February 19, 2024

February 2024 - Senior Spotlight: Cayla Menicola - Girls Basketball

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Cayla Menicola is an extraordinary basketball player and an even better teammate. Menicola’s passion for basketball and her fantastic personality will not go unnoticed. Menicola is a dedicated and talented athlete who will mark Ramapo’s history. 

Cayla’s journey in basketball began when she was around six years old. Starting as a young, excited player, she quickly rose to the top. When it comes to basketball, Cayla says that she, “can’t remember my life without it.” While it is not easy being an athlete, Cayla has succeeded in every way. Being an athlete involves persistence, stubbornness, and determination, all of which Cayla exudes. Cayla is a key team player, leading her team and herself to victories, such as her recent achievement of scoring 1000 career points. Cayla reached this total during her game versus Wayne Hills on January 20th. She considers her position a stretch forward, meaning she can shoot and comfortably play further from the basket like a guard. Coaches and teammates praise Cayla’s ability to help the team score points and inspire and motivate those around her. Coach Gordon, Ramapo’s girl’s basketball coach, describes Cayla as “a terrific leader for our team.” She also says that she “is a pleasure to coach!” Her contribution to the team is not overlooked, as many of her teammates commend her role. 

Basketball is not a single-person sport, and Cayla has a team like many others. A basketball team consists of girls who would have each other’s backs any time of day. Cayla’s team helps each other build up their confidence. When interviewing her teammate, Ella Saxton, she says, “Cayla is one of the nicest people I know! She is hardworking, and playing with her has been so much fun. She is a great basketball player but an even better teammate and friend!” 

Cayla advises younger aspiring athletes like she once was. She says, “My main advice for future players would be to play with a lot of confidence! Believing in yourself and the work you’ve put in is one of the most important things; it’s tough to be successful with no confidence.” 

As the final buzzer sounds on the last year of Cayla’s high school basketball career, the memories and lessons learned on the court undoubtedly stay with her and inspire those who witness her remarkable journey.

In 2020, the Ramapo softball season got cut short due to the pandemic. The team was only able to participate in three practices before having to shut down the softball program because of COVID. However, this unprecedented time has not stopped Nowak from exhibiting her athletic prowess and leadership skills both on and off the playing field.

As both a softball player and a fantastic basketball player, Nowak works in conjunction with her teammates to complete plays on the softball field, and score baskets on the basketball court. Her athletic ability is unequaled, allowing her and the Ramapo girls' basketball team to win a state championship, which is what she is most proud of.

Nowak is held in high regard by coaches and teammates and has even won both all league and county awards for being an amazing softball player. Her coaches would describe her as a determined, coachable, and dedicated player who always gives 100% effort no matter what. Over the years, Savannah has fostered a close relationship with her coaches, as well as her teammates.

Angela Delano, who also plays for the Ramapo softball team, commented on Nowak as an individual and team player saying, “Savannah Nowak is an extremely hardworking teammate who always does her best to make sure everyone on the team feels welcome. Beyond being an all around amazing player, she is a great person that always cheers for everyone and knows just what to say to get the team’s spirit up.”

This year has been a tough year for everyone, especially our seniors who do not get to participate in the normal rituals often participated in by the graduating class. When asked about what she will miss the most about Ramapo softball and basketball she said, “I am going to miss the community surrounding Ramapo sports the most. We are lucky to have the most incredible coaches, trainers, and everyone who makes our sports programs possible. Everyone who is a part of Ramapo sports dedicates themselves to every sport which is special.”

Nowak is a naturally talented athlete who humbly admits that her success was not all up to her. Her drive and her passion were the biggest contributors to her accomplishments, but her past coaches Josh Lont and Frank Baldino have left a lasting impact on her life. Her current coaches, Coach White, Coach Durando, and Coach Hofsaes have been mentors to her this year and she is thankful for all they have taught her in such a short amount of time.

Community is what makes the Ramapo students, staff, coaches, and administration so special. The amount of school spirit that fills the hallways of Ramapo High School is unmatched. “I am going to miss the people and the school spirit at Ramapo. Everyone at Ramapo wants to be the best, and it pushed you to be your best.” Nowak, like all seniors, is moving onto bigger and better things outside of our small Ramapo community. Nowak herself is going to play softball at the University of Rochester next year, but she will always be a Ramapo Raider at heart.

(Nowak playing catcher during a Ramapo softball game. Photo Courtesy of Sophia Katsouris)
(Nowak in her batting stance ready to hit the ball. Photo courtesy of Sophia Katsouris)
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