Sarah knows resilience
She found out her volleyball team made the Junior Olympics (JO) not once, but twice ä¸€and both times discovered there were issues preventing the team from going. The director of her team left during its second season as JO qualifiers, eventually leading to the teamâ€™s disbandment.
Too much to handle? Maybe for an average person, but not for freshman Sarah Stevenson-Cunday.
Stevenson-Cunday was captain for three and a half years for her club team, Top Gun Volleyball, which qualified for JO at the end of regionals in June during both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, but the team was unable to attend both times.
In the first season that Top Gun qualified for JO, one of Stevenson-Cundayâ€™s teammates couldnâ€™t attend because she also qualified for the softball JO and couldnâ€™t afford to compete in both sports. Stevenson-Cundayâ€™s coach had a rule that if one teammate canâ€™t compete in the JO, the others shouldnâ€™t compete either.
The team couldnâ€™t go during the second season because one of the other teammates couldnâ€™t afford it.
In 2014, Stevenson-Cundayâ€™s club director left to coach at Texas State University and the team disbanded as a result. Before the team split, Top Gun played one last game at the Disney Summer Soiree in July 2014.
â€ś[I was] really upset; those girls were my family. I mostly hang out with guys so my girl time was with them. They were like my sisters,â€ť Stevenson-Cunday said.
Stevenson-Cunday had to face a break-up with her second family, but that wasnâ€™t the only hardship she faced. She initially practiced at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly) facility, but had to switch to a practice location in Citrus due to the shutdown of the Cal Poly facility.
â€śIt was frustrating because Cal Poly is so much closer for me but I wasnâ€™t that upset about it, it was just harder on my parents,â€ť Stevenson-Cunday said.
In the end, Stevenson-Cunday lost her chance at Junior Olympics. She lost her director. She lost her team. She lost her practice facility.
But even with all these mishaps, Stevenson-Cunday still perseveres: for six days a week, she devotes three hours to volleyball practice. She is a part of the Los Angeles Volleyball Association (LAVA), which competes in the 17-18 age group, and also plays as a setter for Walnutâ€™s varsity girlsâ€™ volleyball team.
Why does she persist?
Because she plays with a purpose.
Stevenson-Cunday strives to earn a sports scholarship from University of Florida, University of Texas or Stanford. She also aims to play for the U.S. volleyball team and major in forensic science.
â€śI plan on getting good grades and excelling throughout high school. If there are hardships I plan on taking them head on and try to overcome them with hard work and dedication,” Stevenson-Cunday said. â€śI guess that you just have to keep going. To push through even if it doesnâ€™t go your way.â€ť
By Casey Lee, Staff writer
Photo by Sajid Iqbal