BHS Athletics End With Successes and Dissappointments
Well, fans, that’s it. The balls have been deflated, unwashed jerseys collected, goals frustratingly locked up, most of the parkas have been returned, and the stands have emptied. The 2011-2012 season of Berkeley High School sports is at a close.
This year’s teams were full of exceptional athletes and extraordinary talent, but while many teams built upon previous years’ successes to excel, others failed to capitalize on opportunities and were forced to end their seasons early.
The varsity football team displayed perseverance, winning seven straight games to climb out of an early 3–loss deficit. “Knowing that we had to put in the work at practice to compete on game day,” explained senior captain Sir-Devonta Stewart, allowed the young team to overcome its inexperience and prove itself as a growing powerhouse. While the team was knocked out by the strong Pittsburg High School in the second round of North Coast Section (NCS) playoffs, the players were proud of their accomplishments amidst injuries and counted the season as a success.
Living up to over a decade of success, the girls’ varsity soccer team won league for the twelfth straight year, finishing its season with an overall record of 18-3-1. It seemed possible, when the team received its highest seed for NCS in over a decade, for the team to finally advance past the first round of NCS for the first time since 2006. But the team lost 2–0 to a team they’d beaten 3–0 earlier in the year. “We were nervous,” explained head coach Suzanne Sillett, “and that had an impact on our play,” forcing the team to end a strong season far too early.
One team used to dealing with pressure is the girls’ varsity basketball team. It’s been one of BHS’s strongest teams for years, but many people doubted the Lady Jackets, “so every game,” explained senior captain Elisha Davis, “we had to prove them wrong.” The team finished with an incredible record of 30-2 and, after blowing past competition in the early stages of NCS, made it all the way to the state championship. What is arguably BHS’s best team had yet another exceptional season.
In a far more successful season, the badminton team finished 2nd in league and had a strong showing at NCS. Freshman Calvin Dai placed 3rd in NCS for men’s singles after winning league, making him the second person in BHS history to place in the top four in that event. The girls’ doubles team, seniors Cindy Wei and Rebeka Lama, won league and placed 8th at NCS, a BHS badminton first. “It blew my mind watching them play,” recalled head coach Skye Van Valkenburgh, and while the season wasn’t perfect, the team’s accomplishments were still “an amazing feat for BHS.”
In the biggest disappointment of the season, the boys’ varsity lacrosse team was denied a spot in NCS for the first time in four years, due to changes in the structure of the competition. “Our season as a whole,” explained senior captain Hunter Irvin, “was the biggest ‘almost’ season I’ve ever been a part of.” While the team was full of strong and talented players, according to Irvin, “an unfortunate combination of adversity, new coaches, multiple injuries, and the hardest schedule” in NCS, kept the team from living up to its potential.
One group that did well was the boys’ 200 meter medley and 200 meter freestyle relay team, composed of seniors Robert Raya and Ko Costarella, along with junior Remi Lee and freshman Nils Gohlke. Accomplishing what was probably the biggest feat in BHS sports this year, the team broke a BHS 200 meter medley relay record that had stood since 1981. That same day, the group broke a BHS 200 meter freestyle relay record set in 2004. “The feeling of breaking something so old,” recalled Lee, “was pretty cool,” and the success didn’t stop there. The team finished in 17th place for the 200 meter medley relay at NCS, an amazing feat considering it had never broken the top 30 in past years.
BHS sports were at their best — and worst — this year. For many athletes, this year was their last in a BHS uniform, but plenty will return come fall to carry on the BHS legacy. After seeing some of the greatest moments in BHS sports history this year, it’s hard to think what titles are left to conquer. But there’s always room for improvement, and it looks as though the best is yet to come.