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Former DHS athlete delivers message of perseverance

by Amy Roby

During a recent visit home from college, Douglas High School graduate Caitlyn Costa visited Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School to share lessons learned from her middle and high school years.

Costa was bullied in middle school and dealt with it by behaving like a bully herself. Drawing from those experiences, she encouraged students to seek out and find more productive ways to manage and work through issues. Costa was joined by her father, Nevada State Sen. James Settelmeyer, and they both wanted to ensure students are aware of the many school and community resources available to help support them through challenges.

Costa recalled feelings of anger and sadness when she made the transition from elementary to middle school and her difficulties in establishing new friendships.

“I wasn’t alone, but I thought I was,” she said.

She didn’t want to admit she was upset and initially tried to manage her emotions by withdrawing and staying isolated in her bedroom.

When her father approached her to ask about what was wrong, she insisted everything was fine. Settelmeyer persisted for weeks, and Costa eventually broke down, revealing her struggles in a candid talk.

“My dad asked, ‘What do you want?’ I didn’t want a hobby. [Then he asked], ’What about a sport?’”

Something clicked for Costa during that conversation, and she decided to try out for the PWL volleyball team.

It took two years of hard work and dedication to practice, often two hours per day, before she eventually earned a spot on the DHS freshman team.

“When I didn’t get on [to the PWL team], I was hurt … I went home and cried. I didn’t expect to lose, but I did. That took my ego away from me a little bit and I told myself, ‘OK, I have to try.’”

Costa admits she wanted to quit after not making the PWL team, but she found support and received encouragement from her family, teachers, middle school counselor, and several friends who were already on the team.

“They told me not to give up…they wanted to see me succeed. [But the effort and practice] took a lot of my own heart,” she said. “You have to want to do it, and tell yourself you want to do it. Practice makes perfect, and don’t give up.”

Making the DHS volleyball team presented a new set of challenges.

“The freshman coach focused on me because I was the worst player,” Costa said with a laugh. “I had the desire to have the skill but not the skill. I didn’t know the positions, the rules, or the point system. All I knew was there was a ball, a net, and kneepads.”

None of that deterred her.

“Playing made me happy, it gave me something to do every day…it got me out of that funk… once I got into sports, I made a new group of friends, and I realized, ‘There are nice people out there.’”

Costa’s confidence got a boost and she marveled at her newfound ability to make friends. Volleyball also pushed her academically because she had to earn good grades in order to play.

“It made me more responsible. I had to wake up on time get to class, get to practice, and find room for friends and friendship,” Costa said.

She emphasized that there are many ways to be involved and stressed the importance of reaching out.

“Find something that makes you happy.” Costa said. “Join leadership class, that’s a way to make friends super fast because you’re involved in everything…join a sport, focus on your grades, go all out during the football games…talk to people; you are never alone. There are resources available, counselors and teachers who want to be there for you…coaches that care about you, friends that care about you…parents care for you. [Parents] have experience and know what they are talking about most of the time,” she said with a smile.

Throughout her years at DHS, Costa dedicated herself to playing volleyball.

Her efforts paid off with a full ride scholarship to Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., and that college experience has provided her with even more opportunities and friendships. Costa has met other students from locations around the world, and she has roommates from Greece and Serbia.

In acknowledging the middle school experience and the complicated feelings and reactions that can accompany that time, Costa encouraged students to stay positive and explore ways to develop their potential and express their talents.

“I am here to tell you that you are wanted,” she said. “You are wanted here. Everyone in this room is needed.”

Costa’s visit was arranged through the Reward Club sessions of the MEFIYI (Me-for-Incredible-Youth, Inc.) foundation. JoJo and Suzi Townsell established the nonprofit foundation in 1997 with a mission to “promote, encourage, and support amateur athletics, recreation programs, and physical fitness for Nevada student athletes.”

Bingo Friday night

Friday night, the Tahoe/Douglas Elks host their final Bingo night of 2019 at the lodge, 1227 Kimmerling Road in the Gardnerville Ranchos. Doors open at 5 p.m. with warm ups at 6 and regular games starting at 7 p.m. Games are open to players age 21 and above.

Complimentary coffee and pretzels will be served. Burgers, hot dogs, chili, chips, candy bars, and a variety of beverages will be available for purchase.

Cover all jackpot progressive is $1,199 in 53 numbers or less; Power Ball is $25.

Proceeds from the Elks’ Bingo events benefit programs and services for seniors, veterans, and youth in the Carson Valley.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.