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big red MAY 2014 • VOLUME 9 • NO. 4 • YEAR IN REVIEW

2013-2014 Athletes of the Year


P. 17

thePlaybook Big Red Staff: photo gallery Big Red Staff: Roundtable




Elijah Akhtarzad and Sam Sachs:

Athletes of the year 16-17 Eric Loeb and Tyler Graham:

FRESHMEN OF THE YEAR 18-19 Audrey Wilson and Sam Sachs:

breakout athleteS OF THE YEAR 20-21 Mila Barzdukas:


Grant Nussbaum: HILLIARD


Boys’ basketball coach Greg Hilliard will retire after the 2015 season. After 29 years, he has 13 Mission League titles, nine CIF titles, and two State Championships with one season left. He is the winningest coach in Harvard-Westlake history.

Elijah Akhtarzad: the alpha role


theStaff editor-in-chief Grant Nussbaum

adviser Kathleen Neumeyer

managing editors Elijah Akhtarzad, Eric Loeb, Sam Sachs

presentations editor Jack Goldfisher

associate editors Mila Barzdukas, Jacob Goodman, Tyler Graham, Audrey Wilson, Noa Yadidi

staff Caitlin Neapole, Patrick Ryan, Jensen Pak, Henry Vogel


BIG RED is a publication of the Harvard-Westlake Chronicle, the upper school newspaper at Harvard-Westlake School, 3700 Coldwater Canyon, Studio City, CA 91604, produced as a part of Advanced Journalism classes. The school has 1,500 students in grades 9-12. For any questions, or to purchase a subscription or to advertise, please contact us at chronicle@ or at (818)487-6512. Copies of BIG RED are distributed free on campus to students and faculty and are mailed to friends and family by subscription at $15 per year. Letters to the editor can be sent to editor-in-chief Grant Nussbaum, at BIG RED is a general interest magazine about athletics, including teams and individual athletic pursuits of Harvard-Westlake students and faculty, as well as health and fitness topics. For seasonal coverage of Wolverine teams, see The Chronicle or www.hwchronicle. com.

On the Cover: Jack Flaherty ’14 has embraced the winning culture baseball Coach Matt LaCour has created. The 2013 MaxPreps National Player of the Year can add Big Red Male Athlete of the Year to his list of awards.

Front and Back Cover Image by Mila Barzdukas, Grant Nussbaum and Sam Sachs

The Finale Letter from the Editor


llow me to thank you for opening up this publication and joining us one final time in 2013-2014 for this thrill ride known as Big Red sports magazine. This fourth issue of Big Red Volume Nine reviews the major storylines and highlight performers of the action-packed 2013-2014 Harvard-Westlake athletic year, includes a preview of next year and contains some fascinating extras in between. Under the leadership of Luke Holthouse ’13 and Michael Aronson ’13 last year, Big Red was revolutionized with an edgier, more dynamic look and feel to it. Along with Patrick Ryan ’14, I had the opportunity to lend a hand in the revolution, writing, designing and reporting as a managing editor. This year, I’ve had the distinct honor of taking the helm as Editorin-Chief, following in the footsteps of Aronson and Holthouse, as well as David Gobel ’12 and Alex Leichenger ’11 before them. Rather than ravage the foundation upon which we made such progress on the appearance of Big Red, we aimed to build on that foundation. The old motto of the British Special Air Service says

“Who Dares Wins,” and with that mindset, our goal as a staff this year was to think more out-of-the-box, removing limits and taking more risks with design in order to create a more enjoyable overall experience for you, the reader. Other phrases we learned to live by along the way include “next level” and “change the game.” By now, I believe we’ve established Big Red’s role, as the sports magazine delves into HarvardWestlake athletics stories beyond the seasonal coverage provided in the C-Section of the Chronicle newspaper. Another overarching ambition was to change the sports magazine game by elevating Big Red to the next level and by making it something more than a simple sports magazine — by making it a symbol of excitement and drama as the amalgamation of the Oscar-caliber storylines that play out on the grounds of Ted Slavin Field, Taper Gymnasium, O’Malley Field or any other Wolverine sports venue. For Harvard-Westlake athletes, we’ve tried to unveil the inspiration curtained by perspiration, and that is only achieved through equally inspired design. The Columbia Scholastic Press Association named

last year’s Big Red a Gold Crown award winner this past March, and while we’re immensely grateful for the hardware, it is ultimately you, the reader, who ultimately decides whether our efforts can be chalked up as a success. If you did not enjoy reading or looking at our magazine, may the Big Red staff rightfully return to the drawing board. While I’m talking about the staff, this year endowed me with the privilege of commandeering a topnotch team of hard-working yet convivial sports reporters. I’d like to thank senior managing editors Sam Sachs ’14 and Eric Loeb ’14, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working for four years now, for being my reliable right-hand men throughout the year. I’d also like to thank junior managing editor Elijah Akhtarzad ’15 and associate editors Mila Barzdukas ’15, Tyler Graham ’15 and Audrey Wilson ’15, whom I’ve gotten to see flourish in the ways of sports reporting throughout the year. Some times were smooth, other times were rough, but I’ve always enjoyed working with this staff, and I couldn’t be more proud of how the entire staff has grown. Thank you to my parents and

those of my staffers this year —with all the time we spend on this publication, I know we may test your patience in terms of getting home at a reasonable hour, but we appreciate your understanding and always supporting us in our 28-page endeavors. I’d also like to thank adviser Kathy Neumeyer for providing the expertise and support which have molded us into the writers and designers we are today, and for sticking it out with us when the magazine called for us to work late or during vacation breaks. Thank you to the HarvardWestlake Athletic Department and athletes for continually complying with our requests for interviews or photo shoots, for those are the keystones of our prized publication. So there you have it. Once again, thank you for reading Big Red and, as my favorite rap artist would say, behold the final chapter in the saga that is Big Red Volume Nine. Sincerely,

Grant Nussbaum Editor-in-Chief of Big Red


No Place Like Home By Eric Loeb and Sam Sachs Although Luke Holthouse ’13 is currently attending the University of Southern California, the former four-year lacrosse player felt like he still had more to give to the program. As a result, he took advantage of the close proximity of his school and, after a talk with head coach Alex Webber, returned to coach as an assistant for the middle school team. “Coming back and coaching this year was a really awesome opportunity,” Holthouse said. “I had such a great experience playing for the program so I was really excited that I could continue to be a part of it while studying at USC.” Holthouse, who spent the end of his career injured, was a dedicated lacrosse player and fan. He even interned for The Lacrosse Network over multiple summers. “I could always talk about lacrosse strategy, draw up plays and break down game film for hours,” Holthouse said. “To be honest, I would also say that I wasn’t exactly the most athletic or physically gifted guy on our team so I think I had to make up for that by always focusing on my

field awareness and fundamentals.” As a coach, Holthouse has taken an approach that will benefit the program over the long term as he has focused on player development. “This season, I tried to teach all the fundamentals that Coach Weber taught us at the varsity level,” he said. “[That] obviously helps with the vertical integration of the program.” Holthouse has used the coaching gig as a great excuse to watch his brother Roman Holthouse ’15 play for the varsity team that finished the season with a 13-5 record, indluding a 7-1 league mark. He also continued a tradition from season, as he once again grew a beard during his team’s winning streak, which lasted the whole season as the squad went undefeated. “The current plan is to keep [the beard] for another 10 months into the start of next season,” he said. “It still really doesn’t look that good, but it’s a great conversation starter and I hope it gets our returning seventh graders excited about defending our league title.”

popCulture Wolverine Athlete

Ryan shelly’15


Genny Thomas ’16

Solange Knowles is...?

NBA Finals Winner?

Beyonce’s sister



“Game of Thrones”

Heat? I don’t know


“Skins UK”


I don’t watch drama

Swimming & Diving


Jake Suddleson ‘16

Beyonce’s Sister



Lakers? Clippers? Kobe! Lebron!



Track & Field


Best Fast Food?

Krispy kreme

Best TV Drama?

“Friday Night Lights”

Mila Barzdukas/Big Red

Full Speed Ahead

Distance runner Monica Nimmagadda ’14 leads her fellow Wolverines in a 1600m race at a Mission League duel meet against Alemany March 12.

New Experiences By Mila Barzdukas


Grant Nussbaum/chronicle

Bryan Polan ’14, starting small forward for the boys’ basketball team, decided to join the boys’ volleyball team for the first time and has had an impact on the team’s success this season.

Grant Nussbaum/chronicle

ntil this year, the most volleyball Bryan Polan ’14 had done was playing for P.E. one day in fifth grade. However, as a second-semester senior with nothing to do, Polan decided to join the volleyball team. Due to low numbers, Polan immediately became the starting middle blocker, and as the season wore on he became essential to the Wolverine offense. Playing a different sport during senior year is uncommon, but not unheard of. Seniors faced with a lot of time on their hands will join a new sport to experience being on a team, or simply to stay in shape. While some seniors encounter much success in their new sport, many play just for fun. “After basketball season I wanted to be part of the team,” Polan said. “I wanted to feel like I had teammates and volleyball was a cool sport, looked fun, and I always wanted to try something new.” Polan planned on joining the team with a few friends from the basketball team, but eventually he was the only one signed up. By joining the volleyball team, Polan followed in the footsteps of players such as Francis Hyde ’13, Beau McGinley ’13 and 2013 Big Red Male Athlete of the Year Chad Kanoff ’13 by joining a spring sport for their senior season. However, while Hyde, McGinley and Kanoff had all played before, Polan had no experience. “He had zero experience,” Head Coach Adam Black said. “But we needed someone to contribute right away, so his learning curve was pretty steep in comparison to anyone else who might have come in and practiced, and worked their way up. He had to learn pretty fast because he was going right into the fire.” Polan had to put in extra work outside of practice to get up to speed. He started practicing as soon as his basketball season ended, without even taking a week off. He put in extra time during his free periods, before practice, and sometimes right before games. Sam Garfield ’14 joined the track team this year for multiple reasons. “I did track in ninth grade and

played field hockey when I was a lowerclassman,” Garfield said. “And then the time commitment got too big, and I had too much school work going so I stopped for 11th grade and 12th grade. Since it was second semester, I didn’t have much else to do and I wanted to stay in shape so I joined the JV track team.” Garfield decided to become a thrower, and did shot put and discus for the team. “I’m pretty happy with what I did because I had more time to focus on schoolwork,” Garfield said. “Sophomore and junior year were difficult, and I was never going to be a track star anyway, so it was pretty fun to do senior year.” Some seniors pick up their new sport so quickly, they are able to compete at a very elite level. Examples of this are Colburn Pittman ’12 and Damien Cain ’11. Pittman long jumped and triple jumped for his senior season after quitting the baseball team. He jumped 23’0.50’’ in the long jump and 42’4.50’’ inches in the triple jump. Cain was a force as a middle and opposite, playing all-the-way around and leading his team in blocks. While many sports are picked up, the boys’ volleyball team seems to be the most popular for second semester seniors. Because it is in the spring, the season happens when seniors have much less homework. In addition, the team almost always has an open spot. “If they’re good human beings, and they’re gonna work hard, and they’re joining the sport for the right reasons I have no problem with putting them on the team,” Black said. “It’s ideal if they play all four years, and can play year-round, but if they want to play and do things right, that’s okay.” The boys’ volleyball team lost 3-0 in the first round of playoffs to powerhouse Corona del Mar after receiving a low playoff seed. However, Polan says he had a great experience, despite not having a big playoff run. “I am so happy I joined the team,” Polan said. “It was a ton of fun, I made a ton of new friends. I got to learn from Coach Black and our assistant coach, Coach Mike Gaudino. It was fun, and it was a great time. I loved it.”


FALL in Review Every team aside from football reaching CIF playoffs in the fall season. Standing out were water polo and field hockey, who both won the CIF championship and finished their seasons 26-3 and 14-1-1 respectively. Volleyball also advanced to the finals, but they were swept by La Salle after dropping only three sets in the first four rounds. They went on to lose to Torrey Pines in the first round of state, a disappointing finish to a strong 27-12 season. After starting out 4-0, the varsity football team dropped their last six, but returns most of the team next season. Varsity girls’ tennis went 14-3 with an 11-0 league record but lost in the second round of CIF playoffs. Photographs by Jack Goldfisher, GRANT NUSSBAUM, CAITLIN NEAPOLE and SAM SACHS

winter in review All three Harvard-Westlake winter programs made CIF this year, but were all not able to advance all the way to the finals. Despite making a evanescent CIF run this year, the boys’ basketball team as well as the girls’ soccer team both had disappointing seasons this year. The basketball squad lost in the quarterfinals of the CIF Playoffs to Buckley after defeating Maranatha in a down-tothe-wire overtime 98-96. Although the girls’ soccer team was ranked fourth in California, the team fell once again in the CIF Semifinals to Santa Margarita in penalty kicks 4-3 to end their CIF hopes of a championship. The boys’ soccer program was filled with drama this year after three players were dismissed from the team, and they did not qualify for CIF after losing their last game to Loyola 2-0. The girls’ water polo team was also eliminated in the second round this year in a 12-7 loss to Upland. sam sachs/Big Red

Photographs by Caitlin Neapole and Grant Nussbaum

Spring in review With most league seasons coming to an end as of press time, the baseball team as well as the boys’ volleyball team, swimming team, and softball squad will all start their CIF Playoff runs shortly. The baseball team had a dominant season once again, going 8-3-1 on the season and notching a 21-6-1 overall record. Moreover, the volleyball program had an unexpected season, as they managed finish fourth in the Mission League despite their seven seniors from last year. Although the boys’ lacrosse team won the CIF finals last year, they fell earlier in the tournament this season by losing to Crespi 7-1 in the quarterfinals.

Photographs by mila barzdukas, Caitlin Neapole and sam sachs

Wolverine roundtable

Members of the Big Red staff give their take on key issues in current Wolverine sports.

Q: What is the story of the year for Wolverine athletics? Graham: I’ve got to give story of the year to the boys’ water polo team. Under Head Coach Brian Flacks ’06, the team was finally able to overcome Mater Dei to win the CIF Division I title. The Monarchs were the only team to defeat the Wolverines all season, accounting for their only three losses, and with the victory, the water polo team established itself as the king of the hill in all of California water polo.

STRIKING ZONE Warren Snyder ’14 takes a shot on goal in the boys’ water polo CIF Championship game against Mater Dei where they won 9-7.

Nussbaum: The story of the year has to go to the girls’ soccer team who lost in the CIF Semifinals for the second time in the last two seasons due to penalty kicks. The squad was defeated 4-3 against Santa Margarita this year and their hope of making state ended early once despite the club being ranked fourth in California and 10th in the nation.

Caitlin Neapole/BIG RED

Q: Which spring team had the most surprising season? Sachs: Not much was expected out of this year’s boys’ volleyball team. After losing a talented senior class this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It wasn’t the most successful the volleyball team has been under Coach Adam Black, but it was better than expected. Hudson Ling ’15 and Bradley Comisar ’15 are talented juniors who stepped into major roles on the team this year and thirved in those roles. Ling excelled as the team’s top hitter and Comisar, who is nicknamed “Bird” by his teammates, was a consistent setter for the squad. Elliot Sassouni ’14 offered leadership and experience as the libero and Bryan Polan ’14 transitioned from his career as a basketball player to volleyball well considering he hadn’t played volleyball before this year. Coach Black’s squad made the playoffs but ran into Corona Del Mar in the first round and lost to one of the prohibitive favorites to win CIF. The volleyball team surprised many, and made the best of a bad situation. 12 • BIG RED YEAR IN REVIEW 2014

ASSISTING THE HITTER Setter Brad Comisar ’15 sets the ball in the boys’ volleyball team’s first match of the season.

Mila Barzdukas/Big Red

Wilson: The most surprising team of the year had to go to the swimming team. While the girls’ squad boasts a 4-1 league record, the boys’ team has a 3-2 record on the season. The only team the girls’ team lost to all season was Saugus High School, where the team fell 89-81. With the season coming to an end last week, both the girls’ and boys’ team participated in the CIF Finals but results were unavailable as of press time.

Elijah Akhtarzad Mila Barzdukas Sam Sachs Grant Nussbaum Eric Loeb Audrey Wilson Tyler Graham Managing Editor Associate Editor Managing Editor Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Associate Editor Associate Editor Patrick Ryan/Big Red

Q: Which graduating senior will be missed the most?

Q: What team is the team to watch for next year?

Sachs: This one is easy. Few players have had as big of an impact on their team over the last four years as Jack Flaherty ’14 has had on the baseball program. Flaherty has won a plethora of awards, including this year’s Big Red Male Athlete of the Year, on the way to leading the team to CIF and National Championship last year as well as another CIF berth this year, and he has done so with rare humility. Flaherty is about as well rounded a baseball player as there are. He is a smooth fielding third baseman, a true ace, a very capable second hitter and a dangerous baserunner. Flaherty is the latest of many great baseball players to play for Coach Matt LaCour, and will surely be missed.

Barzdukas: Every year, the water polo team is called a young team, but next year they will be very experienced. The only starter graduating is Warren Snyder ’14, and we are talking about a team that not only won CIF, but had only three losses. The team can easily replicate the winning season they had this year, as long as an underclassman steps up to fill Snyder’s role.

Loeb: Although the basketball team has an heir apparent as the team’s lead guard in Alex Copeland ’15, the loss of Michael Sheng’s ’14 will be a significant one for the team. Sheng’s ability to facilitate and be a leader on the court will be missed.

Akhtarzad: I think the boys’ basketball team is the most interesting team going into next year. With the departure of eight seniors, including Michael Sheng ’14, Derick Newton ’14 and Bryan Polan ’14, the team loses passing, scoring, rebounding and 3-point shooting following its 13 win season. It will be interesting to see how Alex Copeland ’15, Noah Gains ’15 and Parsa Shoa ’16 play as their minutes expand and they are asked to play more significant roles and provide leadership in coach Greg Hilliard’s final season on the bench. BIG RED YEAR IN REVIEW 2014 • 13



Jenna Thompson ’16 and Sabrina Zaks ’15 row with their teammates in Marina Del


Printed with Permission of Sabrina Zaks

By Audrey Wilson


very day after school, Harvard-Westlake rowers make the trek to the Marina Aquatic Center for a two and a half hour long practice – regardless of the weather. The athletes train year round in anticipation of the Southwest Regionals Championships in Lake Natoma near Sacramento May 2-4. Most practices are out on the water doing drills and different types of workouts, and when weather conditions, such as wind, prevent rowing on the water, the rowers typically run or erg, which is the exercise machine version of rowing, Riley Spain ’15 said. “Not only is it very physically taxing, but it also includes a mental component not always encountered with other sports,” Spain said. “Rowing is considered a sprinting sport, but our racing distance is 2000m. That means that we are pushing ourselves to our highest capacity for roughly seven minutes. It is a sprint, but a very long one.” The rigorous cut sport has attracted a number of athletes including Spain, Sabrina Zaks ’15, Jenna Thompson ’16, Alex Oser ’16, Ethan Drapac ’15, Erica Jaffe ’15, Alex Lopes ’15 and Isabelle Wolff ’16. Last year, Spain’s varsity eight team placed third at Championships and became MAC’s first women’s varsity eight to qualify for Nationals. Unfortunately, the team was disqualified over a technicality and was unable to compete at Nationals. “Our coach was unaware of changes in the schedule and our coxswain missed her weigh in window,’” Spain commented. “This year, we were able to requalify for Nationals, placing third again.” “You learn a lot about dedication, the true mean-

BIG RED year in review 2014 • 14

ing of being on a team, commitment and hard work,” Zaks said. “Rowing is definitely extremely painful, but what makes this sport worthwhile is the feeling you get after the pain is over. It’s the most gratifying feeling in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Although crew is not part of the Harvard-Westlake Athletics Program, these athletes have a passion for the sport that drives them to dedicate countless hours to their training and competitions while balancing their school work. Drapac was first introduced to rowing during his freshman year by a cousin who rowed at the University of Pennsylvania. “I tried it out in the summer before sophomore year and I really enjoyed it and joined the team during my sophomore year,” Drapac said. “It has made high school harder just because of the amount of time I put into it every week, but in the end it’s worth it because I do enjoy it.” Spain finds the teamwork aspect of crew to be the most motivating and exciting. “While in many team sports some players end up being more important — whether that is because they score the most goals, are the fastest, or are the strongest — a crew cannot function without each of their members, making them all equally as important.,” Spain said. “The high level of cooperation rowing demands from its athletes leads to a sense of community that is unbelievable. Most of my best friends are rowers and the bond we share is very special, on and off the water.”

2013-2014 END of the Year AWARDs theBallot Male Athlete of the Year

Athlete of the Year

Freshman of the Year

Freshman of the Year

Breakout Athlete of the Year

Breakout Athlete of the Year


Jack Flaherty Michael Sheng Brian Ginsberg Jack Temko Warren Snyder

Courtney Corrin (incumbent) Glenne Carter Lizzy Thomas Jo Kremer Courtney O’Brien

Carter Begel Jake Adler Brandon Kewalramani Marshal Cohen Cameron Deere John Thomas

Camille Oswald Lochryn Howe Paige Howard

Imani Cook-Gist Quinn Frankel Zoe Baxter

Coach of the Year Matt LaCour Erin Creznic Brian Flacks Richard Simms Jonathan Carroll


Big Red female Athlete of the Year Courtney Corrin By Elijah Akhtarzad


or her outstanding performance on both the soccer field and through the air, Courtney Corrin has been named the Big Red Female Athlete of the year for the 2014 year. On the soccer field, Corrin had 11 goals and three assists on the seaison in addition to being a significant presence on defense in securing Mater Dei tournament co-MVP, Mission League co-MVP and Division I first-team honors. After breaking the high school long jump record for freshman last season with a 21-foot jump at the World Youth Trials last season, Corrin once again set the 2014 girls’ high school long jump record with a 20’ 8.25’’ jump at the Mount Sac. Relays April 19. “I’m not sure if this is a highlight so much as a learning moment, but it would have to be placing 6th or 7th At the Arcadia meet,” Corrin said. “It taught me to enjoy the moments I do well, and learn not every meet is going to go the way I want it to. In that moment I wasn’t jumping for me, but expectations of me. It may sound simple, but I learned not to worry about anything else, and have fun because jumping is what I love to do.” Since Corrin played on the varsity girls’ soccer team as a freshman, she has contributed to the program’s success and helped the club notch a 9-0-1 record in league play and make it to the CIF Semifinals where the


team was defeated in penalties 4-3 by Santa Margarita March 4. “Courtney will continue to take on more and more responsibility for us in the coming seasons,” Head Coach Richard Simms said. “We graduate an excellent senior class this year so we will need Courtney to support both the offense and the defense. She thrives in that role and I have no doubt she will continue to go from strength to strength. Her work ethic is second to none.” With the track and field season almost coming to an end, Corrin qualified for 3 events during the CIF prelims, which included a 20’ 2.75’’ long jump, a 43.66 300M hurdles time, and a 4 X 400 relay with team members Shea Copeland ’15, Nina Milligan ’16 and Imani Cook-Ghist ’15. Since she qualified, Corrin participated in the CIF finals last Saturday, but results were unavailable as of press time. “It is always a privilege to coach, work with and mentor an athlete as extraordinary as Courtney,” Koolsbergen. “Fortunately we have had this kind of success here at Harvard-Westlake before with athletes like Cami Chapus and Amy Weissenbach and are very able to work with athletes on this fantastic level. Her journey is very special and I am incredibly excited to see how far she can raise her level even higher this year. It will be exciting to see her excel on a state and national level in even more events than she did a year ago.”

Big Red male Athlete of the Year Jack FLAHERTY C By Sam Sachs

oach Matt LaCour is in his eighth year as the head baseball coach at Harvard-Westlake. During his tenure he has coached numerous Division-one bound prep phenoms, like Austin Wilson ’10, Arden Pabst ’13 and Joe Corrigan ’13, and a couple of first round draft picks, Lucas Giolito ’12 and Max Fried ’12.  Jack Flaherty ’14 certainly belongs in the conversation with these former Wolverine standouts and is this year’s winner of the Big Red Male Athlete of the Year. Flaherty collected the MaxPreps National High School Baseball Player of the Year, the CIF Southern Section Player of the Year, the LA Times and LA Daily News’ All Area Player of the Year awards

and the Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year for his efforts during his junior season. “Jack has had one of the most outstanding prep careers in the history of California,” LaCour said. “Not much else needs to be said.” Flaherty will win his 100th game if the team makes the CIF championship and another CIF championship would be the 101st win of his career, a Harvard-Westlake baseball record. “Obviously what he’s done speaks for itself,” Brian Ginsberg ’14, who has played with Flaherty for four years, said.  “But his intangibles make him something even more special. You don’t expect a guy with that much talent to also

have that high of a baseball IQ.” What he’s done is posted a career record of 34-3 as a starting pitcher and been a valuable hitter at the top of the Wolverines lineup. “I pride myself on my work ethic and focus,” Flaherty said. “Being able to go day in day out and getting better each day has allowed me to improve each year.” This improvement has led to continued success for Flaherty and the baseball team. Flaherty is a projected second-round pick in the upcoming MLB draft and is committed to play at the University of North Carolina if he decides to play college baseball. “He has fun playing the game,” Ginsberg said. “Which is really important. But, he also holds his

teammates accountable for bringing a certain level of intensity to the field every day.” Flaherty and the reigning National Champion Wolverines are headed into their playoff run and although Flaherty takes pride in the individual awards he made it clear that another CIF Championship is the goal. “I want to go out with another ring,” Flaherty said. “Winning one championship is awesome. Winning two would be unbelievable.” “He’s been a guy on our team since he was a freshman,” teammate Michael Vokulich ’14 said. “He’s a leader and it just makes sense that he gets rewarded for the hard work we see him put in day in and day out.”


big red . female

Freshman of the Year Paige Howard grant Nussbaum/BIG RED



ntering the season, the girls’ soccer team knew that in order to achieve its goal of winning CIF, it would need to blend the talents of its experienced core, which reached CIF Semifinals the year before, and its younger players, a talented group of players that was hungry for the chance to make an impact. Our Big Red Female Freshman of the year is one of said younger players, Paige Howard ’17. Howard started the season on the junior varsity squad, but was quickly moved up to the varsity team early in the season. While Howard’s skill allowed her to succeed on the JV team, she knew that talent

18 • BIG RED year in review 2014

alone would not be enough to succeed on one of the most talented teams in Southern California. “[Making the switch to the varsity team] was very intimidating at first,” Howard said. “I was surrounded with a lot of experienced older players, but once I started playing with them more it became very fun and competitive. I’m really learning a lot from the coaches and the other girls on the team.” With a humble attitude and desire to absorb as much information from her elders as possible, Howard quickly adapted to the varsity game, and her skill set changed as her minutes increased. Howard said she was proud of her ability to not only attack

the goal with her shooting ability, but also her ability to distribute and assist her teammates in scoring, and, in away, repaying her teammates for all the support they had given her throughout the season as one of the youngest players on the team. Before next season, Howard hopes to improve her shooting accuracy, but her striking ability was on full display in the team’s final game of the season, a 4-3 loss to Santa Margarita in CIF Semifinals in penalty kicks, as her goal midway through the first half was the squad’s only goal in regulation. “I really appreciate the award and the recognition I got this year,” she said.

big red . male

Freshman of the Year Jake ADler Caitlin Neapole/BIG RED

By Tyler Graham


he future looks bright for the Wolverines wrestling team behind the lead of Jake Adler ’17, who concluded his stellar freshman campaign by qualifying for CIF Masters after a fourth place finish at CIF Regionals. Along with being named Big Red Male Freshman of the Year, Adler was also named Newcomer of the Year by the Daily News. Adler joined senior and captain Jake Bracken ’14 as the lone wrestlers to advance to Masters. Though neither wrestler made it past that stage, Adler feels both should be proud of their accomplish-

ments this past season. “Masters was an insane experience,” Adler said. “Although I did not make it as far as I wanted to, it gave me a whole new motivation to keep working hard. I also want to give a shout-out to Bracken for pushing me and for being a great leader this year.” With three years left as a Wolverine wrestler, the future is exciting for Adler as he continues to explore his talents and take on the responsibility of a leader. “I plan on improving by continuing to work as hard as I possibly can and keep pushing myself and the guys on

the team,” Adler said. Wrestling Head Coach Gary Bairos had nothing but praise for his wrestling protégé. Before joining the varsity team in ninth grade, Adler worked with Bairos’ Junkyard Dogs Wrestling Club, where he was able to develop his skills. “The sky is the limit [for Jake],” Bairos said. “He could really be something. He’s a very exciting wrestler to watch.” “The highlight of my year was definitely being with a great team that has become my family,” All the guys have really become my brothers.”

BIG RED year in review 2014 • 19

big red . female

breakout athlete of the Year Imani Cook-Gist MILA BARZDUKAS/BIG RED

By Audrey Wilson


printer Imani CookGist ’15 is no stranger to success in the Track and Field program, and she did not miss a beat after deciding to pick up pole vaulting this spring. In her first official competition against Louisville March 6, Cook-Gist broke the varsity school record in the pole vault with a jump of 10’ 6’’. “Breaking the record was a pretty exhilarating moment for me,” Cook-Gist said. “It was the first time I had gone into a track event without any expectations whatsoever and to do well enough to break the record felt great.” Before picking up pole vaulting, Cook-Gist was an exclusive sprinter. She competed with the Los Angeles Jets Club prior to joining the HarvardWestlake Track and Field Team

as a freshman. Cook-Gist ran a variety of sprint races including the 100m, 200m and 400m. Freshman and sophomore year Cook-Gist attempted to pole vault, but due to a number of injuries she and Program Head Jonas Koolsbergen decided to restrict her seasons to her running events. This spring, however, she was able to pursue the pole vault and has been doing so with extraordinary success. Along with her accomplishments in sprinting this season, Cook-Gist continued to excel in the pole vault. At CIF Prelims she tied for first in the pole vault with a jump of 10’6’’ and ran the 400m race in 58.34, the third fastest girls’ time at the meet. She advanced in the 4x100m relay with team mates Courtney Corrin ’16, Francesca Walker ’16 and Shea Copeland ’15 with the fastest

qualifying time of 47.82 and in the 4x400m relay with Corrin, Copeland and Nina Milligan ’16 in first place time of 3:56.35. She continued on to CIF Finals in all four events she competed in at CIF Prelims May 17. Additionally, at the Arcadia Invitational in 2012, Cook-Gist ran a 200m leg of the sprint medley race that held the national leading time of 3:56.34. She was joined by Copeland and distance runners Amy Weissenbach ’12 and Cami Chapus ’12. With a strong season behind her, Cook-Gist is hopeful to continue further in CIF with her team mates. Cook-Gist’s impressive ability to pick up a new event with as much skill and success as she has while continuing her sprint events gains her the title of Big Red’s Breakout Athlete of the Year.

big red . male

breakout athlete of the Year Cameron Deere SAM SACHS/BIG RED

By Sam Sachs


ameron Deere ’16 is playing his first year of varsity baseball. This is a difficult task on its own, but becomes even more difficult when the team you are joining is coming off a National Championship and you are expected to contribute right away to another championship run.  However, despite the pressures, Deere has contributed right away, and in a big way. “Cameron has made a name for himself,” Coach Matt LaCour said.  “Where he takes it from here we will see.   His maturity, work ethic on and off the field, and his determination in the weight room will tell the story in the future.” Deere has stepped in all over the field for the Wolverines, playing anywhere from third base to pitching on his way to winning the Big Red

Male Breakout Athlete of the Year award. “It’s a great honor to receive the award,” Deere said. “I give thanks to our outstanding coaching staff and my teammates.” Deere is the younger brother of Brandon Deere ’12 who was a pitcher for LaCour and the Wolverines during his time at Harvard-Westlake. “He can flat out swing the bat,” teammate Brian Ginsberg ’14 said.“The coaches have given him a lot of freedom to go out and just let it fly this year, and he’s come through with some big hits for us in some big situations.” These big hits include multiple home runs on the year including a three-run jack in a non-league matchup against Oaks Christian earlier in the season.  Overall, Deere has pro-

vided pop to a lineup that lost some of its best power hitters to graduation, like Arden Pabst ’13, Joe Corrigan ’13 and Alex Horowitz ’13. Deere has been a valuable hitter for the Wolverines and shows promise both behind the plate as well as on the mound. After this breakout season, Deere has an opportunity to continue to progress as the team moves forward in the playoffs and to be a featured player for the rest of his career as a Wolverine. “The award aside, the most important part of this whole year was that I was able to contribute to our team and help us anyway I could,” Deere said.   “We were able to win a good spot in the playoffs and hopefully we can put together a five game win streak and end the year with a ring.”

big red

Coach of the Year Brian FLACKS Caitlin Neapole/Big Red

By Mila Barzdukas


espite his short tenure at Harvard-Westlake, Brian Flacks has done what many coaches have not: captured a CIF Championship on two different teams. Flacks’ 06 is well known for his time as a player. A four-year varsity player, he was named all-CIF three years in a row before playing with UCLA. As a coach, Flacks was best known for the girls’ program. His squad won CIF in his first year and he helped the team maintain its longtime league win streak. But Flacks struggled with the boys, who were very talented, but had not won a league title since 2007 and hadn’t won a CIF championship in 20 years. That all changed this year, when Flacks led the boys’ water polo team to a CIF Championship in a 9-6 victory over long-

time foe Mater Dei. In a storied match-up that rocked the water polo world all season, the Wolverines went head-to-head against Mater Dei several times. After beating them over the summer, the Wolverines lost to the Monarchs three times before triumphing at CIF Finals. Flacks is the Coach of the Year– his second in three years– for his tireless work to help the boys’ water polo team earn their long-awaited ring. The squad won its first league title since 2007 despite having only two seniors. The only games lost this year were to Mater Dei. Totalwaterpolo. com ranked the team number one in the nation. “He is one of the most energized and enthusiastic coaches I have ever been around,” center Ben Hallock ’16 said. “He is always wanting to increase his

players’ and his own knowledge of the game.” Flacks was unable to rest on his laurels, and jumped right into the girls’ season. He won yet another league title with the team despite only having eight players on the roster. Flacks earned multiple awards, including CIF Division I coach of the year. He garnered attention from the U.S. Men’s Junior National team, which made him an assistant coach for World Youth Championships. Flacks combats adversity head on: when his boys’ team was struggling defensively, they made that their focus. The team lost to Mater Dei again and again and again, and still Flacks did not give up. His resilience and dedication to the water polo program as a whole is more than deserving for Big Red Coach of the Year.

Big Red aRCHIV


Big Red aRCHIV




/Big Red


Greg Hilliard:

The Farewell tour


By Grant Nussbaum

is greatest hits include several CIF Titles and a State Championship or two. One of his chart-toppers was even dubbed the “best ever.” In 29 years, he’s just about seen it all. And in season 30, he’s ready to take his final bow. He may not be the king of pop, but for boys’ basketball head coach Greg Hilliard, this is it. Hilliard announced April 29 that he will bid farewell to Wolverine basketball after next season, bowing out in a blaze of glory as both the winningest coach in HarvardWestlake athletics history and arguably one of the most amiable coaches in high school sports.


/Big Red

Hilliard began his stint as boys’ basketball head coach in 1985, taking over a Harvard team that had gone 1-23 the year before his arrival. He subsequently turned the team around and, in his 29 years, has coached the team to 13 Mission League titles, nine CIF titles, and two State Championships. The veteran coach also molded many household names in the Wolverine basketball system, including Jason Collins ’97, Jarron Collins ’97, Bryce Taylor ’04, Renaldo Woolridge ’08 and Erik Swoope ’10. “Coach Hilliard is a great man who gave me the opportunity to play the way I know how to play basketball,” Woolridge said. “His belief in me allowed me to accomplish great things at the high school level, and go on to play at the collegiate and now professional level. His experience and success was always reassuring. I am still in contact with Coach Hilliard, and view him as a friend and mentor.” Yet despite his accruement of milestones, Hilliard, who most recently surpassed 600 career Harvard-Westlake wins in 20132014, looks beyond the legacy he may leave and remains grateful for his experiences as Wolverine head coach as he approaches his final season. “Legacy is something that other people decide, and the only thing that I’d want other people to know is that I loved every minute of this,” Hilliard said. “I never worked a day in my life, and I hope every person gets to pursue his or her passion the way

I did. Whatever’s left over as far as a legacy, I’ll leave that to other folks, but the legacy HarvardWestlake has left me has been incredible.” Beyond the wins and accolades, Hilliard has garnered a reputation for his calm temperament, warm disposition and devotion to his players, having never received a technical foul in his 30 years of coaching. Following the announcement of Hilliard’s retirement, head coach of the rival Loyola Cubs Jamal Adams remarked on the Wolverine head coach’s character over Twitter. “Saddened to hear a great man and a good friend is stepping down,” Adams tweeted. “Greg is a class act and someone I have long admired.” Woolridge shared similar sentiments about his high school coach. “[Hilliard] has helped me throughout my career, and he could have retired years ago from all of his success,” Woolridge said. “His dedication to playing a major role in the development of his players as not only athletes, but people, is admirable.” For his last run, Hilliard will try to turn things around one more time, after the Wolverines finished 2013-2014 with a record below .500 for the first time in more than 10 years. Next year’s squad will feature one of the more inexperienced groups of players in recent memory, with only three rising seniors on the team. Alex Copeland ’15 will be the only player in his fourth year on the varsity squad.

RETRO Boys’ basketball head coach Greg Hilliard advises Damiene Cain ’11 and David Burton ’11 during practice in 2010-2011. Big Red aRCHIVES

“I’ve been with Coach Hilliard since I’m a freshman, he’s a legendary coach at HarvardWestlake and he’s done a lot for the school,” Copeland said. “We just really want t o send him out on a good note. We have a really excited group

We just really want to send him out on a good note. We have a really excited group of guys and a really young team, but we have that extra motivation that we’re not just doing it for ourselves, but we’re doing it to help a legendary figure finish his career.” -Alex copeland ’15 24 • BIG RED YEAR IN REVIEW 2014

of guys and a really young team, but we have that extra motivation that we’re not just doing it for ourselves, but we’re doing it to help a legendary figure finish his career.” Hilliard emphasized the importance of simply enjoying his final season after making his announcement April 29.

By the Numbers

603 Career Wins 9 CIF Titles 2 State Championships

4 players active in NCAA 4 players competing overseas

2 players sent to the NBA 2 players sent to the NFL





“The administration has asked me for a while now how I would like to go out and how I’d want to do it. One of the things I wanted to do was have a year where I knew it was going to be my last year. It’s kind of like if somebody told you ‘You’re going to die here and you have this much time. What do you want to do with it?’ So there are things I want to do this year that’ll make it a lot of fun for me and hopefully for the kids.” Head of Athletics Terry Barnum stated in the press release announcing Hilliard’s retirement that Hilliard’s career would be honored in his final year. “The 2014-15 basketball season will be a celebration of Greg Hilliard and all that he has done for our school,” Barnum said. “While we anticipate there will be significant interest in the position, we do not want anything to take away from our team and our effort to have a terrific season. When the time is right, we will hire a basketball coach that is committed to maintaining the excellence in academics and athletics that has become our standard at Harvard-Westlake.” Copeland believes the veteran coach’s retirement will be a factor but won’t heavily change the team’s approach to next season. “I think [Hilliard’s retirement] will be in the back of my mind,” Copeland said. “Every possession, every play, I’ll just be going a little bit harder, but I think at the end of the day, it’s just basketball.”

The Ultimate Harvard-Westlake Basketball

fantasy Draft

In honor of boys’ basketball coach Greg Hilliard’s final season, Big Red editor-in-chief Grant Nussbaum, managing editor Eric Loeb and managing editor Sam Sachs each attempt to construct the best starting five in a draft of Wolverines who have played under Hilliard in his 30 years as head coach.

The Draft Board Round one

Round Two


Loeb: Jason Collins ’97 Sachs: ALEX STEPHESON ’06 Loeb: VICTOR MUNOZ ’98 Nussbaum: Bryce Taylor ’04 Nussbaum: ERIK SWOOPE ’10 Nussbaum: DAMIENE CAIN ’11 Sachs: JARRON COLLINS ’97 Loeb: RENALDO WOOLRIDGE ’08 Sachs: RUSSELL LAKEY ’00 Round FOUR Sachs: ED WHITE ’05 Nussbaum: ZENA EDOSOMWAN ’12 Loeb: JOSH HEARLIHY ’12

Team Nussbaum

G Michael Sheng G Bryce Taylor F Erik Swoope F Zena Edosomwan C Damiene Cain

Team Loeb

Round FIVE Loeb: RICO CABRERA ’97 Nussbaum: Michael sheng ’14 Sachs: CHAD KANOFF ’13

G Victor Munoz G Rico Cabrera F Josh Hearlihy F Renaldo Woolridge C Jason Collins

Team Sachs

G Russell Lakey G Ed White F Chad Kanoff F Alex Stepheson C Jarron Collins


t to the NBA t to the NFL

Who picked the best team? Let us know at BIG RED YEAR IN REVIEW 2014• 25


Grant Nussbaum/chronicle



ince freshman year, basketball star Alex Copeland and soccer standout Courtney O’Brien have contributed to the success of their respective varsity teams. Although Copeland played a minimal role in his first season on the varsity basketball player, playing alongside Wolverine Hall of Famers like Zena Edosomwan ’13, Josh Hearlihy ’13, Derick Newton ’14 and Michael Sheng ’14, he led the team in assists with 4.5 assists per game, in steals with

26 • BIG RED year in review 2014

nearly two per game, and led the team in points behind Newton with 16.9 points per game. “After the graduation of Derick Newton and Michael Sheng, Alex will take over the role he has been grooming for these past three years,” Head Coach Greg Hilliard said. “He becomes the recognized leader because of his success and experience. There is a certain amount of accountability and responsibility that accompanies the position. It is a personally gratifying role, but his

teammates will depend on him when the going gets tough.” Copeland helped keep the up-tempo pace of this year’s Wolverine squad and enabled the team to get easy points in transition by driving to the basket. Copeland played alongside Sheng, who is the all–time assist leader in Wolverine basketball history, and led the scoring attack in the backcourt this season. Without Sheng next year, Copeland will need to pick up most duties in the backcourt and help lead the team

in a fast break type of basketball since they will be without many of their big men next season. “Along with getting most of our buckets, I’m going to have to be our leader on and off the court,” Copeland said. “We’re going to have a young team and I know what’s it like to be the young guy because I’ve been on the team since I was a freshman, so I’m going to have to provide that senior leadership.” With Hilliard’s 29-year career as the head coach of the varsity

With the Jack Flarhety ’14 and Brian Ginsberg ’14 dynasty coming to an end, Ezra Steinberg ’15 will have to takeover the leadership role next season for the star-studded baseball team.

Since freshman year, Jessica Spitz ’15 has played on the varsity field hockey team and with the departure of eight seniors, she will have to fill a void on both offense and defense.

After finishing first in the Mission League, the volleyball team will be losing seven seniors. Rachel Savage ’15 will have to take over the hitting of three of the seniors next season.

Linebacker Desmond Butler ’15 will have to lead and solidify the Wolverine defense next season with the departure of Noah Pompman ’14 and Jack Tempko ’14.

Grant nussbaum/chronicle

basketball team coming to an end next year, it will be in Copeland’s hands to keep the winning culture of the basketball program alive next season with the absence of both Sheng and Newton, “Alex is ready, the team is ready, and it just represents the natural order,” Hilliard said. “It will be an honor to have Alex steering the ship as I chart the course in my final season.” Although O’Brien was named MVP of the girls’ soccer team this season and has already

committed to play collegiate soccer at Princeton in 2015, she will need to carry the load on both offense and defense next season as eight seniors will be leaving the team next year. “We are losing a lot of strong players as well as strong leaders for next season so next year I will really have to step up as a leader both vocally and lead as an example with my work ethic,” O’Brien said. “Because we are losing so many players, players will have to play new positions and we will

have to really work to get back our rhythm as a team and cohesiveness in our play.” Despite regularly facing double and triple teams, she led the Wolverines in scoring for the second consecutive season and notched 22 goals and 11 assists on the season, including a career-high of four goals against Valencia. ”Courtney was our leading scorer and the leader of our offense in general,” Head Coach Richard Simms said. “Next year

she will be a senior and will have to be an emotional leader of the team as well.” In addition to Copeland and O’Brien leading their teams next year and having to take over the leadership role of absent seniors next year, football linebacker Desmond Butler ’15, field hockey forward Jessica Spitz ’15, baseball second baseman Ezra Steinberg ’15 and girls’ volleyball hitter Rachel Savage ’15 will need to do the same to ensure their respective programs remain successful.

BIG RED year in review 2014 • 27

Courtney CORRIN

P. 16


Imani COOK-GIST P. 18

P. 20

Big Red Year in Review 2014  
Big Red Year in Review 2014  

The fourth and final issue of Harvard-Westlake Big Red sports magazine volume nine.