8th GIRLS VB: Coached by Wendy Biety and Dean Honda
Wow. Where do I start? This has been such a fantastic run of fun with these girls! I’m very sad to see the end.
Back-to-back championships! And no one else was even close! That is just the tip of the iceberg of what I will cherish when I think about these girls! Dedication in practice, dedication to continuous improvement, dedication to being a well-oiled machine on the court - that’s how I will remember the time spent in the gym with this team. And I believe that none of them have peaked on their talent curve. I hope I get to watch them continue their journeys if they play in high school!
I don’t want to pigeon-hole these girls with such specific “awards” because they each bring everything to the table and could do anything on the court that was asked of them – and often did. These are a few stand-out talents for each of my girls:
Anne Marie – Most Dedicated to Improvement, especially on defense. Even during water breaks at practice, Anne Marie would grab a ball and a teammate (usually Antonia) and get some good minutes of power-pepper in.
Antonia – Most Likely to Scare Opponents with Her Serve (and overall power). Antonia consistently gave us extra points in every game with her serving aces. This also made a great practice for our team with serve-receive because we got to practice with the best server in the league!
Avila – Most Likely to Make a Daring Play at the Net. So happy (and relieved) to have an injury-free season and enjoy the natural talent that Avila brings to the court. So many good plays at the net!
Gabby – Most Likely to Downplay Her Natural Talent with a Smile. Gabby is solid in all skills but always looked pleasantly surprised when she made a great play. No surprise to her coach, by the way!
Josie – Most Likely to Stay Calm No Matter What. You can’t ruffle this kid on the court – no matter what is going on. She stays the course and makes the plays that her teammates count on her to make! She always kept the other side guessing how (and where) she would put the ball back over the net.
Kate – Most Likely to Be Put in at Any Position and Succeed! Kate never flinched at any opportunity to get on the court and she thrived in every position she played! A coach’s dream!
Sydney – Most Likely to Get a Good Block (more fun than anyone can imagine!) AND Most Likely to Find the Hole on the Court. I sometimes felt Sydney was the only one who REALLY listened to my tips on body position and ball placement. Her success with blocking and putting the ball in the back corners made for some great plays by her this season.
I’ve always kept my teams small so everyone got more playing time. The one downside to that strategy is when it comes time to vote for awards. Compound that with the fact that any of these girls could win in almost any category and that makes every category a tight vote. Every time.
MVP: Josie Biety (honorable mention to Antonia Zofko who deserves more than a passing shout-out in this category)
MSP: Anne Maria Martinez
MIP: Sydney Coomer
When I look back to 4th and 5th grade when we started together, I couldn’t envision where we would eventually end up. But the love of the game led you all the way to a championship and the best volleyball skills in your league at Queen of Angels. You led the way in playing real volleyball when most other teams were still stuck in the “bang the ball over the net” phase. I am incredibly proud of you and hope you fully appreciate what you have accomplished over the years we spent together! I have no doubt there are some future volleyball coaches in this group!
Here are my unofficial awards for these girls:
Anna: Best Serve Placement. Teams are always creeping up from the baseline, especially at this level of play. Anna got many points for her team by serving deep and keeping the other team off-balance from cheating forward too much!
Annie: Best at Stepping Out of Her Comfort Zone to Try New Skills. Annie matched up against solid teammates in practice every week and every week she held her ground and worked new skills into her arsenal to try at game time. This is not always a natural path for girls in this age group, I’ve found. So I especially appreciate her confidence in working into the next level and showing others they can do it too!
Bella: Most Focused on the Court. Bella was “all in” when she was on the court. She could be counted on to know what was coming and what was supposed to happen next. She never took her eyes off the ball – a constant coaching tip that doesn’t always get “heard” – and really helped get her team focus on making the plays happen.
Bianca: Best Sheepish Smile After a Point-Winning Hit! You would think after multiple winning hits, it would become old hat. But Bianca’s shy smile when she knew she “nailed it” was always a joy to see. And, let’s face it, it’s much better than a fist pump when celebrating in a Catholic school league. Such a kind soul!
Callie: Best Leadership in Setting. The setter has to be the quarterback and make the plays happen. Callie stepped into this role many times and made good things happen for her team. Her confidence at the net also really took off this past season!
Cat: Best Confidence Shown in Mastering Skills. Cat was newest to volleyball but you would never guess that when she was on the court. Every time she was on the court, she played as if she’s always been there. She didn’t hesitate to throw some surprises in there just for fun – and frequently turned them into points!
Miriam: Best at Trying New Plays (ie, great “tips”). Miriam took ownership of her role as a setter and made great play choices to mix things up and get extra points. Kudos for making exciting things happen and keeping the other team on their toes!
Stella: Best at Keeping the Team Focused. Stella plays a great mental game as well as a physical game. She knows how things are supposed to work and tried to keep everyone focused on that goal. And in the right place on the court!
MVP: Annie Goode
MSP: Cat Gonzalez
MIP: Bianca Bania
Coach Dean Honda: A great big thank you for sticking around! I so appreciate your time and effort despite not having a “horse in the race.” I know you started out wanting to just make sure your SMM girls were in good hands – but you invested so much more than we could ask. This has been a very fun ride to share with you! Thank you!
Girls, I really cannot fathom not being in the gym with you anymore. The school gyms and the gym at Queen of Angels became “home” to me because I was there with you for what are now so many fond memories. This past season I almost felt more like a spectator than your coach at the games because you were so prepared and so in sync – I got to sit back and truly enjoy the game! It has been such a fun ride and I hope when you look back on our time together that you have the same smile on your face and in your heart that I do! Thank you so very, very much for everything you gave me! And congratulations on your many personal and team accomplishments!