Meakelena Dimitrova is one of the captains of the Volleyball team at Brooklyn Tech. She has been playing volleyball since freshman year and is now a junior. Here she shares her experiences along with those of her teammates.
Why did you choose volleyball as a sport?
I chose volleyball for a few reasons. First of all, I found out pretty late in my life my mom has played volleyball for her whole life. She was really good at it, but she ended up with a really bad injury so she couldn’t play anymore. She really encouraged me to start playing volleyball and that was one of the biggest things that influenced me. Throughout my time playing, she has been such a big help from coaching me to helping me learn myself individually and being able put that on the court. Another reason is that I am really tall. Although you don’t have to be tall, it’s a plus! Also, the volleyball has two of the best coaches in this school: Coach D’Augusta and Coach Gigliello.
How did your role change as a captain?
Shana Broitman, Alexandra Kusio and I are captains this year. I haven’t been playing for a long time, so it’s really exciting to have been picked. I think it’s different because there is just more responsibility. The team’s actions are in a way a reflection of what the captains have done. Leadership is a key part of it, especially when it comes to making decisions. It is also about picking the team up when it’s necessary. Leadership comes naturally to us which makes being captains even more enjoyable.
What do you think are key characteristics of a leader?
I think key characteristics of a leader are not being shy and being able to assert yourself. There are a lot of times when you don’t want to tell your friends what to do, but it’s really important to put that aside to benefit them and the whole team. Another thing that’s really important is being able to not make yourself seem like you are trying to control everyone and to remember that you are not everyone’s coach. Instead, you are a helping hand.
What is the relationship like between the Junior Varsity and Varsity teams?
It’s called the volleyball program for a reason: it’s all of us in it together. There are two separate teams because there are so many girls in this sport. We often practice together in the same gym. JV isn’t worse than us; it’s not like that. At the end of the day, we are all one team. They have been undefeated their whole season and they won city, which is really good and everyone is very proud of them. We have two girls who just finished their JV season and are now on Varsity, Joanna Chen and Jessica Yin. They really improved throughout the season. All of the girls actually improved through JV and it’s more of a learning experience and not as much about the competition. Varsity is the other way around, because you already have the skills and it’s more about putting your skills to use for competition.
What are you going to do after the volleyball season ends at tech?
After school volleyball, most of us play club volleyball which is just as fun and a lot of us play together. Zaddie Waletzko and Alexandra Kusio are on the same team and Ava Spiner plays at their club. It’s a good way to keep up the sport while we’re not playing in school. Members of the team see each other at a lot of tournaments and it’s fun to compete against one another because normally we are on the same side. It’s a different kind of competition in club volleyball. It’s more intense and prepares us really well for the next season at school.
What are some of the most important things you learned from the coaches?
Both of the coaches have been incredible mentors to all of us. They’ve always taught us to be better versions of ourselves. It’s not always just about the sport and learning about the sport; a lot of it comes down to just being a good group of people together. No matter what it is – a practice, a game, a hello in the hallway – they are such upbeat coaches. One of the most important things is not letting a bad day or a bad game bring you down and to always keep going and persevere.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering joining a team?
My biggest advice is to not be scared. It’s important to have confidence and do the best that you can. Trying out can be terrifying, and believing in yourself can make all the difference. Also, it’s important to be able to manage your time. One of the hardest things is having to juggle school, volleyball and other extracurricular activities. It’s really worth it in the end because you become part of not only a team, but a family.
What are some highlights of the season?
One of the biggest highlights of our season was winning Cardozo, which is one of the hardest schools to beat. They beat us once, but then we beat them at a home game. It was really intense; everyone was just at the top of their game. Another really fun day was senior day. We all made posters for the seniors, and it was an emotional experience because we’ve been with these girls for so long. It was a really special day for all of us. I feel like this year, the team is very close. Compared to last year, we’ve all grown a lot together. We also have team bonding days when we all just hang out together. But the best bonding is on the court when we are all playing. That’s when we put all our issues aside and do what we have to do together as a team. When you play, you’re not doing it for yourself. The most important part is playing because you want everyone to win together.