The Mavericks Behind the Smart’s vs Simpson Match


Leesburg, VA- Dim ceiling lights illuminate the gym and a chorus of noise vibrates from the crowd of students who showed up for Smart’s Mill Middle School’s after-school volleyball practice. These middle schoolers come to the weekly practices so they can gear up for the annual crosstown volleyball match against Simpson Middle School.
By participating in this event, “Students learn basic volleyball skills but they also get to learn how to work together on a team and use cooperation to get a job done,” said Courtney Stine, a math teacher at Smart’s Mill, and a coach of the event.
In the practices, students are split up into beginner, intermediate, and advanced teams, where they have an opportunity to play with people from different grades that they otherwise would not have met. As volleyball is a teamwork-based sport, the students learn from others and figure out how to cope with the mistakes they or someone else has made. Zahra Rafiqzad, a 7th grader, explains, “You respect everyone around you because you can’t get it right every single time. So you just learn to go with mistakes.”
Though students aren’t the only ones who are allowed to play. Smart’s Mill and Simpson staff also play against each other at the tournament. Mrs. Stine, who plays on the Smart’s Mill staff team, says, “It gives me a chance to do something outside of the normal school day with my colleagues, and it’s a great way to get to know them on another level.”
The kids who make up the other teams share the same enthusiasm. “I’ve been wanting to do it for a while and also some of my friends were doing it,” Addie Bouer-Myers, an 8th grader at Smart’s Mill, says about the match. Bouer-Myers, Rafiqzad, and 6th grader, Isabella Jeantel, all agree that the practices are a lot of fun.
The crosstown volleyball match started in 2019, but has only happened four times because COVID canceled the matches of 2020 and 2021. Some students who are now at Tuscarora participated in the previous years. Ella Kemp, a sophomore, who played in the 2019 match says, “I remember that it was super fun to play our friends from other schools and it was cool to practice and collaborate with all of our friends on our team.” Kemp believes that the crosstown match is a great way to prepare for high school volleyball.
The match will be held at Tuscarora on Friday, March 3rd. Evangeline Gaughf, who is currently a 9th grader, and did the match both her 6th and 8th grade years, encourages the students playing this year too: “Don’t give up, don’t get down on yourself, make sure to stay positive, and even if you make a mistake, it’s ok because everyone does.”