By: Katie Chappell
Team Captain of IVC's volleyball team, Renata Bath
You could say volleyball is in Renata (pronounced HAY-nata)
Bath’s DNA. As the daughter of a competitive volleyball player turned physical therapist
of the Brazil national volleyball team, the IVC sophomore grew up surrounded by the sport.
While her parents were careful not to pressure her into it, and offered other
extracurriculars, Renata started playing at the age of eight and came to love -
and excel on - the court.
Her family moved to San Diego during Renata’s senior year of
high school. She had always known she wanted to play college volleyball in the
US. But after she arrived, she realized she had a journey before she could land
a position on a college team.
The process was overwhelming - navigating the U.S. high
school education system, helping to be a language interpreter for her family,
investigating athletic departments and beginning college applications. She had
already missed some key deadlines.
Fortunately, a friend of the family knew of Tom Pestolesi, Irvine
Valley College’s head volleyball coach. He recommended she take a look at the IVC
Renata came up to Irvine to tour the campus and meet the
athletic department staff and coaches. She could tell that IVC was a place she
would grow personally and academically.
“When I came to the campus, I was like ‘wow’,” Renata said.
“They had a really close community here.”
But, she was torn. She had her heart set on UCLA.
Pesto, as the team affectionately refers to the head coach,
is always looking for student athletes who prioritize their academics and are
responsible and mature. Because of their program’s stress on academics,
Pestolesi says they draw students who are serious about both their sport and
“Our best recruitment is word of mouth,” Pestolesi said. “We
first and foremost look for good humans, and Renata is on it. She works hard,
gets great grades, and takes care of everything that needs to get done. As
great a volleyball player as Renata is, she is a better student and a better
Two weeks before the semester started in Fall of 2017, Renata
registered for classes and committed to playing volleyball as a Laser.
A Coach on the Court
Renata (in pink) celebrates with her teammates
Her volleyball resume is impressive. Co-Most Valuable Player
of the Orange Empire Conference. All-State for California Community Colleges. Second
team All-American. Sophomore Renata is a great athlete. Her accomplishments
also include helping her team achieve a 45-match win streak and earn two
conference titles, two trips to the state championships and one state title.
She seems to take this all in stride.
“I’m just really grateful to have been on this amazing
team,” Renata said. “We were all on the same page, cheering for each other. We
didn’t let it get to our head.”
On the court, the libero is usually the least flashy
position, but Renata proved to be the team’s quarterback. Her high volleyball
IQ, talent and attitude won her the spot as the team captain this past season.
“Her leadership is exactly what you want as a coach,” Pestolesi
said. “She leads by example, she is positive and she has incredible attention
This year, Renata’s goal as captain was to make sure that
her teammates focused on their current success and didn’t feel compared to
previous years’ teams.
“We weren’t scared to lose – we just wanted to keep
winning,” she said.
And the Lasers did keep winning, ending the season with a
20-1 record and a solid showing at the state championships, getting finally
beat out in a heart-breaker during the state championship semi-finals in
Dreams for the Future
Despite her obvious skill (and some full-ride athletic
scholarships on the table), volleyball may not play a lead role in Renata’s future.
As talented and focused a volleyball player as Renata is, she is an even better
student. When she finishes up her A.A. degree in anthropology at IVC in May,
she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences, while
working on pre-med requirements.
Her ultimate goal? To become a pediatric oncologist.
Renata’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when Renata
was a young child. She doesn’t remember most of the experience, and her mother
recovered, but it developed in her a curiosity to understand the disease. When
her mother was diagnosed with another bout of cancer last year, it confirmed
for her she wants to work hard to eradicate the disease that’s impacted her
family so much.
She also loves children.
“It’s unfair for children at such a young age to be so sick
and not be able to experience life,” Renata said. “And I just wish I could help.
And the only way I can think to do that is to continue to study, explore and
try to find a cure for it.”
She has her sights set on some top medical programs and has
prioritized her academic future over her athletic one.
“My dream of becoming a doctor is so big and I want it so
much,” she said. “If the reason I don’t get to continue my other dream of
playing volleyball is that I get to become a doctor, I would be so happy.”
Renata with her family, who emigrated from Brazil two years ago
IVC: The Right Choice
With so many hard classes and two demanding volleyball
seasons, Renata says the faculty have been understanding and supportive. Some
have even attended team games. She is grateful for her experience at IVC, and
as she enters her last semester at the college, she has no regrets.
“If I could tell a student who was thinking about coming to
Irvine Valley College anything, I would say don’t create stereotypes in your
head,” Renata said. “Give it a try. Because I gave it a try, and I don’t regret
it all. It’s not about where you start, but how much you’re willing to work
hard and put in effort. I couldn’t have picked a better place to start my