By Will Sohn
It has been almost one month since the tragic death of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. On January 26th, a helicopter accident claimed nine lives including: Kobe Bryant (41), his daughter Gianna (13), Alyssa Altobelli (14), Keri Altobelli (46), John Altobelli (56), Payton Chester (13), Sarah Chester (45), Christina Mauser (38), and the pilot, Ara Zobayan (50). Such an unexpected death left the world shocked. A Philly native himself, the “black mamba” left his mark on and off the basketball court.
Bryant had a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School, located in the Philadelphia Suburbs. As a 17-year old in 1996, Bryant declared for the NBA draft. The decision to go pro out of high school was uncommon at the time and met with skepticism.
Now, 25 years later, many consider Bryant among the top ten players in NBA history. He played his entire 20-year professional basketball career for the Los Angeles Lakers. His career accomplishments include five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, one League MVP award, and 18 All Star game selections.
Even off the court Bryant inspired others. He is quoted as saying, “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.”
Following his retirement in 2016, Bryant published his first book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. In 2018, he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball. He also became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for that category and the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Academy Award in any category.
Bryant always tried new things and pushed himself and others to do so. Along with his wife, he founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which is a public charity dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need. He also founded the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which is focused on creating a positive impact through sports. In fact, Bryant was taking his daughter to the Mamba Sports Academy when the accident occurred.
Bryant’s death received a huge, immediate reaction from celebrities all around the world including NBA star LeBron James, former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and talk-show host Jimmy Fallon. On the day of the accident, Los Angeles Lakers fans gathered outside the Staples Center to honor him and made a makeshift memorial with jerseys, flowers, candles, and other symbols.
Large events like Superbowl LIV later paid tribute as well. In fact, the NBA All-Star game this past Sunday seemed like one long tribute to Bryant: Team LeBron all wore number 2 for Gianna, Team Giannis wore number 24 for Bryant, the All Star MVP Award was permanently renamed the NBA All Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award, and the format of the game changed so that they will aim for a final score of plus-24 in the fourth quarter.
In addition to the public outpourings of support, his family held a private funeral on February 7th. A public memorial service will take place outside Staples Center on February 24th.
Even though he stands as one of the most accomplished players of all time, Bryant’s impact extends past basketball. His “mamba mentality” inspires people to better themselves everyday through hard work and perseverance. As an athlete, businessman, philanthropist, and father, Bryant’s legacy lives on around the world. He is a legend to never be forgotten.
By Madison O’Leary
How many of us have been bowling before? The answer is pretty much the entire population. However, not as many people are aware that bowling is a competitive sport with teams and competitions. Personally, I did not know a lot about the team aspect, so I decided to ask my friend, Devan Barkley, about Council Rock North’s own bowling team.
Q: What made you decide to join the bowling team?
Barkley: Allie [Daries’s] older sister was on the North bowling team, and she heard that we could get college scholarships, so we both joined.
Q: How long have you been a part of the team?
Barkley: I have been on the team since my freshman year, so three years now.
Q: What is the team dynamic like?
Barkley: There are not many of us on the girls’ team, so we’re a pretty tight-knit group. We’re all good friends, and we give each other rides. Sometimes, we even go bowling on the weekends together.
Q: What is your favorite part about competing?
Barkley: My favorite part of competing is doing so with my friends. Although the sport is generally pretty individual, the team aspect makes it a lot more fun, especially when we set goals for ourselves and the team. One thing we do is if everyone gets a strike (knocking down all the bowling pins in one shot) or a spare (knocking all the pins down in two shots) in one frame, our coach will buy us a pizza!
Q: What do you think the best reason is for joining the bowling team?
Barkley: A good reason to join the team is that it’s something fun you can do with your friends, and you can even make new friends. You don’t have to have any skill to join the team [unlike many other sports], so it’s an easy way to relax after a tough school day (juniors, you know).
Q: Do you plan on continuing after high school?
Barkley: If I hone my skills enough in high school, I hope to try for a college scholarship in bowling. And even if I don’t get one, I’ll still bowl with my friends and family and maybe join a bowling league in my free time.
Q: What has being a part of this team taught you?
Barkley: Being on the team has taught me skills in a sport that I can play both in competition and recreationally. It also taught me optimism because even if you don’t have a great game or even a great frame (round), you can always do better in the next one.
The bowling team sounds like a tight-knit, low-stress community in our school. I’m sure many of us could use more of that. The team is at the tail-end of their season, which was marked by their SOL championship on February 12th. So, let’s continue to support North’s bowling team and continue to congratulate them for their achievements.
Student Spotlight: Olivia Bing
By Madison O’Leary
Council Rock North offers a wide range of sports for students to play including basketball, football, baseball, track & field, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, and swimming among others. However, some sports get more recognition than others in the athletic community, and not everyone sees how much work goes into some of the lesser-known sports—specifically cross country.
North’s girls’ cross-country team is one of the top teams in the state, and the team doesn’t always get the attention it deserves for all of the team’s hard work and achievements. So varsity runner Olivia Bing offers some insight into this less-heralded sport.
Q: How long have you been on the cross country team and what made you decide to join?
Olivia BING: “I have been on the team for three years now, and I decided to join my freshman year because I enjoyed running the distance races on the middle school track team.”
Q: What is your favorite part of cross country?
BING: “I enjoy spending time with my teammates every day at practice. I also love having fun conversations during long runs.”
Q: How has this had a positive impact on your life?
BING: “The team has made me learn about who I am as a person and an athlete, and it has helped me become a better person because I am competing for my team, not just myself.”
Q: How have you been dealing with the pressure of this season?
BING: “I get very nervous and anxious easily, and it has been rough for me the first half of the season after the successes of last season, but I’ve just reminded myself why I do this sport, and that I compete on the team because I enjoy doing it. I also have been trusting my coaches and my training, and it has caused me to keep track of my individual goals and my team goals for the season.”
Q: What is the most rewarding part of being on such a competitive team?
BING: “The best part of being on this team is the reward of accomplishing a goal that me or my team has been working extremely hard to achieve.”
Q: What are you looking forward to at Leagues this year?
BING: “I’m looking forward to being on the Lehigh course again, since it is my favorite course. Of course, there are some nerves when competing in a big meet like this, but I feel confident that my training all season will pay off and I can achieve my goals and help lead my team.”
Q: Do you plan to continue running after high school?
BING: “I really enjoy cross-country, so hopefully I can run in college, whether I join the team or just run in a club. Hopefully, I can also improve my track times this year so I can possibly compete on the track team in college.”
The cross-country team competed in their annual League Championship on October 18th at Lehigh University. Also, the team has a good chance of going to the State Championship this year, so let’s wish the girls, Coach Abbott, and Coach Mahoney the best of luck.
By Will Sohn
As spring approaches, sports fans eagerly await March 13, which marks the start of March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that features 68 college basketball teams. Many local sports fans still associate this time of year with Villanova’s 2016 championship win.
One thing sports fans may not know, though, is that Villanova’s head coach, Jay Wright, is a Council Rock graduate. Wright, 56, was born in 1961 and attended the original Council Rock High School (Class of ’79), which eventually became North.
Wright was a gifted two-sport athlete who was good enough to play basketball in college. Many believed he had a chance to play professional baseball; however, Wright gave up baseball to play more spring and summer basketball. Wright continued his basketball career at the collegiate level and graduated from Bucknell University in 1983.
After graduating from college, Wright got his first job as an assistant coach for the University of Rochester (Divison III). Three years later, he secured his first Divison I college basketball coaching job as an assistant coach at Drexel University. The next year he moved on to an assistant coach position at Villanova for five years. He then transferred to UNLV for 2 years before he earned the head coach spot at Hofstra University in 1994. Finally, he returned to Villanova as the new head coach in 2001, a position he still holds.
Wright has led the Villanova Wildcats to five Big East conference championships and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in his 16 seasons as head coach. Most notably, Wright led Villanova to the 2016 NCAA National Championship and another Final Four appearance in 2009.
As of now, the Wildcats are 24-3 overall and sit with an 11-3 division record behind Xavier for second place in the Big East Conference this season in a tight race for first.
Wright made many stops in his lengthy career, but he has parlayed those experiences into much recent success with more to come. These successes prove that Jay Wright is an example of hard work and dedication who can serve as a model for students also working hard each year for future success.
By Will Sohn
Council Rock North has an ice hockey team, but don’t be ashamed if you didn’t know that. Most students know of the multitude of our school’s sports including football, soccer, and basketball…but not ice hockey. The Council Rock North men’s ice hockey team is not promoted or shared as often as these other teams are. As a player on the team last year and this season, I hope to spread my excitement for the Council Rock North ice hockey team with other students.
This squad is not only a team, but also it is a family. Players come together to play hockey throughout the week from the start of October to the end of February. We practice late at night every week to become better and better each game. We win together, lose together, and celebrate together. This team revolves around much more than a sport. Our dedication, determination, and love for hockey brings us closer. Being a part of this team, from freshmen to seniors, has given me an amazing experience I will never forget.
Beyond the camaraderie, though, we want to win for ourselves and for North. Last season was a difficult one for the CRN hockey squad; our team was plagued with injuries, absences, and worst of all…we found ourselves without a goalie. However, the 2017-18 season is the antithesis. The CRN team had an 8-1 victory over Archbishop Wood in the Athletes Helping Athletes Tournament earlier this month and with the addition of several new players and a new goalie, the CRN club is ready for victory this year.
This season is filled with many exciting games including the Rock Cup, the much-anticipated game against Council Rock South. The fast pace of the game, the roaring crowd from the rival schools, and the excitement from each goal makes this game an event you won’t want to miss. Though we did not get the result we wanted last year, our team is prepared for Rock Cup 2017. The CRN team is filled with seniors who all want to win Rock Cup before graduating next year. With the new addition of players in the line-up and determination to win, we feel that we have a good chance of winning Rock Cup 2017.
So, if you love the fast, physical, complex sport of ice hockey, or cheering for your school in the packed stands, or are simply interested in watching a school sporting event with your friends, then come out to Rock Cup 2017 at Warwick Ice Rink on November 22 at 7:00pm.
Athletes Reflect on Fall Sports Season
By Julia Gokalp
With the cold temperatures, chilling winds, and anticipation of winter break comes the end of the fall sports season. The fall sports teams, including cross country, football, field hockey, golf, tennis, volleyball, cheerleading, and soccer, cease to play games; at this time, many students post pictures of games on social media as the season’s change approaches.
However, the end of the season is not truly the end for these athletes since year-round training takes place in preparation for the season. Pre- and post-season workouts took place in many sports between last season and this one, and even without it, students trained in preparation for this year.
As an example, Alexa Giorgio, a sophomore on the varsity tennis team, has played tennis since elementary school. She spent six weeks over the summer playing tennis at a camp. She also took lessons in the winter when she was younger to improve her skills.
Those on the varsity football team also trained off-season, but their training was with the team. It began in January, and continued throughout the year, becoming frequent in summer.
Once the seasons commenced, so did more consistent and demanding training that led up to and prepared students for games. For the football team, drills varied from conditioning to sprinting to distance runs. The girls’ cross-country team ran 10 to 13 miles per day in order to build up stamina for their sole event, the 5k. The girls’ volleyball team, on the other hand, focused on both position-specific drills and team-oriented ones.
Naturally, all of this training was meant to prepare athletes for games and meets. The football team got off to a rough start with a loss in their first game, but by continuing to work hard, as varsity football player Andrew Kelly states, the team had “potential to be better later in the year.” The team improved throughout the season, improving their record and eventually reaching the playoffs.
The varsity field hockey team, which had a record of 13-5, faced a challenging year after losing four seniors, who were described by Jess Kusters, a sophomore who played on both varsity and JV, as “amazing and great leaders both on and off the field.” With the loss of those players, she commented, the season was more difficult. “But for all of this being said,” she commented, “we really did accomplish a lot and worked well together.”
The athletes on various teams clearly cared about how well they did in competition with other schools, and some found their victories against other schools, difficulties transcended, and overall records to be memorable and something of which they should be proud. However, as hinted by Jess’s statement, cooperation between teammates and the family-like companionship was considered one of the more memorable aspects of the fall sports this season.
Sarah Caola, a member on both the girls’ JV and varsity volleyball teams, mentioned that, while the teams worked on improvement, “the girls supported one another on the team and always had each other[‘]s backs.” Regarding her supportive teammates, she added, “My favorite part of being on the team is hands down the girls. I am so close to each and every one of those intelligent, kind, beautiful girls, and [I am] beyond grateful to have them in my life.”
Jess Kusters also believes that her teammates were the most rewarding part of her sport, for as she mentioned, “I could call [them] my sisters and […] share[d] such great times with them throughout games, practice, and bus rides!”
The enthusiasm about one’s teammates spans more than just the two sports of field hockey and volleyball, for cooperation is necessary in order to be as successful as North’s teams were this season. The extent to which teammates cared for each other over all was evident wherever one could look- from social media to games to victorious moments to times when the athletes hung out together. This camaraderie combined with their sportsmanship and competitive spirit and will to win brought them far.
By Emily Schmidt
Buzz Lightyear. Spiderman. Superman. Captain America. Wonder Woman. Batman. What do all of these unique superheroes have in common? All of them could be found at National Honor Society’s annual volleyball tournament on May 28th. With more than one hundred students participating in the event and thirty students volunteering, the event proved to be a success by the end of a fun-filled night.
For the new NHS officers of 2015-2016, living up to last year’s volleyball tournament (with a theme of the Olympics) seemed to be quite a feat while organizing the event. Schedules needed to be typed up, brackets needed to be developed, teams needed to be contacted, signs and volunteer lists needed to be printed out. Any of the current or past officers can attest to the stress of organizing such a large event.
With this year’s superhero theme, nearly every team showed up in coordinating costumes or outfits. The officers handed out superlative awards towards the middle of the four-hour event. “All About that Ace,” an all-freshman team, won for the best team name, and “The Avengers” won best sportsmanship. All four teams who won superlative awards were given gift cards to local restaurants, including Zoe’s Kitchen and Red Berry.
The tournament began with a seven-game round robin and concluded with a double-elimination bracket. Each game lasted about seven minutes to keep the night going smoothly. Will Sambar’s team, the runner-up, had a winning streak of nearly ten games by the end of the night. Will, a junior, could not believe his team went up against the best team in the tournament, one comprised of several senior volleyball players. “When we beat the team in the championship it felt great, but we knew we would have to play them again, so we had to stay focused. Losing to them in the second game was sad, but we didn't care too much because it was just a fun charity event. I had a great time and everyone else on my team did too. We definitely want to play again next year,” Will stated.
With the level of team spirit from all grades levels, next year’s volleyball tournament promises to be another successful event for charity at Council Rock North.
By Julia Golkalp
Some people become frustrated when they believe they lack a vital skill in a sport. Perhaps it is speed in baseball or softball, accuracy in tennis, or strength in football. Track and field is a sport that involves all of these aspects in different event areas. Despite what people may believe, track and field is more than fast-paced racing. It is a sport that is comprised of people with various talents, strengthened by training so that weaknesses are amended and strengths are enhanced.
Track, as described by a member of the boys’ team (there is a team for boys and one for girls) is described as a technical sport, one that requires “technique and mental and physical strength.” Helpful attributes such as speed are important in some events but can only be put to use with the correct technique. Training is meant to steel the minds of the athletes and push their endurance level to the limit. Even sprinters are supposed to push themselves in distance runs.
Sprinting is likely one of the event areas that is associated with track the most. Some believe that sprinting is about maintaining speed; slowing down the least is the key to victory. These events, described as “the most exciting and fastest events in track and field,” make one’s heart race for much effort must be put into the races in order to accomplish a sprinting goal. These races include the 100 meter, the 200 meter, the 400 meter, hurdles (at different lengths), and relays. Although speed is vital in order to win a sprinting event, technique is just as important, for it can be the difference between setting a new personal record (PR) and not setting one.
Jumpers often train in a similar way as sprinters do, since they need power and speed as well in order to jump as far or high as possible in their events: the high, long, and triple jumps. The importance of “knee drive” is emphasized in all jumps, for using the propulsion from lifting up one’s knee, the jumper travels farther or higher. The differences in training between jumpers and sprinters involve practicing knee drive or runways. Pole vaulting, although it is quite different from the other jumps, falls into a similar category. Like the high jump, a bar must be cleared with the help of a long pole and days of practiced technique. Some who compete in pole vault events find them to be fun.
Distance runners sometimes consider their events to be fun as well. Their events include the 800 meter and two mile (comparatively, 3200 meters). Both sprinters and distance runners alike are often tired after running distance, but distance runners find their event fulfilling. Pacing oneself and not sprinting at the start is an important piece of advice that distance runners will give. Energy needs to be conserved in the events, for they can be rather strenuous.
There are some events that involve little to no running at all. These are the throwing events, such as the shot put, discus, and javelin. The shot put involves putting (not throwing, or injuries will likely occur) a heavy metal ball known as a shot as far as possible. The discus uses a metal object similar to a Frisbee. The javelin is similar to a spear. In all three events, the goal is to throw (or in the case of the shot put, to put) the objects as far away as possible.
Although in each of the events winning is important to the competitors and the teammates who watch and cheer, it is not the only goal in this sport. Many join track to improve their physique (partly in time for summer), while others want to become stronger. Athletes generally strive to achieve personal records (PRs, for short). Even though one of the teams may lose a meet, the athlete often feels accomplished if personal improvement is achieved or if one of his teammates shows improvement. Teammates often support each other, either by cheering from the field or after the event, and are supportive of each other all around, and it is this camaraderie that many athletes love about track more than anything else.