Coaches offer insight into junior varsity sports

Eli Gordon, Staff Writer

While Urban’s varsity games attract a lot of attention and sometimes have free food and transportation to and from, frosh-soph and junior varsity sports programs are, as frosh-soph girls’ volleyball coach Kristina Tavisora said, “a little forgotten.” However, they still serve a purpose within Urban School sports: developing players for varsity teams as well as getting new athletes interested in a sport.  

While some of The Urban School’s smaller sports programs have only one team, The Urban School’s largest sports programs, like girls’ volleyball and boys’ soccer, have up to three teams and upwards of 50 athletes. This fall, boys’ soccer has two teams: varsity and JV; and girls’ volleyball has three teams: varsity, JV, and frosh-soph.

In an interview with the Urban Legend, boys’ JV soccer coach Skyler Silverman and girls’ frosh-soph coaches Kristina and Erika Tavisora all highlighted the importance of player growth in a JV or frosh-soph team. “The frosh-soph team [athletes] are new to the sport, so they have a lot to learn and they’re eager to learn,” Kristina Tavisora said.

“My favorite thing is to watch [the players] grow as the season grows,” said her daughter, Erika Tavisora.

Both Erika and Kristina Tavisora started working with the frosh-soph team two years ago, due to the number of players trying out that year. They don’t regret their decision to do so. “The varsity and the JV are already pretty established, so you’re just basically going through the game with them. I like to see the girls grow and learn, so I would say [I prefer] the younger team,” Kristina Tavisora said.

While Silverman emphasizes personal growth less than Erika and Kristina Tavisora, he shifts his coaching to match the level of his JV team. “There’s probably something to be said for the fact that at the JV level, we’re a little less concerned with [the] outcome, we’re more concerned with player improvement than at the varsity level,” Silverman said.

Their coaching techniques seem to be working –  frosh-soph volleyball went undefeated last year, and this year they are 5-2 while JV soccer is 7-0-2.

While his team is doing well, Silverman still said that he “wants them to be a little more winning-oriented, a little more aggressive, a little more competitive, a little more intense. Sometimes I do lament that I care more about whether we win than the players do.”

However, Silverman makes sure outcome isn’t the only focus. He said, “especially at the lower levels, it can’t always be about the future, about the next goal and the next game. Sometimes it has to be just, ‘what would you want to do right now? You guys just want to take penalties for 10 minutes? Great, let’s just take penalties so we all get the feeling of scoring goals because that’s fun.’”

Regardless of the challenges coaches may face, Silverman, Kristina Tavisora, and Erika Tavisora all enjoy coaching JV teams. “On the whole, 98 things out of 100 I really love about it,” Silverman said.

Kristina Tavisora feels that she is responsible for sharing her love of volleyball with new players. “If you are passionate about the sport and you love the sport, you teach other kids to love it,” she said.

For Silverman, coaching is a way to connect with students outside the classroom. “I taught at a boarding school so I really like getting to see kids in a non-academic space. I like getting to know them, I like connecting with them, I like being a part of that part of their life,” he said.

Erika Tavisora, who has been coached by her mother for her entire life, said that she emulates Kristina Tavisora’s coaching style. “I would say [that I have] the passion that she has. I definitely have that. And she’s very positive, so I like to think that I’m pretty positive with the girls too,” Erika Tavisora said.

At the moment, JV and frosh-soph teams are a bit under the radar, but Kristina Tavisora believes things will change. When asked about the fanbase for her team, she said that “it’s starting to come along. [The lack of support is] not intentional.”