The stadium is the gym. The bleachers are the floor. The athletes are an aggregation of students from all grade levels. The pressure intensifies as a coin flips to determine who gets to play first. Anticipation rushes through the players’ veins as they hurry to get into position. With fierce determination streaked across their faces and smirks gracing their lips, they lunge for the ball.
Welcome to Kerr’s after school sports.
To participate in a sports tournament, a student must form a team with the minimal amount of players for that sport and get their team approved by gym coach Jorge Diaz. For example, volleyball requires a minimum of 12 players whereas basketball requires a minimum of 10 players. This means volleyball would have two teams of six players and basketball would have two teams of five players. The sports tournaments are seasonal: for autumn, there is volleyball; winter for basketball, spring for flag football, and summer for soccer.
As word of a volleyball tournament circulated throughout the school in early September, many students became excited.
For experienced players such as sophomore Anne Risha Fajardo, the volleyball tournament would rejuvenate dormant muscles.
“I was a varsity volleyball player in the Philippines,” Fajardo said. “I heard there was volleyball after school at Kerr, so I joined.”
Senior Abraham Diaz played to uphold his cultural pride.
“To me, it’s a Hispanic tradition to make our own teams and win,” Diaz said. “That’s what Hispanics do; we want to be champions and be the best of everything.”
For sophomore Angie Vega, volleyball is just another fun activity to hang with friends.
“My friends asked me if I wanted to play,” Vega said, “so I joined.”
With 14 teams, names varying from Gucci to Bubbles and Team Rainbow to Tri-Ettes, the volleyball tournament was conducted into two brackets. Each team’s performance in the first game determined whether it would play in the winners’ or losers’ bracket. As the tournament progressed into the finals, the winning team in each bracket faced each other. This bracket system is used for all other sport tournaments as well.
But just like any other team, practice must be held to keep members in tip-top shape.
Junior Aaron Fung’s team, Team Rainbow, practiced frequently outside of school.
“We realized no one knew how to play,” Fung said. “We went to parks now and then, and practiced for an hour to three hours, two or three days a week.”
Vega’s team, Smash Bros., hardly practiced.
“We winged it,” she said. “When it was time to play, we played.”
KFC, Fajardo’s and Diaz’s team, emerged victorious as winners of the volleyball tournament. And though there wasn’t a prize at the end, the players played for recognition, for fun, and for friends.
Fajardo believes it was the coming together of her teammates to achieve a goal that let them win the championship.
“Every time we won, we knew we had teamwork,” she said. “Teamwork and communication was the key thing to winning.”
A. Diaz believed it was the bond between his teammates that ultimately propelled them into a winning streak.
“Danny [senior Daniel Aguilera, team captain] is my friend; we’re almost like brothers,” he said. “so that was one of the reasons why we won because we could understand each other. We all understand each other. That’s how the team worked. It’s special. Towards our final game, we were all on the same page; we understood what was supposed to happen and remained calm.”
As the volleyball tournament came to a close, Fajardo and Vega reminisced about their time during the season.
Fajardo enjoyed playing volleyball because it relieves her frustration.
“Playing volleyball to me is a stress reliever,” she said. “Hitting volleyball is like hitting my stress away, telling [the stress] to get out of me. I love volleyball.”
Vega, though her team didn’t win, was still proud of her athletic ability and teammates.
“In the end, we felt pretty good of our performance,” she said.
As the basketball tournament continues this winter, the competitive spirit remains within many players.
“Sports, in general, give you confidence and make you feel better about yourself,” Vega said. “It’s fun.”