Skye Mondesir, 15, and Dala Noel, 17 secured their spot in the Saint Lucian sports pantheon by claiming victory in the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) Zone of the NORCECA Round of the Youth Olympic Beach Qualification Tournament. The dynamic duo defeated Grenada’s pair to earn a spot at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. It’s the first ever beach volleyball tournament at the Games. Noel and Mondesir, who wear numbers one and two respectively, stopped by our offices for a quick chat about their camraderie, personal style, and their not so extensive chinese vocabulary. And yes, there was some volleyball talk as well.
NS: How long have you girls been playing?
SM: From the time I started training seriously, it’s been two years now. I have been around volleyball practically my whole life because my mom, Carol Faucher, was a volleyballer. So I grew up around it.
DN: I’ve been playing for three years now overall.
NS: How long have the two of you been a team?
DN: Well this is actually the first time we played beach together. However, we play indoor together. We’ve been playing indoor for two years.
SM: Yes, we’ve played with other people separately before but not in tournaments. Only local.
NS: Skye, you go to school at St Joseph’s Convent. How do you balance that and volleyball?
SM: Well balancing my time has been a challenge for me, however if I have serious assignments to do then I tend to take a break from training so that I can focus. But I usually train for long hours so I get home really late and I stay up for a while to get stuff done.
DN: At first volleyball was my life when I just started. But as got into higher forms I actually stopped training for three months to pick up on my school work because I was in Form 5 and had to write CXC. So I quit volleyball for sometime and then after my exams were done I started again. When I started again I had to start from scratch because when you stay away you have to start from the beginning so that your skills can develop.
NS: What do you enjoy doing outside of the game?
SM: Besides volleyball, I go around the island a lot and I like to visit different restaurants with my family. Just like all teenagers I like to have fun with my friends. We go out to parties, to the cinema, and stuff like that. I don’t watch much tv.
DN: I spend a lot of time with my family especially my sister because she’s my motivation. She’s the person that keeps me up and going, telling me that I can do. I have the ability. And she’s the person that keeps me on the right track. I like to spend time with my friends. And outside of volleyball, the volleyballers like to go on the beach to have little parties.
SM: Yes, volleyballers are really cool people. Even if you’re new you can definitely fit in with them because they’re just warm and welcoming.
NS: Tell me about the tournament that booked your spot to Nanjing.
SM: This was the first beach tournament we played together. We actually only trained together once as a team and that was the night before the tournament. However we had sufficient training before so we kind of adapted and since we’ve been playing indoor together we know what to expect from each other. The tournament was okay. We took a while to pick up. The first day was horrible but we tried not to dwell on
that because as a sportsperson we all have off days when
you just can’t seem to get it right. But we knew we had
to get it and we came back strong.
DN: Our mental approach to the tournament was no one can beat us. We’re the best. And I don’t know what happened. We lost two games out of three on the first day. And on the second day Skye was not that confident. She was nervous. It was the first time for both of us at a beach tour. I was frustrated because I knew Skye could do way better than that. And then she told me she was afraid of something like that and I understood. We had to talk through it because we were not communicating at all. So when we started, everything was smooth. We started to hype ourselves up and that’s when we won.
NS: How do you feel about representing St Lucia in Nanjing?
SM: I feel ecstatic to have the opportunity. I know Dala and I are very hard workers. I do not like to lose and I am certain we’re not going out there to be blown out. We’re going to fight and work for it.
DN: Right now we are ambassadors for St Lucia. So we need to train hard. We are very determined. We always say when we go to a tournament we don’t go to lose. We’re positive and we motivate each other. So that’s why we all have confidence. The junior volleyball team has been successful this year because we are all motivated by each other.
SM: When you’re representing your country it’s not just you. You have to think of all the other people who are proud to be Saint Lucian.
NS: What makes this partnership work?
DN: Well we’re born on the same day, January 20th. The fact that we’ve known each other for a long time and then we spend a lot of time together.
NS: What are some of your future goals?
SM: I aim to get a volleyball scholarship to further my studies. I would like to play professional volleyball and also do sports medicine.
DN: I would like to get a full scholarship to play college volleyball. From there maybe one of the scouts will see me and like me enough to bring to play in the leagues overseas. My other goal is to be a pastry chef because I love to bake.
NS: Will you at least learn to say hello in Chinese by the time you get to China?
DN: Yes. Ni hao!
SM: Oh yes! Ni hao!
And to both girls, “xièxiè” as they say in Nanjing. That’s the STAR saying “thank you” in Chinese!