The DeLand Middle School Lady Terriers basketball team ended the 2022-23 school year on top of the world. The team finished its season with 13 wins and just one loss, its first Westside Volusia County championship victory and the first Volusia County championship win the team has brought home since the 1981-82 season.
It goes without saying that the coaches and the team are pretty happy.
“All the glory goes to our players,” coach Michael Dalia told The Beacon. “They worked really, really hard.”
The road to the team’s victories this season, he said, started last year when his fellow coach Kevin Farris joined the staff.
“They really, really wanted this,” Farris said. “They bought into a lot of our systems, which was very key, especially our eighth-graders. They set the tone for the younger players and the newer players to follow this.”
One of those eighth-graders was Kaylin Spor. This past year was her second playing basketball with the DeLand Middle School team. Everything just locked into place, she said.
“The team came together better than the team before,” Spor said. “We were just working together better.”
One of the most memorable moments this past season, Spor said, was when Olympic gold medal-winning basketball player Bridgette Gordon visited her old stomping grounds at DeLand Middle for the honor of watching a game and seeing her jersey retired. Spor scored 17 points that game, she said, all in front of a world-renowned player.
Unlike high-school sports, where a number of the players may be able to drive themselves to practices and games, the coaches said middle-school players are often more reliant on parents to chauffeur them around.
Kaylin Spor’s dad, Joe Spor, said he’s forged relationships with other basketball parents that way.
“Being able to team up and partner to make sure you can help one kid get a ride, two kids get a ride and make sure all the kids can participate; it forms a bond between the parents, too,” Joe Spor said.
A sports buff in his own right, he and his daughter have bonded while watching the Philadelphia 76ers play basketball on TV.
Kaylin Spor graduated from DeLand Middle School, and now she’s on to high school at Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona, where she and a fellow former Lady Terrier plan to try out for the basketball team.
Another graduating Lady Terrier is Sasha Volodina. She’s on her way to DeLand High School with a few of her teammates, too.
Volodina started playing basketball when she was in sixth grade.
“I just kind of decided I wanted to try something new,” she told The Beacon.
Taking home the championship victory, Volodina said, was an amazing feeling.
“I think we just played well together,” she said. “We were a good team.”
What’s next for the DeLand Middle School team? With five players moving on to high school, the goal is to keep the momentum going. Eight players are returning, Dalia said, and the coaches are confident they’ll have a strong season for the 2023-24 school year.