The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

The Student News Site of Cape Coral High School

The Seahawk's Eye

Sophia Herrera is changing the face of volleyball


As a junior at Cape Coral High School, Sophia Herrera found herself interested in many of the activities her school offered. One of those activities was volleyball. Since her first game, she has become a top athlete not only in the school, but also in the district.

Herrera found her love for the sport when she attended a volleyball game at her middle school. “I had watched a volleyball game at my middle school and I was really intrigued with how the girls communicate and stuff, so that’s kind of what got me into it,” said Herrera.

Herrera has played varsity volleyball since the beginning of her freshman year, playing middle-blocker on the court. In her sophomore season, Herrera put up a grand total of 26 kills and 88 attack attempts in 30 sets played; and while her offensive stats are outstanding, her defense is her real strength.

“As a middle blocker, you don’t get all the glory as some other positions,” said Volleyball Head Coach John Gardener. “She sacrifices offense to provide great defense, specifically blocking for our team. She does this on a regular basis.”

As a result of her defensive skill, Gardener can put Herrera in tricky situations without a worry. “I know we can trust Sophia when the game is on the line, she does not hold back and tries to play safe,” Gardener stated.

Gardener recalled a match where Herrera did exactly what she was told to do, even if it was a risky and an unusual play.

“In one recent match we needed a side out, to stop the other team from making a run on points,” explained Gardener. “We counted on Sophia to hit a slide, not a normal approach, and she delivered a kill to end their run and get us started in the right direction.”

Ricardo Herrera, father of Herrera, explained that one of his favorite moments was, “Watching her reaction after making a big play on the court. I don’t think she realizes how excited I get from watching her enjoy the moment.”

As a father, Ricardo has always made sure to give her as much courage as possible. “Reminding her that these tough situations are a part of life and more will come; work through it and learn from it,” said Ricardo.

With Herrera being a top player in the school, she explained that there are pounds of pressure carried on her back every game. “I say that I think that it’s a very, I feel very privileged to have the ability, but I do also feel like there’s a lot on my back during games, I just feel more pressured or to do good,” Herrera explained. “There is definitely pressure to succeed but I do also know that it’s just normal to make mistakes.”

Even though she is in the IB program, she still finds time to play both volleyball in the fall and softball in the spring.

“I love being active and I also love that I’m having the ability to play multiple sports at once,” Herrera stated. “I think that it really helps me as a player in both aspects. Just endurance and activity wise are so passionate about. I’m so passionate about playing so I feel like the sport is kind of like an escape for a lot of players. I feel like playing volleyball is a place where I don’t have to worry about the outside world or what’s going on in school and it’s just something that I can do.”

Ricardo has seen first-hand the dedication his daughter has for activities outside of the classroom. “Sophia has been fortunate enough to have experienced playing with a travel volleyball team; Sophia has played all over Florida and other states,” said Ricardo.

According to Gardener, Herrera takes responsibility on the court and learns from her mistakes, making her a better player and person. 

“I think the true aspect of a player’s performance comes from time in practice, this carries over to games,” said Gardener. “As long as she is working hard in practice, it shows in the games. She takes ownership of her mistakes which allows the team to feel comfortable with her on the court. Once she makes a mistake, she is quick to forget and move forward.”

Ricardo has noticed his daughter’s leadership skills when she is playing on the court and standing on the sidelines. “I watch Sophia obviously while she is on the court, but I also watch her on the sideline,” Ricardo explained. “I look on as Sophia cheers for her teammates, gives endless high-fives and encourages players to bounce back from errors.”

“I think Sophia is always trying to keep the spirits of her teammates up,” Gardener stated. “She does mentor the young players both on and off the court. She is a leader and can be more of a leader in practice situations.”

While she might not be the oldest player on the team, she still portrays a veteran character, and leads younger players as if she were a senior player. 

“I definitely see myself as a leader on the team, especially for some of the young girls we have on the team this year. It’s just nice for them to have someone to look up to and just have a role model. I welcome the younger in open arms because I know what it was like to be a freshman on varsity. I know that it wasn’t easy, and I just hope that they never take things away and I’m always there for them.”

Herrera goes into a match knowing it is “just a game”, as stated by Gardener, “I think Sophia has the understanding that at the end of the day, it is just a game. She gets frustrated when we lose, but is light hearted because she knows we will get another chance to win the next day.”

“Having a short memory as an athlete is important. We are not always going to win, or be successful. So, being able to shake off the mistakes in order to win the next point or set is important and she seems to have that.”

Through her volleyball career Herrera learned an important lesson of never letting your mistakes catch up to you. “I really learned that it’s important not to get in your own head, it’s really important not to say things in your head that may bring out to the court so if you make a mistake, let it go.”

“So when you’re down in a game, the energy tends to drop but you cannot let that happen, you have to stay positive and especially one person can do it all. If one person on the team is with a bad attitude and the rest of the people have a tendency to do the same thing, you have to stay positive and that’s just something that I always try to do.”

Volleyball has truly given Herrera things to look back on and smile at. “One of my biggest accomplishments I think throughout my entire volleyball career was going to be [in] my freshman year making varsity. That was definitely a big moment for me especially because I was a 15 year old girl who had no hope.”

A big reason why Herrera believes she has achieved so much in career is primarily because of Gardener. “My coach has been there for me every step of the way,” Herrera explained. “He believed in me when no other coach did; when I was a freshman, sophomore, and now a junior. He has been there and pushed me like no other.”

However, Gardener believes Herrera gave herself that talent. “My first thoughts were that once she develops, she will be an amazing player,” said Gardener. “I think Sophia can certainly play volleyball at the next level. She has to make a commitment to it and keep pushing herself to never be complacent. Every time she takes court, you know what you are going to get: a true performance with effort and heart.”

At the end of the day, there is no one more proud of Herrera than her own father, Ricardo. “I just look forward to seeing her have fun, laugh, and not only become a better player, but grow as a person,” said Ricardo. “I am beyond proud of Sophia and couldn’t be happier for her.”

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Jordan Manning, Sports Editor
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