It may not feel like fall when the temperatures are still in the 90s, but Fairmont High School’s fall sports teams are well under way. Some teams are off to spectacular starts, while others are still seeking a good foothold on the season.
The Firebird Varsity Football team, led by new Head Coach Andy Aracri, knew they were facing a challenge when they kicked off their season against two-time State Champion Archbishop Alter on Aug. 27. But while the 14-42 loss wasn’t the kind of opening the team or coach were hoping for, it doesn’t change the way they are approaching the rest of the season.
The main goal for this season is to be 1-0 every week. “We need to care about the game we’re playing that week and win that one,” Aracri said. “This week, they’re focused on their execution on the field and going 1-0 with Miamisburg.” The Firebirds travel to Miamisburg for their next game on Sept. 3.
Despite the opening loss to Alter, Aracri has brought a new vibe to Roush Stadium, and the fans have responded by shouting “Rock the Roush” from the stands. Team members say the team has a new feel to it as well.
In 2009, the team was 4-6, and several players say that team lacked unity. “It was more about individuals last year, and not so much of a team effort,” said senior Brandon Fischer.
This year, the captains are taking charge and bringing the team closer together. “We’re all very close this year. It’s more like a family,” said Co-Captain Chet Deaton, a senior. In addition to Deaton, the co-captains are seniors Tim Trummer and Gary Leonard and junior Nick Bower.
The captains play a big role, but the team is made up of many leaders. “The players have been totally committed, focused on things they’ve been asked to do, and have had great attitudes since day one,” said Aracri.
Aracri added that he and his coaches are putting a big emphasis on the team playing strong and winning the fourth quarter of every game. Toward this end, the coaches put the players through a fourth-quarter drill at the end of every practice. “This drill helps the players think when they’re tired and pay attention to details,” Aracri said.
Along with everything else that’s new about football this year, Aracri and his wife had a new baby girl on Aug. 7. Reese was born 21¾ inches and 8 pounds, 15 ounces. Aracri said Reese helps him keep things in perspective. “It’s easy to get stressed out,” he said. “But knowing I have an adorable girl helps me worry about the important things instead of pointless things.”
A new season means new expectations. Last year the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team fell just below .500 with a record of 12-13, and they finished fourth in the GWOC. This year, the girls hope to make regionals and win the GWOC Central Division.
“The girls have set a goal to make it to regionals this year, which is a tough goal to achieve,” said Head Coach Bill Buirley. “But if we keep working hard and getting better, we can make it happen. I think we have a good shot at it, as long as we can come together and execute both offensively and defensively.”
The girls have a tough schedule ahead of them this year, though, including contests against rivals Centerville, Beavercreek and Alter, along with defending Division 3 Champions Huron. Last year, the Firebirds played but lost a very close five-game match against Huron and a very close match against Beavercreek. Buirley is prepared for the team to make a tournament run at the end of the season.
“All the girls play well together,” said sophomore Staci Bennett. “I think we are going to go far this year.”
The Girls’ Varsity Tennis season is fully under way and the girls are letting it be known that they’re a force to be reckoned with, despite finishing fourth in the league last year.
The doubles players have clicked from the beginning, showing a unity Head Coach Tim Voegeli says he thinks will benefit the team. As a whole, the team is working hard to qualify for districts, and they hope to win the GWOC along the way.
Voegeli has high hopes for the season because the team has better experience. “We are making the most of all the girls’ talents,” he said.
Kaitlin Pickrel and Laura Cordonnier return this year as the senior co-captains. Joining them on varsity for the second year are seniors Meredith Grogan, Shenandoah McGlone and Whitney Slone. Pickrel has emerged as a shining player, taking initiative on the team and scoring the team big points in the singles division.
The girls are off to a solid start with a 6-2 record as of Aug. 31. “I have a good feeling we’ll do well this season,” said Pickrel.
Fairmont Cross Country got its 2010 season off to a running start when the top eight boys and the top eight girls in time trials on Aug. 23 went to Sandusky, Ohio, on Aug. 28. Senior Co-Captain Maria Meredith finished 1st at the Sandusky St. Mary’s Panther Invitational, then all of the Firebirds got to spend a day at Cedar Point amusement park.
On Aug. 31, both the boys’ and girls’ teams finished third at the Tipp City Invitational. The next event for the team is the Warrior Cross Country Invitational at Lebanon on Sept. 4 at 9:30 a.m.
Last year, Fairmont’s Cross Country team finished second in the Central Division and third in the GWOC. Then-junior Dustin Davies was fourth overall and first in the Central Division. Brandon O’Malley was fifth overall and second in the Central Division. With O’Malley graduating last year, the pressure is on for another runner to step up and be just as good.
In addition to Meredith, senior Jennifer Belt is a co-captain for the girls. The boys’ captains are seniors Kevin LaVoy and Cooper Dieterle.
The Varsity Field Hockey team has been practicing five days a week for weeks, and the Aug. 31 defeat of rival Oakwood shows the hard work is paying off.
Junior Co-Captain Annie VonderBrink scored the only goal of the game, and it came in the second half. “We want to win,” said VonderBrink. “Winning is our biggest motivation.”
Before the first game, Assistant Coach Katrina Wilbur noted that the girls seem more driven this year. “The girls have worked harder, and they’re ready to step up to the plate,” she said.
Senior Co-Captain Jackie Brown agrees that playing well requires hard work. “It takes a lot of practice, a lot of running, and many drills to help the team and improve on skills,” she said.
The girls are aiming high this year, despite losing several players to graduation. “The girls are all different, so it’s a transformation, and we’re playing a new set-up, which is a big change,” said VonderBrink.
But VonderBrink feels her team is ready for the challenges ahead. “I think we’re going to do well this season,” she said.
The Boys’ Varsity Soccer team is off to a bright start. The guys opened up the 2010 season with a 6-3 win at Troy on Aug. 24. Scoring for the Firebirds was junior Taiyo Rabenstein with three goals, senior Austen Starr with two and senior Connor Darnell with one.
The team also defeated Alter, 2-0, and Miamisburg, 5-1, and tied Springboro. In the Miamisburg game, Starr proved he’s a threat by pulling off a hat trick.
As for the defeat of Alter, Darnell summed up the feelings of the team. “It’s always nice to beat Alter,” he said. “That really gave us some confidence going into the rest of the season.”
Last season, the boys went 14-6-0. Along with the impressive record, the team added a GWOC title for the first time in school history, a District Championship, and Head Coach Tom Robey earned GWOC Coach of the Year.
“We’re looking to advance even further than last year,” Darnell said.
The Girls’ Varsity Soccer team has had a rough start, losing to Alter (0-3), Troy (0-7) and Springboro (1-4). But senior Co-Captain Mady Brahm feels it’s important for the team to look ahead, not behind. “It’s just something we have to move past and build from,” she said.
In the opening game against Alter, the Firebirds battled the Knights evenly in the first half, which ended with a 0-0 tie. However, the Knights made three goals in the second half to shut out Fairmont.
Last year, the team had a record of 5-8-3, placing them 9th in the All-Area Top Ten. While it was painful to lose four starting seniors this year, team members feel the current 11 strong seniors can still help them turn this into a successful season.
Leadership is key to this new team. This year’s captains are Brahm and fellow senior Jane Nicosia. “I’ve always dreamed of being a captain at the high school level,” said Brahm. “I want to use my leadership skills to help the team.”
The Girls’ Varsity Golf team is off to a busy start, already having taken to the course eight times and compiling a record of 3-5 as of Aug. 31.
Their three big wins were against Carroll, Springfield and Xenia. Those wins place them second in the GWOC Central, just trailing Beavercreek by one match. “We lost to Beavercreek our first match of the year,” said senior Caity Jackson. “Luckily, we play them again, and this time around I think we can beat them.”
Jackson added that she feels the team is still gaining momentum. “We’re spending a lot of time together and getting better with every match we have,” she said.
The Boys’ Varsity Golf team is off to a dominating start with a shut-out record of 5-0, with wins against Wayne, Wilmington, Springfeild, and two against Beavercreek. These wins bring the Firebirds to the top of the GWOC Central.
Last year, the boys finished second in the GWOC Central, just trailing Centerville by one loss. Senior Nathan Duff is leading the team this year with an average of 39.80, and he continues to improve every match.
“We’re off to a really good start and I definitely think we’re going to be better than last year,” said senior Spencer Kerivan.
This story was compiled and written by Kelly Hart, Kaydee Miller, Stephanie Taylor, Kevin Menke, Jessica Smith and Kelsi Fannin.