The Kennedy Women’s Varsity Volleyball team clinched the Metro League Championship title at home versus Burbank on Tuesday, Nov. 5. It was Senior Night and the gym was completely decked out with green and yellow and families held up decorated posters with photos of their star players.
It was an expected win for the team that had essentially won just about every game all season. The gym is adorned with scores of pennants and League Championship Banners, but none of them until now have belonged to a women’s volleyball team.
During the first practice of the season, the team used athletic tape to stick a large “FTV” onto the empty wall space behind the bench. The team goal all season has been to “Fill The Void.” On that Tuesday after the big win, Coach Aaron Pollock charged up the stairs and took down that tape, making way for the League Championship banner.
Minutes after beating Burbank, Kayla Nodohara, the team’s libero, which is a defensive specialist position, described the night’s excitement to the Pocket News: “Winning the game was amazing, especially because it was Senior Night. It was the first Metro League Championship for our team ever. It was amazing. The crowd was here. All of our families were here. It just made everything so much better. It was a big ceremony for us.”
While the historic game was one the team knew they would win, Nodohara said: “Just the pressure of having to win the banner. It was more pressure, but it fueled our fire to have us play harder.”
Nodohara said this year the team’s chemistry couldn’t be beat. “This year, I definitely think we had a lot of team chemistry, which helps on and off the court. Being such good friends off the court makes us better together as a team on the court. I think it works both ways.”
Pollock, who’s also a science teacher at Kennedy, agrees. “This team is truly a team, with great team chemistry. They all get along with each other, and love playing with each other. We have no selfish attitudes or any of the drama that can destroy team chemistry. They have all bought into my philosophy of ‘Best Effort Every Time’. They never get down on themselves, they never get down on each other, and they never give up. They have dedicated themselves to getting better every day. I am fortunate to have great leadership in team Captains Kayla Nodohara, Peyton Trotter, and Selesitina Felise,” he said.
Pollock played two years at Kennedy, and three years at Sacramento State University back in the 1990s. He coached six years of freshmen/Junior Varsity. This year is his eighth season as varsity coach.
He said he has coached some very skilled volleyball players in his career, but never had this many all-around skilled players with such a high volleyball IQ on one roster.
“This is the first time in my coaching career that I have been able to run the same advanced offensive plays that I ran as a college player. Nothing makes a coach prouder than teaching a skill at practice one day and seeing this team go out and execute the same skill effectively at the next game,” he said.
Being an anatomy and physiology teacher, Pollock said he can’t resist the opportunity to bring science lessons and analogies into practice. Bringing physics to the court, he explained how they serve with low altitude and high velocity, which refers to forces and torque; for geometry, he explained how they attack and defend with correct angles while controlling the proper arc of the ball; for geography, he said they contact the ball on the North Pole, or Equator. “We also spend a lot of practice time addressing the psychology of sports as well.”
MEET THE SENIORS
Natalie Wilson has been playing volleyball at Kennedy since her freshmen year and is so glad that she has been able to have the opportunity to play for all four years of high school. To show her appreciation, she would like to thank her sister Heather for getting her interested in the sport, her mother and father for encouraging her to do her best, her freshmen coach, Kelsey, for helping her figure out what position she would play, her junior varsity coach, Becky, for teaching her how to pass properly, and her varsity coach, coach Pollock for all the encouragement and dedication to his team. Finally she wants to thank all her teammates for everything and to let them know how wonderful they’ve been, because they have made this season her favorite of all time.
On Senior Night, Stacey Lee was escorted by her parents Eddie Lee and Kelli Omoto-Lee and her cousins Niki and Brianna Fujimoto. Stacey has been part of the Kennedy volleyball program for four years. One of her favorite memories from this year is doing the ropes course with her teammates at Sac State. She loves how well everyone on the team has bonded and loves how she can always count on her teammates. Stacey would like to thank her parents for driving her to practices and games in her early years of volleyball and for being at all of her games to cheer her on. She also would like to give a big thanks to all of her coaches for helping her improve her skills and for encouraging her to progress through the volleyball program. She will greatly miss all of the fun times she had during volleyball and will miss her wonderful volleyball family.
Blake Fletcher might not have height, but the girl has hops. Being placed as an outside hitter was an amazing experience during her four years of playing high school volleyball. During her games her sister would yell: “Blake, shut it down. Shut it down!” And what did she do? She shut it down. Before her games, she would watch Long Beach Women’s Volleyball clips over and over picturing herself playing on that court one day for her dream team. Blake says her team is her family. She will never forget their late night practices when they were all super hyper for no reason. The promise the Lady Cougars made at 1 a.m. in Peyton’s backyard and she will remember messing with Jamie (aka Baby J) during practice and the laughs she and Kesha had watching vine videos of Terio doing the “ooooo kill ‘em dance’. Blake knew her senior year playing volleyball would be special and she always knew she would have her shine. She plans on attending Long Beach State and being an official college volleyball player. She feels blessed for her talent and thanks all her coaches, friends and family for their support.
Emeline Koloamatangi was escorted by her family and her S.P.D. crew. Emeline has been a part of the JFK volleyball team for all four years and has played middle hitter the entire time. She loves being with her family and friends and is the third Koloamatangi to go through the volleyball program. After high school, she plans to further her education and go to college where she will major in criminal justice. Emeline enjoyed being with her team and is very proud of them for all the hard work and historic achievement. She wants to thank Coach Pollock and the rest of the coaches for all the help. She also wants to thank her family for all the support and thank her S.P.D. crew for cheering her on.
Kesha Coffee stands 5-foot, 10-inches as the team’s middle hitter/blocker. She likes to think that her game is tighter than her spandex. Volleyball is a huge part of Kesha’s life. She puts 110 percent into her volleyball career. Kesha stated: “Volleyball is my passion and I just want to show the world the gift God gave me. Crushing balls into the ground, blocking the opposing teams’ hits, literally diving and crashing into the ground to save a ball, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.” She loves her team, and says she wouldn’t have wanted to be on a team with any other players or coaches. She’d like to thank Coach Pollock, Becky, Jeff, Sarah, Serena, Kelsey and Kira for teaching her the game of volleyball over the past five years. If things go as planned, she hopes to be on the CSU Long Beach team and make the transition from a JFK Cougar to a Long Beach 49er volleyball player after high school. Volleyball is her passion and she just doesn’t play for herself, she plays for the name on the back of her jersey, her team, her coaches and her mother. Kesha is ecstatic about her team being first place in the metro league and getting that banner. All she is ever talking about is a banner, and volleyball. This kid is seriously volleyball obsessed. She says her favorite part of the game besides actually playing is the cheering. Mr. Trotter and his crazy slogans, such as: “Welcome to Kesha’s block party” when she got four consecutive blocks in a row and just her friends cheering her on every game night. This was an amazing year for Kesha in volleyball and she hopes to continue her volleyball career long after high school.
As a JFK volleyball player for four years, Selesitina Felise has had so much passion for the game. She was escorted by her grandparents Temukisa and Uiese Vaefaga, her parents David and Elizabeth Felise, her sister Tmukisa Felise, along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends who have been there to support her through out her volleyball career. Starting out as a freshman on JF as captain and starting setter, she learned the basic fundamentals and aspects of volleyball. Sele’s sophomore year, she was moved up to varsity for playoffs. Junior and Senior year playing for coach Aaron Pollock, she has learned a lot, especially to never ever salute a ref. Playing for JFK volleyball there has never been a dull moment.
KK was escorted by her mom and dad at Senior Night. She has played volleyball for Kennedy all four years and has enjoyed every moment. She wanted to thank Coach Pollock for coaching her for the past three years and for teaching her more about volleyball every day. She would also like to thank her parents for driving her to all the games and practices and for supporting her throughout her time as a Kennedy volleyball player. KK would also like to thank her cousin Alyssa and Uncle Kent for introducing her to volleyball at a young age. She will never forget receiving her first volleyball lessons on the driveway of Bachan’s house. And last but not least KK would like to thank her teammates for making her a better player and for creating some of the best memories. Through blood: like splitting her chin against Pleasant Grove, sweat: starting volleyball season in the middle of July and tears: like losing to Rosemont for the past three years. Her teammates were always there. And of course there were the good times she will never forget like, the ropes course, sleepover and random “torque” sessions at practice. KK is thankful for the great experience she has had playing volleyball for Kennedy.
Peyton was escorted by her parents, younger brother and additional family members and her supportive friends. This is her fourth year playing volleyball and her third year on varsity. When she first tried out Peyton said she never thought she would actually like volleyball let alone make the team. But with the help of her parents, Jewell and Todd Trotter, her JV coach, Serena Bockelman and her varsity coach, Aaron Pollock, she has excelled as an athlete and has grown to love the sport more than she ever thought possible. When she looks back at her last few seasons in this program, one of her favorite memories was when her team was riding the bus back to school after a playoff game her sophomore year and out of nowhere the whole group decided to circle up and have a rap battle the entire two hour ride home. She said it was so unexpected and so fun that she could never forget that night. Although this was her last season at Kennedy, Peyton will never forget all that she has learned in this program. She wants her coaches to know that she is very thankful for everything they have done for her whether it be on the court or in the classroom. Peyton also wants to thank her teammates for making this year the best it could be considering they are all in position to take home a championship and earn the first women’s volleyball banner every to be hung in JFK’s gym.
Finally Peyton wants to thank her family, especially her little brother Todd, for coming to all her games and cheering her on as she plays the sport she loves the most.