Student Spotlight: Elise Esparza
By Nahomi Casas
Photo Credits: M. Gamaz
11th Grade Volleyball Captain Elise Esparza
Elise Esparza is an 11th grade student at Saint Joseph Academy that has been on the volleyball team since she was in middle school. Between AP classes and extracurriculars, Elise’s dedication can be spotted from a mile away, as she has worked her way up to a captain position. She has been working towards it since middle school, and she constantly strived to prove her capability to her coach, showing off her leadership skills in the small things such as leading warm-ups or cheering the loudest on and off the court. However, being a captain is not always easy. She says,“The hardest part of being a captain is not knowing how to lead the team when we dig ourselves into a hole during rough games, and keeping the freshmen involved.” She believes that in order to achieve their goals, they must believe in their team and put their trust in everyone, so she makes it a point to make everyone feel involved.
During long practices and difficult games, she always keeps one quote in mind: “Play with your heart, not your gut.” This quote comes from her biggest supporter and inspiration, her coach. “She has inspired me to be the best player I can be by going above and beyond. I wouldn’t be the person or player I am without her.” She recalls how she wouldn’t even be playing volleyball today if it wasn’t for her coach making her stay at the first volleyball summer camp even after giving up and bursting into tears. Before every game, the girls say a prayer and after going out on the court, they huddle up and say, “Lady of Victory, pray for us. Pray for Saint Joe.” Elise loves leading this part of their ritual, and says, “At this point, how loud we are determines the rest of the game.”
Elise’s time on the volleyball team has been difficult yet victorious, and she reminisced on her favorite memory, which was during her sophomore year, when they lost their playoff game. The whistle had been blown and high fives had been exchanged, yet they huddled in a circle and cried together. However, the sudden onset of tears was not due to the loss, but because they would no longer be playing together, as the season came to an end and they had to say goodbye to their seniors. “It was the moment I realized we were more than a team, that we were family.”
When she’s not scoring points with the Lady Bloodhounds, Elise is a model student and is very involved in her school community. She is in countless school clubs, such as the Bloodhound Ambassadors, who hold fundraising events for the school and encourage potential new students to attend Saint Joseph Academy. You can always find Elise helping at school events or taking the lead in the clubs that she is a part of.
As if being a superstar volleyball player, straight-A student, and well-rounded individual wasn’t enough, she is an aspiring FBI agent. Elise plans to study cyber security in college, and eventually work her way up in order to apply for the FBI. Her interest piqued when she learned about the cases the FBI has taken and solved, and the adventures that come with the job. After learning about this, she said, “It proved to me that that was what I wanted to do in the future.”
Elise has proven herself time and time again to be a vital piece and a fierce member of our community at Saint Joseph Academy, and she constantly makes everyone at SJA proud.