December 21, 2009 11:44:00 AM
Sadly, chest-pounding, trash-talking athletes who utilize flamboyant gestures while playing the "look-at-me" game to the hilt are all-to-often the norm today.
Today, it''s almost inconceivable someone who has been described by friend and foe alike as a "powerful, explosive player" who has the ability to demolish her opponents at the net can, at the same time, be a reticent, humble, and somewhat shy individual who is uncomfortable when thrust into the limelight.
"That pretty much fits her to a T," said Aberdeen volleyball coach Marquis Burnett when describing Jameika Hoskins, The Commercial Dispatch''s Volleyball Player of the Year. "She would never think about bragging on herself or anything she has accomplished."
If Hoskins has a fault as an athlete, it would be she shies away from taking a more active role as a vocal leader.
"She''s not as vocal as I would like her to be, but she leads by example," Burnett said. "Her play on the court makes up for her lack of vocal leadership."
Burnett, who is just as soft-spoken as his star, said Hoskins ranks as one of the best players he has coached.
"Jameika is what I would call a ''student of the game'', and she is the best hitter to play at Aberdeen hands down," said Burnett, who credits good vertical leaping ability and long arms as the keys to the power behind Hoskins'' kills and her blocking.
"She constantly drew double teams when we set her because no one could block her one-on-one," Burnett said. "What makes her even more dangerous is she knows when to use her power and when to tip. Anything around the net, she wins that point."
Hoskins'' setting skills also drew praise from Burnett.
"Jameika is also an excellent setter with good court vision," Burnett said. "When she first started as a freshman, that''s what she did best. But since she has turned into a hitter, she has become all that much better."
Burnett, who just completed his fifth year at the helm of the Aberdeen High volleyball program, will be the first to admit Aberdeen isn''t considered a volleyball hotbed.
"Our girls don''t play year-round and they don''t attend any camps," Burnett said. "We get together two weeks before school starts, we go over some things, and then we go out and play."
Burnett said that''s what makes Hoskins such a special player.
"There''s no telling how good she could be if she played year-round," Burnett said. "The sky is the limit as far as her potential is concerned."
Hoskins led the state in blocks with an average of 1.5 per game (68 total, 65 solo). She also had 118 kills in 189 attempts for a 62 percent kill percentage and an average of 2.7 per game (10th in the state) and was credited with 32 serving aces (34th).
Hoskins said she has enjoyed playing varsity volleyball for coach "Burn" the past four years, and her only disappointment is she and her six senior teammates didn''t win a state championship.
"We wanted a ring before we left Aberdeen and to leave a state championship legacy, but we came up a little bit short," Hoskins said. "Now, as seniors, we want the underclassmen to continue what we started and not to let the program go down."
Burnett said even though the Lady Bulldogs didn''t capture a state title, Hoskins was a key element in a very successful program.
"We finished 24-4 this season and won the division tournament," Burnett said. "We also finished second in the Tupelo Tournament and third in the Jackson Tournament. We couldn''t have done it without her. Jameika and her teammates put a lot of hard work into making this past season a success, and after losing to Center Hill again, we had seven really disappointed seniors."
Hoskins, a four-year starter at shooting guard for the Aberdeen High girls basketball team, has signed to play basketball at Alcorn State University. She also is a starting center fielder on the school''s fast-pitch softball team.
Jameika is the oldest of five children of Melissa Sims and Walter Hoskins.