By Benito Vila
The Pierson Middle School’s no-cut athletic policy was pushed to the limit this November with 25 seventh graders and 20 eighth graders coming out to play volleyball. After much discussion between the school administration and coaches Claudia Ortmann and Stacey Springer, the decision was made to keep everyone, despite the unwieldy rosters.
Coach Springer, the Pierson varsity coach, acknowledged the numbers were a challenge, but she credited everyone’s commitment to making it work. “I had a lot of help with the eighth graders from my varsity girls, especially Danielle Schiavoni who was at every practice and every game. That let me split the squad so we could do things in some smaller groups.”
Â “My goal coming in was to get these girls ready to play on the next level next fall, and I think we made it there. It wasn’t about wins and losses for me; it was about getting better every day and we saw that happen. At first, anytime we were able to bump, then set and then spike was incredible; by then end, it happened quite a lot.”
Coach Springer praised her team for their focus and effort, saying, “They wanted to get it. That made a difference. After the first week, I gave everyone a chance to get out, to do the play or anything else; by then, they knew what they were getting into. And the next practice, everybody came.”
Sticking to the no-cut policy surprised Coach Springer, who admitted she had not coached middle school in a couple of years and that there were one or two girls that she would have cut at the outset. “But those two, and everybody else, got so much better playing, that I’m glad we stuck with them.”
The final eighth grade team had 25 in all, five seventh graders rounding out the roster. The younger five were Kasey Gilbride, Katherine Matthers, Ashley Nill, Annie Osiecki and Emma Romeo. The older 20 were: Kim Carlozzi, Jenna Chase, Alissa Clermont, Lindsay Cox, Sophie Gianis, Hannah Kaminski, Kelly Koehne, Anna McAree, Sydnee McKie-Senior, Malisa Muongcharoen, Frances Padilla, Abby Ruiz, Colleen Ryan, Jenna Shnayerson, Ellison Ulrich, Hallie Ulrich, Angelica Uribe, Taylor Vaughn, Madeleine Webber and Holly Zappola.
Coach Ortmann described her seventh grade team as having “a terrific season; we were 7-4. The team was engaged all along, for the whole season, with an unlimited amount of enthusiasm. They had the opportunity to learn to play positions, which is a rather advanced concept for 12-year olds. I’m hoping they continue to play at clinics, attend camp and try out for the high school team.”
The players on the roster, by position, were setters, Selena Garcia Torres, May Evjen, Marley Holder and Emme Luck; outside hitters, Carli Fisher, Lily Kunzeman, Kirra McGowin and Tatyana Dawson; middle hitters, Bridget Canavan, Mahalia Nathaniel and Brooke Banks; defensive specialists, Katy Koehne, Sydney Mitchell, Olivia Bono and Karina Bravo;
middle back specialists, Diana Rozzi, Jennah Hochstedler and Jenna Roesel; all around, India Hemby and Sol Varela.