Two big and burly men were angry at each other. Their fists were clenched, posture rigid, and tight smiles stretched across their faces showing too many teeth.
Definitely not a typical night at volleyball. Generally, the fact that we have no physical interaction with the opposing team prevents a lot of the heightened drama and physical altercations that affect other sports. Occasionally, when call is disputed, the team captain may (with poor judgement) yell at the referee. But, when recreational leagues are coached by fellow teams and the referee is not an authority figure, the frustration can occasionally seek another target.
Whatever the call, right or wrong, it no longer mattered. It was a great game, a close game, and emotions were running high. Following the end of the match, I watched in amazement as this Hulk came over to our side of the net and casually extended his middle finger.
This man is at least 40 years old.
I was further stunned by my teammate’s reaction: a double bird.
This man is at least 30 years old.
The rest of the team stood by with jaws open, waiting for the fight. My feet were already moving, and less than a second later I had planted myself between the two titans. My brain was unsure if this was a good idea.
I pulled out my mental toolbox and dug through my crisis intervention strategies and found some lessons from my field placement class. One (very tense) minute later the men returned to their respective sides and the night continued sans bloodshed.
It is amazing when your body reacts to the confidence you have amassed through learning before your head realizes your strengths. I have no idea whether they would have actually come to blows had I not stepped in, but I believe this resolution was faster and tidier. It certainly made the rest my teammates feel better. And, it made me feel better, too.