Across the Hudson River of the Big Apple, rests a small high school in the Garden State that is recognized by one thing, the Girls Volleyball team.
Bogota, NJ is the home of one of the best high school Volleyball teams in the state. The Bogota High School Girls Varsity Buccaneers are a juggernaut in the Group 1 division.
After a successful season of 26 wins, 4 losses and 1 tie, the purple, and golden Buccaneers are now preparing for their next match at the state finals against Milford. If they win the state finals they go on to play in the Tournament of Champions which is the highest level of high school Volleyball athletics.
Bogota Volleyball has a total of six titles in the history of the school and five titles since 2007. The backbone behind such an achievable history is 53-year-old Bogota Volleyball Head Coach Brad DiRupo. Since 1999, DiRupo has been building some of the school’s finest Volleyball athletes in the state.
“I challenge them to the best they can be,” DiRupo said.
DiRupo is also the school’s Athletic Director and has been for 15 years. Growing up in Lincoln Park, NJ, DiRupo took over the spot as Head Volleyball Coach after his principal recommended the job to him. He coaches both JV and Varsity Girls Volleyball.
DiRupo gives credit to his players putting in as much the commitment as he does coaching. Bogota’s High School Volleyball League consists of the fall season from August to November, a summer league, and a yearly club Volleyball program from January to May. The athletes only take two weeks off in August.
“Every coach needs players, my friend,” DiRupo explained.
According to MaxPreps.com, Bogota Volleyball team is ranked 14th in New Jersey State and 1172 in the nation. They are at the top of their league and division with a 17.99 rating.
A few reasons for these impressive statistics are because DiRupo trains the girls intensely. DiRupo’s aim is to push them as hard as possible during practices so that games become easy. DiRupo who is also a former wrestling coach added, “I coach these girls like wrestlers.”
Another reason for their powerful team is because they mainly play the court defensively. DiRupo explained that they use defense to defeat the teams that are bigger and taller than them.
The Bogota Volleyball team also has younger players this year who are mostly sophomores. However, one senior, Carly O’Sullivan on the team has shined as a star athlete. O’Sullivan is a second-time All-American athlete and the top 8 player of the state. According to an article from NorthJersey.com, in 2011 O’Sullivan became the Volleyball Player of the Year.
At only at 5-foot-8, O’Sullivan is still a power hitter and defender. DiRupo believes she can easily get into a Division II/Division III college team, but not the Olympics because she is not tall enough. O’Sullivan who is ranked number 4 in her academic class is the “best player to play here,” DiRupo said.
Jennifer Ramirez is another talented senior athlete on the team who is All-County and ranked 6th in her academic class.
DiRupo has had his own coaching achievements. Last season, he was the Volleyball Coach of the Year and in 2007 was abducted into the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).
No season goes without saying any improvements. With an almost perfect record this season, the Bogota Volleyball Buccaneers still flopped in the game against Northern Highlands and lost three consecutive matches with Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA).
IHA seem to be the only team that stands in Bogota’s way. Last season, IHA defeated Bogota in the final round at the Tournament of Champions.
“They are the best team in the state,” DiRupo admitted and said that they are only getting better.
However, DiRupo will encourage his players to respond to their mistakes so they improve both physically and mentally.
“You play your practice,” DiRupo stated adding, “The toughest team always wins.”
At the end of the day, whether his team wins or loses, DiRupo tries to teach his girls that working hard will lead to success in all aspects of life; whether it’s trying to win a championship, getting into a good college or getting a decent paid job.
“Athletics is an extension of life,” DiRupo said.
Will Bogota and IHA clash for the second year in a row at the Tournament of Champions.