August 16, 2021 – By NJP

The Payne Tech girl’s volleyball program will be entering its 4th season, and it has built a strong following and presence on Market Street. The Spring brought another winning season for the Lions and despite eight of ten varsity players moving on to graduation, optimism is still in the air. One of the reasons for the positive attitude moving forward is the return of their playmaking setter Jacqueline Rosario to the court for her senior year.

Jacqueline had a very special short season, dishing out 228 assists, and spreading her kill distribution over several standout players. She also led the team in aces with 31 and added 60 digs, 7 kills, and 7 blocks to her junior resume’. Payne won a state sectional game and then ran into a very tough NJAC team in Chatham who eliminated them from the sectional tournament.

There is a solid sisterhood in place at Payne, driven by their coaching staff. There is an emphasis on academics first. It is an environment of respect and responsibility. For the Lady Lions, they have responded well to the tough but fair treatment. And have enjoyed the meaningful and positive collaboration that breeds success on the hard court. They appreciate their Coach, Natasha Batista, and are instilled with the same passion that Coach Tasha brings to the gym each day.

What is impressive to us as we interact with Jacqueline is her drive to succeed. She has the ability to overcome adversity and stay the course, bringing positivity that is contagious. It’s an environment where you and your teammates feel they can set their goals high and put in the work to achieve anything. That’s the sign of leadership. And that’s the sign of a winner, no matter what the scoreboard says at the end of the game.

Here is our interview with Ms. Rosario…

Hello Jacqueline? Thanks for joining the NJP player interview club. Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Jacqueline Rosario, and I am a senior at Payne Tech High School. My family and I live in Newark, New Jersey. I live with my mother, father, and two older siblings. My family has always been athletic, participating in sports such as baseball, volleyball, and softball.

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I’ve been playing since freshman year in high school. Volleyball was never a sport that piqued my interest. I played basketball throughout middle school but soon realized it wasn’t for me. After I was accepted to Payne Tech, I heard the stories about the coaches who had transferred from North 13th and were now coaching here. I became interested in the sport. I wanted to be a part of a well-coached team. From going to the LHU camp with the team as a freshman and team bonding days, I realized that this is something I could love, and I knew I found where I belonged.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What is your favorite position to play?

I am 5’3″. Since freshman year, I’ve held the position of setter.  I couldn’t attend a club team. However, I did participate in clinics at Kean University and Rider University.  I attended overnight camp at Lock Haven University (Which has helped our team tremendously).  The coaches made me into the setter the team required and that is where I have been the past three years. Playing this position has taught me to be aggressive and has helped me come out of my comfort zone. I feel like I have a good handle on the game. It is obviously my favorite position because it is where I am most comfortable, but I do enjoy hitting the ball on the Outside.

Tell us about your Lion teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?

Where do I begin? After losing my previous team due to graduation, I knew we were going to have a rebuilding year. My lion teammates each bring something unique to the court, and I have high expectations for them all. Anjali Maragh and Jaylene Nivar will be this year’s standout players, in my opinion. Anjali Maragh is expected to make a significant contribution to our offense. Her blocking and hitting are exceptional for a player her age. Jaylene is an excellent defender. When it comes to defense, she has incredible speed and good hands. I have faith in both of them to have my back on the court.

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? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?

I definitely plan on playing in college. NJCU, Rutgers Newark, and Saint Elizabeth are just a few of the colleges I’m considering. I plan to major in Criminal Justice and work as an FBI agent.

You led your team in assists as a junior with 228 in the short season. What are your goals for your senior year at Payne Tech?

My goals for senior year are to strengthen my team while also enjoying the season while it lasts. I want to be able to work on myself as an individual and be a strong leader. We lost 8 varsity players to graduation this year, so my coaches are looking to me to lead the younger players. With a possible position change, I just want to do my best on and off the court. Knowing that this is my final year and the challenges that lie ahead, I’d like to leave on a high note.

The Lions had a solid year and a winning record this past Spring and won a state playoff game. The team loses 8 varsity players to graduation for the fall. Do you expect a rebuilding year or do you think the upcoming and rising players can drive you near the top of the SEC-Colonial?

Yes, we did lose our entire team, I do expect this to be a rebuilding year, but I know that we will be solid.  We are working hard, and I know we will continue to be a solid team. We have talented players coming up and I know they will be a huge part of the team’s success. Anjali Maragh is expected to be a big part of our offense and Jaylene Nivar plays solid defense. These girls are two solid players, and this is our year. I trust them and we all have something to prove. Our coaches are always telling us that we have what it takes, and they have a lot of faith in us.  We are excited to see what the season holds.

Tell us about your coach Natasha Batista?

When it comes to playing for Coach Tasha, it’s been an incredible journey. She makes the time and effort to connect with her players and assist us with whatever we require. In many ways, she is deeply committed to her team. From intense practices and demands that the game be played correctly, to giving us speeches about how we represent not only our school, but our city and our families.  That we should never be content with average and to always strive for the best, on and off the court. She sees a lot in us, and she wants us to see it. Despite our ups and downs, she has taught me a great deal about volleyball and cares deeply about her team.

Tell us about the coaches or mentors that have positively influenced your volleyball career…

Where do I start?  The volleyball coaching staff here at Payne Tech definitely have made an impact on me. Coach Tasha taught me how to defend and read the ball, she saw my hands and pushed for me to get comfortable with the game.  Coach Gina showed me how to block and attack the ball.  She also makes sure we are in good shape with all her conditioning drills and games, which she enjoys a lot.  Coach Johnson taught me how to use my hands, how to move for the ball, and how to play the game. All of these coaches helped shape me into the player I am today, and I am grateful to have them on my team.

How does athletics make you a better student or worker?

Athletics makes me a better student because it motivates me to maintain my grades so that I can continue to play.  We have to maintain a B average in order to play, if not the coach benches us.  It has aided me as a worker because being a part of a team/sport changes your attitude for the better.  It teaches you responsibility and discipline.  It also aids you in learning how to take criticism better, without reacting to it.  It motivates you to rank your priorities, focus on what is important and work towards your goals. These are all things that will help us once we graduate.

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