February 9, 2021 – By NJP
We had the opportunity to sit down with Parth Kale, a senior at West Windsor Plainsboro North high school, to talk about his volleyball journey as well as his passion for the game. It’s a slightly different story than many of the players we interview on a regular basis. We enjoyed hearing his recap and truly feel it can inspire many young players at the high school level in New Jersey. It’s a story of determination and not letting go of your goals in the face of adversity.
Parth had his tryout as a freshman and did not get the results he was looking for. He did not make the varsity team. In fact, he did not make the JV team either. Most students would have just walked away at this point and it took great courage for him to approach the coach with an idea. He asked to be a practice player for the JV team which his coach appreciated and allowed. He worked hard throughout the practices and even got into a game at the end of the season. He had his mind set at improving his skills and being an impact player by the time he was a senior.
A bigger challenge for Parth was that he was not 6’3″. He was the shortest player on a team that was mostly dominated by tall players. But again, he was not discouraged by this and started playing club volleyball at Princeton Volleyball Club. The club opportunity gave Parth ample time to hone and develop his skills. So when he returned as a sophomore, he was much better situated for his tryout. This time, he made the JV squad and ended up being named Captain.
His undying spirit and passion for the sport continued to build as he invested his time at the club level. As he entered his junior year, he felt it was now his time to move up the ranks and he did just that being one of the only juniors chosen to play for the varsity team that was stacked with seniors. His hard work had payed off and he finally reached his goal. But his first game at varsity never came. The season was pushed back and eventually completely cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
Now, as we enter the Spring of 2021, opportunity is knocking on the door. Parth is one of a few returning varsity players and will have his chance to show off his skills center court for the North Knights. Like many schools, WWPN will have a fresh pool of varsity players in a wide open Spring season that is sure to be entertaining at the least. We expect Parth to be a leader on the team. As you read his article, you will see he possesses all the characteristics of a great leader.
Parth hopes one day to be an attorney that provides pro-bono support to people who need but can’t afford his service. He has started coaching younger players to inspire them to excel at the sport he loves. And you get the feeling that he can accomplish just about anything he puts his mind to… like a true leader.
Here is our interview with Parth Kale…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Parth?
My name is Parth Kale and I am currently a senior at West Windsor- Plainsboro High School North. I live in Plainsboro with my parents and have an older brother who is 22. My brother goes to Rice University majoring in Architecture and is currently living in New York for an internship. My dad works in the pharmaceutical industry and my mom works with the Princeton Medical Group.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
My volleyball journey started later than most people during freshman year. During gym volleyball, I was one of the most dysfunctional people on my team and lacked a lot of skill. I was initially interested just because my dad used to play often but during freshmen year and then one of my friends that I met in study hall convinced me to try out for the team and it all started from there. I loved the intensity of the sport as well as the team aspect of it. The fact that there are so many skills involved kept motivating me to get better and better each day.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am 5 feet 7 inches with a 23 inch vertical and play libero for my high school and the Princeton Volleyball club 18s team. I may possibly play setter for my school season this year as that is a spot that benefits my team the most by being there. I enjoy playing every position regardless of usually being one of the shortest on the team. I started as a DS and then moved to Libero sophomore year.
Who do you expect will be WWPN’s standout and up and coming players this Spring?
One of the biggest standouts I see in the upcoming season is in fact a sophomore newcomer named Max Finkielstein. Max is an excellent well-rounded player who plays outside as well as middle. Although not one of the largest players, Max has natural mechanics that make him a machine. Working with him the past few months on the same club team and during open gyms, our chemistry has sparked and we hope to carry it through the school season. I see a lot of promise in him and a massive asset to the school’s team in the upcoming years. Another player that has been by my side is Nikhil Vallakatla who is also a senior. Although starting in sophomore year, he has made a lot of progress fast and has worked alongside me offseason playing beach and in the weight room. Being a strong outside hitter, he will be beneficial to the team to strengthen our offense. Another player I am looking forward to playing with this season is also a fairly new player by the name of William Santamaria. Coming from a family of natural athletes, William is an exceptional player and has a natural talent that has taken him far in volleyball in the past two years.
What is your expectation for this year’s Northern Knights squad? Who are you targeting as the top teams to beat in your conference?
We hope to make the best of what we have. Although we don’t have the most experienced players on varsity this year, hopefully, our team chemistry will allow us to emerge as the underdogs and play well this year. The top teams in our conference to beat are our school rivals WWPS as well as Sterling who have had exceptional success in the past.
How did the cancellation of the Spring high school season effect your team?
COVID had a large impact on our upcoming spring season. Unfortunately, we don’t have any players this year who have played varsity in the past which makes it a little difficult to get into the motion of competitiveness but I believe my team is prepared enough for the upcoming season. The cancellation also meant that everyone would be a little out of shape/ practice for the season. I tried my best to motivate my teammates to play over the summer and workout, but it was challenging with the rise of COVID.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?)
Although I chose not to commit for volleyball, I intend to continue volleyball at a higher level through college club teams or leagues. Regardless if I play in college or not, I hope to continue my journey forever!
What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
I plan on studying Economics in college with a double major or minor in Finance. I hope to pursue law school following my undergraduate studies. My goal is to become a lawyer in California for those who can not afford it and earn money passively from investing. Investing and trading have recently been a large part of my life which is why I would like to explore them more in college.
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?
I truly believe 90% of volleyball should be fun and enjoyable and there are two coaches that helped me realize that. Although I met them recently, Coaches Alexis Whitney and Victoria Stec have amazing personalities and uplifting spirits that have taught me to enjoy the game regardless of winning or losing. At tournaments or games, they are always by our side cheering for us regardless of the score, keeping our energy constantly high. I will never know where they think of drills and games called “shopping list” and “hot streak” but I always look forward to every practice with them although I can live without the constant conditioning. I learned from them that as long you are having fun, the score does not matter and in fact, you play better when you enjoy it in the moment. It’s an important aspect of the game that I would not have realized without them and that will stick with me for a long time. I hope to have an amazing club season with them and great success in the future!
Another coach that truly helped me along the way was in fact one of my closest friends. Nithin Kumar is an elite player that I met my freshman year. Since then our friendship has come a long way and I have learned more from him than anyone. On and off the court, he has been very supportive and has helped me throughout the years to become a better player and person. He has contributed heavily to my development and I would not be here without him.
Which high school or club player was the toughest competitor that you faced and why?
My toughest competitors are from WWPS who I’ve been friends with for years. Tyler Tam, Steven Gao, and Alex Yu are some of the most talented players I’ve met and I’ve learned a lot from each one of them. Playing with and against them is always an amazing experience and their skills are unmatched.
Who is your support group?
My biggest supporters will always be my parents. Day and night no matter the time, they always let me go to practices, open gyms, or just play beach volleyball with my friends. I’ve come home past 12 o’clock from open gyms and they just care that I don’t die driving back home. They come home early from work to make sure I get to practices on time and don’t hesitate to pay money for volleyball. Although my brother doesn’t live with us at the moment, he always checks up on me and asks about my progress in school and volleyball. I wouldn’t be where I am now without my teammates who have helped me throughout my journey. Coaches Ryan Lagomarsino, Alexis Whitney, and Victoria Stec have each individually taught me a lot and I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them. All three of them had immense charisma and support to whom I owe my success too. Each person in my volleyball career had a significant impact on my development that I am truly grateful for.
What are your other hobbies or interests?
I’ve had a huge passion for dancing and it’s been a part of my life for a long time. Dancing is an art that truly allows me to be freer in a creative space. It taught me a lot about thinking freely and helped me become happier mentally. Recently I have also gotten very interested in investing and the stock market. It gave me a sense of responsibility and taught me a lot of life lessons like being accountable for yourself. I also love cooking and baking in the kitchen even though I usually leave a disaster of a mess to clean up afterward.
What else would you like us to know about you?
I began coaching volleyball along with one of my closest friends Nithin Kumar at the park near us over the summer. I had a little experience at summer camps the previous years but this was a very new experience for me. We had several groups ranging from 7-12 years old and many private lessons for high school athletes. It kept me busy and taught me a lot about communication and working with younger kids. I had fun while earning some extra money and the learning experience was amazing. We hope to continue this in the spring and keep going for as long as possible. For us, it was less about the money and more about spreading what we know while making sure the kids have fun.
What was your high school volleyball journey like?
Unfortunately, I actually got cut from the JV team but I couldn’t accept it. With the help of a friend, I emailed the coach and asked to be a practice player for the season. He allowed it and by the end of the season, I got to play one game. I knew this had to be my sport so I tried out for PVC (Princeton Volleyball Club) and worked hard on and off-season to stand out. In my sophomore year of the school season, I became captain for the JV Team and we had a decent season. I kept working and my skills and became the only starting varsity player as a junior and was elated to be on the team with all the senior players I looked up to. Although the season ended before it really started, I took it as an opportunity to grow and work harder for my final season as a senior. I hope to make this final season the greatest it can be with my amazing teammates! I’m not saying all this to brag in any sort of way but to hopefully inspire. I want to show that no matter where you start in life or how much talent you have, you have the ability to be as good as you want to be. The more work you put into yourself, the better the results you’ll get!
“Parth doesn’t give up. I’ve seen him grow since he was a freshman in school and even when he was struggling to learn volleyball at first,he never gave up. That grit mixed with hard work and passion for volleyball is what has kept us close friends all these years. He was a teammate I was really looking forward to playing with last year after all the work we had accomplished together. Im sure he will continue to work hard in all aspects of life and it’s going to be amazing to see where he goes” – Nithin Kumar