Tough Love

During St. Mary’s five-game loss to Albany on Oct. 4, sophomore Tarah Murrey, an outsider hitter one coach called "the most talented player in Northern California" was hounded by the Albany students sitting in the stands.  Now, it’s not uncommon for the home fans to go berserk on the visiting  team. Heck, it’s expected. But to single out one player? In girls and boys basketball it happens here and there. At a girls volleyball match? — Hadn’t seen it before.
After Murrey made a few uncharacteristic mistakes early, (hitting into the net or out) the blood was in the water and the sharks attacked. They
were quick and unforgiving.
The Cougars’ fans (wanna-be Duke crazies) didn’t hesitate to break out the "OVER-RATED" chant.
After a serve into the net: “OVER-RATED.” After one of her attacks was blocked: “OVER-RATED.”
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, the whole thing made me cringe and it seemed to get in Murrey’s head. That’s just an assumption. She still finished with 14 kills and three aces.
And right before I pulled out my box of Kleenex, I thought to myself, "Why feel sorry for her? They’re actually paying her respect."
Only the best get that type of treatment. I mean, there wasn’t a peep when any of the other Panthers made a mistake.
It’s true. Greatness is held up to such a higher standard (especially on the road against your rival).
Albany and their sophomore phenom Jana Poole gave its home crowd what they wanted with the exciting win. But just before the match, those same fans who tried to ridicule Murrey, watched as she warmed up and pounded the ball with grace and power. After one particular shot, some turned to each other with a look on their face as if to say, “Wow. She’s awesome.” It was like San Francisco Giants fans watching Barry Bonds hit home runs in batting practice. 
Those same fans made it a point to let Murrey hear how they felt whenever she messed up — until the referee, in what was the right move, put an end to it by silencing the chant.
For a fierce competitor, such hoopla should be the ultimate compliment.