Kendall Marx couldn’t quite believe what Bel Air volleyball coach Dave Simon was telling her on the day he made final cuts.
The senior expected to hear what she had heard before — that she had been cut. But she hadn’t. This time, she made the team.
“I was just kind of like, ‘Wait. I did it,’” Marx said. “I walked in there kind of not expecting it to go over well and it was a little bit overwhelming. It took a good 24 hours for it to hit me.”
Marx managed the Bobcats after getting cut her freshman and junior years. COVID-19 cancelled her sophomore season.
“She’s always really done everything to the best of her ability,” Simon said. “She made sure that everybody was in the right place and if people cancelled and she was short staffed, she rolled up her sleeves and made it happen. We always admired that about her… A lot of times you say, ‘You can do anything if you work hard,’ but some people do work hard and don’t get that reward. It’s always nice to see someone who was working hard get that reward.”
The 5-foot-3 setter knew she probably wouldn’t get a lot of playing time for the No. 9 Bobcats (4-0), who have won 27 straight Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference matches and have reached the Class 3A state semifinals three straight times.
However, she has already gotten on the court a few times which she said makes her a little nervous.
“I’d go back to serve and I’d get myself all stressed out, but it’s been really amazing, even just to be standing there in uniform. The first time I put my uniform on, I was like, ‘This is real. Wow.’ Getting to come out of the tunnel at our home game last week, it was all kind of surreal.”
Simon knows something about the dedication it takes to keep trying to make a team after missing the cut a few times. He made his high school baseball team after getting cut three times.
He said he shares his story to encourage players not to give up if they love a sport. Marx wasn’t the only Bel Air volleyball player this year to prove that’s true. Sophomores Selah Evans and Sydney Feurer made the junior varsity team after getting cut as freshmen.
“It isn’t a guarantee,” Simon said, “but if you fight hard for something, you might just get it, but if you give up, the dream is over.”
Evans, who managed with Marx last season, said she was “super excited” to make the JV team and the first thing she did was run to tell Marx. A little while later, Marx shared her happy news.
“I know how hard she had worked for it,” Evans said. “It’s very cool, because me and her shared a similar kind of experience with managing and then playing. It was a different experience being a manager, because it’s not that you weren’t part of the program but it felt separate. Of course, everyone was polite, but we both had that experience of feeling a little bit distant and then going into playing for the actual team and having a new experience with the players and coaches.”
Marx’s dedication to the sport started with a clinic in seventh grade. She soon tried out for the Intensity Volleyball Club in Bel Air and has played ever since.
Over the summer, she worked harder than ever, going to clinics and staying after club practice to hone her skills. She credits her 17/18U Intensity coach Steve Swann with helping her improve enough to make the Bel Air team.
Simon noticed Marx’s improvement as soon as practice started on Aug. 10.
“Obviously, she had been working with somebody and been playing club and she must have had a good coach, because she was able to do things that, quite honestly, I didn’t know she could do. It was surprising in a good way,” he said.
Marx, 17, admits there were times she thought about giving up on high school volleyball.
When she’d come home from a tough practice or her confidence would wane, she said her mother, Meghan Bennett-Marx, who was also a setter in high school, helped her work through her frustration and focus on her goal.
“Volleyball is my sport. It’s what makes me happy,” Marx said. “I want to get up in the mornings and I want to be playing volleyball … and I’ve spent the past two years watching all these amazing girls playing from the managing table and I was like I want to be up there with them. Getting to see them right there, just made me want it more.”
Marx, who also plays tennis for the Bobcats, takes classes at Harford Community College and plans to continue work on a degree in computer information systems at the college next fall. She said trying out for volleyball has crossed her mind, but she won’t decide until next year.
Even if she doesn’t play volleyball after this fall, Marx said everything she went through to make the Bobcats team has taught her a valuable lesson that carries over off the court.
“I am able to use that in other places like schoolwork and stuff like that. It’s kind of a little reminder I have to myself, ‘Hey look, you can do things even if you don’t think that you can.’ It’s just a nice little boost of encouragement in other aspects of my life and a little confidence boost as well.”