Madison Park Lady Cardinals win second city volleyball title in school history
First title for the school in 22 years
Sponsored by Cruz Companies
“It has been a long journey to achieve this goal, but I saw it coming as early as last year,” said second-year head coach William Harvey, encapsulating his Madison Park Lady Cardinal volleyball team’s triumph over Snowden High School in the recent Boston City Championship game.
Harvey, who is also in his seventh year as the head coach for the young men’s volleyball team, which has an excellent chance of capturing the city title in the spring, told this reporter that the special ingredient for the Lady Cardinals came in the form of a video that he had each of his players make coming into this current season.
At the start of the season, he made this bold prediction: “I told them that we are going to win the city title. Now go home and make a video of yourself saying ‘I am a champion.’ Then watch it over and over again until it becomes a part of your daily thinking.”
The motivating tool worked to perfection, as the Lady Cardinals compiled a 13-8 record, winning a long-awaited city championship and a trip to the state playoffs, where they will play a first-round game Nov. 1.
“My plan was to take away all reasons of doubt in these young women,” Harvey said. “And my plan worked.”
This young and talented team led by senior co-captain Barbara Wilson, sophomore Kiara Tejada and junior Beautiful Smith, along with sophomore co-captain Emily Ramirez, senior Dana Duran and freshman Jazmine McKinney, took their coach’s message to heart and executed it with fervent determination.
McKinney, the strong middle blocker, explains why this team does so well under the pressure of competition.
“It’s a family atmosphere and a love for our teammates that has helped our team become successful,” she said. “This all came together when we started openly communicating with each other.”
Opposite hitter Duran echoed the sentiment: “We look at each other as sisters. Since the beginning of the season, Coach Harvey told us that we were going to win the city championship. This team believed him. I started praying and manifesting over it. And it has happened.”
Duran, one of the best soccer players in the city, left that sport due to what she called “a poor team attitude” to join her special group of “sisters” on the volleyball team.
“This is what a team should be, everybody pulling for everybody,” she said. “That thought is what makes us who we are — a championship team.”
Emily Ramirez, playing the libero position, and center Reishmell Tejada, both sophomores, looked back to last year as freshmen when it all came together for this team.
“This season is the result of hard work and good coaching. Coach Harvey made us believe in ourselves,” Tejada said.
The coach puts it this way: “We had a lot of talent last season, but it didn’t mesh. So, we took this younger group of players, molded them into a solid unit, lived by the discipline that we would not be critical of one another but would do everything possible to lift each other up, especially during tough times. These young women took that challenge and made it work.”
Reishmell Tejada sums up that thinking: “We are all one. We acknowledge each other’s feelings. We are friends as well as teammates.”
The pride and respect for this team stems from solid leadership from Harvey, Head of School Sidney Brown, Community Field Coordinator Vanessa LaRoque and all the way down to an enthusiastic student body.
Brown interprets his philosophy in the following quote: “We are building resiliency through academics, which translates to excellence in athletics. In the few years that I have been headmaster, our focus has been academics and athletics in that order. Our ROXMA+PP early-college high school program, with its ever-increasing numbers, is a testament to our commitment to academic achievement. Combine that with the athletic excellence of this city championship volleyball team, and one can see that our mission is strong.”
LaRoque, one of the frontline people dealing with students on a daily basis, points out the pride and joy surrounding this Lady Cardinals championship team.
“The pride for this team emanates throughout the entire school. We know that this is a very special team,” she said.