On Nov. 13 of last year, Danielle Hersh contributed to Cheshire High School girls’ volleyball winning 3-0 over North Haven in the Southern Connecticut Conference B Division final. While the match ended her playing career, she was surprised to win one more contest just two days before graduation.
On June 14, Hersh was informed that her production had been selected as the winning video of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Battle of Teams competition.
“I was very happy and shocked,” said Hersh. “I hadn’t heard from the contest directors in a long time, so I had forgotten about it until I was notified right before graduation.”
Students and schools were asked to send in submissions with photos and/or videos from their athletic experience in the 2020-21 academic year. Dating back to 2014-15, CIAC had run a Battle of Fans contest, but since a lot of schools had no spectators or a limited number due to the coronavirus pandemic, the competition was changed this year.
“Due to restrictions, you couldn’t really do anything with a lot of fans, so the CIAC went ahead with the team concept,” explained CHS Athletic Director Steve Trifone.
For the Cheshire project, Hersh was approached about creating a video earlier this year. As a student senator, she had already worked on a film about the fall sports season.
“We usually have a pep rally, but because of COVID, we couldn’t do it this year. As an alternative, we made a video and sent it out to the study body,” stated Hersh. “The first one was about showcasing what went into the fall sports season and how it was different than in the past.”
In the CIAC video, Hersh put the spotlight on how student-athletes persevered to play amid the pandemic.
“I wanted to highlight the efforts of everyone who made this year possible,” Hersh recalled.
For the video consisting of fall and winter sports photos, Hersh wrote a script and served as main narrator. To start the piece, she had fall sports captains speak briefly about the fall season.
Hersh chose to end the production by having athletes say the word ‘Together.’
“I clipped their voices and put them one after the other,” said Hersh.
Since submissions had to be sent during the winter, Hersh was unable to include spring sports in the video.
“I think it took me a week,” stated Hersh. “It was challenging to get photos from all of the sports teams.”
Hersh didn’t know what to expect from the contest.
“It was hard for me to gauge our chances to win because a lot of schools had overcome the same kind of adversity,” explained Hersh.
Trifone felt that it was great for the CIAC to honor the work of CHS athletes.
“It was awesome to hear that we won,” stated Trifone. “It was great to give all of the students another chance to describe their feelings from this year.”
Last fall, CHS girls’ swim and dive and girls’ volleyball teams both won SCC regular-season and post-season titles. Cheshire field hockey won the SCC Division A regular-season crown and placed second in their tournament.
The soccer and cross country teams finished runner-up in their divisions. For winter, the boys’ swim and dive squad earned a share of the SCC regular-season crown.
While not shown in the video, CHS softball and boys’ volleyball teams won division and SCC tournament crowns. Cheshire girls’ golf earned their first conference championship and the Rams boys’ tennis team took second in their Division I tourney.
Hersh was happy that her volleyball team was included in the winning video. Last fall, she captained the Rams with classmates Hannah Portal and Alenna Zebarth.
“It meant a lot as someone who didn’t play volleyball in her freshman year,” said Hersh. “Being a captain shows that no matter when you start, you can still earn a leadership position.”
Cheshire girls reeled off five 3-0 victories to end the 2020 season as division and tournament champions.
“It was surreal,” said Hersh. “Our coach Sue Bavone always says that ‘If there is a championship to be had, we will do whatever it takes to get there and win.’”
Hersh was proud how her team persevered through obstacles like wearing face masks throughout the season.
“Everyone was willing to do whatever it took to play last year,” stated Hersh.
In the spring, she volunteered as a manager for the boys’ volleyball team. During a 16-match win streak, Cheshire beat Amity, 3-1, in the SCC final and reached the Class M semifinals.
“I really enjoyed my time with Cheshire athletics,” reflected Hersh. “I started out in gymnastics, but that is more of an individual sport. In joining the volleyball team, I met so many people who I wouldn’t have known outside of athletics.”