Competitive Cheer

Dreads record a season-high score at Gibralter Carlson District, excited for future of the sport
By Jesse Linton

For the first time in Dexter High School history there is a competitive cheerleading team.

Competitive cheer is a sport that is often over- looked, and although some may say that it looks easy, participants disagree.

“The variation of cheer is a lot more intense and takes way more dedication, commitment, and tireless hours of practice,” sophomore Emily O’Keefe said.

Continue reading “Competitive Cheer”

Mens baseball optimistic even after loss of key players

The men’s varsity baseball team is coming off a season which saw them go 19-17. The team has several returning players, but also has five players who are new to the team.

Head Coach Don Little said he thinks this year’s team doesn’t have as much experience as last year’s, but they make it up in speed and pitching.

“Last year’s team had more experience and had some very smart baseball players,” Little said. “This year’s team is younger and lacks the experience, but we have better speed. And I like our pitching.”

Continue reading “Mens baseball optimistic even after loss of key players”

Winter athletes, coaches look back on seasons

Ice hockey, wrestling, swim/dive, and men’s and women’s basketball teams are hanging up their uni’s after closing out their seasons.

Hockey

Ice hockey finished the regular season 14-11 and lost to Chelsea 3-2 in its first playoff game to end its playoff run.  The team will lose seniors such as captains Ben Grover, Bryan Tuzinowski and Tristan Rojeck, key components to the squad’s success this season according to Coach Brian Sipotz who sang the team’s praises.

“Heading into the season, we had some very high hopes for this team,” Sipotz said.  We had some great leadership and an excellent crop of new players, so we knew it was going to be a fun year.  We trained hard in the summer and fall and had a great start to the season.”

Seeing the team’s strong potential, Sipotz said he wanted to challenge the boys by finishing out the season with some hard battles.

“After Christmas we had a record of 10-4 and had wins against some very good teams.  Since we knew we were going to have a strong team, we scheduled games against some very good teams late in the season.  We ended the regular season with a record of 14-11, and ultimately lost to Chelsea in a well-played first-round matchup.”

The season highlight for Sipotz was beating Chelsea in the regular season, something Dexter had not done in eight years.

“Overall the team had a good year, although the guys really wanted to play a few more games in the playoffs.”

Wrestling

The wrestling team finished 3-4 overall this year.  It will also be losing seniors like Zeke Breuninger and Jonah Hancock.

“I think it went really well,” Hancock said.  “This year’s seniors were very much the leaders of the group, so there is a lot of maturing that needs to occur before next season if we want to succeed, but the potential is there.  We had a good season.”

After coaching changes between freshman, sophomore and junior years, Hancock said a more permanent coach will benefit the team.

“ We finally have some stability with the coaching because we’ve had a lot of changes in the coaching situation,” he said. “These last two years were the first that we’d had the same coach, so the new stability really helps build a foundation of the program, and we’ll see what the boys can do next year.”

Men’s swim and dive

Men’s swim/dive placed second in the state, ending the regular season 7-4.  Senior Andrew Watson said he was pleased with the result.  In the past four years, the team has finished fourth, first, third and second in the state, respectively, so Watson said he couldn’t complain.  He also said he is optimistic about the future of the team.

“There were only two seniors and four juniors who went to states this year, so the majority of the states team was underclassmen,” Watson said. “Because it was a young team, I think next year they’ll be great.  The next two years are going to be really powerful for the swim team.  We still ended up doing really well this season; we finished second in the state which was kind of a surprise.  We didn’t think that was going to happen.”

  Head swim coach Michael McHugh said he was nicely surprised by the team’s performance after the loss of key athletes at the end of last year.

“The team performed very well this year,” McHugh said. “I was a little worried about what we would be capable of this year as we lost all of our state team members from our 2012 State Championship team and all of our All-State performers from a year ago.  We were a very young team this year with only two seniors qualifying for the state meet and to finish 2nd in the state is a testament to how talented these guys are.”

He said he is hopeful for the future as well.

“It’s early to think about goals for next year, but I would say to maintain the high level program that we have is always a goal,” McHugh said. “I think we will be a better team next year, a little bit deeper and more experienced which should really help us perform even better.”

Men’s basketball

Men’s basketball racked up a 14-7 (10-6 in the SEC) season, the team’s best since they finished 13-7 in 2010.  However, the team lost in the first game of districts to the Pinckney Pirates in a one-point game, 41-42.

Senior captain Derek Seidl expressed his remorse over the loss.

“We really shouldn’t have lost,” Seidl said. “We were up the whole game, and we blew it at the end. They were below .500 on the year.”

The Dreadnaughts were up 10 at halftime after leading the whole first half.  But the lead slipped away.

Senior London Truman said the season went well but came to an abrupt end.

“We started off really well, undefeated 10 games straight,” he said. “Then we lost to Ypsi.  After that we knew we would have to work a lot harder to beat good teams. Toward the end of the season, we knew playoffs were starting soon, so we started working extra hard because we knew we’d have to compete with some of the top teams in the state.  And unfortunately we came up with a loss in the first district game. We got up early, and we kinda just coasted instead of playing hard and putting the game away, and they came back and got some good plays.  But next year I’m expecting good things from them. I think they’re going to have a really good season.

However, with the team signing new coach Tim Fortescue, replacing Randy Swoverland, just weeks before the season opened, Truman said the team performed to the best of its abilities during the difficult transition.

Next year the team is losing six seniors including Seidl, the team’s leading scorer. However, there are five players who got playing time that will be coming back, three of whom started at times.

Women’s basketball

Women’s basketball coach Mike Bavineau said he was satisfied with the girls’ 12-10 season after having lost five seniors last year.  The team finished 10-6 in the SECs, taking second place.

“I thought that we had a pretty successful season considering we just came off a year when we went to the final four and graduated five seniors, lost a junior that didn’t come back out, so basically lost six players off of a team that was very successful,” Bavineau said. “We had to replace them with sophomores, so I think overall we did a pretty good job of becoming a better basketball team.  Obviously we would have liked certain outcomes to be different, but that didn’t happen.  But as a team, they all worked hard. They did what they could every day to become better, and that’s all one can ask for when coaching a team.”

Bavineau said the team should increase in strength in the upcoming seasons, provided that the girls stay on and keep at it.

“We hope that we can keep those juniors and sophomores that played on the team and will come back and play,” he said. “Obviously the more experience you have playing a varsity sport the better you get.  So we hope we can continue to grow and progress, but that’ll all depend on how hard we work in the off season.”

Evacuate the dance floor

Juniors Rem Vermeulen and Trevor Hilobuk dance with the dance team during the halftime show of the men's basketball teams Valentine's Day game between Chelsea and Ypsilanti.
Juniors Rem Vermeulen and Trevor Hilobuk dance with the dance team during the halftime show of the men’s basketball teams Valentine’s Day game between Chelsea and Ypsilanti.

Junior Spencer Vollmers was waiting in the hallway for his cue.  As the dance team started their routine during halftime, Vollmers several of his male classmates ran out to join them.

“I was nervous,”  Vollmers said.  “I couldn’t  breathe for about half of it.”

This stress was the result of Vollmers and 15 other junior and senior men joining  the all-female dance team during halftime of the Valentine’s Day men’s basketball game between Dexter and Ypsilanti.

This idea was the brainchild of dance coach Erin Shaver, who said she jumped at the idea of having a dance that involved some of the male body of DHS.

“I’ve had a great time with guy/girl dances in the past,” Shaver said.  “When I saw there was a game on Valentine’s Day, it was an easy decision.”

Unlike Vollmers, senior Jeff Wicks said he wasn’t nervous during the dance. His butterflies came before the dance.

“During the dance, I wasn’t nervous because the adrenaline rush and support from the crowd got me going,” Wicks said.  “I was probably more nervous before the dance because I didn’t want to mess up in front of the crowd.”

But the stress was worth it because Wicks wanted to support the dance team for all they’ve done for DHS athletics.

“The dance team has always been really supportive of the student section and Dexter athletics,” Wicks said. “I thought why not give back to the dance team.”

But with only a week to practice, Wicks and the other guys had a lot to learn.

“The practices were actually pretty difficult,” Wicks said.  “It was pretty difficult to learn that much material in such short amount of time, especially for a lot of people who are so uncoordinated and really don’t dance very often.”

But junior Delaney Garcia said having the men perform brought a more interesting aspect to practice and improved over the short span they had.

“At first they were kinda confused,” Garcia said.  “They got a lot better, and the practices were a lot more fun than just the regular dance team because of the different dynamic it brought. I think they did good, for such little time we had to teach them.”

Junior Sarina Wolf agrees and said she was impressed by their dedication.

“They were actually pretty into it the day of the game,” Wolf said.  “We told them they could stay till 5, and the guys wanted to stay over 5 to practice more.  They were super excited, and we weren’t expecting them to have that much dedication.”
 As for Shaver, she said the men performed well and she would love to do something like this again.

“It was very clear that they wanted to do a good job, and I thought the guys did a great job at the performance,” Shaver said.  “I thought they represented the dance team very well, and I’d happily invite them back next year.”

More dance team information:

The varsity dance team is coming off a season that saw them finish 1st in pom, 1st in high kick and 2nd in hip hop during their competitive season.

“Last year was a transitional year for the team as it was my first year as their coach,” Coach Erin Shaver said.  “With my dance team experience the girls were held to a higher standard than ever.”

Although this is a good result, Shaver has higher expectations for the team.

“My expectations for competition this year is to meet or exceed our placement at our last competition last year,” Shaver said.  “I think they can do it.”

This year’s team features one senior, Sarah Griffith.

“Griffith is my one senior captain this year and she truly is the heart team,” Shaver said.  “She’s a great motivator, choreographer, and ambassador.  She has really shaped the team and will be VERY missed in future season.”

Having Griffith as the only senior on the team, brings a different dynamic to the team and is better for the team morale.

“I think it’s better because we don’t have so many opinions going against each other,” junior Delaney Garcia said. “Overall, there’s just less conflict.”

 

Sports rituals help bring teams together

When would wearing ragged socks that haven’t been washed in a decade be socially acceptable? If said socks were first worn when your sports team won the championship according to junior volleyball player Joie Graves.

There are few other events that bring about such superstitions, rituals and traditions more than sports.

Because competing is superstitious business, athletes and fans alike will do whatever it takes to get the win, including getting tattoos … of the temporary kind.

“For districts, the volleyball team brought Avengers and biker gang temporary tattoos,” Graves said. “We put them on our arms and stomachs so that we looked bada–.”

Aiming to put a similar fear into their components, members of the men’s swim and dive team bleach their hair bright gold near the beginning of their season.

But that’s only one of many traditions according to junior Aaron Tracey.

“Every year we also have a spirit week to lead up to SECs. We normally try to make up new themes for each day, but we always have a safari day,” Tracey said. “We also do crazy hair cuts before SECs and sing ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias after home meets in the locker room.”

Following this team’s lead and with an attribution to school spirit, the members of the women’s swim and dive team dyed their hair maroon for states.

But that’s not their only tradition.

“We shave our legs together the day before our last meet,” junior Reagan Maisch said. “It’s supposed to make us go faster, but it also helps with team bonding because we’re all in the same boat.”

Following the hair theme that can be seen with the swim teams, the men’s cross country team also has a sacred tradition: mohawks.

“It started five years ago, and since then we all get mohawks the day before regionals, and we keep them until states,” senior Justin Skiver said.

But whatever the tradition, the end goal is the same.

Graves said, “Even though our traditions don’t really help us win, doing something as a team makes us stronger.”

Freshmen learn from upperclassmen as part of varsity sports

Freshman Andy Dolen was sitting on the soccer field after the third day of soccer tryouts, sweating.  But the 90 degree weather wasn’t the only reason why he was sweating; the mens varsity soccer coach was reading off the players who had made varsity.

“I was the last one called, so I was pretty nervous throughout the whole time he was reading the names,” Dolen said.

Almost immediately, though, he said he was welcomed by the upperclassmen when the captains invited him to go to lunch with them after he was named a varsity player. And throughout the season, the veteran players supported Dolen by helping him out when he was struggling at practice and giving him rides home.

“It was a good experience,” Dolen said. “People on varsity were really nice and welcoming, and it was good to have interactions with upperclassmen.”

While some might argue that experiences are lost when a student-athlete skips over freshman and junior varsity teams, Dolen found the season to be a positive one.

“The only thing different between JV and varsity is maybe the level of maturity.  It seems like they act more organized and better disciplined on varsity,” Dolen said.  “But team bonding is the same no matter what team you’re on.”

Team bonding examples included going to pre-game dinners at a player’s house and camping out in one of the captain’s yards.

From a coach’s standpoint, having a freshman on varsity can affect the team’s dynamic in a number of ways, both positive and negative.

“Negatively, their inexperience may open opportunities for opponents to take advantage of,” men and women’s varsity soccer coach Scott Forrester said.  “However, if a player makes the varsity team in our program, he must be a very good player.”

There are also advantages to having a novice on the field, according to Forrester.  He said they sometimes play better because they don’t realize the high stakes.

“The pressure isn’t the same as someone who knows the significance of high pressure games,” Forrester said.

According to Forrester, the experience of playing for one’s high school team is different from that of a club team.

He said the experience is sometimes better because “you go back to your school the next day and the topic is how the game went last night.”

Dolen also said having played with the upperclassmen on varsity will aid him with potential leadership positions in the future.

He said, “Now I’ll know how to treat the underclassmen in future years.  I’ll remember how I felt when the upperclassmen were nice to me, and I’ll know how it feels to be an underclassmen and how they’ll want to be treated.”

Senior Savannah Krull knows from experience that Dolen’s hypothesis is true.

Krull has played on the varsity womens softball team since her freshman year, and she will be a captain this spring.

“From watching the senior captains when I was a freshman, I know how I want the team to run,” Krull said.  “I know how to help the underclassmen on varsity and how to give them good advice that senior mentors gave me when I was a freshman.”

Krull found other benefits to playing varsity all four years, including having the same coach and being able to go to districts every year.

Above all, Krull found she was able to learn about the social aspects of playing on a team from her upperclassmen teammates four years ago.

“I already had the softball skills coming in, but I learned skills about cooperation and trusting my teammates,” she said.  “These are things I wouldn’t have necessarily learned if I had played with other people my age.”

Winter sports preview

Boys basketball

Coaches: Tim Fortescue and Mike Kedroske

Record last year: 11-10, Lost in district semi-final

Key returning players: Seniors Derek Seidl, Brandon Bednarz, London Truman and Kyle Van Dusen, juniors Brian Condron, Adam Sikorski and Ben Kill

Key additions: Juniors Zac Sharp and Noah Mellifont

The team will be looking to build off its winning season from a year ago as they have an experienced group returning this season.“I expect a winning season and hopefully to go far in districts,” junior Ben Kill said. The most significant difference for the team this year will be their new coach Tim Fortescue who took over for long-time coach Randy Swoverland just two weeks prior to the season. “I like him, I think he will do a great job,” junior Brian Condron said of Fortescue. The team opens the season on the road against Brighton on Dec.10, with the home opener being Saturday, Dec. 14 against Brooklyn Columbia Central.

Girls basketball

Coaches: Mike Bavineau and Lauren Thompson

Record last year: 23-4, Lost in final four

Key returning players: Seniors Morgan Van Hoof and sophomore Taylor Olson

Additions: Sophomores Hannah Wing, Shelbea James, Cayla Schlaff, Katie Tewksbury, Anna Love and Amanda Felicia

The team enters this season coming off its best season in program history. Last year’s senior-heavy squad made a run all the way to the final four before falling to Grosse Pointe South. With only three of the 10 players from the team returning, the expectations have to be tampered. “We expect to win most of our games but we probably won’t go as far as last year,” sophomore Taylor Olson said. In regard to the young team senior Morgan Van Hoof said, “It’s a fresh start with a lot of new girls and there is a lot of learning to be done. We still have a target on our back and an expectation to carry on from last year.” The team opens its season at home against Plymouth on Dec. 3.

Hockey

Coach: Brian Sippits

Record last year: 10-12-1, Lost in districts

Key returners: Ben Grover, Tristin Rojeck, Bryan Tuzinowski, Freddy Burke

Key additions: Sophomores Wes Gilbert and EJ Gilbert

The team is coming into this season off an up-and-down season a year ago and hope to have a more consistent season led by their experienced senior captains Ben Grover, Tristin Rojeck and Bryan Tuzinowski. Grover said, “My expectations are pretty high because we have a lot of talent and most of the guys want to win as much as we need to want to win. The hockey team opened its season on Nov. 20 with a home victory against Pinckney, 6-3. The play again on Nov. 22 and 23 in the Dreadnaught Classic at Vetts.

Boys swim and dive

Coach: Mike Mchugh

Finish last year: Won SEC, fourth in state

Key returners: Seniors Jack Donovan, Jake Killian, Andrew Watson, Junior Andrew Pek and sophomores Jimmy Morgan, Robby Zofchak and David Merz

The team is coming off a fourth place finish in the state a year ago.  Despite the loss of a successful senior class, the expectations are not being lowered at all according to senior Jack Donovan: “I expect to win SECs and go top four in states again.” Outside of the team success over the past few years (including a state title in 2012), there have been some top personal performances and that is expected to continue into this season as well. Junior Andrew Pek, for instance, said, “I’m hoping to be top eight in the state in butterfly and backstroke. This team works really hard, and if we do, we can do great things.” The team opens the season with the Midland Dow Invite on Dec. 10.

Wrestling

Coaches: Kurt Phelps and Jeff Oesch

Finish last year: Lost in districts

Key returners: Senior Zeke Breuninger, junior Larry Gotcher

Key additions: Sophomore Daniel Colon

The team comes into this season hoping to build off its season last year. The team is lead by senior Zeke Breuninger who said, “We’re hoping to win districts as a team this year because we definitely had a chance to last year.” One of the key performers for this season is expected to be junior Larry Gotcher who said, “We have a good base to build off and we are looking to work hard and get better as the season goes on.” Breuninger said he hopes to build off a good season last year in which he finished eighth in the state in his weight class. He said, “I’m hoping to finish in the top three in the state meet this season.” The wrestling team begins the season on Dec. 7 at Howell.

Curing cancer one spike at a time

In the fourth grade senior Josie Dusack sat down at the dinner table not expecting news that would affect her entire childhood. This was the day that Dusack discovered that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I didn’t understand how serious it really was,” Dusack said. “I never saw that death was really an option. I saw it as, ‘Oh my mom is sick. She’ll get better soon.’”

But Charlene Dusack, Josie’s mom, said she thinks that Josie had a more difficult time understanding the implications of her sickness than she realizes.

“Since she was very young she didn’t quite understand how serious the situation was, Charlene said. “However, she did see the impact of my surgeries and chemotherapy.”

With the Dusack family’s experience with the disease, this year’s Volley For a Cure, a volleyball game between Dexter and Chelsea to help raise money for breast cancer research, represented more than just a game to them.

The game, which took place on Oct. 22, saw student sections from both schools pack the stands to watch the game. Dexter swept Chelsea, winning the first three games in a row to win the match. All money raised by Volley for a Cure went to the Michigan Affiliate Susan G. Komen Organization, a non-profit group that raises money to help fight breast cancer.

“I like being able to help raise money to find the cure for breast cancer because that means in the future, other women won’t have to get it,” said Josie, who is a member of the volleyball team. “Also, I have a higher risk of getting it. If helping finding a cure means that I won’t get breast cancer, then my kids and family won’t have to go through what I went through.”

And Charlene is proud of her daughter for participating in an event like this.

“I’m very proud of her passion to help raise money to find a cure so that other women do not have to experience breast cancer,” she said.

For Josie, the opportunity to get her classmates involved in such a personally important cause was one of her favorite parts of the event.

“I think it’s important for the school to help raise money for people who are affected by breast cancer because it shows that everyone else cares and it’s not just the people who are affected by breast cancer that care about it,” Josie said. “The school helps get their students and staff members through it and it’s comforting to know there are people you can go to for help.”

Head volleyball coach Deanna Day agrees.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the girls to think about something that’s bigger than them,” Day said. “These girls are 18, 17 and 16 years old, and I think Volley for a Cure is a great way for them to start seeing the bigger picture of life.”

With the importance of this game to both Josie and her mother, the feeling of victory after this particular game is something that will stick with Josie for a long time.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” Josie said. “We had already lost to them twice this season so they thought that they had it in the bag, but we came out stronger than ever to win a game that meant so much to me.”