A junior on the Augusta Preparatory Day School volleyball team that finished as Georgia Independent School Association state runners-up a year ago, Savina Patheja is one of the leaders on a team that hopes to take the final step in 2014.
On a senior-laden team, Patheja downplays her role.
“There’s two captains, me and Hannah Masiongale,” Patheja said. “I think it’s just two people who plan T-shirts, they plan all the team bonding and all that stuff. I think the girls can come and talk to us. Having eight seniors is a lot of leadership on the team, so it’s not just the captains leading. Hannah and I talk with the coaches, talk with the team, we’re mediators.”
Lady Cavaliers’ head coach Rich Bland pointed out what the honor of being a captain meant.
“Her teammates voted her co-captain, so most importantly her teammates respect her and look to her for leadership, along with Hannah Masiongale,” said Bland. ‘‘Savina is leading with her play, also. She is in the top two in every category.”
Patheja started playing volleyball as a seventh-grader at St. Mary’s before beginning at Augusta Prep her sophomore year.
“I was tall so the coach told me to come out, and my friend did it, so I decided to come out,” said Patheja.
Bland has been impressed with Patheja since she walked onto campus.
“If we need her to set, she can set, if we need her to play outside hitter – she can do just about everything,” Bland said. “She could probably do middle blocker, too, but she might be a little height-challenged. It’s just her overall volleyball IQ and her ability to know where everybody is on our team and also where the weaknesses of the other team are. She’s the kind of player you want out there in all situations.”
Patheja, who also plays on the Lady Cavaliers’ tennis team, likes the routine volleyball provides. “It’s nice to come to practice after school everyday and you don’t have to think about anything,” Patheja said. “Just think about volleyball. It’s like an escape, I guess.”
This year will be Patheja’s last as a varsity player. She plans to go to college and concentrate on working toward her chosen profession. She doesn’t plan to give up volleyball, however.
“I definitely want to still play volleyball in college – find somewhere to do it – but not for a college,” said Patheja, who has her eyes on the veterinary program at Auburn University.
Over the summer, she worked at the Aiken Veterinary Clinic.
“It was great,” Patheja said. “I was worried because it’s scary because when you go off to college you don’t know if you’re going to like what you’re going to do, so it was nice to shadow the vet and realize that’s what I want to do.”
She saw things others might not like.
“I saw them remove a mass, probably this big (hands apart the width of a doughnut) from a cat,” she said. “Most people would think it’s disgusting, but I thought it was pretty cool.”