For the first time in 16 years Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) women’s volleyball hoisted the CUNY Athletic Conference Community College championship trophy, ending the six-year reign of Queensborough CC. The Panthers concluded CUNYAC play undefeated.
It was an intense few days for the players, as BMCC played in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Region 15 tournament, defeating Kingsborough CC in the opening match before falling to Dutchess CC in the semi-finals. BMCC’s first-year head coach Nia Bell had to get her players to quickly refocus and bring home the CUNYAC title.
“It boils down to mental toughness,” said Bell. “It was deciding we really want to fight for it all together as a team. After losing regionals, they were very disappointed in themselves. We were in our heads a lot that game. We had a discussion about if you really want something you have to work for it.”
Bell knew that winning the CUNYAC title would help her players have opportunities to play at four-year institutions and even get athletic scholarships. That is precisely the mindset of sophomore Josanne Lewis, who was named CUNYAC CC Women’s Volleyball Championship Most Valuable Player as well as NJCAA Region 15 and CUNYAC Player of the Year.
“I’ve played volleyball all my life. My dad is a volleyball coach. I grew up in the sport,” said Lewis, who transferred to BMCC in January after attending college in Minnesota.
Lewis loves NYC’s public transportation and she is not fazed by the busy pace. “I’m used to being an athlete,” she said. “I know how you have to balance the athletic and academic. I make a lot of schedules for myself. I’m committed to volleyball, but I’m also committed to academics. I make time during the day to get homework done between classes so that in the afternoons and evenings I can practice, and when I go home, I can prepare for the next day and go to sleep. It’s the dedication.”
A psychology major, Lewis, an outside hitter, wants to move on to a four-year institution after completing her associate degree and play collegiate volleyball. “I would play anywhere that I have a chance to play,” she said. “If I got an opportunity to play for a big college, I’m going to take that opportunity so I can study what I want to study while playing the sport I love.”