Monday, November 12, 2018

SPORTS: Fall Sports Recap

As the weather turns cold in Nazareth, we reflect on the athletic achievements of our students in the past few months.

Our News From the Nest team interviewed members of our fall sports teams to find out the team's accomplishments from this season, challenges overcome, their favorite memories, and their hopes for the future.

The reflections expressed are those of the individual students interviewed, not the official position of any team, coach, the NAHS athletic department, or News from the Nest.

Nazareth Cheerleading by Caitlin VanRensburg

Nazareth Area High School’s cheerleaders do their best every season to foster school spirit and motivate athletes in multiple sports. Their encouragement is integral to the success of teams such as football and basketball.

When asked about her season overall, senior Alex Kaintz responded, “We had a lot of ups and downs, but the season overall was successful. Everybody felt like a family, and we lucked out on having a really supportive and encouraging community.”

When asked about the biggest challenge of the season, Kaintz said, “With all sports, there comes defeat, and sometimes it was hard to keep school spirit high after losing and morale was down.”

Kaintz also noted her favorite memory over the last season. She remembered that after the senior night game, many of the current seniors sat in the middle of the field and reminisced about their journey together and the good times they had. Because many of the seniors have become close over the years, their last season was very emotional.

Even though Kaintz is a senior this year, she still has high hopes for next year. She said that she would like to see her peers grow as a team, improve in stunting, and continue to spread school spirit.

Nazareth Cross Country by Megan VanRensburg

Nazareth Area High School Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country teams had a successful season this year. Everyone on the team was working hard and going to after school practices every day to train for meets which typically range from 2 to 3 miles. The team has some amazing runners and their season definity proved that. The season is now over, but they improved tremendously, winning many of their meets.

They made some good memories throughout the season. Junior Christian Voloshen said that one of his favorite memories of this season was “going out to Hershey for states in order to support Travis Lahr.”

Even though it was a great season, there were hardships along the way, as he said, “many people had to cope with injuries such as shin splints, which caused some difficult obstacles that the team had to overcome.”

He hopes that next fall the post-season teams will qualify for states. According to Voloshen, it will take a lot of work, but with their dedicated athletes, it is achievable.

Nazareth Field Hockey by Sean Cleary

The season for the Varsity Field Hockey team was outstanding, according to junior Claire Zeffer. They made it to districts and beat teams including Whitehall, Lehighton, and Moravian Academy.

Zeffer said that her favorite memory of the season was all the bus rides, pasta parties, and team bonding activities. She also added that her favorite part of the sport is how close she became with all her friends.

Zeffer said that she will “always remember and cherish the time spent with my teammates the most and that the teams’ goals for next year include making it back to district playoffs, EPC playoffs, and to beat Pocono Mountain East.

Nazareth Football by Morgan Bayda

One of the many sports supported by both students and staff at Nazareth Area High School is the varsity football team. The season has come to end, and we spoke with varsity senior Heath Gagner to get his thoughts on how the season went.

“Overall I think the season went well. We had our moments where we really shined in certain games. However, there were a few that set us back and made it more challenging to receive a win the following week.”

Gagner also went on to say that because Nazareth is a smaller school, some in the Lehigh Valley might underestimate us compared to the larger districts. But he said that this “gives us the opportunity to show our skills and prove other people wrong.”

We also asked what he thinks the team could improve on for next year. He replied, “For the next season, our team needs to work on strength and speed. We need to be able to go into the weight room and receive the proper training that we desire. This will help us become bigger and faster, and now with the current plays and the upcoming freshman, it will make the team a very challenging contender to try and beat.”

Of course, like all teams, they faced some issues throughout their season, and we asked Gagner what he thought were some of the challenges the team faced this year and how they solved them.

“There were lots of factors this year that made it quite challenging. The number one thing that we did not have was strength and speed. Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of athletic players, but it just wasn't enough to match the other teams in most cases. We tried to improve by constantly working hard in the weight room whenever we had the chance to improve our skills.”

Gagner said they overcame their challenges by learning “to never quit and working on our mental toughness for the following games to come.”

Lots of hard work and effort were put into the season this year, and many of the players play football because they love the sport. The team that you play with becomes your family, and you make many strong bonds through the sport.

Nazareth Boys’ Golf by Margaret Lefebvre

Nazareth Area High School’s golf team, also known as Team Lakehouse, had five individuals go to EPCs. Three went to districts, and sophomore TJ Bohl made it to States.

The team’s favorite moment was when they shot under 400 strokes in one of their matches. Junior Gabe Samsel’s most memorable moment was when he hit under 94 strokes in one game.

Samsel says the team’s motto is to shoot your best score, leave your mark, and make a purpose on the team.

Marching Band by Sean Cleary

Overall this has been a pretty successful season for the Nazareth Area Blue Eagle Marching Band. We interviewed junior trombone player Megan Christensen about her season.

Christensen  says that the season overall was really fun, especially with the fact that the band grew from about 65 members to 95. She adds that she “would never trade this opportunity for anything else.”

One of the biggest challenges of this season was to simply keep overcoming their previous best to keep improving.

Christensen said that her favorite memory of the season was jumping from a score of 86 in Upper Moreland to a score of 91 in Whitehall in only a week. Her personal hopes for next year are to “be a better marcher and better trombone player.”

On Saturday November 10th, the Marching Band performed in the Cavalcade of Bands championship at HersheyPark Stadium; the Blue Eagles finished in third place with a score of 95.00. The season is not quite over yet though, as the Marching Band prepares for their trip to Disney World in mid-December.

Christensen ends with a quote from Drum Corps International world champion Santa Clara Vanguard: “If you remove your self-doubt and start believing in yourself, you can achieve what you never thought possible.”

 Nazareth Girls’ Soccer by Amy Meriwether

The Nazareth Girls’ Soccer team has had a wild season this year. Soccer has always been a very competitive sport, but this year the girls were on edge all throughout the season. I talked exclusively with senior Morgan Masel, one of the four team captains.

When asked what the biggest challenges that her team had to overcome were, Masel said, “We did have a very young team. 6/11 of the players on the starting roster this year were underclassmen, but they came out strong every game and did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

However, that wasn’t the hardest challenge they had faced. She said, “Another big challenge we faced this season was the difficult schedule we played. We had to play the top 3 seeded teams in the league on 3 consecutive days. Although all of our players were exhausted and many in pain or injured, we were able to fight through those 3 games and set a high precedent ending our regular season and going into leagues.”

Even though they are losing some key players on the field, including Masel herself, she believes that the rising seniors will follow in the shoes of this year’s seniors and create a great example for the next set of players.

Overall, the Nazareth Girls’ soccer team has had a very successful season. They made it into the EPC finals, beat the #2 and #3 top seeded teams, and had two seniors make the EPC All-Conference 1st team along with two sophomores who made made the EPC All-Conference 2nd Team. Masel ended by saying, “Although this season didn’t end with the victory we had hoped, I am so proud of how far we went this year and how hard we played in every single game!”

Nazareth Boys’ Soccer by Trinity Wambold

The Nazareth Boys’ Soccer team had an overall record of 2-15-1. We interviewed senior Zane Hawk and junior Lavinash Kooma in regards to their feelings about the overall season. The varsity and junior varsity teams were under the management of two new coaches according to Hawk. Due to the change in coaches, Hawk said this season was an “adjustment period.” Even though this season had some rough patches, Lavinash Kooma was able to say that “overall the season was a ton of fun.”

When asked what the biggest challenge that the team had to overcome was, Kooma said that “the biggest challenge we faced this year is that we were a young team,” so getting used to the team chemistry affected the season’s results. Hawk had a similar response saying that “the soccer team’s biggest challenge was coming out and being confident against different teams.”

Kooma’s favorite memory from the 2018 season was senior night. He claims that “We played the best I’ve ever seen us play that game.” As for Hawk, his favorite memory was “when we scored the first goal against Emmaus which hasn’t been done in a while.” It appears that even though they had some challenges, they were still able to have some great accomplishments during the season.

Nazareth Girls’ Tennis by Margaret Lefebvre

The girls’ tennis team had a great season with Junior Alyssa Landolfi achieving second in EPCs 3rd singles, and the rest of the team achieving fourth in all positions. Along with that, Senior Halle DeNardo got third in District Singles and third in District Doubles with her partner Jenn Soika.

DeNardo’s favorite moment was when the whole team came together to cheer everyone else on. She said the team has a very fun and loving atmosphere. They really worked great together and played very well.

DeNardo’s most memorable moment was her first match against Parkland. She said, “It was tough, but I was able to pull out a win.”

With such a successful season, DeNardo and the seniors advise others to “Never give up. Tennis is a big mental game, so not only should you practice physically but also mentally too. Don’t let any opponent get into your head, and keep fighting till the end. Remember to have fun.”

Nazareth Girls’ Volleyball by Krina Patel

The girls’ volleyball team has had a record-breaking year filled with victorious wins and devastating losses. Emily Quinn, a senior on the varsity team, raved about this year’s outstanding achievements.

Quinn said the year started off with struggles that could’ve cost them significant wins. Some of these challenges included being down five seniors from last year, players being repeatedly injured, and getting accustomed to the new environment of the middle school gym. However, the team did not let these problems control their season.

They became the first Nazareth girls’ volleyball team to win a gold medal in the 2018 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. They beat Parkland, one of the best girls’ volleyball teams in the area, twice. They also had a record-breaking season with only three losses. When asked about what generated all of these achievements, Quinn said, “Everyone put 100% into everything which had a positive impact on how we did as a team.”

Quinn hopes that in the upcoming year the underclassmen step up proudly to their new leadership roles, and that if they do happen to get discouraged, she hopes they will turn it into drive similar to how this year’s team did.

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