For the past two years, one of the most dominant athletic teams in the District of Columbia has been the Jefferson Junior High School girls volleyball squad. In winning two straight championships, the Southwest Washington school has won 22 straight matches.
The Trojans recently concluded an 11-0 season, beating Deal, 15-1, 15-9, in the playoff final.
The previous season, Jefferson defeated Francis for the championship.
So strong has Jefferson been during its unbeaten span that in 1983 the team was pushed to a third game (matches are decided by on a best-of-three-games basis) on only one occasion. This season, no opponent took Jefferson to three games.
Much of the credit for the success of the team goes to third-year Coach Richard Bachman.
"You have to start with the fundamentals (at this level)," said Bachman, who is also Jefferson's girls basketball coach. "There are three skills involved: the serve, the volley and the spike. Then, the keys to success are hard work, good behavior and a willingness to learn on the players' part."
Three of Bachman's prize volleyers are Sue Wong, Twyla Hudson and Angela Simmons.
"I started playing in the eighth grade," said Simmons, now a ninth-grader who hopes to continue playing in high school. "I really got interested (in volleyball) after watching the Olympics."
Bachman's team practices from 7:30 a.m. until 8:45. After lunch, "the girls will come back to the gym and work on the skills they are deficient in," he said.
Yolanda Alexander (Coolidge), Lavette Gray (Eastern), Althea Tolson and JoAnne Wingate (Ballou), and Sandra McGowan (Roosevelt) were all integral parts of last year's undefeated squad, and this past season they made noticeable strides on the high school level.
Bachman believes that Hudson and Simmons will be equally successful high school players. "They will definitely be able to move up to the high school level; they will be an asset to any high school team," he said.
Jefferson had only five ninth-graders this season, so Bachman has 10 players returning.
"When they start (playing) at this level, you must teach them the basic skills; the sport is fairly new in this area. The sport received a lot of exposure during the Olympics and that was a big incentive for the girls, but again, they must have the fundamentals."