Field hockey and girls’ volleyball win SPC
November 21, 2018
The field hockey team, comprising students from all grade levels, developed a strong chemistry with each other throughout the season. According to head coach Craig Chambers, this bond is one of many factors which lead the girls to their victory over Kinkaid in the final game of SPC.
“There was a lot of talent to begin with, but this doesn’t always make for a winning team,” Chambers said. “However, when you add chemistry in the mix, it makes for a better, more dynamic situation.”
Chambers, who was disappointed by last year’s fourth place finish at SPC, mentioned the different attitude the girls had going into this year’s season.
“[The team] knew that they were going to have do some things as a combined group,” he said. “The girls all went into the season trying to figure out how they were going to work together.”
Chambers added that a cohesive team and a sense of consistency is necessary to complete certain plays, and to overcome the challenges that typically come with SPC. He also said that there are waxes and wanes that occur during any season, but this year’s team was able to wax their way all the way to the championship: “From the get-go, [the girls] did an incredible job of setting aside individual aspirations and combining their efforts.”
Captain Natalie Stone enjoyed leading such a powerful team.
“[Being a captain] is definitely a lot more work than previous years,” Stone said. “It’s also a lot more rewarding though, because in the end, [the other captains and I] laid the foundation for our victory.”
When the Mavericks scored a goal in the first five minutes of the championship game, Stone had a sure feeling the Mavericks were going to win.
“Winning SPC was awesome,” she said. “This year everyone was so excited and happy to win because we all worked really hard for it.”
After the third goal was scored, junior Kate Ainbinder, who just wrapped up her second year on the team, was eager to storm the field because she knew the team was going to win.
“Having such a successful win as a junior and being rewarded for a great season makes it that much more important to have an equally great season next year and win SPC again,” she said.
For senior Amy Worscheh, the end of SPC was sentimental. Worscheh mentioned that she can’t help but smile when she thinks of finishing off her senior year at SJS with a huge win.
“There were tears, long hugs, and a rather exhausting rendition of the Alma Mater,” she said. “I don’t think I will ever be able to forget [the team] even if I tried.”
Girls’ volleyball defeated the Episcopal Knights at the Episcopal School of Dallas to win the SPC championship title for the first time in eight years. The Mavericks won the first two sets, lost the third, and then won the fourth 25-17.
“It was so amazing to finally win it after such a long time,” captain Alexandra Lewis said. “My freshman year, we didn’t even make the SPC tournament, so it felt so amazing to lead this team to such a huge accomplishment. I got to be a leader on this great team, and it was so awesome not only for our players but for the future of the program to win it all this year.”
Video used with permission from Pamela Lewis.
According to coach Shelbi Irvin, a key factor in winning the title was the girls’ astute playing and decision-making while under pressure.
“We were very smart with the decisions that we made, which helped us win the game,” Irvin said. “We didn’t make a lot of errors, and we were doing things to get them out of system and off-balance, which made it easier for us to score.”
Irvin also attributed the team’s SPC victory to their “amazing” chemistry.
“The girls were a really strong group outside of volleyball, they were very tight-knit and could joke around and have a good time, but also knew when to be serious, so it was a very good balance,” Irvin said.
Lewis agreed with Irvin on the team’s great rapport, praising their tenacity and resolve.
“All of my connections with the hitters were the best they’ve been since I started,” Lewis said. “On top of that, every player knew that this team had the potential to win SPC, so they fought every game and practice to make sure that happened. Even if a team got a lead on us, we wouldn’t let them get in our way and would fight to win.”
Junior captain Celia Adams also believes that their championship victory was a testament to the consistent hard work and effort the team exerted in their practices.
“Every girl on our team worked from the first day of pre-season to the last point of the SPC Tournament,” Adams said. “Every day to start practice, we worked on the basic fundamentals of volleyball that are often overlooked at the higher level. That consistency allowed us to execute plays, even in tense situations.”
Two weeks before SPC, the team beat their rival Episcopal for the first time in six years. Knowing they were capable of defeating them, this win bolstered the team’s spirits and confidence significantly going into SPC.
“We were playing to prove that EHS was no longer the best team in SPC,” Lewis said. “Having beat them the first time, we went into the championship knowing we could do it again; knowing we deserved the trophy. Beating them the first time gave us a lot of confidence to crush them going into the championship.”
Lewis also has faith that the team has the potential to win SPC again, due to their strong and determined personality.
“They will have Celia coming back as a returning captain, which is great for team leadership and confidence,” Lewis said. “It is also such a skilled group of girls who are so mentally tough that they’ll be able to fight to the end next season. It will definitely be a different dynamic next year, but I know they can do it again.”
Irvin hopes that this victory is the beginning of a new standard that the volleyball program at St. John’s has set.
“I don’t think this was just a fluke,” Irvin said. “We’ve already set the bar high with this win. The girls themselves hold themselves to a high standard and want to be successful. If that relentless attitude can be a trait instilled as part of the volleyball program and culture in years to follow, we could be on the verge of having started something special.”