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The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

Diving into the “Payne” of volleyball

Kelsey Smith
Lilah Payne poses with a smile in front of school murals.

Lilah Payne is one of the many students in her first year of high school at Rancho Cucamonga High School. She started her freshman year at RCHS making the varsity team for volleyball.

Payne is a student-athlete. As someone new to the school and the team, there are certain challenges such as time management, difficult training, and inner frustrations she may come across and still currently face.

This is Payne’s third year playing volleyball, and from all of her experience, she has learned to have a key understanding of the sport. Her overall growth in her sport shows her improvement and commitment. 

“I think I’ve improved a lot over the past three years,” Payne said. “Three years ago I couldn’t even get my serve over the net and now it’s like day and night. I worked really hard to get where I am now and did a lot of extra  training such as strength training.” 

Payne is currently in strength training and will continue to do training such as this. 

“There’s always something to improve in,” Payne said.

This school year when Payne made the team, she experienced excitement and nervousness for what was to come. 

When practices first started, I was intimidated by how well the other players performed, but I made it a challenge for myself to grow. By the end of the season, I felt more comfortable on the team.”

— Lilah Payne, freshman

“When practices first started, I was intimidated by how well the other players performed, but I made it a challenge for myself to grow,” said Payne. “By the end of the season, I felt more comfortable on the team.”

Payne quickly learned all the different plays, sets, and drills that she had never done before. She had felt pressured to learn everything, but it helped her improve as a player because she was able to learn more to expand her knowledge in the sport.

Payne always makes time for volleyball because she has a goal that she would like to meet, which is playing at the college level.

“Besides high school practice and club practices, I look for other opportunities to train with different coaches and watch videos on social media to learn techniques and improve,” Payne said. 

Lilah Payne shared her volleyball picture with The Cat’s Eye from media day.
(Yary Photography)

Although she puts in efforts to her sport, when sports season occurs, she said it tends to be very difficult to keep up with general schoolwork and a sport at the same time.

The late times that the sport causes affects the time needed for homework and Payne would have to stay up later than usual to study and catch up on homework. It was also difficult for her to find out what went on during her fifth period, honors freshman English, whenever the team would have to leave early for their games.

“I was okay with the volleyball players leaving early to get to their away games because everyone was responsible about their work,” said English teacher Ms. Mary Vertiz. “It was never in question that they would take care of their assignments.” 

Although it was difficult for Payne to make sure her work was getting done, she always managed.

Any stresses that weighed her down because of overall academics or athletics would be dealt with by taking one thing at a time. Payne would try to stay out of her own head and calm down but if that was not working, she could resolve those issues by talking with her mom who gives great advice.

Even when she stays up late to do homework, she makes sure to create time for hobbies and spends her free time in between her hard work by relaxing. In her free time, Payne said she likes to spend time with friends and family, bake, go to the theater, and listen to music. 

“It’s so amazing to spend time with Lilah,” freshman Sadiyah Sanders Emerson said. “She’s funny and exciting to be around whenever we hang out.”

The life for a freshman student-athlete on a varity sport with difficult competition can be tough to deal with and manage. The volleyball team made it to CIF this year and won the league championship. 

Through it all, Payne continued to have so many efforts to keep up good grades in honors classes, go to school practices, training, after the school season have club volleyball, and maintain a balanced personal life.

Payne keeps everything she does as a prime commitment and never loses focus of her goals in sight. 

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About the Contributor
Kelsey Smith
Kelsey Smith, Staff Reporter

Kelsey Smith is a freshman at RCHS, and this is her first year in journalism. Smith is very interested in writing arts and thoroughly enjoys the stories she creates. She is looking forward to her freshman year spent meeting new people and writing stories for The Cat’s Eye. Outside of school, Smith loves to listen to music, watch TV, play sports, video games, travel, and hang out with friends. 

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