Paterkiewicz assumes leadership role
Carmel's Mary Paterkiewicz (blue headband) celebrates with her teammates during a match against Lake Zurich on Aug. 21. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2012 1:31AM
CARMEL — There is a moment in every young athlete’s life when they realize that they’ve grown up.
For Carmel senior setter Mary Paterkiewicz, that moment happened Thursday.
Before Carmel’s game against Marian Central, Paterkiewicz, a senior, noticed that her teammates did not look like themselves.
“It was not one of our stronger warm ups. They were nervous,” Paterkiewicz said. “There was a lot of pressure for the seniors. That was a huge game for us.”
It was the first meeting between the schools since Marian Central knocked Carmel out of the postseason in the Class 3A super-sectional round last year.
So Paterkiewicz did what any leader would do. She acted on instinct.
“After the warm up I gathered the team and told them, ‘We all have to believe in ourselves. We have the talent and we have to shake these nerves out and if we believe, nothing that can stop us from winning,’ ” Paterkiewicz said.
A shaky first set loss (26-28) was followed by two confidence-inducing wins (25-11, 25-15) as the Corsairs won the match, defeating an archrival in the process.
Pre-game speeches given by untalented players do not hold the same gravitas. What makes Paterkiewicz more effective as a leader is her on-court skill. As Carmel’s setter, she is the team’s quarterback. It is a position that requires quick feet, a quick mind and a blue collar mentality.
“It’s a thankless job. You are on the court all day long, you never come off. You have to know what to do with the ball to put it to the right hitters. Who has the hot hand? You must always be thinking,” said Bill Eager, Paterkiewicz’s club coach at Net Force Volleyball Club. “It’s not a position of someone who’s not an intelligent person. She’s gotten a lot smarter, her volleyball IQ has gotten a lot higher.”
As has her physical strength. Possessing broader shoulders and stronger legs, Paterkiewicz is able to lift balls from the second or back row into position for Corsair hitters Alyssa Armada and Gracie Schofield to make their swings.
Sitting behind a senior-dominated team last year as a junior, the 5-foot-7 Paterkiewicz now has her opportunity to show on the court what she’s been doing in practice.
“We had some great players last year and it was hard to get playing time above them,” Carmel coach David Pazely said. “The consistency has been there, and now she has the intangible qualities.”
Those qualities were on display before the Marian Central game. What made that moment more remarkable was what she didn’t reveal to her teammates.
“I was just as nervous as they were. I didn’t want to show them that,” Paterkiewicz said. “We pulled it out, and it was a defining moment (for me) as a leader. They took it to heart.” ~.