RANDOLPH, NJ- There is typically little debate in the world of sports, and in many other walks of life, that the best leaders are the ones who lead by example.
After losing their team leader Aliyah Huland El to graduation last year, the Randolph Girls Basketball team was in need of someone to step up and fill the leadership void this season. Lady Rams junior point guard Kiera Cesareo evolved into that leadership role this season by how she conducted herself both on and off the court.
After leading the team in scoring at 14 points per game, Cesareo punctuated her season with a career high 31 in the final regular season game last week against West Morris. For her career game, and successful season, Cesareo has been selected as the TAP Athlete of the Week.
Junior Rachel Kral described Cesareo, “Kiera is a leader by action; while her words are few, the way she dictates herself says it all. She initiates our attack on the basket, takes control of the offense, and uses her ability to create opportunities for other key players.”
Cesareo was humble when asked about her role as team leader, stating, “Being a leader comes with a responsibility to the rest of the team to make sure everyone is on the same page during games. My main goal is always to do anything I can to contribute to the team's success.”
Cesareo showed promise as a player early on in her RHS career. Coach Kristen Torres gave Cesareo playing time as a freshman when she got on the court for ten games. In her sophomore season, she became a key member of the team, averaging 7.5 points and 2.5 assists per game.
This year her game has blossomed further. After a game earlier this season, Torres said “I think Kiera has really stepped up for us this year, not only as a point guard, but also showing great leadership.”
Kral agreed, adding, “As a player Kiera has grown tremendously. When we first entered the program as freshmen, her mind would move faster than her body allowed. While the talent has always been there, Kiera has learned to slow the game down in her mind, which amplifies her natural ability.”
Like any good leader, Cesaro is her own toughest critic, explaining, “Personally I feel I should work on being a better leader, because that's an aspect that can always be improved on. My goal is to make my teammates better players through leadership and encouragement.” She added, “But I also know that I wouldn’t be the player I am without my teammates.”
Torres feels Cesareo has progressed over the past few years, and is well on her way to becoming an all around player. Torres stated, “Kiera’s offensive game has come really far, and I think she is someone who has grown very well with us over the last few years.”
It hasn’t come easy, and when asked about her success this season, Cesareo said, “It is encouraging to see all my hard work pay off.”
Looking ahead to next season, Cesareo stated, “We will have a lot of athleticism, and besides that, these are girls that are willing to work. If my returning teammates and I get together during the summer and work out like we plan on doing, I believe we can be a stronger team than we were this year.”
When asked what words she had for the outgoing seniors, Cesaro closed with, “I would like to say thank you to the graduating seniors for all the memories we've had. Basically all of the time we've spent together has been us beating each other up, making fun of each other and laughing hysterically. Those are memories that I would never replace.”