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Starlings Stories

In essays and poems as part of Starlings' Literary/Art Contest and in letters and other communications, those who have been touched by Starlings often share their stories. A sampling is below.

To me, Starlings is a way of life.

Starlings. A simple nine lettered word. What does it mean?  What does it symbolize? What does it represent? Naively, anyone would say that Starlings is a club — a volleyball club — a girls' volleyball club — a widespread girls' volleyball club. But so what? Why is Starlings such an amazing program?

For starters, Starlings isn't just about volleyball. It teaches us how to set goals and how to get across the bumps in the road we're all maneuvering along — the road to success.

Starlings has allowed me to realize that in order to succeed and progress in life, I have to first learn how to be a person. Through this Starlings path I've taken, I have learned to increase my self-esteem, to enhance my academic achievements and to live a healthy life. And through this process, I have met a group of the most wonderful people in the world. All of these things make up a part of who I am today. To me, Starlings is a way of life.

Lili Sun
10th grade
New York City Starlings

I will never forget the memories.

Having a chance to be a player for the Starlings is something that I cherish a lot, and I am going to miss playing for them. I am a senior this year, so this is my last season as a "playing" member of the club, but I will never forget the memories. And I know that I can always come home to be part of the club. Coach says she can always find something for us older girls to do. 

I sometimes wish I could be a little girl all over just so I could represent Starlings Volleyball Club, Indianapolis, on the volleyball court again.

Alana Lewis
12th grade
Starlings Indianapolis

If it was not for this club in Baltimore, we would not have a chance to play volleyball at a competitive level.

My name is Tyshae Hunter and I have been a part of the Baltimore Starlings program for five years. I’ve had many experiences playing at different levels, and I have met a lot of people from around the world. I attend Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, Maryland. I am a senior and would like to play in college. I have met many college coaches and played in many tournaments, but this couldn’t have been possible if it wasn't for the Baltimore Starlings program. This is one of the clubs that is affordable and doesn’t cost thousands of dollars to play. 

We pick up teammates some mornings who don’t have a ride, and we donate an item from our lunch so that every player can get something to eat. If it was not for this club in Baltimore, we would not have a chance to play volleyball at a competitive level.

Tyshae Hunter
Baltimore Starlings, 2017

The Brevard Starlings team represents a family to which our kids can always belong. 

In a letter to Starlings' Executive Director Byron Shewman, a parent shared her thoughts about Fred Howell, coach of the Brevard County, Florida, Starlings club.

Dear Mr. Shewman,
I am writing to you to let you know how much I and many other parents appreciate Coach Fred Howell and the local Starlings organization.  I have personally witnessed Coach Howell give everything he has to his protégés and mentor them into their future successes.  I am not sure how Starlings works as far as how things are funded from the top down but I wanted to let you know that I have reached out to several organizations seeking corporate sponsorship for our Brevard Starlings team because of the economic hardships that many of our Starlings families endure.

I also wanted to sing praises about your faithful volunteer.  You should be well pleased with Coach Fred’s leadership and endless dedication.  I have witnessed Coach Fred and his volunteer coaches exercise exemplary care and concern with our inner-city youth!  I personally know that it is not an easy undertaking to mentor people from various backgrounds and severely disadvantaged communities. But he faithfully shows us that he sincerely cares what happens to our kids.  He speaks truth, wisdom, and empowerment into each child as if they were his own.  He even makes sure that every child that comes to the Starlings is fed both physically and emotionally.  Coach Fred and his team seamlessly dedicate all of their time and financial resources for the love of the community, the love of the game, and for the love of our children!  I have never seen another human care so much that it is everything they identify by. They literally care for the whole person.  Our children and parents look up to the Brevard Starlings and their leadership as true Community Leaders!  I am overwhelmed to know how much Coach Fred and his team have dedicated to the Brevard Starlings and our county. The Brevard Starlings team represents a family to which our kids can always belong.  They bring so much to the table that I can’t express my gratitude enough!  I am not sure if Coach Fred and his staff are ever compensated for what they do, but I wanted to let you know that he is a person who deserves to be compensated in more ways that just financial.  It is my honor to know them and to be able to volunteer under their superior service. 

Lastly, Coach Fred and his staff make sure to exercise their connections within the community to make sure that each child is also mentored by the right college/university representatives that specialize in Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics studies!  This is a priceless asset!  Thank you so much for allowing them to be part of your great organization!

Sally B. Maldonado

Starlings are strangers on a team that become sisters.

Starlings is girls coming together from different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. Where everyone is equal but recognizing that we are all one in a million. Starling are from different universes put under one sky. Where superstars become comfortable with their own style. Starlings are strangers on a team that become sisters.

And last of all, Starlings is chasing your greatest dream and becoming an unforgettable athlete. We are all Starlings.

Jessica Slim
9th grade
Starlings Otay Ranch, California

Starling's Flight

The tweet of the whistle
The flight of the ball as it flutters over the net
And swoops through the other team's arms

It perches gently on the floor for a point.

The cage of the net is waiting to pull me in
To capture my flight through the air.
Don't touch it or I'll be trapped
Not able to soar.

My flock of teammates enables me to fly,
Fast and strong we climb together.
Every win the wind beneath our wings,
Every loss a stepping stone.

Flock behind me,
The flight of the Starling allows me to sail
To heights I only dreamed of reaching.
No longer alone, I glide through the clouds.

Lessons learned with my bevy:
Perseverance, teamwork, and love for the flight.
My compass in the nebulous world,
Clearing the skies and uncertainty.

Navigating my way home,
My life: the flight of the Starling.

Megan Upp
8th grade
Mission Bay, California

My Anti-Drug

It makes my days a little better
It fills my life with glee
It is volleyball
It is ME

It devours me and consumes me
It is my drug

But it's my ANTI-DRUG

Sweat, pain, adrenaline
Pumping with each pass I make
Hungry and thirsty for the bruises, scrapes, burns and breaks
The white ball soaring in the air
I wait
Until that chance, that only chance
To hit it and kill it straight into the floor
Really, what more can you ask for?

It's my drug

But it's my ANTI-DRUG

I can't get enough, I need it to sustain my meaningless life
Without volleyball, I don't think I could survive
My inspirations, my dreams, my hopes derive from this sport
Just to be part of a team and to be inside the court

What can I say, it's my drug

But guess what?


Daisy Lopez
11th grade
South Gate, California

A thank you

I’m greatly in debt to the Starlings program because it gives people the chance to do what they enjoy the most without worrying about where they will get the money from. In a poverty-stricken city like the one i live in, it’s good to know that you can do what you like without having the stress of paying thousands of dollars.

Portia Walker
12th grade
Baltimore Starlings