Academics and athletics are areas where View Park senior Denecia Fernandes shows dexterity. Not only is she a three-sport athlete, playing volleyball, rugby, and running track, she is the Senior Vice President of her school. Through all of her involvement in extra-curricular activities, Fernandes also excelled in the classroom by maintaining straight A’s throughout her time at View Park High School.
“She is a well-rounded student and a wonderful person,” said Robert Ambers, the athletic director at View Park. “That’s what we want from our youth.”
Fernandes is in her sixth year of playing rugby through ICEF’s strong rugby program at the View Park schools. She began with flag rugby in the seventh grade. When talking about the sport, Fernandes mentions how people who are learning about Rugby compare it to football.
“It’s so intense and it’s fast-paced,” she said. “Football is a lot slower because you stop after every play. But with Rugby, you just keep going and it takes a lot of endurance and stamina.”
Each year, the rugby players traveled, leading Fernandes to see Japan, Brazil, and Hawaii. Traveling expanded her knowledge of the cultures at the destinations as well as expanded her rugby intelligence. In Japan, the teams play rugby throughout the year while the rugby team at View Park plays in the winter and spring.
Oversea trips were full of practices, special visits and rugby games. In Japan, she lived with a host family along with one of her closest friends. Fernandes learned about Japanese customs and food.
“Trying to sit there and communicate with a family that doesn’t really know English is just an experience in itself,” Fernandes said. “In Japan, there’s no trash on the street, like no litter and there’s no trash cans either.”
Playing rugby against teams from other nations showed how passionate non-American teams are about the sport. Fernandes reminisced on how teams played on the beach in Brazil. It was a change of pace for Fernandes, who was used to playing rugby on grass.
“The teams we were playing against, they practiced on the beach, and you know running on the sand is hard,” she said. “Imagine playing rugby on the sand, tackling people on the sand.”
Volleyball was an unexpected love for Fernandes, she tried out for fun and fell in love with the sport. She tried out as a freshman and became co-captain of the team by her junior year.
“Going into my junior year, I had really just improved a lot to my coaches,” Fernandes said. “They felt like I had leadership skills to help lead the team.”
As a junior, Fernandes was one of two Athletic Commissioners at View Park. One project she worked on was to raise interest in sports that don’t have the same popularity as basketball or football among the student body. She would make posters and announcements telling students the dates of sporting events. The sports that Fernandes plays do not have a strong fan attendance.
“We don’t get a lot of attention, just because rugby games are on Saturdays,” she said. “The same thing for volleyball.”
Fernandes enjoys team sports and has an interest in Kinesiology and sports medicine.
“Being physically active is a big part of my life and I also wanted to help people,” Fernandes said. “Sports medicine aligns those two passions.”