By Kai Ahmadu '18
Starting off with the NFC championship, I got the Vikings defeating the Eagles. Both defenses are fairly matched, emphasizing the importance of quarterback play and their offensive tools. I think Case Keenum with his running back, Latavius Murray, and two play-making wide-receivers, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, will outstrip Nick Foles and his weapons.
I have the Patriots defeating the Jaguars because of their players’/coaches’ playoff experience and Tom Brady’s high-caliber quarterback skills. The Jaguars have an impressive defense, studded with star players like DE Michael Bennett, S Barry Church, and CB Jalen Ramsey, but will fall short to Brady and Belichick.
Finally, I’m betting on the Vikings beating the Patriots. The Vikings arguably have the best defense in the league and will limit Brady’s pass game. Honestly, I just want to see the Patriots lose...
By Logan Robinson '18
Coming off last year’s extremely successful spring sports season, NCS athletes are very optimistic for the season ahead. Senior members of all four sports are definitely excited for the addition of some younger players and can’t wait to finish out the already successful year NCS Athletics has had. Varsity Lacrosse heads to Florida again this year for their spring-break trip, which will again provide great bonding and preparation for the season ahead. Coming off their long-awaited ISL Championship win last year, the lacrosse team is really hoping to use this momentum to support them. Both the senior captains, Nicole Manos and Ally Edge, mentioned how their victory last year brought the team together as well as how much the team has improved over the past four years. Nicole Manos, looking ahead at this year’s team, stated, “even though we lost some players, we also have some really talented new players. So hopefully this year is our year, where we can win the whole thing and move up.” With the return of seven seniors and an All-Met junior, the team is hoping for a strong season and to move to the upper division of the ISL.
The NCS Softball team is also coming off their second straight DCSAA win, so they also are hoping for a strong season. With the transition of the athletic trainer, Tracie Shaw, to the new head coach, the team is expecting to perform well again. The three returning seniors are determined to win all three seasons, meaning the regular ISL season, ISL Tournament and the DCSAA Tournament. Having only lost two seniors, the team thinks they can achieve this with two returning All-Met honorees and three seniors in addition to strong underclassman grades. Seniors Jordan Gasho and Emmeline Leggett stated that their goals for the season were to “become a more cohesive team and develop the younger players.”
The members of the class of 2018 rowers have had an outstanding three years at NCS and hopefully will be able to finish strong this year. Coming off of sweeping Stotesbury, holding two of the five best boats in All-Met, as well as multiple team members being selected for the All-Met team, things look promising. Senior coxswain, Sophie Dunn, stated, “our vision or goal for the year is that the freshman boat, 1v, and 2v all win Stotes and 1v goes onto SRAAs and wins there or at least medals.” With the majority of the seniors rowing in college, this year will hopefully be an exciting conclusion to their high-school career.
The track team is in more of a rebuilding stage, having lost quite a few strong runners in the past couple of years. However, there is still quite a strong group of senior runners returning who are all excited about the upcoming season. One of the strongest runners on the team, senior Page Lester will return this year after being injured last season. As senior Sierra Turner stated, “I’m really excited for hurdles this season. I’m really nostalgic and the feeling is bittersweet as I enter in my senior and last season of track, but I’m really excited for the new freshmen joining the team, and for the memories we will build on the track and throughout the season.” This quote seems to sum up the Class of 2018’s goals for the year across all four sports: looking forward to a fun season with lots of learning and memories!
By John Paul Rodocanachi '18
The spring semester brings an exciting ballot of sports to close out the school year. For many freshmen, this will be their first time participating in a spring sport, and for most seniors, this will be their last time playing for STA. With a lot of athletic talent, a hyped-up BEEF club, and a bunch of great leaders, both new and old, this could be a historic season for the St. Albans Bulldogs. Here are my predictions for sports this spring:
Baseball: After last year’s truly amazing series against Georgetown Prep to win the IAC Championship, I believe that STA has a chance of a repeat IAC banner, and possibly a state championship as well. This year, baseball is led by Coach RJ Johnson, and by seniors, James Howe, Henry Large, Zach Schauer, and Swarthmore commit Austin Burgess. Along with other valuable seniors, these players will provide much needed leadership to this overall young team. The hitting lineup is considered to be even better than last years, and Duke commit Clark Klitenic ‘19 is still one of the best pitchers in the IAC, if not the best. I have been told there is a possibility that Klitenic could pitch right-handed this year, so watch out for that. Overall, STA has a solid defense and a good group of players. The struggle this year will be getting off to a faster start this year in the regular season, and finding a #2 pitcher after the loss of Ethan Roth ‘17. Also, both Prep and Bullis have very talented teams this year. However, I think these challenges can be overcome, and STA can resume its baseball dominance in 2018.
Lacrosse: For lacrosse, the IAC is considered one of the best conferences in the nation. With #3 Landon, and #70 Bullis, as well as a solid Prep team, the talent among our rivals is quite good. However, it is a fair assumption that this year could be a breakout year for the Lax Bulldogs. After the tough loss to the St. Stephens Saints in the playoffs, players are more determined than ever to win.The team is led by Amherst commit Carter Tate (‘18), Kenyon commit Michael Asuncion (‘18), and a team filled with junior and senior talent, as well as Coach Hyland (who is now in his second year). The challenges this year are in the defense, which may have some gaps that need to be filled from last year, as well as the departure of Yale goalie Jack Starr (‘17). However, the offense this year is set to be one of the best in the IAC, and I believe that there is enough talent on this team to find success on defense. While the Bulldogs may not be seen as the front contenders for the IAC this year, I think that St. Albans Lacrosse can pull some upsets this year and have a strong 2018 season.
Tennis: After consecutive IAC championships from 2011-2016, the STA Bulldogs came just short to Landon last year. But the talent is there, and a fire seems to have been sparked among the players. Only two seniors who started last year graduated, so the team is just as strong as last year’s, and has the potential to be even greater. This year’s team is lead by Coach Najdi, as well as James Long ‘18, Mark McGuidwin ‘20, and Landon Chin ‘19, as well as a strong doubles groups of Liam Krygier and Christian Potter ‘18, Mark Parrino and Yuki Kinoshita ‘18, and Alex Corwin ‘19. While the (knock-off) Bulldogs of Bullis are considered the favorite, STA Tennis proved they were beatable in last years semifinals, and Landon’s team is very similar talent-wise to their own. The most important thing for this year will be to see how JV and last year’s bench players step up and perform this spring in their matches. Overall, I believe that STA Tennis is in a very strong position to compete for another banner in 2018.
Track and Field: Track and Field has won five IAC championships since 2010, and St. Albans continues to have dominant runners this spring, including Timmy Bitsberger ‘18, Jack Tongour ‘19, Jacob Donoghue ‘18, Jonathan Merrill ‘19, as well as pole vaulter Charlie Hansen ‘18. And don’t forget Coach Ehrenhaft ‘83, who has had great success throughout the many years he has coached St. Albans Track and Field. Unfortunately, though STA has a great lineup of long distance runners, it lacks sprinters this year, as a large number of them graduated last year. That, along with the tough lineup that Bullis has this year, means that it may prove difficult for STA to win the IACs this year. However, do not count STA out, and if the sprinters develop well, as well as a good showing from shotput and discus, I think that an IAC is far from out of the picture for STA. Overall, while Bullis is favored for this year, I have no doubts that St Albans Track and Field will have a great season, and a potential shot at the IAC banner again in 2018.
Crew: At St. Albans, Crew is probably the most nationally recognized sport. For good reason, too. STA has competed at Stotesbury Regatta, Nationals, and Henley Royal Regatta, all to success in recent years. Last year, St. Albans Varsity eight boat got bronze in both Stotesbury and Nationals, and at Henley, St. Albans beat the winners of Stotesbury and the #1 team in America, Montclair, in the round of 16. This year, there are expectations that similar success will continue. The team is led by Head Coach Ted Haley, and seniors Sam Shipps ‘18, UC Berkeley commit Barton Trimble ‘18, Columbia commit Jake Duffy ‘18, and Northeastern commit and coxswain Ben Duke ‘18. While they are losing many valuable athletes from last year, I expect they will reach similar national success in 2018.
Golf: Though golf did not have the best season in 2017, things are still up in the air. I fully expect they will achieve a better record in 2018. Led by Coach Matthew Andreoli and Angus Ricks ‘20, I expect that this year, with some good luck and some good showings by starting players, the golf Bulldogs can move up the IAC rankings in 2018.
By Zack Martin '18
Swimming: STA Aquatics has performed acceptably throughout the season thus far, but has faced some team issues that have affected the morale of the squad. However, the squad is still strong and sits in a familiar spot right behind Georgetown Prep headed into IAC Championships week. Look for the Dogs to finish as a Top 2 IAC team, and have a competitive chance at bringing home a banner to the Mount. Prep and team spirit are the most significant obstacles in their way.
Wrestling: Wrestling has had success up this point, but took a disappointing team defeat to Landon last Friday, a match that held significant weight in determining the IAC regular season champion. The Dogs already have wins over St. Stephens & St. Agnes and Episcopal, and have to take on Bullis and Georgetown Prep to round out IAC play. I see Landon taking the regular season title, but the Dogs will come back for revenge and bring home a banner in the IAC Tournament.
Hockey: Hockey is currently tied for 2nd place in the MAPHL standings with several other teams, and is 3rd in the IAC behind Georgetown Prep and Landon. The Dogs have struggled a bit the past few weeks, but with a recent win against Bullis, they look to go into their game on Friday, January 26 at Landon with an optimistic and competitive mindset. Prep beat STA but lost to Landon, so a win on Friday would give the Dogs an even standing in IAC play and a better chance at a regular season banner. I expect them to head into the IAC tournament in early February as a top 3 seed and to make it to the IAC Championship Game.
Basketball: Basketball has shown signs of competing against top teams, with a win over Sidwell and a competitive OT loss to St. Stephens & St. Agnes (who beat Bullis). However, a rough loss to Bullis last week showed STA may not be able to bring home a banner in IAC regular season play. Although they have been inconsistent, I believe the Dogs will turn it around in late January and make a run to the IAC Semifinals in early February.
By Chloe Conaghan '19
The ever-controversial topic of NCS girls attending STA sports events typically leads to two questions:
1. Should NCS girls consistently attend knowing the support may likely be unreciprocated?
2. Should NCS girls be going to an STA game while an NCS sports game is going on at the same time?
In my opinion, the answer to the first question really depends on the schools’ current senior classes. I truly think that school spirit, and therefore sports attendance, is rooted in the attitude and spirit of the senior class. Their attitudes trickle down and influence underclassmen. For example, this year’s STA senior class has been pretty supportive of NCS sports, or at least more than what I’ve seen in past years. At the homecoming soccer game, they came decked out in all-white, were covered in face-paint, and seemed more hype than some NCS girls. I think most girls, including myself, treat STA games as a social event to “see and be seen.” STA games are pretty fun and exciting because the boys themselves make it that way. In order to incite reciprocated attendance at an NCS game, NCS girls themselves have to spark this same excitement. NCS lacks the investment from non-athletes in their peers’ sports teams. Though I know everyone has a lot going on, it does take time and effort to build a supportive and interested fan base. STA students may not come to NCS games, but the attendance they have at their own games during the week is remarkable and generally unheard of for an NCS game. They occasionally attend games after their own practices or stay after school to watch and support. As an athlete, I can say I’ve never really seen an overwhelming sense of that time sacrifice for school spirit’s sake on our side of the Close. I don’t think this is anyone’s fault; I think it’s just our culture, and this culture is difficult to change. I think girls should be able to go to a fun, STA game, yet also realize that it’s on us to strive to have the same excitement at an NCS game. If we do that, the guys will want to come too. I also think it’s important for boys to recognize that, in some cases, when there’s a big NCS game, they should want to come and support, knowing that we have supported them.
Question number two is a personal pet peeve. I totally understand that an STA game naturally seems more fun than an NCS game on the surface, but I truly think that if we got a good group from all grades dressed up and excited to come to a big game at NCS, it could be way more fun in the sense that you’re supporting your own school and your own classmates. In my three years here, I have seen this a couple times at homecoming games or some Friday soccer games and, let me tell you, it’s SO fun. It brings the community together and gives athletes the recognition they deserve for the work they're putting in. I don’t expect NCS girls to choose an NCS game over an STA game every time, especially because sometimes STA just has a bigger game than we do. However, it’s on the NCS athletes to get word out for their big games, because I know that if athletes are requesting the presence of their friends and classmates at their game over an STA game, no one would refuse. The thing that bothers me the most, though, is just the invested interest in STA sports over NCS sports. Some NCS girls know everything about the players, records and schedules of an STA team, go to away games, try and get their friends to go out to all the games, and ask who won if for some reason they couldn’t attend. Some NCS girls don’t even know when NCS games are going on, let alone the upcoming schedule or players’ records. I know this isn’t true of every NCS student, but it is a cultural thing that is hard to change. That said, I think sports games are a great way to connect the Close and definitely make me feel a greater sense of the Close community. I love going to both NCS and STA games and hope the support continues and increases on both sides of the Close!
By William Busching '18
Last month, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns stole headlines with his unabashed assertion that he had CTE only two years into his NFL career. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, as the condition is formally known, is a neurodegenerative disease that has been found in more than one hundred former NFL players. Little is known about the disease, and little is agreed upon concerning its prevention.
As a disease of the brain, CTE brings with it a host of neurological maladies, including dementia, speech impediments, and depression. Former NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez, convicted of murder at the age of 23, was diagnosed with the disease after he died last April. Many have speculated that his criminal behavior was linked CTE.
CTE gets scarier. While its clear cause is trauma to the head, no one knows how much trauma is required for the disease’s occurrence. No proven treatment exists, and the only way to detect CTE is by autopsy after death. Mysteriously, about 20 percent of revealed CTE cases had no record of concussion earlier in life. New research has confirmed that even minor hits to the head, aggregated over time, can still cause major problems.
And that sounds a lot like football, a sport that rewards players for running into each other. While CTE has appeared in other sports, football has by far the highest rates of head injury: there were 244 concussions in the NFL in 2016. The league has taken a two-pronged approach to combat the issue. New rules have been adopted, designed to diminish many of the more violent hits. One focus of the rules has been special team situations, with touchback and fair catch rules decreasing high-speed collisions. Furthermore, professional teams seldom practice full contact, instead conducting practices in a manner similar to touch football.
Such changes have led some to argue that football has lost its appeal. President Trump himself bemoaned the new safety rules in football in September, lamenting how the game has “gone soft.” Mike Mitchell, a current Steelers player with an arguably more qualified opinion, shares a similar sentiment. He has said that he knew the risks when he joined the NFL, and went on to describe how the sport has enabled him to change his “family legacy” by affording him a sizable paycheck.
The way forward likely lies somewhere in between the two extremes of Burns and Mitchell. Football is by nature a violent sport, and such violence has played a part in accumulating an audience of millions. Player safety should obviously take precedence over the satisfaction of armchair fans. It has thus far, and ought to continue to. But playing football, in whatever form, comes with inherent risk. Even if the concussion issue is resolved, injuries will remain. The most we can do is ensure that they’re handled responsibly and that players are well-educated about the risks. Beyond that, there’s nothing to do but let the players play.
By Dorothy Shapiro '19
Cathedral Varsity Basketball is expecting their hardest and most exciting game to be the next time they play Potomac School on February 1st. They hope to make it far in the ISL championship tournament later that month, but many are not necessarily expecting to make it to the championship game.
The Swimming and Diving team is currently experiencing enough internal conflict that practice productivity seems to have been disrupted for. Nevertheless, the team is hoping for a win on Senior Night, February 13th, against Sidwell Friends, and to put forth their best effort for the ISL championships on February 25th and 26th.
Varsity Squash hopes to beat both Madeira and Sidwell Friends in upcoming games. They expect their most challenging match to be against Episcopal on January 23rd. The team also hopes to place in their non-league tournament the weekend of February 10th.
The Voyageur team is so popular this year that for the first time they are able to have two varsity teams and two JV teams. They hope to use their numbers and skill to defend their title and win the championship for the third year in a row, despite Georgetown Day School’s recent improvement.
NCS Varsity Basketball vs Madeira
By Avery Watkins '20
As sophomore Miranda Giambi simply put it, this Wednesday’s game against Madeira marked “a turning point for Cathedral Varsity Basketball.” After a long winter break and having come off of some hard losses due to a “lack of team chemistry” earlier in the season, this game was an opportunity for a much-needed shift in the season’s momentum. Going into the game, the team understood the necessity of a big win and were dedicated to working as a unit. With this in mind, they stepped onto the court with energy and speed. Although the first five minutes of the first quarter were tight, CVB was able to control the majority of the game, keeping a strong lead throughout. Even when the Snails were able to score, the team stayed grounded and maintained their confidence. After 32 minutes of hard work, the Eagles were able to take the W with a final score of 43-20. Madeira may not have been as strong an opponent as expected, yet the win felt well-deserved, as they achieved their goal of playing as a unit, with each player contributing to the scoreboard significantly. After putting in hours of work at practices and in the weight room, the players were ecstatic about the outcome and are looking forward to seeing what the future will hold for them as a team. Keep an eye out for CVB; big things are coming.
STA Game of the Week: Wrestling
By James Howe '18
This past Friday night the Wrestling team finally had their crack at the Landon Bears. The match had been long awaited, as many Bulldogs knew that it held serious league championship implications. With three of their starters away on travel, success would be no easy feat, but the Dogs lost no confidence. After a big win by Richard Oh ('18) to start the meet, the Dogs felt their goal was even more attainable than previously imagined. As the two teams moved through the weights, both winning and losing a few bouts respectively, the Dogs found themselves in a bit of a hole. Jake Melman-Rogers ('18, Co-captain), who had cut a staggering amount of weight to make the 145 pound weight-class, lost a heartbreaking match by points, and the dream began to slip. When asked about his match, Melman-Rogers claimed, "I just felt low on energy. In big moments I struggled to build up the muscle to win the situation. A bunch of those moments came together, but not in my favor. Obviously a pretty tough one to lose." There is no doubt that Melman-Rogers will be ready for a rematch, if one occurs, in the IAC tournament in the coming weeks. Working only for pride points, James Howe ('18, Co-captain) and Mikey Jones ('18) picked up big wins over some of Landon's better wrestlers. The match was not all heartbreak. Great performances by the aforementioned boys, as well as a dominant win by Henry Koch ('21) at the 106 pound weight-class, in what was his first Varsity competition, showed the grit and determination that runs wild through the Bulldog lineup. The Dogs are still in the hunt for a second place finish in the IAC regular season. With wins already over Episcopal and St. Stephens, the boys must beat Bullis and Georgetown Prep in their last two league matches. Though the regular season will not produce the coveted banner, the league tournament offers hope for what could be the team's first IAC championship in decades.
By Sam Gibby '19
NCS is a place where students strive to be successful, not only in the classroom, but also athletically. Naturally, we train, compete, and endeavor to win and do as well as possible in terms of wins and losses. However, the scoreboard does not define the success of NCS athletics. Although it is always fun to win, an NCS team truly excels when a close bond forms among the members of the team. This spirit of camaraderie not only enhances a team’s athletic performance, but it also accentuates all aspects of the NCS experience.
Tri-Varsity athlete (field hockey, basketball, lacrosse) Chloe Conaghan states it perfectly: “the most important thing for the success of a team in games is finding the balance between developing a close-knit group of girls that find joy in the sport and in each other, while also maintaining a group mentality that you need to work hard in practice to find success in games.” That mix of passion, determination, and group chemistry is the perfect recipe for success. Conaghan continues, “The 2017 lacrosse team was the most successful team I’ve been on at NCS because the team discovered a perfect balance where everyone was having fun and laughing in the midst of hard work to improve as a team.”
This determination all started with the captains, who gathered the team at the beginning of the season and set standards of conduct in an attempt to create a positive and committed team dynamic and mindset. Next, the team focused on bonding and improving over its training trip in St. Petersburg, Florida, which led to the team playing some of its best lacrosse. Next, continuing to train and strengthen their friendships, they went on to have not only a winning record, but also an ISL tournament championship over Flint Hill, despite having lost to them in the regular season. But what truly set that team apart was the spirit of teamwork and friendship that continued to grow throughout the season, and which made Spring 2017 such a special time for many of us at NCS. The 2017 lacrosse team is only one of the many examples at NCS where hard work and friendship have led the athletics program to flourish, and show that success goes far beyond the scoreboard.