Their gel soles beneath my feet. Each toe feels like it is stepping on a squishy yoga mat. One active ankle glides beneath each gel pocket. I strap in placing one foot into the size eight Mizuno brand shoe. My black socks fresh and ready for practice. Each ankle brace is strapped on right foot then the left. I grab the tethered black laces and follow the old bunny ear trick like kindergarteners on their first day of school. Double knotting each set of laces ensuring no retires must be done. I stand up, ready to play. One step at a time I walk onto the court with my soft cushions beneath me. Pacing the court, waiting for the first serve, feeling the same old shoes from a year ago. I know domination is waiting for me to rise to the occasion. These shoes are like a binky to a baby, they satisfy me and keep me calm. When I wear them I know it is time to play. This gym is mine and all eyes are on my team and I, each in our own soled shoes. Seeing the freshmen playing in their gym shoes makes me cringe. To me it’s a sad display of effort and dedication to the sport of volleyball. In middle school I owned a pair of bright red shoes, which reflecting back were very unnecessary and ugly. I’m glad that I have my pillow like shoes to whisk me onto the court. Hoping that each play I make with them will get me closer and closer to a victory. A victory for me doesn’t have to be winning the game it can be like a toddler going on the big girls toilet for the first time. It’s the small victories within each play.