One last ride: class of ‘20 athletes suiting up for the final time in their senior years

Yotam Hahn, Staff Writer

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After the Varsity Boys Basketball team’s starting point guard fouled out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the team began to worry about its chances to win, Sangmin Lee (12) said.

The team was playing against undefeated rival Riverdale. Kyle Gaillard ‘19 missed the game winner at the end of the first overtime, Lee said. “He ran into a wall upset and frustrated.”

In the end, the Lions pulled it together and took down the number one ranked team in the Ivy League in double overtime, Lee said. “It was an emotional win that stuck with the team and helped us keep momentum for the end of the season. It was undoubtedly one of my proudest moments as a Lion.”

As the reality of competing as a Lion for the last time sinks in for the athletes belonging to the class of 2020, the seniors reflect on how the school’s sports teams have shaped their high school experience.

Coming into a new school, co-Captain Daniel Lee (12) was unsure of what to expect, but being on the soccer team allowed him to make plenty of friends before the school year even began, he said.

Aside from meeting new people, many senior athletes have experienced other benefits of being on a team, such as relieving stress, passionate coaching, and high levels of competition. “For me soccer is an activity that helps me forget about work, and playing always makes me happy,” co-Captain of the Boys Varsity Soccer team, Chris Ha (12) said.

In working closely with their athletes over the years, many coaches have left a lasting impact on players through their passion, energy, and relatability. “One thing that surprised me is how passionate Russo is, he is always the most fired up guy on the field and it’s definitely made playing a lot more fun,” Varsity Baseball Captain Suraj Khakee (12) said.

For individual sports, the team aspect adds so much value that one might not get from playing on your own, Boys Varsity Tennis Captain Sidh Chawla (12) said. “Being on a tennis team brings out a much more competitive emotion, because you are playing not only for yourself but also for your teammates,” he said.

“[The] biggest thing for me when I joined the tennis team was how much of a family aspect it brought to an individual sport,” Chawla said. Tennis becomes a team sport, because you are rooting for all of your teammates even when you’re not playing, and you constantly have to be involved and cheering for everyone on all of the courts, he said.

Through leading stretches the seniors on the cross country team get the entire team to bond and become a close group of girls, Girls Cross Country Captain Caroline Scherr (12) said.

Sports teams allowed younger athletes to mature into the senior captains that they are today, which teaches lessons that can be applied off the field, Khakee said.

“I became the starting shortstop in 10th grade so I was immediately being held accountable by the upperclassmen, and Coach Russo helped me take over that role by telling me to lead in any way that I knew how,” he said.

“Russo has continued to push me to be the best player and leader that I can be and that has carried over to my life off the baseball field.”

Continuing their respective sports after high school is important to these athletes, whether it’s playing at the collegiate level, playing at the club level, or playing purely for fun. “I definitely am looking forward to playing club soccer or intramurals,” Ha said.

“I hope to play division three baseball in college, so I’m excited to see where I go,” Khakee said. Playing baseball both in school and out of school has had a huge impact on my highschool experience and it was nice to see that some of that work pays off.”

“I will be playing soccer in college, but I’ll miss being a lion and representing the school everyday,” Girls Varsity Soccer Captain Kiara Royer (12) said. The environment of the meets, the park, and all of the people on the team is what will be missed most by Scherr, she said.

Too much hard work and dedication has been put into Chawla’s tennis career for him to give up on it after high school, he said. He plans to continue his tennis career either playing on his college varsity team or the club team.

For some senior athletes, ending the final season as a Lion is emotional and comes with personal aspirations. “I’ve always wanted to end my career with a walk-off hit. I feel like that’s an awesome way to go out,” Khakee said.

“I will be playing soccer in college, but I’ll miss being a Lion and representing the school everyday,” Royer said. “I hope to play division three baseball in college so im excited to see where I go,”

Khakee said. “Playing baseball both in school and out of school has had a huge impact on my highschool experience and it was nice to see that some of that work pays off,” Khakee said.