Boys Varsity Volleyball, Varsity Cheer · Athlete of the Week

We are excited to shine the spotlight on our next two student-athletes: Amir Abboud and Heidi Greilach. Abboud is a senior on the boys’ varsity volleyball team, and Greilach is a junior on the varsity cheer team. The boys’ volleyball team is nearing the end of their season and vying for a CIF berth; meanwhile, the cheer team competed in the inaugural year of CIF Championships this past season. Both Abboud and Greilach are integral contributors to their teams’ successes.

Abboud has been a member of the varsity volleyball team since his sophomore year, which was his first year ever playing the sport. Clearly displaying natural talent, Abboud was immediately placed on the varsity team after his basketball coach, Zaiid Leflore, encouraged him to join volleyball in order for him to improve upon his vertical leap. Abboud instantly fell in love with the sport. As his junior season approached, Abboud chose to leave basketball in order to concentrate solely on volleyball. He poured all of his attention into the game for which he had developed a love. After his junior season, his intensity heightened, and Abboud began playing club going into his senior season. He started showing tremendous improvement and progress in a relatively short time. Although there are occasions on which he misses playing with the basketball team, he remains steadfast and confident in the decision to focus on volleyball. His senior season has proven to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. He has enjoyed the opportunity to get to know his teammates better and forge strong bond with his peers. He knows that even though they may struggle, they will always rise above those obstacles. Abboud is confident that when the team’s chemistry is clicking, they shine as a unit! They’ve faced their fair share of hardship as well. They have changed lineup rotations regularly, which has left some uncertainty as to who was playing which position. They have not had as much practice time throughout the season, so they have had to learn how to capitalize on and maximize the practice time that is allocated for them. They need to be ready to practice at their best from the moment they enter the gym, and that has not always been the case–often gelling into finest form only within the last 15 minutes of practice. It has been a learning opportunity for the team, as they have had to adjust to starting strong and uniting mentally in order to perform at their best at all times. They always need to support one another, as volleyball is a sport of “bettering the ball, being scrappy, and showing your will to win at all times.” When they team has maximized their time and delivered quality over quantity, they have found success. Abboud fondly remembers the 2017-2018 team, which he affirms may have been the best team that he’s had the opportunity to be a part of. They had a successful regular season and made a deep run into the playoffs (3rd round). Although this year’s team is significantly younger and less experienced, Abboud still has extremely high expectations for the team. He still believes that the team can make a playoff run, especially if they come together and win out in these final league matchups. He is never going to give up on himself or his teammates. This season is far from over. That competitive mentality is exactly what Abboud needs to maintain as he serves as a role model for the younger athletes. He places a lot of pressure on himself to lead by example and help the younger athletes navigate the difficult transition from JV to Varsity. He relishes the opportunity to watch and facilitate the growth and improvement of the younger athletes, helping them nurture their passion at young age. He is excited to see the underclassmen continue to develop, but he is sad to leave his high school playing days behind. He is going to miss being around the people and the program. Being able to play every day with his peers and close friends brought a joy to his athletic tenure that he otherwise would not have experienced. The relationships he established with his teammates were genuine friendships, these were guys with whom he truly wanted to spend time. He has loved the memories that he has been able to make with long-time teammates and newer teammates. Representing Warren has been “bigger than volleyball.” He affirms, “It’s the things you learn–how to succeed, how to overcome various obstacles.” He is going to miss those learning opportunities because they have truly shaped the young man he has become. It’s not time to consider the end just yet; Abboud still has goals for his senior season. He expects his team to come together and reinforce their collective mindset. He wants them to reinforce their bonds and reestablish their chemistry so that they can defeat the next few teams and earn a CIF playoff berth. Abboud is hopeful that they can earn redemption during post-season play. They are not going to wallow in their losses; rather, they have every intent to rise up and be better. After a difficult defeat to Paramount (losing in 4 sets), the team regrouped at IHOP the following morning to unite and push forward. They want to show fortitude and determination even in the face of hurdles. It’s these moments, trivial as they may seem, that have helped shape Abboud’s character. “I don’t know if I would be the person I am today [without volleyball].” The different people he has met, the good times he has shared, the lessons he has learned…all of those have helped to shape his identity on and off the court. “When you struggle together and bounce back together, it’s a defining experience. It changes who you are in the best way.” If Abboud could pass along some words of wisdom to the young, up-and-comers, he would advise them to be ready for anything that comes their way. “Always be aggressive, be ready, be attentive, and be willing to put in the extra hours. You can’t just practice during school, you have to be willing to put in time outside of school. Take the initiative. Join a club. Do more! Prepare yourself. Know what you are doing, and be confident in that. Outwork everyone else!” This is pretty good advice for young athletes to heed. Abboud recognizes that you have to work hard, but you also have to enjoy every moment. “Appreciate the moments you have now.” Time flies, so work hard every day and don’t take any moments for granted.

Greilach has been a proud member of the cheer team since her freshmen year. Prior to high school, she had performed and competed as a dancer, so it was a natural transition for her to tryout for the cheer team when she entered high school. After only one year of cheer, Greilach was named the captain of the JV cheer team as a sophomore. Going into her junior year, she was promoted to the Varsity squad. Greilach has relished every opportunity that has been afforded to her through cheer. She embraces every challenge as an opportunity to improve and better herself. This year, she was asked to move from a base spotter to a flyer. In relatively short notice, she was tasked with serving as a flyer at the team’s Nationals in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most student-athletes might see this as an insurmountable obstacle, but Greilach attests that this was one of the highlights of her season. She embraced the change because she knew that her team was relying on her. She also readily accepted the challenge to improve upon her tumbling. She has now mastered her back-tuck. Her goal is to continue to improve upon her tumbling and assist her teammates as they learn tumbling so that next year’s squad can compete in the tumbling division of the CIF Championships. Greilach speaks fondly of her time with Warren Cheer, but as she reflects on this year, which is readily coming to a close, she can distinctly identify some of her best memories. It started with the team’s summer camp trip to Palm Springs. She enjoyed the opportunity to bond with her teammates and foster strong relationships with her peers. She was also afforded the opportunity to train and compete with students from other schools, which helped her to broaden her athletic network and expand upon her competitive experiences. As for sideline cheer, there has been no experience that truly compares to the feeling of jumping off her stool at the end of the Warren/Downey football game in celebration of the Bears’ victory! This was an excitement that still resonates with her today. Greilach has loved participating in both sideline and competitive cheer. Her other top memories revolve around the competition team’s trip to Las Vegas for the Nationals. She enjoyed traveling with the team and reinforcing the bonds that had been established earlier in the year. Every difficult time is transformed into a fond memory, as Greilach recounts waking up at 5:00AM to train after a poor performance in the early stages of Nationals. She enjoyed getting up with her teammates, working hard, and earning a pre-performance nap before finals at Nationals. All of these proud memories have been balanced by a few daunting obstacles. As a freshman back-spotter, Greilach’s flyer broke her arm while practicing the performance choreography. Moments like those reminded her of how much her teammates were relying on her and the magnitude of what was at stake for her teammates who were sacrificing their bodies for their sport. She also had to overcome the hurdle of transitioning from a back-spotter to a flyer, which is an especially demanding challenge considering she is one of the taller girls on the team.  All of these obstacles were worthwhile for Greilach because she was able to help her team find further success. As this year rapidly comes to a close, she reminisces about the relationships that she has formed with her teammates. She is going to miss the seniors because she has fostered sincere friendships with the seniors, especially one of the senior captains–Marissa Padilla. Greilach will be extremely sad to see them leave. She has to focus on the positives though, so she is excited about the prospect of becoming even more competitive during the 2019-2020 season. She is looking forward to winning more competitions and earning a spot in the tumbling division of those competitions. Personally, she is challenging herself to throw more tumbling passes at games during sideline cheer. Cheerleading has been so much more than merely tumbling passes and stunts; rather, it has enabled Greilach to become highly involved and invested in campus life. It has afforded her opportunities to attend more sporting events than she otherwise would have attended. She has established great relationships with a diverse cross-section of Warren’s large campus. She has fostered connections with most of the student-athletes, especially through the brother/sister program with the football team. Cheerleading has been an outlet to keep her engaged with the entire campus community. Suffice it to say, it has been an incredibly worthwhile endeavor for Greilach, and she would impart some advice onto incoming freshmen. “Be confident and have fun with it.” As a cheerleader, it’s much easier to be authentic if you are truly enjoying yourself. The joy should be genuine and sincere, then you can truly shine. Have fun with anything you try because you will be able to make the most of it. She affirms, “Remember high school for more than just the homework, studying, and all-nighters; make memories because these are times you cannot get back.”

Congratulations, again, to our next installment of athletes of the week: Amir Abboud and Heidi Greilach!