Talk about domination. Over the past 12 years, Wilson has compiled an almost unbelievable 200-10 record in girls volleyball. During that time, the Tigers have won nine Interhigh League titles.
The Tigers finished the 1986 season with a 13-1 record. And that was their worst record in four years.
"We practice a whole lot, and I guess that's the reason we have such a great record," said Coach Eileen Covington, whose team is off a characteristic 6-0 start this fall. "We also have some very good players who work hard during practice."
Last season's loss to Dunbar ended a 41-match winning streak for the Tigers. But what is even more impressive is the Tigers have lost only three matches this decade, winning six of seven league championships outright. In 1983, the Tigers shared the crown with Roosevelt.
The foundation for Wilson's success was laid in 1972, when Covington became the head coach. After having a successful program for three years, Covington stepped down as coach to concentrate on being a physical education instructor at the school.
But in 1977, Covington was once again asked to take over the head coaching duties. She couldn't resist. "I missed coaching a lot, and I always enjoyed sports so much," she said.
This year's team is one of the youngest Covington has coached. The 11-player squad has only two seniors, Lourdes Martin and Joyce Davis. Together they have seen 47 victories and only one defeat.
"We've always tried to continue the winning ways at Wilson," said Davis, an all-league selection last season. "When I first started playing, all of the past teams at Wilson were good so you really had to work hard to make sure that you were as good as you could be."
Four of Wilson's players have received college scholarships, but Covington says that figure is misleading. "A lot of my girls turn down volleyball scholarships because so many of them get academic scholarships," she said.
The Tigers returned one other starter from last year's 13-1 team, junior Christina Chan, an all-tournament selection last year. Chan, Martin and Davis, who also play on the basketball team, are the hub of the Wilson team.
"It's hard to say who is the best on my team," Covington said. "Those three are really good."
This season, the Tigers once again have continued to spike their way through the league, but it's not just winning that's important at Wilson. With a tradition like the Tigers have built, how you win also counts. This year's team has done it in style, winning all six of its matches in two-game sweeps.
"We try and do all of the little things right so that we're assured of winning," said Martin. "We always seem to win so we try and make a point of it to not just win, but to win without giving up anything."
The only thing the Tigers seem to ever have to give up is the gym. The school's football, basketball, field hockey and soccer teams often want to use the gym, making it hard to conduct practice at times.
But when the Tigers do practice, they practice hard. Practice for the team begins the first week of school, which means they are working out an entire month before the season begins.
And during the season, they play against each other as often as possible to simulate game conditions. Practices start at 3 p.m. and are very regimented.
After conditioning exercises, the Tigers scrimmage until 5:30 p.m. The players then work on their serves and other individual skills. At 6, Covington sends them home.
"We are the best team in the league every year, so that means we must be doing something that everyone else isn't," said Martin, also an all-tournament selection last season. "We always seem to win, and since I've been on the team we've only lost one match. We all remember that."
That loss to Dunbar was a rallying point last year for Wilson, which finished the season strong. The Tigers defeated Dunbar on their way to capturing the league title, but Covington is hoping there won't be any similar slips this season.
"We lost last year to Dunbar and that's enough for a while," she said. "You play each game one at a time. If we lose, then we lose. You just can't walk out onto the court and expect to beat someone; you have to practice. And believe me, we practice hard."