach your potential.

You can be the cheerleader that other people need.

I started to find incredible value in being the “hype” of the volleyball team. Cheering, high-fiving, and encouraging others became my niche. Sitting the bench also put me in the perfect position to lift up those that sat on the bench with me. I started to realize that I was sitting on the bench for a reason and that I could be the best at it. This leads me to my third point…

Take pride in being the best at whatever position you’re put in.

If I wasn’t going to play, I wanted to be the best at something. And honestly, I would much rather be remembered as the kind, uplifting teammate rather than the best middle hitter. No matter where you’re placed in life, strive to be the best at it. Don’t do everything to the best of your ability because you’re seeking a reward for it. Do everything to the best of your ability because that’s the kind of person you want to be. 

In it all, I learned that how you act and react, even when things aren’t going the way you want them to, determines how far you will go in life. It speaks volumes about your character. 

Choose to have a good attitude and to invest in doing your best, regardless of the position or situation you’re put in. Life is far more enjoyable this way, even as a benchwarmer. 

Cheering you on from the sidelines, 


About Abby Johnson

Hometown: Salina, Kansas Parents: David and Peggy Johnson Chapter: Southeast of Saline FFA Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE): Specialty Animal Production and a Diversified Ag Placement Highest Chapter & or District Office: North Central District FFA President College: Kansas State University Year: Freshman Major: Agricultural Education High School or College Activities: National Honor Society, Band and Choir, Student Council, SES Madrigal Singers, Varsity Volleyball Teammate, Member of SES Track and Field Career Goal: Obtain a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education to become an Ag educator and FFA advisor at a small-town high school in Kansas or a neighboring state. “In FFA, I have been fortunate to make so many genuine relationships with others. No matter what leadership position I have served in, I have found a way to connect with others and help them find what they excel at,” Johnson said. “This action I have taken has brought about positive change. FFA has uncovered my desire to help members, especially those that are shy or overlooked, grow into leaders that no one expected them to become. I believe that every member in Kansas FFA has a leader inside them. As a Kansas FFA Officer, I hope to create meaningful relationships with members from across our state and help them succeed by uncovering their passion through action.”