This week's NY1/Time Warner Cable Business Class Scholar Athlete of the Week spiked her way up to the varsity team by logging extra hours on the court. NY1's Anthony Pascale filed the following report.
Michelle Gomez is proof that hard work pays off. The Francis Lewis High School senior logged extra hours on the volleyball court to make the cut for the varsity team her junior year.
"It was a lot of work, because going from JV to varsity is two different things," she says. "The commitment level is different. The playing level is different. You have girls that are 6 feet, and it's just like, they're spiking the ball down your throat."
Gomez picked up the sport as a hobby in middle school before she joined the junior varsity team as a freshman. She joined the Bayside Volleyball Club with a few other teammates to improve her skills during the offseason.
"She came back in September and she tried out, and I could see such improvement in her skills, and she had to make the team," says Arnie Rosenbaum, girls volleyball coach at Francis Lewis High School.
When she's not on the court, Gomez is immersed in learning new languages. She speaks fluent Spanish, took three years of Latin and is a member of the Italian Club.
"All I can say about her, that she strived for the maximum all the time," said Abigail Michel, Gomez's Spanish teacher. "And whatever she goes for, she doesn't want to just pass. She wants to be the best."
"It's nice to know about other people, and when you interact with somebody, 'Oh, I ate that food one time' or 'Oh, I studied Latin' or 'I can relate to this,' and it's just nice to be able to have all those different backgrounds and be able to talk to different types of people," Gomez says.
Gomez wants to study political science in college and eventually attend law school. She is a member of the QUEST Youth Court, where she and her peers determine penalties for teens referred by the city probation department for offenses including assault, shoplifting and vandalism.
"Michelle always kept this stern exterior and had this desire to take on as much as she could to challenge herself and accomplish as much as she could, because she knew she could," says Christina Vittiglio, Gomez's English teacher.
Gomez says her family is her biggest inspiration to work hard in both sports and academics.
"I'm the first one to go to college," she says. "I'm the first one to even achieve a diploma from high school. So it's like, being able to go to college and just take them along with me, along the ride. They've been a great support, and I just want to make them happy for me and everything else."
So, for her diligence and devotion on and off the court, Michelle Gomez is our latest NY1/Time Warner Cable Business Class Scholar Athlete of the Week.