The Augustus Hawkins Varsity women’s volleyball team found itself fighting for redemption during the second round of the Coliseum League games.
“Our record doesn’t necessarily show the abilities of the team,” said head coach Cheylinel Gaston.
Gaston has been coaching the team since the inception of the program. The team consists of 12 players, six of whom are seniors.
Six members played under the tutelage of Gaston during the previous season. Communication skills are strong among the team, according to senior setter Ciera King.
“We know how to help each other because of last year,” said King. During the games they won, a key to their success was their teamwork.
“If you work individually, you can’t reach the common goal, which is to win,” said King.
Encouragement was also a factor in the team’s victories, according to senior setter Heymi Aguirre.
“We were pushing each other to get up here, if we mess up, we wouldn’t be like be like ‘I messed up,’” said Aguirre. “I felt that our attitude and our sportsmanship [were] high.”
Aguirre was co-captain last season for the junior varsity team. As a varsity player, she notes that she helps her teammates stay optimistic.
“I bring a lot of positivity and encouragement to the team,” said Aguirre.
Gaston believes that the chemistry among players “has been one of the blessings” during this season.
“In the three years that I’ve been coaching, this will be the first year that we’ve really had the chemistry that I wanted,” Gaston said. “The girls really get along well and that shows on the court.”
The match against Dorsey High School was a favorite of both Aguirre and King despite losing to the Dons.
“As a team, we felt that it’s like very intense and that gives you the adrenaline to keep yourself pumped up,” said Aguirre.
For King, she “loved the challenge” of playing against Dorsey.
“The left hitter, number five, was an amazing hitter,” King said. “She challenged my every move, whether it be getting her tips or getting her hits and to be ready, she just challenged everything as a left hitter and I loved it.”
Workouts include conditioning and drills that improve rapid decision making on court. If a player makes a mistake during practice, the entire team must run up and down two flights of stairs.
“We also hit the gym to work on our arms so we can serve better and have consistent serving during the game,” said Aguirre.
Augustus Hawkins has enforced the importance of academics to the athletes, according to King.
“Last year, it wasn’t a must for us to go to tutoring, now it is,” said King. “They’re helping us more to become student athletes.”
The girls’ volleyball team adopted a mantra: “Are you satisfied?” Gaston would ask players this question after completing tasks. If the players respond with a no, they reenacted the task or play until they are satisfied with the performance.
“I think that’s teaching them [to not] play for me,” said Gaston. “Play for yourself and know that you did 100 percent.”