Spring Squads Gear up for Sensational Seasons

Kate Ginley, Staff Writer

The spring sports season is underway, with lacrosse, baseball, tennis, softball, swimming, and track and field conducting practice sessions and early scrimmages.  For most of the squads, the early season is a time to re-tool and address the holes created by last year’s graduation.

Senior infielder Connor McNally believes that the baseball team will continue its success though they have lost star players like Denis Karas and pitcher Matt LaDrech, who both play at Cal now. “We lost a few seniors last year but I think the seniors this year will be able to play a big role since we don’t have the same coaching staff as last year. Everyone will be looking forward to us to take on the role and show them what to do, so I think we have it covered,” he said.

Junior swimmer Katie Erickson is already lamenting the impending departure of this year’s crop of seniors. “It’s going to be so sad to see the seniors leave this year. I’ve gotten really close to a lot of them, so it’s going to be sad to see them go; especially those that I’ve been swimming with for a long time,” she said.

Sophomore tennis player Jake Oxendine noted that last year’s squad was senior heavy, creating more opportunities for this year’s less experienced players to move up the ladder. “Last year we lost a whole bunch of seniors, so this year we [have] six or seven new guys on the varsity team including me. I think it will be fun to have everybody gel as a team again, and tennis has a lot of individual aspects, [such as] camaraderie, focusing, doing well is just very important [sic],” he said. 

Junior Shea Danforth of varsity lacrosse, believes the loss of seniors forces each generation to grow and improve. “We lost a bunch of players this year and it will definitely be a detriment to the team, but I think because of that, we just have to work harder, and go into each practice knowing we are going to have to work harder without them so we can play better.”

Senior golfer Robert Young is confident that the team’s hard work will make up for the loss of last year’s key players: Manny Manzone, Jim Coon, and Matt Klein. “We lost three incredible players but we got really good freshman who can replace them. Our sophomores and juniors have gotten better.”

Senior track veteran Kate Ryles is eager for her returning teammates to improve. “We lost some people last year so we definitely need people to try and fill in the spaces we need.” Ryles explains that they need people “just to try to get everybody who is there to do their best and fill the holes that the team has, and earn points in whatever events that they can.”

Baseball hopes to get back to winning section titles this spring.  McNally said, “Last year we lost [in] the first round of playoffs, so that was pretty devastating because the four years before that we had won NCS in [consecutively] but this year we are definitely trying to salvage our name and kind of get back in.”

Sophomore softball player Nia Harper hopes that morale remains high this season. “Last year we would lose a lot because the team spirit would be down, if we were down in the first inning by like two [runs]. Then, everyone would be like, “aw this sucks” and they would [stop] trying,” she said.

Oxendine is looking forward to the more intense challenges of varsity play. “Last year I was on the JV [Junior Varsity] team and we did well, and we won the majority of our league matches, and only lost to Dougherty Valley both times. [The] varsity team did not do quite as well because of the more [difficult] competition,” he explained.

Danforth expects his lacrosse squad to continue improving and hopes to surprise the rest of the section with a deeper playoff run. “Last year was a big improvement from the year before. We made NCS, which was different. We had a really young team. We still do. Last year we did a lot better than people expected us to do,” he said.

According to McNally, the baseball team is driven, in part, by the desire to show that last year’s failure to win a section title was the fluke rather than the trend. “I think we will have more focused practices and everyone is just more hungry to prove our team from last year,” he explained.

For girls softball, the goal is a modest one. Harper wants to win “more than two games.”  She said, “We’re going to get techniques down and do way better than we did last year. Were also going to come together more as a team.”

Erickson points to the high expectations of her teammates as the reason for the swimming programs long history of success.  She believes this year will be no different. “We’re going to swim as fast as we can. We’re super dedicated and hardworking and a lot of people on our team are so driven. As a whole we just sort of push through.”

Though tennis is often perceived to be an individual sport, each member of the squad contributes to the team score and team wins and losses are recorded to determine the league championship. “My goals for the season is to play well for the team. I will probably be playing doubles and [will] try to enjoy it. Basically to improve is my major goal,” Oxendine said. “One thing we have to do is bond together because like I said we have a whole bunch of new kids. Also just getting used to the way everybody plays at a higher level,” he added.

Likewise, Young believes that while he may be on the golf course alone during his round, it’s the team that motivates him to excel. “We all push each other really hard. When everyone is pushing each other, you are going to get a lot better,” he said.

Some of the spring teams will be chasing their goals with new blood in command. “With the new coach this year we have a whole different program, but we are still looking forward to NCS this year and keeping the prestige Campo baseball name up in the air,” said McNally. “Challenges are definitely getting along with the new coach –I mean I wouldn’t say that its a challenge, it’s just different so its kind of a different atmosphere, but everything else is the same, same faces, so I think we are going to be good this year.”

The tennis team also has a new coach in charge. Oxendine said, “We have a new coach this year, Coach Peterson. Petro [Petras], who was our coach the last couple of years, is now the assistant coach.”

For boy’s lacrosse, the coaching staff remains the same, which means that practices are physically challenging. “We have a very tough coach, but [he is tough] in a good way, because he pushes us in practice and we have gotten in better shape this season. In each practice, if we go one hundred percent in the drills and improve as a team, we will play better,” said Danforth.

Most of the spring sport athletes appreciate the break such activities give them from their academic stressors.  McNally said, “It’s a fun sport, and it’s a good thing to do in the spring. It’s relaxing and kind of takes your mind away from school work and other stressful things.”

Harper hopes that more students will consider joining the softball program. “It’s a really fun sport [softball] and it’s something all people enjoy no matter if you’re super athletic or not,” she said.

The swim team enjoys one of the largest turnouts, typically boasting a roster of over 100 participants. “It’s super fun and we have a lot of team spirit. The practices are fun, the coaches are great, everyone just encourages each other and it’s a great team atmosphere. [There’s] great leadership, our captains are awesome and getting to know everyone [and] supporting everyone and just encouraging everyone to do the best they can. Join the team because you don’t need to have a lot of experience and it should be really fun,” Erickson said.

Oxendine believes that one of the draws for his sport is the balance between fitness and skill. “Joining tennis is really fun because not only do you get to spend time with these great people but you get to learn and get skill and have endurance and just work hard. Tennis is a nice balance of endurance and having the skill to hit the ball over the net and development through a lot of repetition and practice,” he explained.

Danforth and Young both cite a sense of brotherhood between the players as a selling point for their respective squads.

For track and field, the fact that there is no bench, and every participant enjoys the opportunity to compete and contribute is what Ryles likes.  She also like the fact that she has over 110 teammates. “It’s really fun and you can find an event that is good for them and everybody gets to compete even if your not the best athlete on the field. And you meet a lot of new people and it’s a really fun experience,” Ryles explained.