At 7:15PM the boys joined the Google Hangout. Ethan, Fitz, Max, Kennedy, Colin, Duncan...each time I saw the name I eagerly awaited for a new face to show up in a grid. The coaches were dressed in forest green game polos. Coach Rafish opened the meeting telling everyone how amazing it was to see their faces. He reminded everyone about the daily workouts and short online tutorials. He challenged the boys to stay outside their comfort zones and to use this time to get better! Then he passed the figurative microphone to me. With the same enthusiasm and passion as the first time I did it, I gave the pregame talk for opening night. We broke down the starting line-up, specialty groups, Lake Oswego's strengths and weaknesses. For each young man the response was different. For the freshman who heard his name mentioned as the 4th attackman, you could see him straighten up in front of his computer. From the the sophomore face-off man you saw a confident nod when I announced he would be taking the first face-off for the season. It felt great to say out loud that we weren't sliding to Fitz or Ethan because we knew we could depend on our seniors. For a brief moment it was like we were in the Team Room at OES. The captains gave the cheer and then we clicked out of the meeting.
I know there are Be Active credits that kids need for graduation, but 99% of our student-athletes are competing because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They compete because they love competition. But more than anything else, they love their teams. Right now our coaches are less concerned about an athlete running or jumping. They are more focused on trying to find various ways to keep their team connected and to make sure each Aardvark knows that although we are not together we are still a team and we are here for each other. Each program is sharing workouts with the student-athletes along with short videos in hopes that we get back on the field together.
Last Friday I was packing up my gear and hopping in the minivan for my second trip to Coos Bay that week! The day before I had watched OES boys basketball defeat the two-time defending state champions De La Salle North 58-51. De La Salle North had beaten OES three times this season. All of the losses were by double digits, but Coach Kirk and the team believed that they were going to win the fourth time. The scoring for the quarterfinal game started with a three pointer by Charles W'21 and the Aardvarks never trailed.
I had to head back to Portland that night. You know that feeling when you are in the car, jamming tunes, thinking about something so deeply(the magnitude of the boys' win) and you suddenly realize you are 30 miles north of your turnoff? I quickly called Asha to let her know the results and left her an enthusiastic message. As I headed east on 126 I knew cell reception was going to disappear, so I called the guy who always seems to understand exactly what is going on with me-Kris Van Hatcher. Kris was the architect of the OES athletic program and this win was as special for him as it was for anyone. OES had won their first Elite 8 game for the 1st time in school history. After I shared the news, our call was dropped and it was me and my thoughts heading northeast.
After a quick Friday morning meeting it was time to get back to watch the Final Four. I love the Coos Bay road trip. 4 hours of driving in beautiful Oregon with a quick stop at the Cresswell Bakery. Coincidentally, OES was playing Cresswell in the semifinals. As I pulled off the interstate it was obvious that the whole town was planning on heading west to watch their boys take on the Aardvarks. I proudly walked into the bakery with my OES gear on. The people behind the counter and everyone that was eating in the restaurant were extremely polite and it was great to hear how excited everyone was about going to the game. Coos Bay is a magical place to watch basketball. Marshfield HS has an amazing gym and the entire community supports the eight boys teams and the eight girls teams that qualify and travel to their town. After devouring some of the best baked goods in the northwest I told everyone that I would see them that evening at the game. I looked at my phone. The texts were rolling in. Coaches from the Lewis and Clark League, alumni, teachers and parents were asking me to wish Coach Kirk and the boys good luck!
Cresswell led 18-12 after the first quarter. I had already lost my voice cheering for the boys. I was sitting with the OES parents. The OES girls basketball team had also travelled down to support the boys.
Two teams, one program is how they describe OES basketball. At the start of the 2nd quarter OES went on a 6-2 run and trailed 20-18 with four minutes in the first half. Then Luca P'20 took over. The senior captain played inspired ball and in the final seconds of the half he drained a half court shot. He was feeling it! OES led 33-26. Both teams started the second half on fire! After four minutes OES still led by 7 points, but Creswell was ready to make a run. Creswell would hold the Aardvarks scoreless for the final four minutes of the third quarter and heading into the 4th they had a one point lead.
My voice was gone, I had sweated through all of my clothes and I had to repeatedly go out in the hallway during breaks in action. I was a wreck. In contrast to me the team seemed focused and calm. All season long they had played close games and they had learned through competition not to panic and to simply focus on the moment. OES would take back the game and with 2 minutes left they held a six point lead. Both teams were playing inspired basketball, but OES would hit their foul shots and Jakob W, Milo K and Ryan B would dominate the boards to put the game away. OES 64 Creswell 53! We were going to the Championship game.
There was no road trip that night. With the rest of the Aardvark Nation I would hunker down at the Red Lion Inn. When I woke up the next morning at 6:00AM I immediately dreaded the long day of waiting for the 8:30PM championship game. After a few hours of answering emails and texts, I headed to the gym. I needed a distraction from the wait. The consolation games were playing and I was amazed to see a packed gym at 10:45am. Coos Bay loves basketball. The other teams who weren't playing were creating student sections cheering for or against the team that had knocked them out earlier in the tournament. The Brookings Harbor girls had their own chants and dances. They were set on having as much fun on and off the court as they could. It was so amazing to see the joy scholastic athletics bring people.
Finally it was time for the championship game. Dozens of OES parents and students had made the pilgrimage to Coos Bay and the girls basketball team now were surrounded by Upper School classmates along with a handful of Middle Schoolers. The St Mary's boys team, who had lost to our opponent Cascade Christian in the semifinals, became honorary Aardvarks before tip-off.
The championship game had the makings of an epic defensive battle. Two of the top defenses in the state matched up in the final game of the season. After four minutes it looked like scoring baskets was going to be difficult. OES led 4-1. At the end of the quarter it was 8-7 Aardvarks. We had the lead, but earning buckets was near impossible. The second quarter was just like the first and heading into halftime it was OES 16 Cascade 14. Every possession was a battle and both teams were playing smart and tenacious team defense. During the third quarter the teams would both score 11 points and heading into the final quarter of the season it was OES 27 Cascade Christian 25. The battle ensued and Cascade would take the lead by 1. Then Charles W'21 headed to the free throw line with 1:08 left in the game. The OES crowd held their collective breath. He hit both and OES held the lead. Cascade Christian called a timeout. Could we hold them for the final minute? No. After battling all night and forcing tough shots, Cascade ran a set play out of the timeout and scored on a beautiful back door basket before you could say, "Hoosiers." OES advanced the ball to mid court and Coach Kirk called a timeout. 50 seconds on the clock, a packed gym, history on the line, and I swear the boys looked like they did every game this season, cool and collected. They inbounded the ball and started their weave. Everything was going as planned and Charles got the ball off a handoff and used John F'20 for a pick. Cascade collapsed around him leaving him no option but to pass the ball back to John. John F, two time captain, three time lacrosse All American, and defensive specialist pump faked, dribbled into the lane lefty, and banked in a beautiful floater. What?! Fitzy hit the bucket? He had more fouls this year than points.
There was no time to celebrate. Cascade inbounded the ball and used their final timeout. If OES was going to win, it would come down to their signature defense. Cascade set up their top player, but OES shut him down. They rotated the ball to the weakside and their senior forward ball faked and drove to the lane. He had a step on Fitz and he was going to score. From the weakside Charles W rotated over and met the Cascade Christian hoopster in mid air. Charles blocked the shot and Jakob grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately. Check out the block at this link. .05 seconds on the clock. Remember the Trent Tucker rule? No worries. The game was over. Jakob hit one of two and OES inbounded the ball and the boys bounded to center court to celebrate. OES had won the 3A State Championships!
Several hours south the Ski Racing team was making history also. They were at Mt Ashland for their State Championships. Ski Racing is a tough spectator sport. The racers fly by you, and like NASCAR the highlights are usually epic crashes that leave parents teary-eyed and anxious until the racer untangles from the netting lining the course. You think parents of goalies have it bad, go watch a ski race with a mom or dad of a racer.
On the second day of racing the boys were set for the GS event. Due to some technicality the course had to be reset after Alex U had his first run. To put it delicately, this led to a lot of drama. On Alex's second run he wiped out so bad his boot buckles were broken. Would they count his first run? You don't get to know these things until hours later, so the senior racer had to gather his emotions and focus and race a third time, just in case his outstanding first run was void. He duct taped his puts together and did his best. At the awards ceremony no one knew what the decision would be. OES Boys thought that they had the potential to earn a medal as a team, but when 3rd place was announced and it wasn't them they thought it wasn't there year. Then they heard, "In 2nd place for Giant Slalom, Oregon Episcopal School." Holy cow! Their highest finish in school history. Cue Kool and the Gang, time to play "Celebration." The racers crashed hard in the bus during the long journey home that night. It was an emotional ending to the season. Final results from states were:
Alex Ugas won the GS
Grace Armstrong was 9th in the GS.
Hugh Shanno was 7th in the Slalom
Hugh Shanno was 8th in the boys overall(combined results for Slalom and GS)
The OES boys team took 2nd Overall in the GS
Oscar Hapke received a plaque on stage for receiving the most nominations--and apparently it wasn't even close--for the sportsmanship award in the metro league.
No blog this week. I am hopping in the car and heading south to watch the boys basketball team face Cresswell HS in the semifinals of the OSAA 3A State Tournament. The boys defeated #1 seeded and two-time defending state champions De La Salle North to advance. Be sure to come to the Upper School tonight to watch the game in the Great Hall! Tip-off is 6:30PM.
The Ski Team has day 2 of the State Meet. The girls will be racing slalom and the boys have GS.
There will be pictures and more details on Monday! Go Varks!
Friday February 28, 6:00PM OES Girls host Vale HS in the Sweet Sixteen of the OSAA 3A Girls State Playoffs! Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.
On Saturday February 29, the boys travel to Rainier HS to face their old Lewis and Clark rival in the OSAA 3A Boys State Playoffs. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.
OES girls won their 1st District Championship in school history last Saturday when they defeated De La Salle North Catholic 55-29. The girls jumped out to a 15-7 lead behind the stellar defense of Grace B and Wylly W. Emily A and Macy O came off the bench early and raised the overall defensive intensity on the floor. OES' defensive pressure led to 19 steals and 25 points off turnovers. In the second quarter the girls extended their lead to 17 and it would never get closer than that. Cayton S led all scorers with 22 points and Ava C and Rachel H would combine for 18 rebounds.
The OES boys also faced De La Salle North in the District Championships. OES had lost the two previous meetings by a combined 36 points. How would they handle the third opportunity? So often you see young student-athletes beat themselves before the tip-off, but not these Aardvarks. This team was focused on winning the championship. Their language, their work ethic, their level of competition in practice showed that they believed that they were going to win! At the end of the 1st quarter De La Salle led 16-13. OES was playing physically and handling the Knights full court pressure. At halftime De La Salle increased the lead to 7. Would the Aardvarks fold? No! Whatever Ed Kirk and his staff said in the locker room worked some magic and the young men dominated the 3rd quarter. Heading into the 4th quarter De La Salle had a 2 point lead, 48-46. With four minutes left in the game junior Jakob W hit a beautiful lay-up and the lead was cut to 1. The momentum was shifting and the gym was erupting. Then the two-time Lewis and Clark Player of the Year, George Sadi, hit an unbelievable three pointer. There was great defense on the play, but the De La Salle player made a championship shot. OES missed their next shot and fouled. De La Salle made their free throws. OES would continue to press, but De La Salle was perfect at the line and the Aardvarks couldn't catch them. The boys lost 62-52, but automatically qualified for the State Tournament.
Back to Back! That is right our Boys Ski Racing Team has repeated as Metro League Champions! Thanks to overall champion Hugh S, seniors Alex U(6th), Ian B(16th), sophomore Oscar H(19th), sr Asa B(22nd) and freshmen Olin G(25th) and Seth T(34) the young men defeated 2nd place Sunset by 8 points and 3rd place Jesuit by 16. The boys will travel to Ashland for the State Race next week!
The girls also qualified for States after finishing 3rd in the Metro. Grace A was 2nd overall, Catherine Z finished 12th and senior Isabelle T was 35th. The girls team will join the boys in Ashland next week!
Upper School Spring Sports start Monday! Holy Aardvark! That means it is spring in the Athletic Office.
Don't forget to RSVP for the final goodbye to the Old Gym. Construction begins on March 9, so click here to let us know if you want to join Aardy, coaches, students and alums for an evening of fun and games.
We are squeezing as much life out of the gym as we can. We didn't forecast this. I wish I could say I was brilliant enough to have predicted another first, but I did not expect this. For the first time in our school's 150 year history, we are sending both the boys and girls basketball teams to the District Championships! For the first time both teams have qualified for the State Tournament!
The credit goes to our student-athletes and coaches. As Hatch shared during his retirement speech, "OES student-athletes are over-achievers." Both our boys and girls programs have established themselves as tough, physical defensive minded teams that love to compete. When you watch our girls, take a second to look into the stands. You will see the boys cheering away. Every time a 3 pointer is launched the boys are the first ones out of their seats with their hands in the air. During the boys game you will see the see the girls leave the bleachers and do push-ups after every trey or made foul shot. Coach Kirk and Coach Dawson stress, "One Program." Their enthusiasm is infectious and their classmates are next to them in the stands cheering away. The one thing that stands out to me this season is seeing all of the parents of non-basketball players who come to the games. One program, one school, one community.
My fifth grade son and his buddies don't know any better. He assumes that during every basketball game the bleachers will be packed, the dunk ball courts will be filled with the next wave of Aardvarks, and the boys and the girls will head to the Championship game.
See you at Wilson High School Saturday night. Boys tip-off at 6:00PM against De la Salle North. After the game the All League teams will be recognized. Then it is the girls who will take the floor. They also face De La Salle North. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Let's celebrate our student-athletes and show De La Salle and the rest of the Lewis and Clark League how proud we are of our basketball program.
Another first! The OES girls basketball team are the 2020 Lewis and Clark League Champions. Yes, the senior class that won ONE league game their freshman year gathered Monday night after defeating Riverdale 48-34, and posed as the first team in school history to win a girls basketball league title! Great senior leadership, outstanding coaching, dynamic play from everyone and a commitment to play together, compete to the best of their abilities and support one another has led to this historic accomplishment. I know not many people read this blog(I am pretty sure my mom has stopped reading also) but Missy and I will be singing this team's praises in the OES hallways. No season exists in a vacuum. That was obvious on Tuesday when the varsity girls showed up to support last year's captain Rachel Lowell. Rachel is taking a Gap Year before heading to Bates College next fall. Currently, she is our 7/8th grade girls basketball coach. The middle school team was trailing in the second half when the varsity girls showed up. The older girls cheered loudly, and the 7/8 team rallied for a critical 19-16 win. The magic of being in a K-12 school was obvious!
The boys basketball team finished the season with the #2 seed. Last season they were dead last in the league. I have tried to figure out why they made such a jump. I have several hypotheses, but one stands out the most to me, the 12th man. Great teams need competitive depth. They need everyone to be invested and to model how much they care. Last season the end of the bench had a different energy. During games you could see guys joking around at the end of the bench. In practice the silliness would continue drawing focus and energy away from competition. Not this year. Ethan B'20 rejoined the basketball team his senior year. Before the first practice Coach Kirk had the honest conversation that if he was looking for playing time it may be wise to think about playing JV. No thank you coach! Ethan has not played prolific minutes this season. He has led the team in high fives, chest pounding, and jumping off the bench to celebrate big plays. When a teammate comes off the floor, he is part cheerleader, part coach, part counselor depending on what the young man needs. More importantly, Ethan has changed the dynamic in practice. Every rep he is giving 100%. He is competing to win each play, pushing buttons and letting the starters know that they can't stop him. You want to beat him, you better be practicing at game speed.
I am not shocked that Ethan would have such a positive effect on the team. In the fall he was the guy who made sure the crowd was fired up during soccer and volleyball matches. During the soccer state championships he organized the student tailgate. You may have seen him waving the OES flag once or a thousand times. All senior year he has found ways to selflessly contribute to his classmates' experience. He is not alone in doing this. But what is unique is that in the spring Ethan is going to be the guy in the spotlight. He will be an anchor for the OES boys lacrosse team and will have to play every single second of the game. Even if he wants a break, I doubt he will get one. All eyes will be on him because of his talent and his impact during the game.
There are numerous student-athletes like Ethan in the class of 2020. They are multi-sport athletes who love to be a part of the team. Rachel H, Ryan B, Ava C, Isabelle T, Kennedy B, John F, Milo K, Hugh S, Asa B, Sophie C just to name a few. They may be the star one season, and come off the bench in another, but they elevate the team because of their commitment, effort, and willingness to show they care. These young people are becoming unicorns. As I check in with our lower school parents and students I hear both fourth graders and forty year olds talk about specialization. You have to be the best or it isn't worth being on the team. You need to good instead of finding something bigger than yourself to be a part of. Nine year olds playing the same sport with the same team year round. Ethan has the confidence and the compassion to be the star of the team and the guy waving the towel from the bench. Is specializing in 4th grade developing those same characteristics? I don't know, but I am sure no is having a better senior year than Ethan.
Ski Team Report
OES boys head east this weekend for the 4th race of the season. They are currently 2nd in the Metro League with three races remaining. Seniors Hugh S(1st in rankings) Alex U(8th) Ian B(13th) and Asa (18th) are leading the team and freshman Olin G(21st) and Seth T(25th) are providing great depth.
OES girls are currently 3rd in the Metro. Grace A is 3rd overall in ranking with Catherine Z at 7th and Isabelle T in 25th. Both teams are focused on winning Metro and seem certain to qualify for States!
Senior Night! Tonight is the final basketball regular season game against Catlin Gabel! Girls tip-off at 6:00PM and the boys follow at 7:30PM. Since it is Valentine's Day be sure to wear your red for a Red Out as we celebrate our seniors on Senior Night!
District Playoffs! The OES boys will host Westside Christian for the first round of the District Playoffs on Monday at 6:00PM. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and Sr Citizens. OES will cover the cost of all OES students and employees.
OES Ski Team Girls Varsity captured a 4th place finish:
3 Racers Contributing to the Team Result included:
Grace Armstrong – 3rd Place on first run, 3rd Place on the second run which earned 3rd Place individual podium finish. Catherine Zhu – 8th place on first run and 6th place on the second run, which earned 6th Place individual finish. Sydney Roth – 37th place on first run and 33rd place on second run which earned 31st Place individual finish. Boys Varsity captured a 3rd place finish:
5 Racers Contributed to the Team Result included:
Hugh Shanno - 5th place first run, 2nd place second run which earned 2nd place individual podium finish. Alex Ugas - 1st place on first run dominating the field by 8 second lead.
Olin Gilster – 24th place on first run and 21st on second run, which earned 18th place individual finish. Ian Berquam - 23rd place on first run and 26th on second run, which earned 19th place individual finish. Asa Brown – 25th on second run.
Last Friday our basketball teams traveled to Catlin Gabel. Catlin Gabel girls varsity have battled injuries all season long, but on Friday they had everyone back. It was obvious this wasn’t the same team that was 0-5 in the league standings. After the first half it was OES 22 Catlin 18. The girls kept the lead throughout the second half and won 37-28. The OES girls finished the first half of the season 5-1 andlater learned that Horizon Christian had lost to PAA and the Aardvarks were now tied for 1st place in the Lewis and Clark League. The girls would play Saturday and defeat De La Salle in a tough and gritty 37- 27 victory. This set up the rematch with Horizon Christian and the winner of this game would be #1 in the league standings. In December when we played at Horizon the game went to quadruple overtime and the girls lost. They struggled offensively and had 37 fouls. This time the girls jumped out to a 23-0 lead. That is not a typo. They were dialed in. Wylly W was dominant on defense and Cayton S hit four of her first five three point attempts. Rachel H and Ava C dominated the blocks and the girls seized the moment. Horizon would battle for the next three quarters, but OES would never feel threatened and won 33-20. On Thursday they wrapped up the week on the road at Portland Adventist Academy. The girls jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back. They won 43-31. They are currently 1st in the L&C League.
Catlinpacked the gym and their student section was outstanding on Friday night.After the girls victory the OES boys took the court. Catlin jumped out to an early lead. At the start of the fourth quarter OES trailed 32-27. Since I am a short guy and I couldn’t find a seat in the packed house, I crossed the court and sat opposite of the crowd. It was the best seat in the house. I could look across and see both school communities cheering loudly. If I looked directly to my left I could see both teams’ benches focused on supporting their teams on the floor. Each student-athlete who was on the court was focused on giving 100 percent to help his team. The Aardvarks were playing their tough defense, but Catlin was shutting them down also. Halfway through the quarter, behind the aggressive play of Luca P, Ryan M and Charles W, OES went on a run and with only 2:34 left in the game OES took the lead for the first time 39-35. The Aardvarks would close out the game and earn a huge league win on the road. They would drop the next won against De La Salle North which set up a classic trap game against Horizon Christian. Although Horizon was last in league standings, they are extremely well coached. They often suffered tough lapses and that would create a lead that they couldn’t overcome. On Tuesday they didn’t have that lapse. OES played well, but Horizon went toe to toe with the Aardvarks. The score was tied 36-36 with 18.6 seconds left. OES had the ball. Charles W took a shot, but it bounced off the rim. Sophomore Luke M gathered the rebound and dribbled into the lane. He had a shot, but unselfishly he kicked it out to senior Ryan M, who had just tied the game on a jumper. Ryan caught the ball and drained the shot. Horizon had a last second heave which fell short and OES won 39-36. On Thursday the boys trailed PAA until the fourth quarter. With 2:32 left in the game they finalyl took a 1 point lead: 51-50. Again this squad showed their poise and maturity and grinded out another league win 60-52.
It has been a tough year for Catlin Gabel. Everything that they are going through is well documented in the newspapers. However, last Friday when the focus was on competition between our schools, they demonstratedwhat they strive to be. At halftime of the boys game they held a fundraiser to support Nabila Mazouzz Memorial Fund. Head of School Tim Bazemore and Assistant Head of School Barbara Ostos shot foul shots in front of the packed house. Each made shot raised money for the fund. It was fun, whimsical, and more importantly it demonstrated to everyone how both schools are connected. During this difficult time Catlin Gabel continues to model their core values.
Difficulttimes reveal who we are, and what is really important. It is easy to get lost in the moment and forget about what we all are striving for: use our power for good.
OES recently received a portable AED by the David Heller Foundation.
Thank you to the David Heller Foundation which was established in 2006 after the death of David Heller who was 17 and a junior at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon at the time of his death in November of 2005. He had played in a basketball game the night before he died. He died in his sleep of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), the most common cause of sudden death in athletes. He had been cleared to play sports 3 weeks before he died and had no known heart condition.
The foundation was created in his name to promote the importance of cardiac screening in teen athletes. The foundation also works to identify schools in need of a portable AED that can be on the bus, on the field or wherever you have athletes and fans. The foundation has distributed over 190 AEDs and will distribute another 50 in 2020.
OES is grateful to the David Heller Foundation and inspired by their mission.
Tonight our boys and girls basketball teams head to Catlin Gabel. Playing our rival is always a big game, but tonight also marks the middle of the season. Like climbing a mountain, many people focus on getting to the pinnacle, but every mountaineer will tell you getting down the mountain is just as challenging. Both teams are battle tested, and have established their team identities after playing fifteen games. Currently our girls and boys are 2nd in the Lewis and Clark League. Starting Saturday they play six more league games, but game locations flip. We are on the road against De La Salle North, PAA, Riverdale, and we get to host Horizon Christian, Westside Christian, and Catlin Gabel. On February 14 we play our final league game and say thank you to seniors and their families. Do not miss these final opportunities to support your basketball teams and see the final games in the OES gym.
Tonight Catlin will be raising money for Nabila Mazzouz's Memorial Fund. Although they are our rival, Catlin is also a great friend and we are grateful for their support and they know that we are here for them, also. Please consider supporting Nabila's Fund by clicking on this link.
Updates: Charles W'21 scored in the final seconds to secure the league win over Riverdale this Wednesday. It was the fourth boys victory in a row. The boys are currently ranked 9th at the 3A classification. The girls defeated Riverdale behind Macy O'20 11 points. The girls have the #1 scoring defense in the state and are currently ranked 8th in 3A Oregon.
The Boys and Girls Ski Racing Teams both finished 3rd at last Saturday's race. Hugh S'20 was 3rd overall, Ian B'20 was 8th and Asa B'20 was 11th. Grace A was the top girl finisher for OES at 3rd, with Grace Z'22 at 9th and Isabelle T'21 finishing 21st.
Wednesday night I was in a familiar space, but with a different role. After parking in the OES upper lot, I walked down SPARC hill with my 2nd grade daughter Rhiannon. We were early, but the tennis courts already had dozens of Aardvarks dribbling basketballs. Rhiannon sprinted away after seeing her teammates, leaving me standing with the rest of the parents. Since Cindy McEnroe retired last spring, it was up to Missy Smith to calm everyone down. Each team gathered in a small circle and the coaches started the practice with several mindfulness activities. Nine circles of lower schoolers, nine teams, all led by parent volunteer coaches. I remember Year 1. Mindfulness? Not really. The first practice felt more like organized chaos. This year, Year 5, things ran smoothly thanks to Missy's leadership and so many veteran coaching volunteers. As I watched the 2nd grade girls start their dribbling exercises I was grateful for the three parent coaches that were patiently working with the 13 future WNBA stars. Two coaches were back from last season and they had added a rookie. The three of them made sure each player was hearing her name. Before you could say Double Dribble the hour was up and SPARC emptied out. As we walked back up the hill Rhiannon was re-sharing every detail of the practice. Her energy was off the charts.
HS basketball had the week off. It was ideal timing as our student-athletes prepare for finals next week . Coaches continued to remind their players to use the down time to prepare. Similar to an athletic season, the work has to be done ahead of time. You can't cram everything you need to get done at the last second and expect to be successful. Next week basketball and dryland training will be the healthy escape for many of our students as they spend Tuesday through Friday demonstrating what they have learned during the first semester.
The Ski Team will head out again this Friday. Last weekend the race was cancelled due to high winds. The stormy conditions were a bummer, but they also dropped a lot of snow to set up the rest of the season. The Ski Team is excited to defend their Metro Championship this Saturday!
The Athletic Department is slowly packing up the gym. In March construction for the new Athletic Center will start. We are packing up closets and preparing for 15 months of construction. Everyone in Fariss Hall is going to need to be flexible. Peter Kraft stepped up to model this. Lower School PE will move into his office. We will rely on the Fariss Hall Conference Room and Movement Room for changing spaces for our student-athletes. The AD office will also be used for a changing room along with storage.
You will not hear any complaints from us though. This new building will be the community space that we have needed for a very long time. All three divisions will live there on a daily basis. We can't wait!
I am guilty of it just like everyone else. You watch a game and you are ready to make predictions with the same certainty of the sports show hosts. "No way are we going to win a game this year!" "Get to the store and buy the champagne, we are destined for a championship!" There is no sport at OES that has to deal with immediate responses more than basketball. No one watches the first cross country meet and declares that this squad will not get faster! I have never heard a tennis parent make declarations in March before Coach Davis or Coach Collie can work their magic. But basketball is a little different. There is no sport that allows the fan in as much. We almost sit on the bench with the team. The players are feet away and we can see every grimace, smile, or cold stare. We can transcribe what the coaches say in the huddle. It is also a really simple game, right?
Not at all. As I walk around SPARC or the gym I am reminded on a daily basis how much work the student-athletes put in. It doesn't matter if it is 6th grade girls or Varsity boys. The coaches continue to teach knowing that the best way for someone to grow as a player is to fail first. It is no different in math class. I sometimes imagine the parents sitting in the bleachers with Karen Seder or Gabe Edge teaching their children in front of them. "What is she doing calling on Billy? There is no way he is ready to answer this question!" It doesn't matter that Billy's parents are close enough to hear. "Why would Susie give Jill the white board pen instead of writing the answer herself?!" We need this answer!"
I remember our MS boys B coach, Ray Kellstrom drawing up the end of the game play during a timeout. OES was down 1. The team broke the huddle and the four boys hustled to their spots on the floor with purpose and focus. The boy who was passing the ball inbounds received it from the referee. He slapped the ball and yelled, "Break!" just like Ray told him. The other four boys orchestrated the play perfectly. And then the young man holding the ball passed it directly to the other team. Ray had the opportunity a week later to do the same thing. Again he gave the same young man the job of passing the ball inbounds. Again, the same thing happened. I walked over to Ray after the game and told him how much I appreciated how he handled the situation. "Ray, that young man may never get that chance again to be responsible for a big play. Thanks for giving him another chance." Ray looked at me and said, "Oh, he is going to get another chance." For the final game of the year the hoopster made the correct pass and the boys won.
I hope everyone makes it to a game early in the season. I wish every teacher got to see the first game of their advisee. So often we catch the final game or senior night. But when you get to watch the first one and then you continue with the team, you see the growth. It doesn't mean the team always wins, because the other programs are committed to the same thing, getting better every day.
Girls Varsity remains undefeated after defeating Amity and Rainier at home. They are 5-0 and currently ranked #2 in the state. The boys suffered a tough defeat to Amity 44-42, but rebounded with a home victory over Rainier 56-48. Their record is 2-3.
We will announce All State soccer and volleyball next week!