by Neechi Marupa-Ombima '20
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to run a track meet the week before exams through a small blizzard? It’s not very pleasant, I can assure you. While winter track may not be one of the most recognized or popular winter sports on the Close, we definitely put in some hard work. Life as a winter track athlete can actually be quite challenging, as we are one of the few winter sports teams that practice outside no matter the weather. We run through rain, snow, heavy wind, or whatever the unpredictable D.C. weather throws at us, this last week being a rare exception.
One thing I especially appreciate about track as a sport is the specialization, and the winter track team does a great job of emulating that. At the beginning of the season we are split into three groups, long-distance runners, sprinters, jumpers, and throwers. Each group on the team has different workouts each day, and it goes a long way to making sure we are ready to compete at our specific event come springtime. I am part of the sprinter group, where we mainly run events of 400m distance or less. To give you a bit of insight into a daily winter track practice, one thing that is constant for all the track groups is the warm up. Now, you might be thinking, “Oh, a warm-up, every sport does warm-ups — they can’t be that challenging”; if you came to a winter-track practice, you would find out very quickly that that is not the case. Furthermore, If you have never seen repetition work at its finest, just ask a sprinter how many different types of skips we did up and down the track during our first practice. After our warm-up, we move into the workout, which usually depends on the day of the week, especially for sprinters. We lift on Mondays and Thursdays, have a rest day on Wednesday, and have tougher workouts on Tuesdays and Fridays. For example, on a Wednesday we may work on starting technique, hurdling, or even relay work and then conclude with some short 50-100m sprints. However, when it comes to a Tuesday or Friday you’d better be ready as a sprinter because no matter the weather, we are pushed to our limits. A typical Tuesday or Friday could consist of a sequence of 200m sprints (around 8-12), with the only allocated rest in between being a 45-60 second rest at the start line for either the group behind or in front of you to get to a certain point on the track. To conclude practice, depending on how well our coach feels we have run the workout, we might either run a single cool-down lap or some 50m dashes and a cool-down lap.
One might say that these are the workouts that take the fun out of a sport like winter track. However, like other sports, these are the moments that unify us as a team, pushing each other to be better and run faster. Surprisingly, the winter track season has been one of the more challenging seasons I’ve taken part in during my time at St. Albans, but as the season winds down winter track has given me a newfound appreciation for the sport and excitement for the spring track season.
by Margaret Herbold '19 and Annie King '19
4:45 AM alarms? Cold pools and cold afternoons? Hair that freezes and snaps off on your nice long walk through the wind tunnel? While swimming and diving are notoriously challenging sports, to much of the NCS/STA swim team, this sport and especially this year’s team has come to symbolize family, support, and hard work. Entering championship season, which includes ISL’s and IAC’s, WMPSSDLS, and Metros, Close Aquatics season highlights include record-breaking 100 free and 100 breast swims by Megan Craven ‘21 (qualifying her for the all-ISL team), multiple Metros cuts, and a second- place finish at both ISL’s and WMPSSLDS for diver Dorothy Shapiro ‘19. We saw significant growth in number of swimmers, ordered racing suits without a screensaver pattern, and team lunches and sleepovers crescendoed our sense of team unity, passion, and fun.
Every year, NCS and STA participate in WMPSSDLS, the second of our three championship meets. WMPSSDLS is one of the most competitive meets we attend, with private schools from all over the DC metro area packing in to Fairland Aquatic Center in Laurel, Maryland. This year, we had an astounding performance, with approximately 20 swimmers making it to finals (ranking in the top 16 overall for the meet). It’s a meet where team records are frequently broken, as well as where record numbers of games of “Cards Against Humanity” and “Psych” are played and record numbers of blankets are brought on deck. To quote a recap email from Coach Bettencourt, Saturday morning was “a great morning of swimming! ALL of our relays are returning for finals. We are represented in nearly every event tonight. New Metros cuts. SO many best times. We are so proud of the efforts of both teams.” Huge shoutouts to Megan Craven ‘21, Rachel Yoon ‘20, Andrei Schwartz ‘19, Alex Misiaszek ‘21, and Nolan Musslewhite ‘20 for top finishes in their respective individual events!
Swimmers who meet a qualifying cut time during the competitive season are invited to swim at Metros, the largest, fastest, and most exciting high school swim meet of the year, held in Germantown, MD. Both private and public schools in the DMV are invited, and the meet is a weekend-long affair with prelims and finals spanning nearly a full day and another early morning wake-up call for the swimmers. This year, Close Aquatics is proud to send 6 relay teams and 10+ individual swimmers to Metros!
NCS is incredibly lucky to have Dorothy Shapiro ‘19 leading us on the diving side. Dorothy placed 2nd at the diving competitions for both ISLs and WMPSSDLS, and will compete again at Metros on Thursday, February 7th. We’re also very excited about NCS diving’s future, Kendall Pade ‘22 and Haanah Fasihi ‘22. Kendall and Haanah spent this season learning the required amount of dives for competition, and will show off their skills next year.
In the next few weeks, we are looking forward to our sen19r night on Tuesday, February 5 (get out to that!!) as well as our upcoming team banquet, an opportunity to honor our coaches and swimmers as well as to carry on our paper plate award tradition. This has been an incredible year for Close Aquatics (follow the ig @close_aquatics for vlogs and highlights!) both in and out of the pool. We’ve had remarkable effort in the pool and amazing spirit out of it (hit us up for poster ideas), and we’re looking forward to finishing our season strong. The senior captains are especially looking forward to passing down the leadership of the team to junior captains Alyssa, Rachel, Eddie, and Nolan, as well as an incredible group of underclassmen.
By Brandon Torng '20
The 2018-2019 season has been a series of ups and downs for the St. Albans basketball team. Starting their season in late November, the Bulldogs came out strong, defeating Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School by 34 points. Following a loss to Sidwell, STA rebounded the next week by reaching the finals of the Quaker Classic. Defeating IDEA PCS and Takoma Academy in the first two rounds, the Bulldogs were matched up against Sidwell, again. Unfortunately, the Quakers won the championship, after which Senior Phillip Jordan and Junior Michael Katsock were named to the all-tournament team. Next up for the Bulldogs was the annual Bishop Walker Tournament, hosted by St. Albans. The team won their first two games by a combined margin of 68 points, putting them in the finals. Facing off against Friendship Collegiate Academy, the Bulldogs were defeated 47-57. After suffering another non-league loss against GDS, the team began the IAC season at Bullis where the Bulldogs came up short in a 52-55 loss. The first half of the IAC season was winless for the team, although the team was 3-2 in non-conference games during that stretch. Game 6 of the IAC season saw STA earn their first win, defeating the bears 67-59 in the Martin Gym. The team is currently 10-12 overall and 1-6 in IAC play.
Currently lead by Michael Katsock (15.5 ppg) and Phillip Jordan (14.9 ppg), the Bulldogs are looking to end the IAC season strong, with upcoming games against St. Stephen's & St. Agnes, Episcopal, and Bullis. Although the Bulldogs have struggled in league play, 4 of their 6 losses have been by 10 or fewer points, including 3 point losses to both Episcopal and Bullis.
This coming week, the Bulldogs will play at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes on Tuesday, February 5th, and at home against Episcopal on Friday, February 9th. On Friday the team will be honoring their four seniors during Senior Night. Before the IAC tournament begins on Tuesday, February 12th, the Bulldogs will also play a makeup game at home against Bullis.
By William O'Brien '21
Coming into the season with high expectations, the St. Albans hockey team has had a successful first half of the season so far. Unfortunately, the team began the season struggling to make their mark due to an unlucky injury to star goalie, Max Delorme. However, the team persevered thanks to the courageous goaltending of senior leader, Liam Schaberg. Liam generously sacrificed his normal role in the line up to step in between the pipes for the first time in his hockey career, even leading the team to victories over Mount St. Joe’s and Churchill. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, the team still found some success. In the words of senior leader and alternate captain, Smith Mohler, “When the darkness came, we turned on our flashlights and kept moving on.”
Finally healthy again, Max’s triumphant return to net proved to be the kickstarter that would carry the team through some of the biggest wins of the year. We had a commanding win over Bishop O'Connell and a huge win over IAC rival and previously number one team in the area, Georgetown Prep. The Prep game was definitely a highlight of the year, thanks to the electric atmosphere brought by the boys of the BEEF club, the student fan section of St. Albans. The team hopes to carry the momentum from Prep game onwards, with their target set on the elusive IAC championship win, a prize yet to have been achieved in the history of the program. They certainly have the talent and dedication to accomplish such a task. According to Coach Dan Ryan, this team is the “most talented in St. Albans hockey history,” with loads of underclassmen skill and fantastic senior leadership. Although we have had a great first half of the season, the team is not done yet, with a huge game against rival Landon coming on Thursday and playoffs looming around the corner. Get out to those games. Until then, roll BEEF.
By Ben Sherman '20
Even in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the NBA has almost overtaken its hype with trade rumors brewing and deals being finalized as the February 7th trade deadline quickly approaches. Let’s take a look at some of the major deals that have been finalized, and perspective deals that could happen.
We’ll start with the biggest deal that’s been finalized. Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke to the Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first round picks. The major player in this deal is Kristaps Porzingis, a 4th overall draft pick, who was booed by the Knicks when originally drafted. In the 2017-18 season, Porzingis averaged 23 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and an impressive 2.5 blocks per game. Originally thought to be a wasted draft pick, he was thought to be the future of the Knicks. However, having not played this year with an ACL injury, the Knicks decided to trade him and fully commit to rebuild. The Knicks were criticized for this trade, as they bailed on what was supposed to be a franchise player. However, I believe this is ultimately a good move for New York. The Knicks freed up cap space and will enter free agency during the offseason with $74.5 million to spend. They also get two future first rounders, definitely a major part of the Knicks rebuild strategy.
While not a bad deal for the Knicks, the Mavericks really won this trade in my eyes. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have surely heard of Luka Dončić. Lighting up the NBA and averaging 21/7/5, he is thought to be a lock for Rookie of the Year and was most likely the #1 snub of the All-Star Game. Another big factor of this trade is the Mavericks draft pick this offseason, as well as the fact that this year’s first rounder was not included, but rather first round picks from future seasons. Even with Luka’s very impressive rookie season, the Mavericks are struggling, and if the season ended today, they would have the 11th pick in the draft. This year’s draft class is thought to be stacked, and the thought of the Mavericks playing with Luka, Porzingis, and a promising rookie next season will make a lot of teams nervous. The biggest question here is whether or not Porzingis comes back as explosive as before his injury, but assuming he does, the Mavericks are a sleeper pick to make a playoff run in 2020.
The other big talking point in the NBA is Anthony Davis requesting a trade to leave the Pelicans. A trade involving Anthony Davis, possibly the best PF or C in the NBA, would likely be the biggest trade of the season. The most likely landing spot is the Lakers. Davis has expressed he does not care about money as much his legacy, which involves winning a championship. Thinking about Anthony Davis playing with the best player of all time, LeBron, would be scary. There are two issues with this trade. The first issue is that the Lakers would need to give an arm and a leg in order to acquire AD. For eample, the Lakers offered Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, and a first round pick for Anthony Davis, which the Pelicans promptly rejected. There have been many different reports from the media that the Pelicans either don’t want to trade AD at all, or that they plan to counter the offer with a trade that involves two first-round picks.
The other possible landing spot for AD is the Boston Celtics, but there is a distinct issue with this, coming in the form of “The Rose Rule.” The rule, which references Derrick Rose, is as follows: “A player coming off of his rookie contract may sign a contract for 30% of the team’s salary cap if they have been MVP, or started in 2 All Star Games, or been named to 2 All NBA Teams (the usual rule is that rookies can only sign a contract worth 25% of cap space). However, the kicker here is that a team cannot have two players under a contract which follows the Rose Rule. Both Kyrie and AD are under contracts that follow this rule. Therefore, the only way AD would land in Boston is in a deal that involves Kyrie, or if Kyrie renegotiates his contract this offseason, and the Celtics pursue AD over the summer. However, that poses a question in and of itself.
Kyrie, known to be fairly outspoken, has expressed some slight frustration and is not adamant that he will re-sign with Boston this summer. Boston, after making an impressive playoff push to the Eastern Conference Finals last year without their two stars, was poised to be the surefire #1 seed in the Eastern Conference with LeBron’s departure. However, the Celtics got off to a rough start, but they are finally slowly regaining momentum and have jumped to 3rd seed in the East. Kyrie has stated that he “doesn’t owe anyone” when asked if he will resign, and he earlier expressed frustration about being a leader on the Celtics. While rumors of AD and Kyrie going to LA are fun to speculate about, they are unlikely.
These are the two biggest moves so far. This NBA offseason is poised to have massive implications for the NBA going forward. KD may opt out of his 4-year contract, the Raptors and Bucks are also possible landing spots for AD, and the hometown Wizards may try to trade Wall or Porter to relieve themselves of the supermax and max contracts, respectively. NBA fans are anxiously waiting to see what happens, as many fans just want a challenger for the Warriors in the finals.
By Esther Eriksson von Allmen '19
Several weeks ago, the senior class gathered in Hearst Auditorium to discuss potential changes to Flag Day, the annual awards ceremony where NCS students (seniors primarily) are recognized for their excellence in various academic fields, as well as their contributions to the school community. The meeting was hosted by a special committee, consisting of several NCS faculty members, specifically created to address the concerns that certain students (both current and former) have regarding Flag Day, and to implement changes where they see fit. I’m writing this article to address a few of said concerns, and to express my opinion on the current approach being used to implement changes to Flag Day.
One of the main concerns seniors have regarding Flag Day is the exclusivity of the ceremony, given that only a selection of students receive awards. I was surprised to hear during the meeting that teachers will intentionally choose not to award a deserving student if that same student is already known to be receiving other Flag Day prizes. I don’t think I’m being particularly radical when I say that prizes should be awarded to the student(s) who deserve them. It boggles my mind to think that anyone would choose to make Flag Day less meritocratic for the sake of protecting students’ feelings. Is this not the same ceremony where we are celebrated for our development into mature, young adults? But my belief in a meritocratic Flag Day ceremony also entails that multiple students should be able to win the same departmental award, unlike last year’s Flag Day when each award had strictly one recipient. At least to me, it seems silly that there can only be one senior who was exceptional at Math or Latin or History, when we very well know that there are oftentimes multiple students who excel in the same academic field.
Another concern is the academic focus of Flag Day. At least several of my classmates believe that Flag Day should be more holistic and include more awards focused on character and less on academic subjects. While I’m not opposed to adding more character-based awards, I don’t support the removal of the pre-existing academic ones. In the several Flag Day ceremonies that I have attended, teachers give academic prizes to NCS students who have not only demonstrated talent in a certain academic field, but also intellectual curiosity and oftentimes a commitment to the particular subject that extends beyond the expectations of the class. Never have I witnessed a teacher present an academic award to a student simply because she had the highest grade in the class. Thus, even the academic prizes are not completely one-dimensional. That being said, Flag Day certainly has its fair share of prizes commending non-academic achievements. Out of the thirty-four awards last year, only twelve pertained to specific academic subjects. An almost equal amount of awards recognized excellence in the performing arts and music.
Now, the most controversial aspect of Flag Day seems to be the Flag award, given to the senior with the highest junior and senior year GPA. I’ve heard other members of the NCS community, including teachers, argue that certain NCS students develop an unhealthy obsession with the Flag, and that to combat this obsession, we should remove the award. For starters, since 9th grade (and for many, arguably before that) my classmates and I have lived and breathed in an academic environment where getting good grades is a top priority. We want to go to college, and colleges want us to have good grades, so, naturally, we want good grades. And caring about your grades is a good thing! So no, I don’t believe NCS students have an unhealthy obsession with the Flag. NCS students, like so many American high schoolers, have an obsession with maintaining a strong grade point average. But I don’t see the Flag Award, or the Cum Laude ceremony for that matter, as somehow fueling this obsession, but rather acknowledging the tremendous amount of work that is required to maintain a certain GPA. At a ceremony that aims to reflect the values of our school, there seems to be something rather disingenuous with failing to acknowledge excellent grades as a significant accomplishment, when in reality, it has always been the top-priority for so many of our students.
Above anything else, I believe that seniors have the right to determine what their Flag Day ceremony will look like. By this, I mean that any proposed changes to Flag Day should be voted on by the senior class directly. And while teachers and faculty can certainly facilitate this process, I don’t believe they have a right to decide what is right and wrong about a ceremony meant for us. According to a Discus article issued last week, the Flag Day committee has met with both alumnae and current seniors during the past couple weeks to discuss changes. Firstly, I was confused why alumnae were even included in the conversation about this year’s Flag Day. In my mind, the only people who should make decisions about the 2019 Flag Day should be the students who will ultimately be affected by the decisions made. And while I’m glad that the committee is reaching out to current seniors, it makes me uneasy to think that just a handful of students in my grade are supposed to somehow represent the communal concerns of the senior class. Ultimately, given how hard each senior has worked to get to this point, we all deserve an equal say in determining what one of our final days as NCS students will look like.
By Chloe Conaghan '19
The Cathedral basketball season has been filled with ups and downs. We are in the A Division of the ISL, and we hope to compete for the championship this year. We have had some close games against opponents like Saint Stephen’s and Holton Arms. Unfortunately, we came in second against both Holton and the Saints, but we know both teams are easily beatable the next time we face them. Our biggest threat is Maret, who we play again on our senior night (February 14th, so mark your calendars).
This year, we gained Skylar Lach ’22, Sydney Barta ’22, Josephine Freis ’21, and Harper Darden ‘19. These valuable players contribute to each game and get points up on the board. Both Lilly Keller ’19 and Nina Davy ’20 are averaging 10 points per game and lead our offense. We have been looking to our best three-point shooter, Miranda Giambi ’20, in time-pressured situations, and she has never failed us.
As my last CVB season comes to a close, I am grateful for the community and support that my teammates provide. Whether we’re lifting weights, spurred by Coach Berry’s encouragement, or sweating on the court, I am always filled with gratitude for my strong female peers who push me to challenge myself every day.
Overall, we are excited about the hard work we have put in this season. We are looking forward to finishing our season strong and coming out on top after the playoffs.
By Morgan Chung '19
This winter is like it always is. There are some good days and bad days, but we know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone on the crew team is working exceptionally hard, leading us to a lot of personal records and improvement from each grade. The sophomores this year bring a fun and enjoyable atmosphere to the team along with their very strong athleticism; the juniors are always reliable and a very hardworking group of athletes; the seniors hope they have been strong leaders for the rest of the team and lead by example.
The team culture is very strong. We have team breakfasts every Saturday morning after practice, which gives us time to hang out with our crew families. This has also made us closer to the freshman class. Even though there are grade differences, I feel as close to the freshmen, sophomores and juniors as I do to the girls in my grade.
This is the time of year where our practices transition from our longer steady-state pieces and 20-minute testing to shorter sprints and 2k testing. The beginning of the season gets us back into erging shape and helps build our stamina, while the back half is reserved to prepare us for our spring races.
In regards to the springtime, I’m very excited to go on our annual spring break trip in Tampa, Florida. This is a time where the team exponentially grows in team culture and athletic improvements. This is also when the freshmen will experience their first race, and I and my peers are very excited to see what they can accomplish.
By Nina Miller '19
Squash has had a very productive season so far. We were lucky enough not to have lost any seniors last year, so we started out with a strong team dynamic from day one. We had a record number of people trying out for squash, revealing the great growth of the program in its mere fifth year since being founded at NCS. Freshmen Katrina Merva and Reina Chiang joined the team, adding impressive skill. We started the season with a strong 11-0 win over Stone Ridge at our home courts, Squash on Fire, with nearly all of the matches being 3-0 wins. We spent our three weeks before break getting into a good routine with our new head coach, Margaret Gerety, and our returning assistant coaches Amir Wagih and Anna Kimberly. On Mondays we would do drill stations and circuit work, Tuesdays were focused on zone games and rallies, challenge matches would span the length of Wednesday practice in preparation for our Thursday matches. Fridays were designated for things we wanted to improve on in the wake of our matches, and about four players would go to the weight room to train with Coach Berry. We had two hard-fought battles against Potomac and Episcopal, which resulted in 2-7 and 1-8 losses, respectively. We went into winter break determined to come back stronger. Unfortunately, Coach Amir returned to Egypt over the break to coach the national team, which saddened us all. We finally got back into a grove after exams ended, and had a strong 11-1 win over Stone Ridge.
On January 26th, the team headed up to Episcopal for the Mid-Atlantic Squash Open. We played very close matches against Mercersburg and Potomac, each of them having multiple 3-2 match scores, but unfortunately resulted in losses. However, the improvement we saw was great, as we only lost 4-5 to Potomac, drastically different from our 2-7 loss at the beginning of the season. We had our team dinner afterwards, which was a great time for bonding and gossip. We are in the midst of preparing for the regional independent tournament hosted by Episcopal on the day of Winfo. Two of our players, Sienna Waldman ‘20 and Sofia Arseniev ‘21, placed last year, and we are all excited to see how we have improved in the last year as we enter the end of the season.