Holy Cross H.S. in Flushing is known for its vibrant sports tradition.
Each sports season, the Knights are competitive in every sport, and the school has even produced a number of professional athletes.
In keeping with this strong tradition, Holy Cross added volleyball to its list of 10 varsity sports starting this spring.
Volleyball began as an intramural sport at the school and last year became a club sport, in which the team competed against other schools but more so on an instructional level. However, starting this spring, the Knights’ new volleyball squad became a full-fledged member of the local CHSAA league for the first time in the school’s 60-year history.
“The boys are unbelievable; they come out, and they work hard,” said the team’s head coach Laura Eisenzopf, who has coached volleyball on every level from Catholic Youth Organization to college. “The administration’s behind us, and they’ve been giving us everything we need. The main thing is that the boys want to play.”
The 17-member team includes only three returning players from last year’s club squad, but these three captains instantly stepped up as leaders once practices began early this season.
“We don’t have much experience, but throughout our practices, we’ve improved a lot since the first day we met as a team,” said Talles Moreira, a senior libero and wing spiker who is also the kicker on the school’s football team.
As a club team last spring, the Knights practiced maybe two or three times each week, but the decision was handed down midseason from the administration that 2015 would be the official start for Holy Cross varsity volleyball. So now, the team practices six days a week for two hours at a time to continuously improve its game.
“The biggest thing is that they are willing to learn,” Eisenzopf said. “It’s a new sport for them. Some of them have never played volleyball. I just told them to do the best they can, and you never know. Whatever happens happens.”
The Knights are in the midst of a competitive 13-game schedule, where they have become the pioneers of their new sport at the school. They have thus embraced the opportunity to leave their mark on the volleyball program – no matter how they decided to take up the game in the first place.
“Football is always my main sport, but I picked up volleyball and I really liked it,” said Prince-Richard McCarthy, a senior middle back who doubles as the football team’s nose tackle. “I actually have a spot in my heart now for volleyball.”
Since volleyball is a team game that requires constant repetition and communication, playing last spring at the club level really gave the Knights the necessary experience to make the jump up to varsity. But as Eisenzopf said, this year is all about learning the game, playing hard and having fun.
It may be tough for the Knights to realize it as they are going through this season, but each game, each serve, each set and each volley should have a historic feel. This team is carving out its very own place in Holy Cross history.
“It doesn’t matter…win or lose… it’s still going to be an honor that I was on that first team,” said senior middle back and setter Nicholas Acevedo.
“I’m going to look back and have stories to tell my children,” Moreira said. “I’m going to push them to play volleyball too.”
No matter how the season winds up for these Knights, their names will go down in Holy Cross lore as members of the school’s inaugural volleyball team. Hoisting a trophy may be fun, but creating history is even sweeter. And now it’s up to the underclassmen to keep this new sport of volleyball alive and further add to the school’s blossoming sports tradition.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.