December 10, 2020 – By NJP
The Memorial Tigers have been a team that just keeps getting better every year over the past 5 seasons. The 2019-20 campaign saw them achieve a 16-8 record and NJP projects them as a top 4 team in Hudson County for the upcoming Spring season. Senior Kim Romero will be a big part of the Tiger’s leadership this year and is a beast on the back row as well as possessing a top tier energy level.
Romero stacked up almost 200 digs last season. She prides herself on not letting the ball touch the defensive floor and has an unparalleled touch on her passing. Kimberly started playing much younger than average having 9 years under her belt as a senior. She credits her passion for the game to her older sister Jacqueline who was a Memorial standout and went on to play for NJCU.
Kimberly has such strong athleticism. She gets to the ball quickly and can run down balls that are normally out of reach. She seems to do this all effortlessly and with perfect form on her passes. Her VBIQ is super high and her instincts for passing and strategy on the attack are superlative. Kim also led the Tigers in aces with 54 and has power in her delivery. She also has the ability to pinpoint her serves and find the gaps.
Her Sureshots VBC experience has served her well as she now plays with some of the top players in Hudson and other North Jersey counties. It’s also great to see her commitment to her studies and her strong academic success. This makes her a special recuit for the college that acquires her.
Here is our interview with Ms. Romero…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Kimberly?
I am a senior at Memorial High School and a part of the graduating class of 2021. I live in West New York, New Jersey in Hudson County. I am the youngest of four, I have two sisters, and a brother. My older sisters are practically my best friends and we are inseparable. My parents are from Central America (El Salvador and Guatemala), making me first generation American. My parents work very hard to provide for me which encourages me to work to my fullest potential, so I can eventually give back to them.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
This year would mark my 8th year of playing volleyball. My parents are not sport-orientated. However, my oldest sister, Jacqueline Romero was the first to play sports and introduced my family to the world of athletics. She played for Memorial High School as an outside hitter and played for NJCU as a libero. As a little girl I have always looked up to my sister, so watching her play volleyball with love and passion made me want to do the same. If it wasn’t for my sister playing volleyball, I probably would have never played. She was and still is my initial inspiration.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am 5’3 and I am a libero/ defensive specialist. I played for Sureshots VBC for the 16’s team and 17’s team. I also played as a setter for several games for my high school team. Our setter and backup setter were out, so my coaches decided that the next smartest thing to do was to have me set. My favorite position to play is libero, there’s no better feeling than breaking a powerful hit from the other team. Hustling is one of my key attributes, I am known for being quick on my feet. Despite the bruises, diving and running after to save balls is one of my favorite things to do. “Never let the ball touch the floor.” – Coach Melvin. I live by that.
Tell us about your Tiger teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and upcoming players?
My teammates and I have been together from the start of it all. While creating friendships we have built an unbreakable bond. Our main setter Karen Castenda has done a phenomenal job controlling the court and knowing what our hitters like best. Kyara Syed (MB), Aderli Yaport (OH), and Michelle Carvajal (OH) are all outstanding hitters and our team wouldn’t be the same without them. We are all so lucky to have these girls on this team! Last year, our middle blocker, Kyara, improved more and more every game she played. I believe this year, with all the hard work she puts in she will exceed our expectations.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan to play volleyball at the college level, and if so, which ones are you looking at?
I do hope to play volleyball for college. Fortunately, I excel in both academics and athletics. I plan to attend a college with a balance of both. As I plan to major in Civil Engineering, I am looking into Lehigh University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute of Technology, University of Connecticut, Rowan University and a few more.
Memorial was 16-8 last season and returned 9 varsity players from last year’s squad. What is your expectation for this year’s team?
This year there will be a total of 8 seniors, three juniors, and a few swinging from JV. We lost 4 varsity players who played major roles in our offense. Although we lost a powerful offense from last year, I am sure this team will work immensely to build a strong, if not, an even stronger offense. With our goal to build a strong offense, we will also be building a great defense. Our team does not contain many tall girls, but that does not concern us. We work around it, especially by having a sturdy consistent defense. Last year we had a better outcome than the previous year, this year we will do the same!
You had a solid junior campaign where you led the Tigers in digs and aces. What are your personal goals for Spring 2021?
I am grateful to be able to say that I had a good year last year, but there’s always room for improvement. Personally, my goals for Spring 2021 consists of improving each of my abilities. I want to strengthen the consistency of my digs, perform my jump float serves stronger and harder, execute tougher backrow attacks, and increase my speed. I also wish to advance my skills in setting even if it’s not my dominant position. To sum it all up I want to amplify all of my skills, making all of them effectively stronger. As for more of a mental personal goal, due to this unfortunate time, Covid-19 has taken a toll on many, therefore, I want to be an example of positivity for my teammates.
NJP projects the Tigers in the top 4 teams in Hudson County and will battle North Bergen and Union City for the White Division crown. Do you think the team can dethrone the perennial power Hudson Catholic in Counties?
Hudson Catholic is a well known school when it comes to athletics in Hudson County. I have played alongside and against many of their players on SureshotsVBC and I can definitely say that they are very strong players. Dethroning Hudson Catholic will be a difficult challenge but not impossible. However, prior to thinking about beating Hudson Catholic, we still have to keep North Bergen and Union City in mind, as they both are also challenges. It’s easy to lose focus and think about the one school everyone is worried about, but we won’t be able to keep up with Hudson Catholic if we can’t compete with North Bergen, Union City, and more. So first and foremost, every game is important and each one counts! I can’t wait to see what this season has in store for us!
Can you tell us about your best memories from your high school volleyball career?
One of the most unforgettable memories took place off the court. Whether it was in the locker room, the bus, and even on the bleachers cheering on our girls. Our team always knew how to have fun, there wasn’t a moment we were not laughing. A personal favorite is one I learned last year. Visualizing the past three years as a whole, I learned that I went from being the one learning to the one teaching. I gained so much knowledge as a lowerclassman that I was able to pass on as an upperclassman, including the ones I personally learned on my own. Helping the younger girls was always such a great feeling.
What inspires you?
My family is my ultimate inspiration. I play volleyball because of the love I have for it. I play for me but also for my family. Despite the love I have for the game, sometimes it does get stressful and overwhelming with the accumulation of school and playing at the same time. What helps me get past it is thinking of my family which motivates me. More specifically, my parents and my sisters who have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort into my volleyball career. I want to show them that it is all worth it. Not only do I want to make myself proud, but make them proud too.
Which player last season was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?
The toughest competitor I faced last season was sophomore Amanda Zweifler from Ferris High School. While Memorial High School did not view Ferris as a threat, I viewed her as one. Zweifler is an outside hitter/ libero. Her jump float serves, spikes, and digging were all well executed. She’s the type of competitor that I like to compete with because it challenges me to work even harder. Amanda Zweifler is a memorable player, one I enjoy to compete with and learn from. I am excited to see what she brings to the table this upcoming spring!
Who is your support group?
My support group are my two sisters, Jackie and Giselle. They both have experience in volleyball and are very understanding of it. When I first played club volleyball, I was quite nervous, but they were with me every step of the way. It was an experience we all went through together. They push me to do my best everyday and when I am having a bad day, they are the ones I can count on 100%. I am very thankful for having them by my side, I appreciate them immensely.
What are your other hobbies or interests?
During the first few months of quarantine due to Covid-19, I developed an interest in running. I ran almost everyday to keep myself moving and fit. During that time, volleyball was moved to February which gave me an opportunity to run for the cross country team. All the running I did prior to that gave me a great advantage which earned me a spot on the varsity team. I won several medals and PR’d every race. It was a short season but it was well worth.
What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
In Memorial High School, I take part in the STEAM Academy, Business Academy, and National Honor Society holding a 4.3 GPA. I was introduced to STEAM my freshman year and it has vastly influenced me. I have worked on multiple projects including CAD programs, 3D printing, building a prosthetic arm, and more. I have worked alongside the Robotics team, Aquaponics team, and green technology. In the future I am looking forward to pursuing a career in Civil Engineering.
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?
This is a very special answer for two very special coaches I have met on this volleyball journey. I was blessed to have been coached by Leah Hansford and Melvin Silva from Sureshots VBC. They both independently taught me what volleyball truly was. Leah was my first club coach I ever had and she was extraordinary. I was new to a team of girls who have already played together, but Leah welcomed me with open arms. She taught me many things but one unforgettable lesson was never to give up. She taught me to fight and express the best of my best. I met Melvin the year I played for Leah, he is one hell of a character for a fact! He was my coach the year after. He showed me practice makes perfect. He was very crucial to my development as a libero, he taught me so much I didn’t know. Every practice was a new learning experience with him. They both formed me into the athlete I am today, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be coached by them.