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You squeeze my hand and I squeeze back. Your hand in mine feels solid but soft, like something precious and real, reminding me that we did this together. On stage they read out “Hinata Shouyou” and I struggle not to get too emotional. Beside me you are sniffling quietly, but there’s a smile on your face. This is a feeling that I understand right now.

These are our boys, the last of them.

There have been other boys, of course, and those boys are our boys too. But these boys are our children, the youngest of the ones who brought us together.These boys were of the first that I’d ever coached. These boys were the boys you fought so hard for, that first hard year on the team when you barely knew a volley from a spike.

It’s been three years and we’ve watched them grow together, learn together. They are not really boys anymore, at least not the same individual snot nosed brats who fought over every single thing from what position they wanted to play to the last porkbun in the bag. Now they are the leaders of a team of snot nosed brats who fought over every single thing they could possibly think of. A team that has become renowned nationwide and treasured within their prefecture.

I watch Yamaguchi cross the stage, head high, shoulders back, proud and looking so very handsome in his gakuran. Even he, our fearless vice-captain, is no longer unsure of himself or insecure about his volleyball. After all, our boys were never fallen crows, they were just chicks waiting for someone to teach them how to use their wings.