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Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Daniella Oyokola sets herself up for success with volleyball, school through hard work

Senior+Daniella+Oyekola+spikes+the+ball+against+North+Hagerstown+in+the+teams+3-1+loss+in+the+State+Quarter+Finals.
Photo by Erik Kleinbussink
Senior Daniella Oyekola spikes the ball against North Hagerstown in the team’s 3-1 loss in the State Quarter Finals.

Shouting, smiling and hugging, senior Daniella Oyokola and her teammates crowd together, jumping for joy as they celebrate their victory over Richard Montgomery, titling them the 2023 girls’ volleyball county champions. The players on the bench run onto the court, joining their team as their cheering fills the Richard Montgomery gym. While being presented with their plaque, players and head coach Mary Malinauskas cannot stop smiling with the excitement of their win. Clapping and cheers erupt as athletic director Al Lightsey awards the team with the championship plaque and smiles remain on all their faces. The team hoists the plaque in the air, a moment to remember for Oyokola.

A top scorer on the varsity team, Oyokola is a key component to the team’s wins that led them to the state quarterfinals against North Hagerstown. She has played on the team for all four years. Although she is a middle hitter she is able to adapt during the game to hit from anywhere, not just the middle, making her a threat no matter the position, since she “is one of the best at adjusting to the different positions,” Malinauskas said.

Not only does Oyokola’s vertical jump help when she is hitting but also when blocking the other team. Junior Naima Cho-Kaliq specifically highlights Oyokola’s middle slides and describes her as the team’s “powerhouse” since her presence on the court is crucial for victories. Oyokola credits her success in volleyball to her dedication to the team and sport by “almost never missing practice, even the optional ones, and trying to be engaged at every practice,” Oyokola said.

This season she focused on her reliability and consistency in her play helping her to be more confident but always remains conscious about what she needs to improve to play well. Even with her work ethic and impressive skills on the court, Oyokola remains humble in her abilities. In past years Malinauskas believed that “she didn’t even realize how good she is.”

The team’s season ended in the state quarterfinals on Nov. 10 after losing 3-1 to North Hagerstown. This season being Oyokola’s senior season, Malinauskas reminisces on her years coaching her because it was a “privilege to coach Daniella, not only because she has a rare talent as an athlete, but because she is so smart.”

The dedication to a varsity sport involves strenuous practices that are two hours long every day after school and games at least once a week. Despite the hours of commitment the team requires, Oyokola manages to take challenging classes including AP physics. The one to two hours of homework she has each night plus practice makes it laborious to maintain her good grades, though she always makes time to study after practices or games to get all her work done. Even though she struggles during the season to balance school, volleyball and her social life, “playing a sport makes school 100x more fun even though I might be busy,” Oyokola said.

Though she explains that maintaining good grades and balancing a social life is difficult as a student-athlete, in the end, it is worth it because of the friendships she makes.

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Emory Scofield, news editor
Sophomore Emory Scofield is a news editor in her second year at Common Sense.  In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing lacrosse, biking, reading, and spending time with friends. She hopes you consider joining the Common Sense team!
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