When first-year Hinsdale South girls tennis coach Stephen Snider began introducing team-bonding activities, the next thing the Hornets knew they were on a day-long van ride spent singing along to turn-of-the-century pop tunes.
Kiana Horvath wasn’t looking forward to the long road trip last weekend, but the junior from Darien felt fortunate doubles partner Giedre Motuzyte was along.
Motuzyte borrowed Horvath’s iPod and entertained the team as a disc jockey during the team’s journey to the Belleville East Invitational. Motuzyte found an old-school selection of NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys for a team sing-along.
“I let them play their music,” said Snider, who also drove the team’s minibus.
Horvath is getting used to a new attitude built on team activities with Snider, who took over the girls program after coaching the boys tennis team in the spring. To build team harmony, Snider took the girls rock climbing in Starved Rock over the summer and hiking around Madison, Wis. The Hornets also attended a recent performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
“I think it’s really great,” said Motuzyte, a junior. “Coach has done things for us to be out as a team. I’ve been here since my freshman year and this year has been different. I can see how much he cares about the team.”
The trip seemed to accomplish its purpose. The Hornets split four matches, with wins over Springfield Sacred-Heart Griffin and Belleville Althoff and losses to Belleville West and Edwardsville.
“Over the summer, we must have spent 150 hours on the court during preseason workouts,” Snider said. “They were not accustomed to being pushed that hard. I wanted to reward them [with an overnight trip].”
The Hornets added the trip to Belleville after Snider took over as coach in the spring. He wanted the girls to experience what his boys team had when it took a two-day trip to Troy Triad.
“I like it with three weeks left before conference,” Snider said. “It’s nice at the tail end of the season. It’s a culminating event. It’s a chance for the team to bond. The girls are hilarious.”
The Hornets could use any help that bonding provides. Junior Vistella Bozhilova, the No. 1 singles player, quit the team and junior Cassidy Sattler is taking over. Snider is still looking for a steady No. 2 singles as the West Suburban Gold meet approaches Oct. 10 at Addison Trail.
“I was definitely surprised that we were going that far away,” Horvath said. “This was a six-hour drive. It was a good experience, but we did a lot of driving around.”