Born and raised Harlandale Indian earns career win 600

Head Volleyball Coach Sylvia Cardenas walked into the gym at Harlandale High School on Sept. 6 with butterflies in her stomach and excitement running through her body as she would seek win number 600 of her career.

Her Harlandale Indians, as they have done 599 times with Cardenas at the helm, won in convincing fashion in four sets over the 6A, Wagner Thunderbirds. For Cardenas, win number 600 was just as special as win number one.

“Honestly, every game is exciting for me,” Cardenas said. “Every game I still get butterflies before we take the court. And every game is different but all games, all wins mean everything to me.”

What makes the 600 wins much sweeter for Cardenas is being able to call Harlandale home for more than just her 35 years as a teacher and coach with the district.

“Harlandale is where I grew up and graduated from. When I went off to play college volleyball and graduated, I knew I wanted to come back,” she added.

Cardenas, a 1979 Harlandale graduate, returned in 1984 where she began her coaching career.  Five years later, Cardenas would become the head volleyball coach for the Indians.

The community she loves so much showed their support Tuesday night by packing the stands.  Among those in attendance were rows of Indians that played for Cardenas over the years. With big smiles and hearts full of Indian spirit, the former players congratulated their coach following the game for more than just win number 600.

“Being involved in the (volleyball) program allowed each player to see coach’s passion for the sport. Coach (Cardenas) loves it and is definitely a role model for me. I just try and think back to the things she did and let that guide me to teach my athletes,” said Jessica Ybarra, who played for Cardenas in 2007 and is in her first year of coaching at Harlandale Middle School.

The former Harlandale players praised Coach Cardenas for the success of the program and preached how important she has been to the Harlandale community over the years.

“It is a great accomplishment, especially for a coach on the South Side of town. It’s something this community should be proud of,” said Laura Cabanilla-Cruz, who played for Cardenas from 1994-1998. “The accolade truly defines what Coach Cardenas has meant to this program for so many years.”

One former player went on to describe Cardenas as, “A true Indian at heart.”

HHS Volleyball

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Coach Sylvia Cardenas earns 600th win
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