The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

New season new coach

Exploring how recently appointed coaches transitioned into their new role
Shravya Guda (right) poses with co-coach Hemani Kukreja.
Aashi Venkat
Shravya Guda (right) poses with co-coach Hemani Kukreja.

After graduating from MVHS in ’12, alum Shravya Guda never expected to return. However, after transitioning from being a competitive swimmer to playing four years of water polo on the MVHS Girls Water Polo Team and then playing club water polo while attending UC Davis, she returned in fall 2022 as the coach of her former team. Guda ultimately made the decision to return because of how much she enjoyed being on the team.  

“Coach [Don] Vierra made my first year of water polo a really welcoming environment,” Guda said. “He saw a lot of potential in all of the freshmen and I think that’s what got people to stay on the team. You make friends freshman year on the team, and it’s hard to leave after that.” 

One long-lasting friendship that Guda made was with teammate Himani Kukreja, with whom she now coaches the Girls Varsity Water Polo team. The friendship that developed between Guda and Kukreja freshman year never ended and turned out to be the reason why Guda decided to come back as a coach in the fall of 2022.  

Similar to Guda, MVHS ‘15 alum Joy Lee didn’t anticipate coming back to Monta Vista. However, after coaching competitive dance for over nine years at Dance Academy USA, Lee stepped in as the MV Dance Team Head Coach near the end of the dance season in January of 2022. Although Lee has an extensive background in competitive dance outside of high school, she was on the Song Team during her time at MVHS, which competes in different genres compared to MVDT. 

Joy Lee poses at a football game wearing her Song Team uniform. Photo courtesy of Joy Lee | Used with permission

“With the Song Team, it’s exclusively pom dancing, so you’re holding your poms and the style of dance is almost like jazz, but very sharp and very dynamic,” Lee said. “Whereas the Dance Team specializes in a whole bunch of different kinds of genres. It does lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, all of it, and song is just one genre of dance.” 

In addition to the two teams specializing in different styles of dance, Lee has also found differences between coaching at a studio compared to coaching MVDT. Alongside having stricter rules in terms of how many turns and what kind of lifts can be included in routines, dancers also have to present themselves differently while performing. 

“One of the things that I see that is really different is that U.S.A. judges love to see the biggest facials possible,” Lee said. “Whereas with studio dancing, it’s very much about the art of it, which is a lot less showy. Both are definitely very valid art forms, they are just very different. 

Although these differences are minor, Lee has to be extra careful in order to ensure that all of her choreography remains in accordance with the regulations. Despite these changes, Lee has no regrets about coming in as the MVDT Head Coach. 

“I’ve had the best time. I love these kids so much and it’s so awesome to jump in and work with kids that just love to dance,” Lee said. “It’s really tough as a coach to try to bring that love for dance out of somebody, and it’s so much easier to have the kids meet me halfway. Honestly, that’s been the best part.” 

Guda has also enjoyed her time coaching water polo and dedicates her time to not just teaching athletes how to play water polo, but also creating a more enjoyable environment for her athletes.

Shravya Guda (right, top row) poses with the 2023 Varsity Girls Water Polo Team. (Aashi Venkat)

“Kukreja and I both really love to coach and we both think it’s really important that everyone leaves the season knowing how to play water polo, feeling like they are good at water polo, and that they have friends on the team and feel safe in the pool,” Guda said. “We really want everyone to have as much fun as possible, because we do as well, so we’d like to trickle that fun down to the team.” 

For Lee, having a close bond between athletes on the team was particularly important, as many of them had felt a disconnect with each other prior to Lee stepping in as the Head Coach. 

“At the beginning of the 2022 to 2023 season, I think we were very separated within the team,” Lee said. “So one of the biggest things that I’ve had to do was make sure that we are mended, allowing us to perform as one.” 

One such way that Guda unites her team is by playing a game called Victoria at the end of its preseason conditioning, in which players substitute a watermelon for a water polo ball. This has been a long-standing tradition for the Varsity Girls Water Polo team. Guda and Kukreja played this game all four years of high school during the season, and they continue to look forward to it every year. 

“It was always so silly and so fun to do, and it’s a nice way to end a hard month of conditioning,” Guda said. “It’s always ridiculous and the watermelon gets nicely cold in the water, and after the game, we get out and we eat the watermelon.” 

While Varsity Girls Water Polo and the MVDT have recently found new coaches, Brian Sullivan is currently helping Athletic Director Nick Bonacorsi find a coach for the JV Badminton team. Although he had to give up coaching the team due to personal reasons, Sullivan still believed that coaching the team taught him a lot. 

“I was a yeller at the beginning of my career,” Sullivan said. “Now, it’s more of getting the players to understand, ‘Here are the reasons why you need to train, and it’s up to you whether you want to or not.’ Those that want to work hard, I’ll work with, and for those that are here for enjoyment, I just keep it fun for them.” 

Having already found a new coach for the Varsity Badminton team, Sullivan believes that although he and the new coach have different levels of coaching backgrounds, the new coach has made the transition more seamless by seeking guidance from him. 

“A lot of younger coaches do not have coaching experience, and sometimes that will create a gray area between them and the athletes,” Sullivan said. “So, I have a lot of the coaches in the league calling me asking what [they should do] in this situation. Even with the new hire [for Varsity], he is already asking me questions to try to make the transition even easier.” 

While both Guda and Lee only recently started coaching their teams at Monta Vista, both had years of coaching experience at different academies and clubs, which Guda believes allowed the transition into her new role to have been relatively seamless. She believes that coaching the team has also provided her the opportunity to rekindle with the sport. 

“I love coaching because I think the girls are hilarious and it’s always really nice to see how nice everyone is,” Guda said. “Everyone on the team is so inclusive and they all get along with each other from what I see. I just love seeing friendships form because those friendships can last a lifetime and I love being able to see that forge right in front of my eyes.”

About the Contributor
Stephanie Zhang, Staff Writer
Stephanie is currently a junior. In her free time, she enjoys listening to her many playlists, binge-watching entire shows at once and spending time with her friends and family.
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