Curling Club founders make most of obscure sport, hope to leave lasting legacy at DHS

By Riley Gore & Conor Van Dusen

Curling has an interesting history. The peculiar sport was initially conceived in medieval Scotland, and has only been an Olympic Winter Sport since 1998. Curling’s obscurity and uniqueness has enabled it to develop a sort of cult following, particularly in Canada and Scandinavian countries. The distinct nature of Curling is also what inspired a group of inventive students to create the Dexter High School Curling Club (DHSCC).

“To me, curling is a very unique sport,” said Seth Greenfield, one of the founders of the DHSCC. “It seemed very fun for us to get out there and do it, as well inform other people about it.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”