Senior athletes jump into new sport their senior year

June 7, 2021

By Ella Tozduman
Staff Writer

Behind every successful sports team are hard-working, motivated players who form a community even in the midst of uncertainties like Covid-19. For this sports feature, The Lighthouse caught up with three senior girls who decided to make the most of their final year at LHS by trying out a new sport.

Carley Martin, softball

PHOTO BY LORS PHOTOGRAPHY Senior Carley Martin is up to bat at a home game against Leonia High School on May 6.

Martin, a four-year girls varsity basketball player, will continue her involvement in the sport when she is studying government at Misericordia-University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Martin achieved the outstanding accomplishment of scoring over 1,000 points over the course of her four years at LHS.

Now Martin can be spotted in left field, as this is her first season on the softball team. Although she is a new member of the team, Martin played softball until adolescence. At that point, she decided to focus all her energy on basketball. For the past three years, she has played basketball for the Amateur Athletic Union.

“I stopped in eighth grade to try to get recruited for [college] basketball. Once I got recruited and committed, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind [about] playing,” Martin said.

Martin, who is a left fielder in the starting lineup, said coming back to softball after a long break has been difficult. As of June 6, she had a total of 13 hits and 16 RBIs. Martin said her goal for the season is to win the league with her team.

“One challenge I faced coming back was accepting not being the best at it. Being a really competitive person, everything I do, I strive to be the best,” Martin said. “Not playing [softball] for five years really set me back, so I kind of just had to accept that I wasn’t going to be the best, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t work the hardest I possibly could to get close to it.”

“Not playing [softball] for five years really set me back, so I kind of just had to accept that I wasn’t going to be the best, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t work the hardest I possibly could to get close to it.”

Despite the steep learning curve, Martin said she is excited to be playing on the softball team and is dedicated to the sport.

“The best aspect of this sport is playing with my friends I grew up playing with. The reason is because they are my best friends. We support each other, and we have fun playing together because we all know each other so well,” Martin said.

Daniella Dominguez, volleyball

PHOTO BY LORS PHOTOGRAPHY Senior Daniella Dominguez passes the volleyball at a home game against North Arlington High School on March 9.

Dominguez has never played on a volleyball team before, but that didn’t stop her from picking up the sport and helping her team make it to the state finals. Ultimately, the team came in second for the state section. They finished with a 14-3 record and were co-division champions. This is the first time in over 30 years they won the league.

Dominguez said she decided to join the volleyball team because, as a result of Covid-19, the season got moved from the fall to the spring. Therefore, this year’s volleyball season did not overlap with the soccer season.

“It was mainly the necessity for me to get out of my comfort zone and get out of my house [that caused me to join the team]. I actually love trying out new sports, and so I saw this opportunity as the best way for me to not only learn a new sport, but also to stop the laziness and get in some shape,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez will be attending Montclair State University and majoring in biology. She hopes to go on to earn a doctorate in either neuroscience of marine biology.

Dominguez plays soccer and also runs track, but volleyball was brand new to her. Therefore, Dominguez said she had a lot to learn at the start of the season.

“I came to the sport as a blank slate. I didn’t know rotations, positions [and] strategies. I only knew how to pass a ball,” Dominguez said. “The unique thing about volleyball is that the individual performance of the players won’t matter if there isn’t a team connection.”

Alexis Laino, track and field

PHOTO FROM ALEXIS LAINO Senior Alexis Laino competes in shot put on the track and field team.

Laino decided to join the track and field team this year as a thrower. She said she saw potential in her abilities and then fell in love with the sport after she started throwing. This is the first sport Laino has played in her high school career.

“Transitioning into my senior year and not being as involved in school activities, it definitely was a wake up call for me to try something new,” Laino said.

Laino’s personal record in shot put is 24-0. She said her goal is to do her best while also being an encouraging teammate.

Laino said her favorite aspect of being on the track and field team has been forming relationships with her teammates.

“Overall, sports [are] not just about winning and competing. It’s about support, being humble and having optimism,” Laino said.

Like Dominguez, Laino will be continuing her academic career at Montclair State University where she will be majoring in biochemistry.

She said she encourages all students, including upcoming seniors, to join an LHS sports team.

“Whether they are an athlete or have never played a sport before in their life, it doesn’t hurt to try,” Laino said. “With confidence and hard work, they could end up being the next big thing.”

bookmark icon