Girls’ Volleyball Captures 1st Conference Championship
When you enter the South Gym at Kingsway High School, you immediately notice the championship banners that adorn the upper walls. All of Kingsway’s sports teams that have won championships have one.
Well, it’s time for those banners to move over and make room for one more. For the first time in school history, the Kingsway girls’ volleyball team captured the Olympic Conference championship.
Coached by Coach Maggie Goodman since the inception of the program a few short years ago, this program has grown in quality and quantity every year. It has a strong junior varsity and freshman program, too, and has a strong supporting cast in assistant coaches Megan Rulon and Paul Kilgus.
However, things were not always this way. There have been obstacles in the program’s path, including inexperience.
“We (players and coaches) are all still relatively new to this wonderful sport,” said Goodman. “We’re continuing to develop and grow. We have improved every season due to hard work.”
This year, however, expectations were high. The Lady Dragons returned a strong nucleus from the previous year, a year that produced a berth in the NJSIAA postseason tournament. They had a group of returnees spend their summer playing club volleyball. There appeared to be a stronger commitment to the sport. This made the coaching staff quite excited.
During the season, there were a number of highlights. They were able to defeat local powerhouse Washington Twp. (2-0). Their 2-0 win against GCIT clinched the conference title for the Dragons. They even made in-roads against state juggernauts Williamstown and Cherokee, taking games in losses from each of them, something unheard of in seasons past.
They qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs again and were one of the highest ranked teams in South Jersey Group 3. Individually, they had 4 all-conference players in Jasmine McLaurin, Myiah Gatling, Meghan Carroll, and Peyton Nugent. Of special note, McLaurin has committed to play at NCAA Division II Virginia Union. She will have the distinction of being the first Dragon to play collegiate volleyball. Needless to say, this was a special season.
While their senior class (McLaurin, Carroll, Mikaela Biester, Brigid Reilly, and Rachel Brasco) has been through the ups and downs and will be missed terribly, the program seems to be primed to continue their progression. The girls already are training in anticipation of next season.
A path of excellence has been set by these seniors, and the younger girls look to walk down the same lane. As importantly, the leadership of Goodman and her staff cannot be understated.
“This has been an amazing journey,” said Goodman. “The poor girls in the beginning were stuck a coach who didn’t know much. We all learned and worked hard together. After attending many high school games, collegiate games, and clinics, I began to feel more confident, and this bled into my players.”
“I am so grateful for being part of this program from the beginning, because the growth has been indescribable,” Goodman continued. “These girls are fantastic athletes and are getting stronger and stronger each year. Now, we don’t simply have athletes trying to play volleyball; we have true volleyball players.”