NRCA’s middle school tennis team and middle school A volleyball team made it to the Capital Area Middle School Conference finals, capping off their successful regular season play with thrilling title runs.
Middle School Girls Tennis
The middle school girls tennis team captured the CAMSC championship against previously unbeaten Cary Academy on the Chargers’ home courts. The final score was 6-3.
The road to the title was not without adversity. In the semifinals, the Knights had to rally against a strong St. David’s team to advance. Earlier in the season, NRCA fell to the Warriors, 2-7, at home.
“Throughout the season, our girls worked hard to learn, grow, and improve their skills and approach. When we met St. David’s in the conference playoff semifinal on St. David’s home courts, we were ready. Our girls played their best tennis of the season against a formidable opponent,” said Head Coach Bryan Weitzel.
Weitzel emphasized the idea that tennis is chess-in-motion, teaching the players to “observe their opponent, anticipate what will happen, and make their next move with an intentional strategy in mind.” The payoff was huge. The Knights defeated the Warriors, 5-4, to move to the final round of the tournament.
“Over the course of the season, we were able to transition from coaches providing direction based on what the coaches were observing to affirming the offensive and defensive strategies that the players themselves had identified and were implementing on their own. As we played more experienced opponents, it became necessary for our players to adapt and pivot strategies mid-match and sometimes mid-rally. Watching our girls grow in their strategic thinking and problem-solving skills led to increased level-of-play and more success on the court,” Weitzel said.
In addition to the on-court strategic thinking taught in practice, the middle school girls tennis team found encouragement and guidance in Scripture.
“In our practice and preparation, we read and discussed how God’s people in the Bible—such as David, Elisha, and Gideon—approached seemingly impossible odds and how they relied on God for their victory, not their own skill or ability (1 Samuel 17:48-49, 2 Kings 6:13-17, and Judges 7). We also read encouragement from Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 139:13-18, and Philippians 4:13 to emphasize how much God loves them and how they are capable of great things when they place their trust in Him,” Weitzel said. “These readings helped us—players and coaches—to remain calm in the storm.”
Individual accomplishments combined for team success for the Knights. “We were blessed with twelve talented players, including four sixth graders (Stella Chilton, LilaGrace Hall, Noelle Ro, Addie Royster), four seventh graders (Camryn Dysart, Baylor Howard, Lauren Singer, Hannah Weitzel), as well as four eighth graders (Addison Garnett, McKenna Lathan, Reagan Lloyd, Blair Thomas),” Weitzel said. “These twelve players each made significant, positive contributions to our team in their own unique way. We are so pleased that we were able to share in the experience of a conference championship together with this special and amazing group of girls.”
Middle School A Volleyball
The middle school A volleyball team had an impressive run, finishing as CAMSC volleyball runners-up with an 11-3 overall record on the season.
“We started the season with challenges. Two girls came into practice the first day on crutches. We had several small injuries as the season moved on, and we worked through them all,” said Coach Yalonda White.
The team dynamic was key this season. Working together through their shortcomings boosted the team to the finals.
“We did fall just shy of the championship, but I am proud of this team for how hard they fought during that championship match. Such growth from the first game of the season to the last that a coach could be nothing short of proud,” White said. “We served well and worked together as a team. That is always a sign of success to me, even if it doesn’t result in a win.”
Coach White’s focus on building excellence on both individual and team levels highlights the secret of the Knights’ success.
“Taking a group of 14 young ladies and being able to place them on the court in a variety of scenarios and still achieve a win most of the time is challenging; but with a group this talented, it was easy. Each and every player worked very hard this season on her individual weaknesses while honing her strengths,” White said.
Special thanks from the team go to the parents who supported them all season, from calling lines to keeping the books and working the clock, especially to Team Mom Natalie McCurdy for assisting the coach with logistics and communications.