Exploring the star athlete and leader’s personal growth in high school
An athlete, a leader, and a friend. To many, senior Bridget Agyare is a well-rounded student who leaves a positive impact on others no matter what she is involved with. However, the volleyball varsity captain and the head of leadership’s athletics department she is today is not the same person she was when she started high school.
“Coming into high school, I never thought about being a leader or head of anything. By the end of high school, I could see I’ve really changed from someone quiet who was afraid to go out for things. Freshman year, I would have never tried to interview for leadership or to do anything like that. I think that [the] experience of varsity [volleyball] my freshman year was a valuable experience that helped me feel like you have to put yourself out there, take risks, and go for anything, like leadership. You have to take advantage of the opportunities,” explained Agyare.
Coach Sarah, the coach of the volleyball team, has been able to see first-hand the change that Bridget went through over the past four years.
“[Bridget] went from being quiet and reserved to being a stand-out leader. By her junior year, she was the glue that really held the team together. She became that player that everyone could depend on, and it did not matter [which] position she was playing,” said Coach.Sarah.
Sophomore Jalyn Javier was on the volleyball team with Bridget this year and has been able to personally experience the impact that Bridget has made.
“Whenever I was doing bad, [Bridget] always lifted me up and always encourage[d] me. Whenever I did something good while we [were] on the court, she [was] there clapping for me. She always [had] my back. This past season, she had the position that I want to play this coming season. She’s always giving me advice and watching her play [has] helped me achieve that goal.”
Underclassmen like Jayln have been able to see the way that Bridget supports everyone throughout their time on the volleyball team. However, the journey to becoming the captain of the volleyball team was not an easy one.
“I think her biggest struggle was becoming [that] the leader underclassmen needed. [Her personality] showed me that you don’t have to be the loudest or most outspoken [to be a leader]. When Bridget speaks, everyone listens and they take it to heart… I have never seen that over the last 8 years I have been coaching… She sits back and allows people to grow and gives advice or a push when she sees [them], or we, need it,” said Coach Sarah.
The time Agyare spent on the volleyball team helped show her a new perspective on how she is capable of achieving her goals.
“Who I was freshman year is different than who I am senior year. It comes to show that when you are put into new situations, it’s going to be uncomfortable at first. If you work hard and pay your dues to the program, then you grow into the person that you always wanted to be,” explained Agyare.
After a few years on the volleyball team, her teammates encouraged her to join the leadership team at school. There, she had the opportunity to once again get out of her comfort zone and impact others positively.
“Bridget is a 4-year Varsity Girls Volleyball player and was one of the team captains this last year. However, it was in her role last year as Co-Athletics Commissioner that she started to take on more responsibility. She worked with Hannah Hillman last year to help plan and coordinate events like Powderpuff and the Gatorade Day as well as promote athletics. In other cases, Bridget worked with Hannah to provide me with help at games where I was shorthanded,” said Athletics Director Mr. Hashimoto.
Mr. Hashimoto has been able to observe a difference in her leadership style over the past two years.
“I have seen Bridget take a gigantic step forward this year. Last year, she worked alongside Hannah, whereas this year she has taken the reins and moved the athletic[s] department forward in a major way. We plan on building off of the advisory council she helped form this year. She helped start and contribute to the social media platforms, but where I have seen Bridget shine in a way that I had not seen before is her public speaking. In the past, I saw her let others take the lead when it came to presenting, but this year, I found out what a fantastic public speaker Bridget is,” said Mr. Hashimoto.
Other students in leadership have also been able to see that Bridget has become more vocal and active recently as a leader in the athletics department.
“Overall, Bridget is a pretty reserved person, but I noticed that this year, she is speaking her mind more often. As the committee head for athletics, she takes charge in a very efficient manner. She is well respected by the whole class, and we all appreciate her work so much. This year, attendance to sporting games [has] increased because of her leadership. Bridget knows when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to get to work. She has always been an effective leader,” said Senior Vice President Mingyu Wu (12).
Agyare’s experience of being on the volleyball team for several years and being able to connect to other athletes has helped contribute to her leadership skills.
“Both years [that I was on leadership, the athletics] committee has been really close with each other. The committee just in general has a different dynamic than other committees because we understand what it’s like to be on a sports team― to have that chip on your shoulder. We all work really well together because we know what the athletes and the general population at our school want…We get along really well,” said Agyare.
By being a dedicated person and understanding the needs of the athletes, Bridget spends hours a week to create a sense of community for the athletes.
“A lot of what people don’t see is the amount of time Bridget puts in outside of the school day to ensure events run as smoothly as possible. For example, to help promote our athletics on the new Instagram and Twitter pages, Bridget went to as many fall and winter sports as she could to take pictures to get to me to post online. There were some weeks where she was going to a sporting event after school Tuesday through Friday,” said Mr. Hashimoto.
What makes Agyare put in this much effort into what she does to support this school is seen by others on the leadership team.
“[Bridget] is very strategical, but most importantly, Bridget is very passionate [about] what she does. I think that’s the most important aspect of any leader: passion. She cares about athletics and she strives to bring representation to sports and other activities,” explained Wu.
Though Agyare has spent a lot of time after school going to games whether it be her own volleyball games or other sporting games to support her school, they have played a key role in developing relationships with her family.
“It’s definitely hard because these activities take up a lot of my time, but even doing these activities bond[s] friends and family. My parents would come to every one of my games. They would watch me and be there to support me. Even though we are not talking or interacting, it was a way for my mom to show me support and my dad to show me support,” said Agyare.
Agyare has also used her the time that she spends at athletic events as a way to get closer to her friends.
“I would go to every single game at American…I [would get] to hang out with my friends while supporting my friends who were playing their own games, so it [was] a win-win [situation]. Even though it [was] taking a lot of time, I’m there for my friends and my family is there for me. It makes you feel better about your community. You get really close with the people in your community,” said Agyare.
Even with all that Bridget Agyare is involved with, Alisa Agyare (9), her sister, feels that their relationship has strengthened more recently, especially because they can relate more with each other.
“When [Bridget] moved to middle school, we drifted apart, but the last year, we got super close…I talk to her a lot now, and we laugh a lot. It feels good to have a sister that’s so close…[We] might [be closer because] we’re both in high school now. She drives me to school and we’re [now] in the same school. It may [also] be that we’re both older, and we recognize that we have to get closer, in order to build a stronger relationship.”
Agyare has also experienced a similar change in her friendships at school, including with Jennifer Lee (12). The two of them got to know each other better during their sophomore year when they shared many classes together. Even though they no longer have as many classes with each other, they have managed to develop their friendship.
“I think both of us have matured a lot over the past couple of years which has made our relationship a lot stronger. We don’t need to talk to each other every day to stay friends because we know that a friendship doesn’t require constant texting. I can turn to her whenever because I trust we will always be there for one another,” said Lee.
Rachita Mehta (12), who has known Agyare since third grade, has also been able to keep a strong friendship with Agyare throughout the years.
“We’ve grown even closer throughout the years. It’s funny because [Bridget and I] are sort of opposites, but whenever we’re together, my mood always rises and we always find a way to make each other laugh. She’s the first person I call when I have news or tea, and also the first person I go to when I need advice,” explained Mehta.
As Agyare has grown as a person over the past four years, she has led her friends to do the same, including Mehta.
“She’s impacted me a lot honestly. I’m not as shy as I used to be and my personality is a lot different than before we met. And she’s always there to support me and have my back no matter what, allowing me to be the best version of myself. She’s helped me become the person I am today, for the better.”
With all of the activities that Agyare is involved with, she has used it to create a positive impact on others while staying true to herself.
“She’s probably one of the most productive people I’ve seen, and she knows what she’s doing with her life. Volleyball makes her just super happy. Whenever I go to her games, I can see how she enjoys…her time and her mood is uplifted. Leadership has also taught her that she’s a competent person and has given her more confidence,” said Lee.
Bridget has enjoyed her experiences over the past four years. As she moves onto the next chapter in her life, she hopes to take advantage of the leadership skills she has developed in order to continue bettering her community.
“I definitely think in college I want to have leadership roles like I did in high school, because I just had so much fun leading people in [the] athletics committee and in the volleyball team. I want more experiences like that in college. Of course I am going to study, but I want to be relatable in the community, because I think that it’s a great way to [have] happiness in life.”