Highlighted by Miss Louisiana Volleyball, Kai Williams, Cabrini celebrated seven of their student athletes at a signing ceremony in the school cafeteria on Tuesday (July 21).
Williams, a four-year starter and three-year member of the All-State volleyball team, led the Crescents to a Division III state championship in her senior season and was named Most Valuable Player. She signed with the University of New Orleans.
“This is a very important day for me because I’ve worked really hard to achieve this goal for so long ever since I started playing volleyball.” Williams said. “I chose UNO because ever since my sophomore year I’ve been communicating with the (UNO coach) Millicent Van Norden. I really like the team, I like the campus, and I feel like I’m at Cabrini again in a sense when I’m there.
“I want to continue to maintain above a 3.5 (GPA). My school work does come first, but I do plan on winning a championship and working hard to get there and focusing on the little things that lead to that point.”
In 2017 and 2018, Cabrini was state runner-up in Division II, and they were a quarterfinalist in Williams’ freshman season of 2016.
“UNO is just about to get one of the most well rounded players that you can imagine,” said Cabrini volleyball coach Kasey Laird-Dennies. “I’ve said it before: She’s a phenomenal hitter, but she’s great on defense, she can set, she’s got a high volleyball IQ. So they’re getting the full package.
“She really can step in and play any position that she needs to. She’s played middle for us, she’s played on the right side some, she’s played on the outside, she’s played defense. Kai had to set in a few practices when we needed to run against another setter, so she really can do anything.”
Her teammate, Lilliana Marlowe, was a three-year letterman and named second team All-District as a senior, and she signed with Belhaven.
“I decided to choose Belhaven because on my official visit it definitely felt like home,” she said. “The team was so welcoming, and I definitely knew that l could play there. With the way that Cabrini helped me in volleyball, I knew next the chapter of my life could be at Belhaven University.”
Cabrini honored three student athletes who signed to be a part of a collegiate track and field team.
Pierra Charles, a four-year letterman, shined on both of the Crescents’ cross country and track teams and signed with Louisiana-Lafayette.
She was sixth overall in the state Class 4A cross country meet last fall, and she won the district track meet in the 3,200-meter run as a junior. (The meet was not held this past spring because of COVID-19.)
Charles also finished second in regionals and was a state finalist as a junior, and she never ran for any team at any level before her freshman year. Until her senior year, she didn’t intend to run in college, but she was talked into sending a letter to the ULL track and cross country coach Lon Badeaux.
It didn’t take long for her to receive an offer.
“When I got to Cabrini, I wasn’t really an athlete; I was in the choir,” Charles said. “My freshman year, I was sort of peer-pressured into running track, because in our P.E. class, they realized I was pretty fast. When I first joined, it was like a joke to me, but I began to take it more seriously when I started winning.
“I didn’t even know what cross country was, and at first I didn’t even like it, but I did it for my team. I knew they needed me. … Something told me if I saw track runners on campus (at ULL), I was going to miss it, so I decided to reach out to the coach, and immediately he said, ‘Yes, you’re joining the team.’ ”
Cameron Diaz, who transferred to Cabrini from Mt. Carmel after her freshman year, was a two-year letterman on the track team, finishing third in District 10-4A in the shot put. She also was named to the LHSAA All-State Academic team.
Diaz will stay home in New Orleans, as she signed with Loyola to focus on getting a law degree.
“I wanted to stay home because I have two younger brothers … and because of Loyola’s program that will allow me to take three years of undergrad and three years of graduate school, and I can be an attorney in seven years after I take the bar,” she said.
“I knew I need to make a change … and luckily I was able to get in to Cabrini after my freshman year. Since then, I got really involved and won junior class president, That was a monumental thing for me as an individual and as a student. It helped me to be a leader, and then I got involved in track and field. It really helped me evolve to become the great woman I am.”
Milahn Dukes was a three-year letterman on the Crescents’ track team, making the all-district team in both her sophomore and junior seasons in the triple jump before the shut down of her senior season, and she will head to Maryville University in St. Louis.
“I love the community and the small-class setting (at Maryville), and it kind of reminds me of Cabrini. It is like a family, and that’s why I wanted to go there,” Dukes said. “I originally started with volleyball, and I realized I was good at jumping, and I ran really fast.
“I said, ‘Let me just try track,” and I grew into it, and I was very good at it. I didn’t think it would lead to me this, but I am so very grateful for it. I have grown into the girl I am today for attending Cabrini. Everyone helps everyone here, and it is like a sisterhood.”
Julia Keller was a do-it-all player on the Cabrini softball team, who primarily was a pitcher, but was able to fill in just about at any position Coach Sydney Loupe needed her, including a stint catcher.
Athletic Director Kirk Maronge called her “one of the hardest-working players he has ever been around” for her tireless effort, often staying after practice to continue working.
Keller, who signed with Louisiana College, also was on the LHSAA All-State Academic Team and was a manager for the Crescents’ volleyball team.
“The amazing people I have been gifted to have in my life have really pushed me, and they have never given up on me. That has always been important in my development,” she said. “I started playing softball when I was 9, and that’s really late, but I looked at the people around me and wanted to be like them.
“I kept pushing and pushing, and I went out and participated in different camps and found different people to affiliate myself with to help get me where I am today.”
Brittany Bachemin was a five-year member of the Cabrini basketball team, and was Crescent’s top shooter. She helped lead them to the Division II quarterfinals in three straight seasons from 2017 to 2019.
In signing with Millsaps, she looks forward to the smaller-school environment as well as remaining within a few hours of New Orleans.
“I visited there and went to some summer camps at Millsaps, and it seemed just right for me,” Bachemin said. “It is small, like Cabrini, and their academics are outstanding, which is what made me decide to go there. Being here for five years, I had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends, and I have so many great memories.
“On the basketball team, I had a lot of ups and downs with injuries, but I pushed through, and I honestly couldn’t have done it without Coach (Nancy) Walsh. I am really excited for college.”