By SOPHIA HAN, sophomore (Originally published Hall of Honor April 2022)
AS WINTER COMES TO A CLOSE, mid-winter sports have finally transitioned to spring sports, including the start of the softball season. With a home game against nearby rival St. Thomas Aquinas soon, the JP Stevens Girls Varsity Softball team is very excited to start their season off strong.
Although this is a new season, the girls will not have to worry about creating a new team dynamic. The majority of the team members are returning players and, according to sophomore Vanessa Yim, “have been playing together since [they] were very young.” Nevertheless, they plan to strengthen their bond with each other by continuing their team traditions: an annual potluck dinner, eats, and other team events to spend time with each other. Although the players are familiar with each other, the coaching staff is slightly different. In addition to Coach Caroline Ratti, Coach Amanda Lombardi is joining the Hawks for their new season. After pursuing her collegiate and athletic career at Montclair State University, she plans to bring new hitting and defense techniques to JP Stevens. Even though the season has barely begun, the feedback has already been positive. Junior Riley Colling agrees that “it has been great so far” and believes that “[they] will be a strong team this year.”
With a new coach to bring ideas to the plate, the practice schedules are rigorous and challenging. The Hawks practice every day after school; they complete hitting stations, do drills in the field, and execute game-like situations. While this might seem very tiring, the players appreciate this opportunity to grow and learn from any mistakes on the field, as well as the chance to improve the fundamentals. By being surrounded by an accountable group of teammates and coaches, they are prepared to overcome any obstacles that may come their way. Many of the team members believe that their biggest obstacle is their mindset and the way they get into their own heads after little mistakes. However, the girls are each other’s biggest motivators, and strive to improve team morale by, in senior Aliya Bilimoria’s words, “doing communication exercises” and “keep[ing] up the team camaraderie.”
Many of the team members remember the game against Monroe High School at the GMCs last year, where they were at a close score during the entirety of the game and they even had a couple of home runs across the team. Ultimately, they went into extra innings and never lost their energy. Vanessa Yim, Riley Colling, and sophomore Emma Clemens recall it as “one of [their] best-played games,” when “the energy was unimaginable.” The Hawks are very excited to play Monroe again and hopefully beat them this year! The Hawks have put in the time and the effort to improve and play to their best ability. This will ultimately lead them towards accomplishing their goal of winning the Red Division and going far in
States. With the determination and skills that they have, Emma Clemens believes that “they have the potential to win everything.”
Carrying this same mindset going forth into the rest of the season, the Hawks will accomplish nothing short of success.