Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: On the court and behind the keyboard

Donna Boucher intertwines volleyball with music

%E2%80%9CWhen+you%E2%80%99re+playing%2C+you+just+focus+on+the+game+itself.+You+can+kind+of+hear+the+other+people+on+the+court+yelling+for+the+ball+or+even+the+coach+yelling+about+something%2C+but+everything+else+you+can+just+tune+out.+Even+practice+%E2%80%94+it+helps+me+tune+out+anything+else+that%E2%80%99s+happening+in+my+life.+I+forget+all+the+stressful+stuff+I+have+to+do+later.+It+just+kind+of+takes+your+mind+off+of+everything+else%2C%22+Donna+Boucher+%2812%29+said.
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Humans of Harker: On the court and behind the keyboard

“When you’re playing, you just focus on the game itself. You can kind of hear the other people on the court yelling for the ball or even the coach yelling about something, but everything else you can just tune out. Even practice — it helps me tune out anything else that’s happening in my life. I forget all the stressful stuff I have to do later. It just kind of takes your mind off of everything else,

“When you’re playing, you just focus on the game itself. You can kind of hear the other people on the court yelling for the ball or even the coach yelling about something, but everything else you can just tune out. Even practice — it helps me tune out anything else that’s happening in my life. I forget all the stressful stuff I have to do later. It just kind of takes your mind off of everything else," Donna Boucher (12) said.

Nilisha Baid

“When you’re playing, you just focus on the game itself. You can kind of hear the other people on the court yelling for the ball or even the coach yelling about something, but everything else you can just tune out. Even practice — it helps me tune out anything else that’s happening in my life. I forget all the stressful stuff I have to do later. It just kind of takes your mind off of everything else," Donna Boucher (12) said.

Nilisha Baid

Nilisha Baid

“When you’re playing, you just focus on the game itself. You can kind of hear the other people on the court yelling for the ball or even the coach yelling about something, but everything else you can just tune out. Even practice — it helps me tune out anything else that’s happening in my life. I forget all the stressful stuff I have to do later. It just kind of takes your mind off of everything else," Donna Boucher (12) said.

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The sound of Donna Boucher (12) bouncing a volleyball three times echoes through the gym before her serve. Focusing on the ball, she tunes out everything else: the crowd, her other responsibilities. When she isn’t playing on the middle or right side, Donna can be found cheering with her teammates on the bench.

Although she disliked volleyball when she first joined the team in fourth grade, she began to enjoy it once she reached sixth grade. In seventh grade, Donna started playing for Mountain View Volleyball Club.

“It was a lot of fun just learning the basics,” she said. “As I went through the years, getting better at it and seeing myself improve kind of motivated me to keep going.”

Although she works toward improving her skills, Donna also sees volleyball as a way to relax.

“When you’re playing, you just focus on the game itself. You can kind of hear the other people on the court yelling for the ball or even the coach yelling about something, but everything else you can just tune out,” she said. “Even practice—it helps me tune out anything else that’s happening in my life. I forget all the stressful stuff I have to do later. It just kind of takes your mind off of everything else.”

Senior Katrina Liou first became Donna’s friend and teammate six years ago, and she appreciated Donna’s understanding, open-minded nature.

“I can literally say anything in front of Donna, and I know that she will not ever do me any harm,” Katrina said. “She doesn’t judge too harshly when I do something wrong, so in return that teaches me to be more accepting of others.”

Senior Mahi Gurram, Donna’s close friend since freshman year, also turns to Donna for support.

“Donna is my rock,” she said. “We’re the opposite, but she’s a really good friend, and she’s always there for us.”

Although Donna relaxes through volleyball, she also turns to music. As a member of jazz band, she plays the flute and saxophone, and she plays the piano outside of school. She first began piano at the age of four before beginning the flute in second grade and the saxophone in sophomore year.

“It’s worth it for me personally as an outlet to destress and to express myself,” Donna said. “It’s just a fun thing to do for me. It’s work, but it’s not something I have to force myself to do; it’s something I enjoy doing.”

In freshman year, Donna began working with Louis Hoffman, the lower school’s instrumental music teacher, to help out with the music program. Although she began as a volunteer, she earned a work permit once she reached the legal paying age.

“It was just a good way to give back and hang out with one of my favorite teachers,” she said.

Jazz band instructor Dr. Dave Hart, Donna’s teacher since sixth grade, noted her appreciation for Harker’s music program.

“She inspires me just as a human being. Every lower school performance, I see her sitting on stage with the kids and just playing along,” Dr. Hart said. “She is there to help guide their learning and it’s just inspiring to watch. She’s made a huge difference, and she might not know that, but she’s made quite an impact on this program.”

An unlikely combination with volleyball and jazz band, Donna first became interested in biology through her eighth grade class. As she pursued the subject further, she realized her appreciation for psychology specifically.

“I found myself thinking about why we think the way we do or about our consciousness and how we perceive the outside world or other people or just why we are the way we are,” Donna said. “I thought that was super interesting, and it was the first time that I actually wanted to explore something academic-related just for myself.”

Like with both volleyball and music, Donna chose to pursue cognitive neuroscience due to her own fascination with the topic, and she connects her two other hobbies through psychology.

“You can apply psychology to anything, like music or the way music makes you feel or anything like that or how exercise produces these endorphins that make you happy,” she said.

Through volleyball, music, and academics, Donna tries to remain independent of others’ judgement.

“Some people get really down on themselves or worried about what other people think, and through all of high school at least, if not middle school, I try to keep the mentality [that] none of that bothers me,” she said. “It doesn’t matter to me what the people around me think about me. I kind of just have that kind of personality.”

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Humans of Harker: On the court and behind the keyboard