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Real Talent Shines in Scarlet and Black

For St. John’s Girls’ Varsity Co-captain, Angela Ha (’11), one day can make all of the difference. In 2007 she went back to school for a day that would eventually shape her into the leader she is now. After finishing three wonderful years at St. John’s Georges’ Middle School, on a hot Texas day in August, Ha began her freshman year with some trepidation. Although she had made the varsity volleyball team during the summer tryouts, it was not at St. John’s. While most of her classmates had just made a Texas two-step underneath Westheimer Road to get to upper school, Angela found herself on top of the Balcones Escarpment 195 miles west of Houston at San Antonio’s St. Marys Hall.

Ha’s family had moved to San Antonio after her 8th grade year at St. John’s. She was no longer a Maverick but a Baron from “The Hall.” On that day, as her colors went from scarlet to purple, she felt as removed from Houston as the millions of years of geologic time which divide the Cretaceous Hill Country from the Quaternary Coastal Plain.

But Angela was not a fossil and she did not want to be trapped in the limestone of west Texas. After the last bell, she called her parents and Mrs. Simms of the admission office. One day later she was reenrolled as a Maverick.

“There were many things pulling me back to Houston–My brother Peter (’06) had just graduated from St. John’s, and the Maverick volleyball and softball programs were part of my athletic dreams at that point,” said Ha. “It was nothing to do with the people of St. Mary’s Hall. In fact I am still friends with several players on their volleyball team.”

Ha made it back to Houston as quickly as she moves around the court and bases. Fortunately for the Ha family they had not sold their home and were able to pick up roughly where they left off. “I still had my desk in my room,” said Angela.

In her second tryout for her second team in two weeks, Ha made the cut again: this time for the Mavs. Three years later and not looking back, Angela has made the most of wearing scarlet and black and is starring in her athletic dream as a two-sport athlete at St. John’s. In her junior year she co-captained the 2010 Varsity softball team to a SPC championship final and its best record in years. She was also on last season’s 2009 SPC championship volleyball team, and now she’s a 2010 co-captain, along with Alex Beckham (’11). Angela literally defines herself on the court by her school colors. Playing the libero position, she wears the only scarlet-colored jersey, while her teammates are in black. She substitutes freely for any player and, according to Head Coach James Fuller, is the “air traffic controller for the team.”

Ha’s vantage point, from the side of the court, allows her to direct her teammates to the trajectory of the opponents’ shots. Along with Coach Fuller, she all at once reads the tendencies of other team’s hitters, identifies the biggest threat, and tells her teammates what to do.

“Up, free ball, base, line, cross, tip, A, left, right,” Ha calls out confidently while looking for holes on the other side of net where the team could place a winner or set it up.

“Angela is a good communicator on the court,” said outside hitter, Stephanie Guo (’13). “She supports us during the play and afterwards when we make mistakes. She keeps us focused and ready for what is next.”

“Angela has a great work ethic and that is part of her success story,” said Head Softball Coach, Dan Muschalik. “She’s a positive leader and doesn’t put anyone down.”

“She’s also a very good athlete,” added right-side hitter, Anna Cain (’13).

In a rare home game early on in the season, The Mavericks are hosting Houston Christian on Liu Court. Even though this match is a non-counter, Ha is using the opportunity to lead by example and set the tone for the season. Battling a cold, she strives to find the tempo and timing of the team. The Mustangs’ next shot hits an open space beyond the reach of her teammates Jane (’12) and Caroline (’13), also known as the “great wall of Labanowski.” Without a hint of disappointment Ha calls out, “push five” and gets everyone ready to negotiate the next point. “I want everyone to get on board with our team goals and keep improving,” said Angela. “We have new players, and I need to be patient.”

The Mavericks defeated the Mustangs in what would be their twelfth match in 23 days. They’re putting their formula to the test in order to get ready for the upcoming conference games, one of which will take place on September 25th, where Angela spent her first day of high school. This time Angela will be wearing scarlet and won’t be changing colors.

So, however your day happens to be going at SJS, remember that not only could this be the day that changes your life, but also, there might be somebody out there who’d fight to be in your jersey.

Sam Chambers – Athletic News

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