High schools across Queens have some of the top athletes in the city – kids with incredible agility, balance and strength. However, some of these athletes possess extra abilities outside of the physical realm, and it is these attributes that catapult them into a successful future.
Cheska Mauban, a senior at Bayside High School and captain of the girls’ basketball team, sits toward the top of her class with a 4.0 grade point average and even has hopes to score as valedictorian. She credits hard work and focus for her achievements in both the world of sports and academics.
“In both areas, you’ve got to know your weaknesses and work to improve them,” said Mauban, 18, who lives with her family in Queens Village. “With hard work, your weaknesses can become your strengths.”
Her coach at Bayside High School, Stephen Piorkowski, rewarded Mauban with the captaincy during a prolific junior year that saw her win a Most Valuable Player award. Prior to that, in her sophomore year, Mauban won Most Improved Player honors. These recognitions are a testament to her attitude that anything can be accomplished when focused on goals.
“I’m focused the entire day. On the surface I’m chilling, but underneath I’m focused on succeeding,” she said. “You have to be passionate. If you’re not passionate, you’re not going to do it.”
Mauban’s captaincy means a lot to her and she takes the art of leading her Lady Commodores very seriously. A vocal captain on the court, Mauban communicates with her teammates and encourages them to succeed even when they are not on top of their game.
“As a captain, you have to show that you mean business and you are there to win games,” she said. “On the court, I lead by example. Players aren’t always playing at 100 percent, but you have to find a way to make an impact. My job is to get teammates to step up their game.”
The point guard stepped up her game recently and was accepted on a full athletic scholarship to Babson College in Massachusetts. In order to get accepted, Mauban went through a grueling interview process – however, her drive and determination enabled her to dominate and gain acceptance.
As for academics in college, Mauban believes she can excel in whatever subject comes her way. She plans to focus on business, but she refuses to limit herself – what is most important to her is the freedom to have many different options.
Mauban plans to bring her high school academic successes with her to college. The biggest challenge for her, she believes, will be translating her high school basketball prowess into domination on the college courts.
“The coach at Babson came to watch me play. I had some nerves,” she said. “There is a big leap in talent from high school to college. There are fewer players so it’s crazy competitive, which is what I like.”
Mauban believes that if she didn’t love competition and overcoming obstacles, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Coming to the U.S. from the Philippines, Mauban learned all about work ethic from her parents and her older brother.
“Their work ethic rubbed off on me,” she said. “And I get a lot of advice from my brother; he’s like my best friend. He tells me a lot about life and also helps me handle my parents.”
Even with school, sports and family, Mauban still has plenty of time to do the things that she loves. Of course, most of her friends are her teammates and they usually end up playing basketball for fun.
She also spends her time going to the movies and shopping, but there is nothing she would rather do than play sports. Mauban finds time for all of her activities, including sports and academics by utilizing time management.
It is this strategy that Mauban uses now in high school and one that she will continue to use as her life moves to college and beyond.
“If you focus hard enough and just get going, you can find time for everything,” said Mauban, who also plays on Bayside’s girls’ softball team. “I hate procrastination. I have plenty of time to rest when I’m sleeping.”