This year’s Girls’ Varsity Volleyball season commenced with a succession crisis: a week before the advent of practices, there was no one available to replace last year’s coach. Mr. Novak, or “Snoop,” saved the day when he offered to lead the Volleyball program, forsaking his position as assistant coach of the Girls’ Varsity Soccer team. In a remarkably seamless transition, the multi-talented physical education instructor (he has backgrounds in soccer, baseball, swimming, track, and golf) tackled the position of Head Coach with effortless grace. We are all grateful to him for his commitment to SIA’s athletic program and his generosity of spirit.
Under his leadership, the girls had a successful season marked by hard work and a flair for the dramatic—often the team would play up to 5 sets, culminating in a 15-point tiebreaker. A schedule laden with away-games mandated frequent bus rides, sometimes up to four in one 5-day week, to and from Queens, Brooklyn, and Long Island. The bus, dominated by a battle between blasting rap and show tunes from the Broadway show “Heathers,” wasn’t exactly conducive to sleeping, or to the bus driver’s happiness. The bus rides were enjoyable nonetheless, at least for the girls. “They do a great job, considering we have so many games in a row without much rest in between. The team’s success shows how hard the girls worked before the season and that they are motivated to do well,” remarks Mr. Novak. The Volleyball team enjoyed a multitude of outlandish times while traversing the New York metropolitan area via school bus, like when the girls showed up at a Queens high school only to find out that the opposing team had just arrived at SIA. On a more positive note, Mr. Novak’s savory reward brownies (baked in collaboration with his twin brother) were demanded on every occasion.
The girls’ chemistry was reflected on the court: “They are all such well-rounded individuals. All seem to complement each other’s styles and skills,” says Mr. Novak of the girls’ teamwork. Setter Danielle W. ‘15, “a huge asset,” averaged four assists per game. “She’s everywhere on the floor and helps to bail us out and generate a good attack when we need it,” notes Mr. Novak. Colleen M. ‘16, a fabulous hitter and server with a great sense of humor, led in service points with eighty eight, while vivacious Veronica L. ‘15, “our leading attacker,” and “Princess” Madison B. ‘15, “a leader through her actions,” led in kills and “dinks”. Claire C. ‘15, “the strong, silent type who lets her hard work speak for itself,” contributed to the effort with the most digs (throwing oneself onto the floor to save the ball). Newcomer to the Varsity team, sophomore “Coach” Kelly F., “very talented and a great asset to the team in the future,” wowed our opponents with a speedy serve and was a formidable force at net. Meanwhile, Emma M. ‘15 “the supersub with a deceiving serve”, and Veronica intimidated the opposition with raccoon skin hats, spastic dancing, and cheering. Alexa F. ‘16’s memorable serving run against Dwight and encouragement on the sidelines, and Maria V. ‘15’s focus on the court also complemented the team dynamic.
Besides a successful record, the team, more importantly, got along well. Noting the abundance of returning players, Mr. Novak, also referred to as Snoop, states, “Having so many leaders on the floor at the same time who have played together before is exciting; they are comfortable with each other and can build on what they accomplished last year.” The girls’ familiarity with each other and Snoop’s coaching style molded a calm environment in which the stressed out seniors and juniors were able to take their minds off standardized testing and APs. The team dynamic was unique in that even after tough losses, neither coach nor team internalized blame; mistakes and shortcomings were forgotten the minute the girls stepped off the court. Finishing with a record of eight wins and nine losses in the regular season, the team enjoyed a smooth season after the initial secession mishap. Thank you Snoop, for stepping in and so gracefully spearheading an enjoyable season for us. Mr. Novak, you are “the real MVP.”
*All quotes are from Coach Shawn Novak (Snoop), who “has an IQ of 170 and can bench press 265 pounds.” Again, we are skeptical.
 Snoop claims that this is a legitimate, respectable term for “tipping the ball over the net.” We are skeptical.
By Emma M. ’15