Why, yes, volleyball! Sing the title and add “Panda, panda, go, go, go, go, go!” Now you have the spirit.
So let’s look back at one of the great seasons: 1983. An Enquirer article with only 1983 as a date (toward the end of the season) states that, “Notre Dame has had an excellent tradition in volleyball, winning the state title in 1979 and again in 1982. The state volleyball tournament has been sanctioned in Kentucky for only four years, and the Northern Kentucky area has won them all (including Villa Madonna in 1980, and St. Henry in 1981). Notre Dame might just make it three out of five state titles this year.” (They did, of course.)
Another interesting passage from the same article, after noting that NDA had already defeated McAuley and Seton: “The vicory over previously undefeated O.L.A. tops them all, though. The Pandas’ top player, Sara Dickman, was out due to illness.” A clue to the exact date of the article appears a few sentences later: “Thursday night, they became the first girls’ team to ever win an N.K.A.C. championship in any sport by defeating Scott.”
What happened to Sara Dickman? Toward the end of the article we find out. “Then Dickman came to the front row (in the state tournament game) for Notre Dame and began taking charge at the net.” No holding her down.
Stacey Meiman’s name appears at the beginning of the same article with this observation, “Tears of sadness filled Stacey Meimannn’s eyes Saturday while her Notre Dame Academy volleyball teammates celebrated their victory in the state tournament finals at Northern Kentucky University.” Then three sentences later, “’That’s because the sophomore gets to stay and this senior has to leave,’ Meimann said as a tear rolled down her cheek.”
And who was at the helm of this victory ship? None other than Joan Mazzaro of whom Dan Weber, an Enquirer athletic columnist, observed in his July 16th 1989 article, “…(her) accomplishments border on legend.” In the same article Weber states that Joan Mazzaro had been at the helm of NDA athletics for 13 years. At that point in ’89, Joan was moving on to South Carolina after leading NDA volleyball to five state championships. Notre Dame, she claimed, had helped her through the very difficult months of her husband’s coma and subsequent death, but with deep gratitude and mixed emotions, she saw a new beginning in South Carolina.
That’s all 31 years ago! Time does go fast when you’re on the court with the Pandas! Panda, panda, go, go, go, go, go!!!!
P.S. NDA had already won the state championship in 1977 and 1978 but recall that the sport was not yet acknowledged by KHSAA yet. NDA was enjoying State Invitational status both years.