Wellesley Athlete of the Week is made possible with sponsorship support from Deland, Gibson Insurance. The family-owned and operated business has carried on this Wellesley tradition for over 30 years.
Athlete of the Week: Pati Cerda
Role Model Athlete: Courtney Thompson
Pump-Up Song: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
Favorite Class: AP Psychology
Pati Cerda tried a lot of different sports when she was younger, but none of them clicked until she picked up volleyball in sixth grade. “My dad used to play [volleyball], so we stared playing in my backyard. I did a bunch of summer camps and I honestly fell in love and didn’t want to do anything besides volleyball,” Cerda said.
Cerda is a setter for the Wellesley High School volleyball team and she is very proud of learning to love the position that is so integral to the game. In volleyball, a setter is in charge of passing to their teammates and setting up hitters to hit the ball back to the other side.
Cerda has an average of about 34 to 36 assists per match. Her coach, Fabian Ardila, said this is very important to “create an opportunity for a hitter, and to be the one person that touches the ball more than anyone else in the game, she does that very well.”
Ardila was especially complementary of Cerda’s ability to jack the ball, meaning hitting it from the back corner to the front by the net for a hitter to be successful. He remembered her doing this in a match against Natick, which helped them win the point and eventually the match.
“She’s very intelligent in the game of volleyball, which allows her to understand where the ball is going to go before it actually happens. She places herself on the court in a very easy manner. She understands how the defense on the other side can be compromised based on which player she sets, which makes her extremely valuable for us,” Ardila said.
One of her favorite volleyball memories was from the Natick match this season.
“Everything just clicked. We were a team and we were all playing really well, and it was a very satisfying moment for me, especially as a captain, to see something we’ve all worked really hard on actually working, ” Cerda said.
Cerda’s emphasis is always on teamwork. As a setter, her job is to make plays for hitters, so communication is vital. She prepares for each game by getting mentally prepared with her team by knowing the quirks and minor details of each different opponent and making sure to communicate that to the rest of the team. Cerda takes inspiration from Courtney Thompson, a former setter for the US National Team who preaches mental toughness and always being there for the team.
The team made it to the state tournament, winning its first-round game, but bowing out in the Round of 16 vs. Lincoln-Sudbury. Cerda’s approach to the tournament was that the team “put our heart into it and play our best.”
Cerda will play volleyball at Hamilton College and hopes to study psychology. She would like to go into sports psychology and help athletes struggling with mental health issues. Cerda also enjoys singing and is a member of Keynote Singers and Inchordination A Capella at the high school. In her free time, she coaches volleyball for younger kids.
Article written by The Bradford’s Caroline Thornton.