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To what extent does homophobia affect Wolverine athletics?

April 2011

Baseball, lacrosse and boys’ volleyball are spring teams trying to build reputations. Their coaches detail the process of player development and program-building. Although cheerleaders do not compete for CIF titles, they work tirelessly to support Wolverine teams in their quest for victory.

Destined for The Show? Star pitcher Lucas Giolito ’12 is a UCLA commit with big league aspirations.

The Lineup 6 Leadoff —Game faces —Health & Fitness —Spring sports roundtable

11 Athlete Profiles —Lucas Giolito ’12 —Q&A: Ben Gaylord ’13 —Bakari Bolden ’14 and Charlie Benell ’12 —Lauren Hansson ’11

18 Out-of-School Sports Students participate in bowling and gymnastics outside of school.

Lauren Hansson ’11 leads track

14 Daniel kim/chronicle

20 Inside Spring Sports Spring teams focus on building their reputations and developing long-term, program-wide success.

26 Homophobia in Sports Although homophobia in Wolverine athletics is decreasing, being a gay athlete can still be difficult.

Giolito, a big-time prospect

30 Winter Season in Photos


erin sugarman/vox

bigredstaff Editor-In-Chief: Alex Leichenger Managing Editors: Judd Liebman, Abbie Neufeld Associate Editors: Chelsea Khakshouri, David Gobel Contributing Editors: Austin Block, Daniel Rothberg, Mary Rose Fissinger, Alice Phillips Assistants: Michael Aronson, Eli Haims, Allison Hamburger, Luke Holthouse, David Kolin, Daniel Kim, Austin Lee, Nika Madyoon, Keane Muraoka-Robertson, Lara Sokoloff, Micah Sperling, Saj Sri-Kumar, Ally White Adviser: Kathleen Neumeyer

2 | BIG RED Spring 2011

Game faces


Chelsea khakshouri/chronicle

Big Red is a publication of the Harvard-Westlake Chronicle. Harvard-Westlake School 3700 Coldwater Canyon North Hollywood, CA 91604 Letters can be sent to chronicle@hw.com Cover photo: James David Abke/ jamesdavidabke.com



Going SPLASH: Head Water Polo Coach Robert Lynn gets pushed into the pool by Camille Hooks ’11 and Bella Gonzalez ’12 (#8) after guiding the team to its first CIF championship. Teamwork lifted the Wolverines over Division IV rival Los Osos in a closely contested 10-7 win Feb. 26. The team will lose its two top palayers, Hooks and Ashley Grossman ’11, to graduation, but all of its other players are returning underclassmen.

Photos by Alex Leichenger

3 BIG RED Spring 2011 I 3

Bringing down the house Zena Edosomwan ’12 posterizes a Garfield defender during the Wolverines’ first round state game March 8 as teammates Damiene Cain ’11 (#15) and Josh Hearlihy ’12 look on. The one-handed jam capped off a 30-point effort for the high-flying Edosomwan. But after dismissing Garfield 74-58 and, two days later, Chatsworth 77-58, Edosomwan and the Wolverines ran into a roadblock March 12 against 6’9” Grant Jerrett and La Verne Lutheran in the regional semifinals. Jerrett and 6’8” Xavier Jones handled the Wolverine bigs en route to a 61-45 victory.

Photo by Judd Liebman

4 | BIG RED Spring 2011

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 5


Game faces

Smiles, frowns and grimaces: it’s all a part of the game face of victory:

He’s Everywhere:

daniel kim /chronicle

uncle shawn wants you:

young serb:

daniel kim /chronicle

big z:


judd liebman/chronicle

mean look:

abbie neufeld/chronicle

judd liebman/chronicle

alex leichenger /chronicle

Pop Culture Chart


Wolverine Athlete

Charlie Sheen is...

Best rapper alive?

The NFL lockout is...

Favorite fast food

Cory Wizenberg ’11 Lacrosse

My hero

Talib Kweli

It needs to end


Chelsea Edwards ’11 Track and Field



I don’t know


Jake Schapiro ’12 Volleyball

A huge boss



Double-double animal style with chilis

Theo Miesse ’13 Softball

A lunatic

Wiz Khalifa



“How do rules start? You start with the Ten Commandments—Moses bringing the tablets down—and somehow you end up with the US tax code. And so you form rules—this is how we’re all going to get along, and it’s a relatively arbitrary thing. Our Constitution, what is it, 4,400 words, that part of its power, is that it isn’t very specific on some things. It’s open to interpretation.”

—Audrius Barzdukas Head of Athletics on the CIF rulebook

nathanson ’s/chronicle

6 | BIG RED Spring 2011

alex leichenger /chronicle

access-jesus .com

health and fitness

The (Body) Building Process The athletic trainers craft workouts to fit the needs of different teams and players, though the basic movements and exercises are universal.

The breakdown

The boys’ volleyball team lifts in Taper Gym. For all sports, exercises are broken down into seven categories based on the type of movement involved: >>Plyometrics

>>Horizontal Push

By Austin Block

>>Vertical Push


>>Vertical Pull

hen Head of Strength and Conditioning Greg Bishop crafts strength programs, he has some important judgments to make. Strengh training can have a significant impact on athletes’ performance and can also reduce the likelihood of injuries. “We’re trying to enhance the athlete’s ability to do what coach needs them to do on the field or to better tolerate the training loads that you guys encounter, whatever running you guys are going to have to do,” Bishop said. “When a game gets physical are you going to be able to fend off the defender or take that ball from the offensive player?” When creating programs, Bishop and Strength and Conditioning Coaches Mike Tromello and Lindsay Valenzuela first have to evaluate each team’s personality with the help of the team’s coaches. In addition to assessing the team’s commitment and general interest in traditional weightlifting, Bishop said the coaches must also consider the team’s training history. Teams with more weightlifting experience can pursue more advanced exercises. As a result of the new middle school weight training programs, more and more teams begin upper school weight training with lifting experience. Bishop said the strength coaches divide exercises into seven movement categories: plyometrics, squat based movement, posterior chain, vertical pulling, horizontal pulling, vertical pushing, and horizontal pushing. Athletes in all sports perform these movements, so in the first month or two of weight training, while teams are in the basic stages of each category, all teams have similar workouts. However, as the teams progress over the months, the workouts begin to diverge, though they always include exercises in the same seven categories of

>>Horizontal Pull >>Squat-Based Movement >>Posterior Chain

Squat-Based Movement

Horizontal Pull

Horizontal/Vertical Push Photos by Austin Block Austin Block/chronicle

motion. “There are injury needs and overuse concerns for different sports, and we address those, but most of our programs look the same and then they deviate from each other the farther you get out,” Bishop said. Among the sport-specific factors the coaches consider are athletes’ physical sizes, club schedules, and susceptibility to injuries. For example, Bishop said he avoids making some basketball players do back squats because very tall students can strain their lower backs with the back squat motion. The resistance to injury strength training provides is also a boon for sports teams. In the past couple of years, Bishop has used the Santa Monica Orthopedic Group’s Prevent Injury / Enhance Performance program with the girls’ soccer team to reduce the likelihood of ACL tears that do not involve collisions. Bishop said this year,

not a single player tore her ACL from changing direction in open space. Boys’ volleyball Head Coach Adam Black said that Bishop’s workouts help his team stay healthy. “The training is helping us stay together more than anything else physically because with volleyball it’s such a high impact game with all the jumping and the swinging and the mechanics that they’re doing it takes a toll because it’s so much of just joint stuff getting a pounding or joints moving around,” Black said. Throughout training, Bishop said he and the other strength coaches check on the athletes weekly to make sure they are lifting weight that will give them the maximum possible percentage of improvement. Once the season begins, the coaches shorten workouts and plan around game schedules to make sure athletes are best prepared and minimally tired for big games.

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 7

Roundtable Wolverine


How serious an issue is homophobia in athletics?

Wolverine sports aficionados discuss the most prominent themes from the year thus far.

Quick Picks

There’s not outright homophobia but there is awkwardness, I think that homophobia is a charged word at this point. If you’re a homophobe you’re an outcast and you’re ignorant. I think that makes this a harder issue to tackle because no one will come out say, “I’m a homophobe.” However, people will say that I’m uncomfortable with homosexual behavior around me, and I think the difference needs to be made clear.


Winter season MVP

Predicted spring MVP

Best spring team

Predicted breakout spring athlete

Alex Leichenger

Ashley Grossman ’11 Water Polo

Lauren Hansson ‘11 Track and Field

Track and Field

Lucas Giolito ’12 Baseball

Burton: There are insecurities associated with high

Austin Block

Damiene Cain ’11 Basketball

Will Oliver ’11 Lacrosse


Bakari Bolden ’14 Golf

Shawn Ma

Ashley Grossman ’11 Water Polo

Lauren Hansson ’11 Track and Field


Judd Liebman ’12 Track and Field

Charlton Azuoma

Damiene Cain ’11 Basketball

Lucas Giolito ’12 Baseball


Matthew Mantel ’12 Lacrosse

Judd Liebman

Josh Hearlihy ’12 Basketball

Lucas Giolito ’12 Baseball


Will Oliver ’11 Lacrosse

Chelsey Khakshouri

Damiene Cain ’11

Lucas Giolito ’12 Baseball

Track and Field

Danilo Dragovic ’11 Track and Field

David Gobel

Ashley Grossman ’11 Water Polo

Cory Wizenberg ’11 Lacrosse

Track and Field

Jack Flaherty ’14 Baseball


school athletics that have the potential to escalate to a homophobic mindset. Yet, to say that homophobia is a prevalent issue is a limited mindset. Often a high school athlete’s homophobia lies in the subconscious as they publicly disclaim homosexual thoughts and actions as mere jokes. But to generalize athletic homophobia is to unjustifiably pry into a personal matter. Whether or not a homosexual person would be accepted is unsure. Many high school teenagers have discomforts when faced with homosexuality, but then again, Harvard Westlake students are not insensitive to the sentiments of others, and generally are capable of being accepting.


I think that homophobia can be a problem if people start acting differently just to be seen as not homosexual. I can see how it can become a problem. It’s a problem in that sense that it’s become a part of sports’ culture; homophobia has just generally been accepted in sports. But I don’t think it’s especially serious here.

Ma: Some people do it as a joke; a lot of people think it’s

funny. My opinion is different than Burton’s, he thinks that people are insecure about it, but I don’t think about it that way. It just happens, and people go with it.

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8 | BIG RED Spring 2011

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Alex Leich enger Big Red editor-in-c hief

Da v spo id Bu var rtsw rton sity rite ath r let e

M o va rg rs an it Fa y a Ha na th llo ti let ck c e,


What was the most exciting moment of the winter season?


I’m probably a little biased, but I think the boys’ basketball CIF championship was special. The meaning of the game, maybe the bigger arena, made the game’s atmosphere so exciting from even before the tip. And when the game went down to the wire, where each possession was crucial, we came up with big defensive stops. The entire experience is something I’ll never forget.


By far, the most exciting moment was when we (the girls’ water polo team) won the program’s first-ever CIF championship. We trained hard all season and had a season-long goal to be the best, and in the end we came out on top.


There are many possibilities from the boys’ basketball season, but the best moment that barely anyone saw was the Wolverines’ fourth quarter comeback at Crespi. Mere days after the crushing loss to Loyola, the team seemed headed for the same fate against another top Mission League team. But Nicky Firestone ’11 hit a couple big threes and Damiene Cain ’11 found his rhythm offensively. The Wolverines erased a 10-point deficit, and Jordan Butler’s driving layup (the first of his many buzzer-beating heroics) won it 60-58 in overtime.


Did boys’ basketball overachieve or underachieve this season?


Winning a CIF championship is a tremendous accomplishment, and this team should be applauded for coming together after a rough end to the regular season. But it would disingenuous of me to say I wasn’t disappointed by the way the season ended. The Wovlerines’ two top competitors in Division III, Price and Orange Lutheran, had already been eliminated by the time they faced La Verne Lutheran. If the Wolverines had won that game, they would have won state.


The team did great with what it had. With Damiene Cain ’11 and Zena Edomsomwan ’12 down low, a Mission League title was expected. Josh Hearlihy ’12 stepped up big time in some games, and that led to wins. The CIF championship was unexpected because of the youth on the team and the injuries. The team neither overachieved nor underachieved because it did what was expected in some cases, but pulled off the unexpected in others.


The boys’ basketball team had its fair share of successes this season. we entered the season ranked low in the Mission League and unranked in the southern section and harnessed the talent we had in order to win. Injuries to key players that would add to the versatility and depth of our roster inhibited us from reaching our full potential. Although our CIF championship was an extremely proud moment of achievement, the ultimate goal was a state championship and we were not content with settling for less.


Grade the Fanatics’ performance this year.


C+. I know that our continuing problems in fan attendance should be blamed as much, if not more, on the student body as the Head Fanatics, but the Fanatics make little effort to support any sports beside football and boys’ basketball. And even at basketball games, the performances are mixed. I remember one point in the final minutes of the home Loyola game when it was so quiet in Taper Gym I could hear the players’ sneakers squeaking and assistant coach George Fecske barking instuctions from the bench.

Hallock: A. The Head Fanatics did a great job handling

all of the sportsmanship policies thrown at them this year, which changed some traditions, but they still were creative and supportive to the sports teams. Experiencing the Head Fanatics this year from being at the upper school, I noticed how much energy they have and how they united the stident body when the athletes needed it the most.

Liebman: The fanatic behavior was a mixed bag this year.

The cheers are abysmal, the fans weren’t involved, communication was poor, and frankly, no one wanted to care. I give the Fanatics a B-. At the big games, the Fanatics were loud, obnoxious and great. At the smaller games, the Fanatics were almost nonexistent. Overall, I was disappointed with the Fanatics this year. He shoots, he soars Jordan Butler ’11 goes airborne for the layup against Inglewood in the CIF boys championship. The Wolverines won the game 47-45. Griffy simon/vox

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 9

Wolverines in the Crowd

Four standout athletes from the Middle School.

Mckynzie Dickman ’14 Soccer

Mckynzie Dickman ’14 has been playing soccer for nearly 10 years, first showing passion for the game at the age of 5. “I just love getting out on the field and learning new things and playing the game I love,” Dickman said. This year, Dickman was one of the only two freshmen chosen to be on the varsity girls’ soccer team. Dickman said that she would like to play in college, but she is unsure about playing professionally. — Allana Rivera


Jack Temko ’14

Football, Soccer, Lacrosse A multisport athlete, Jack Tempko ’14 is a year-round competitor playing JV football in the fall, varsity soccer in the winter, and varsity lacrosse in the spring. In the three sports, Tempko plays eight positions in total. He is a kicker, wide receiver, defensive back, and quarterback for football, an outside midfielder and forward in soccer, and a midfielder and attack in lacrosse. — Michael Aronson nathanson’s/chronicle

Maddy Abrahams ’14 Water polo

Staring on the perimeter as a freshman, Madeline Abrahams ’14 was a key part to the girls’ varsity water polo team’s CIF Championship. Abraham contributed both offensively and defensively to the championship team in just her first year of high school water polo. “This year as a freshman, she has really stepped up to the varsity level,” Morgan Hallock ’13 said, “her passing is good and her defense has improved.” — Luke Holthouse nathanson’s/chronicle

Jack Flaherty ’14 Baseball

“Baseball h­as helped me to settle in as a new ninth grader,” says varsity baseball center fielder Jack Flaherty. Given that six of the team’s nine position players are freshmen or sophomores, “with another year of experience, we should be really good,” Flaherty said. “Playing for the school is great because I’m just out there having fun with a bunch of guys that I know.” — Micah Sperling nathanson’s/chronicle

10 | BIG RED Spring 2011

Q&A: Ben Gaylord ’13 Pole vaulter

By Michael Rothberg


How long have you been pole vaulting and how did you become interested in it?


What are your goals for your pole vaulting career?


With track season commencing, how are you training for pole vaulting?


I’ve been pole vaulting since when I was around 11. That summer, I went to a UCLA camp for track and field, and the coach who was running the program, Anthony Curran, happened to be the head coach of the pole vault program at UCLA. During the camp he decided to show all the kids how to pole vault, and I got the hang of it quickly and I was really enjoying myself. Every summer since then I’ve gone to pole vault camps there. They are probably the most enjoyable things that I do during the summer.

I want to pole vault in college for sure, if I improve enough over the next few years. This year, I’m shooting for 14 feet by the end of the season. It’s a bit of a long shot, but it’s definitely attainable. It would be a great experience to compete in college and at the national level. Also, the thought of going to the Maccabiah Games [a Jewish Sports Festival like the Olympics that is held in Israel] sometime has definitely intrigued me. I like the idea of going abroad to compete in Israel.

I do regular track and field running workouts three times a week and pole vault workouts here at school twice a week. I also try to go to UCLA twice a week to train with Curran. Every Sunday I go to the beach to do a big three-hour upper body workout, which I’ve been doing for a while with my dad. It’s a big schedule, but I’m working through it because I know that I’ll appreciate all the effort I put in when I start competing. Harvard-Westlake finally got a new pole vault pit, how are you liking it compared to the old one? Of course the new pit looks really nice, but one of the unfortunate downsides of new pits is that, when you finish your vault and land in it, it doesn’t have much give to it. The foam is new and it’s a bit too solid compared with the old one, so when you land it’s a bit jarring. I’m sure that will clear up as time goes by, though. Overall, what do you enjoy most about pole vaulting? My favorite part about pole vaulting is that you have to be well-rounded to be able to do it well. Pole vaulting isn’t something that you can muscle your way through. You can’t just be strong, or you can’t just be fast. The approach requires speed, the takeoff requires strength, and the swing and turn require technique. It’s the ability to do all these things well that distinguishes a good pole vaulter from the rest.

Michael Aronson/chronicle

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 11

Big league

dreaming Standout pitcher Lucas Giolito ’12 has a chance of joining the select few who actually attain their dream of becoming a major league baseball player.

By Judd Liebman

12 | BIG RED Spring 2011


hen he steps on the mound, pitcher Lucas Giolito ’12 changes. He goes from man to animal. Off the baseball diamond, his friends describe him as a “gentle giant,” but on the mound, Giolito is anything but gentle. Giolito doesn’t take it easy on any batters; he consistently throws his four-seam fastball at around 92-94 miles per hour and has flirted with 97 on the gun. Even if hitters are expecting a four-seamer down the middle, Giolito makes them look like middle school kids. They can’t catch up to the heater because they most likely have never seen anything like it. Some kids haven’t even seen anything like the man himself. Giolito is a lean 6’6”, 228 pounds and can dead lift up to 315 pounds in the gym. He has been building strength in the weight room since the ninth grade to gain endurance and velocity on both his fastball and off-speed pitches. “No one has fast enough wrists or strong enough hands to catch up with his fastball,” friend and fellow pitcher Connor Dillman ’11 said. Dillman, who has been Giolito’s varsity teammate since freshman year, has seen Giolito grow in recent years both physically and on the mound. In his freshman and sophomore years, Giolito was simply a big kid with a fastball that no one could

touch, Dillman said. But now, Giolito has five pitches, all equally lethal. “Lucas has gotten his other pitches to be strike-pitches and now his fastball seems faster than it actually is,” Dillman said. “Throwing his other pitches more consistently has brought the effectiveness of his fastball up.” “Unlike other pitchers like me who are tall and throw hard, I have five pitches,” Giolito said. Giolito’s go-to pitch is his heater, and any batter he faces expects that. But what they don’t expect is a plethora of other knockout pitches. In his arsenal, Giolito now has a four-seam

has been important in his development as a pitcher, Giolito said. He has focused on gaining control over the plate so he can get the batter to make contact, but not anything threatening. This control and focus allows him to keep his arm fresh. “Over the past couple of weeks, I have learned what it actually means to pitch rather than just to throw,” he said. The “pitching” Giolito speaks of can’t be attributed to his natural talent. He has been working on hitting certain spots with different pitches nonstop with assistant coach Ethan Katz. Not focusing on speed, Giolito throws bullpens at a shorter distance to get a feel for the release. “I owe tons of my success to Coach Katz,” Giolito said. Now committed to play baseball at the University of California, Los Angeles, Giolito still doesn’t have any trouble staying motivated. “I have a desire to succeed in everything I do,” Giolito said. “I have certain standards for myself that I need to reach. For example, I want my team to win the Mission League, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen.” As what Dillman called a “prototypical pitching prospect,” Giolito has a chance to be the next Wolverine to play Major League Baseball. It has been a dream of his to play in the MLB, but unlike most kids with this dream, Giolito has a good chance of achieving it. Giolito, who was named the best junior pitching prospect in the nation by perfectgame.org earlier in the year, could be drafted the summer after his senior year. If this happens, Giolito will be faced with a difficult decision: college or the majors. “Lucas is an attractive prospect due to his size and velocity first and foremost,” Head Coach Matt LaCour said. “If, or when, he gets drafted will be determined by Lucas’ ability to maintain and increase his velocity, develop secondary pitches, and add command to his fastball. Lucas needs to have a better presence on the mound, puff his chest out and act like dominant pitcher. So, we have some things to work on.” “I want to play in the MLB,” Giolito said. “Whether that path involves college first, or just straight to the majors, I don’t know yet. Right now I am just focused on getting better.”

“I have learned what it actually means to pitch rather than just to throw.”

Giolito’s strike-zone

Lucas Giolito ’12 has five pitches in his repertoire, but he has been focusing on finding different spots for each one.

Four-seam fastball Change-up 12-6 curveball Slider Two-seam fastball knock-out four-seam

—Lucas Giolito ’12

fastball, two-seam fastball, circle changeup, slider, and a 12-6 curveball. With these five pitches, Giolito has different strategies for different games. He knows he can strike most players out eventually, but he is working on finishing the inning with a low pitch-count. “I want to be able to extend myself and throw complete games—that is, throw fewer pitches,” he said. Not always going for the strikeout

Printed with permission of Rick Giolito

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 13

On the Run

In the past two years, Lauren Hansson ’11 has emerged as one of the track team’s most prolific record-breakers.

Blowing through the record books In her three-and-a half seasons of track, Hansson has either personally set or been a part of setting 10 school records.


100 meter

2. 200 meter

By Mary Rose Fissinger


t was the middle of June in Greensboro, North Carolina, and it was hot and humid like nothing Lauren Hansson ’11 or any of her track and field teammates who accompanied her to the 2010 New Balance Nationals had ever run in before. She, Cami Chapus ’12, Amy Weissenbach ’12 and Jennie Porter ’10 were preparing to run their last event: the DMR, or distance medley relay, which consists of a 1200 followed by a 400, then an 800, and concluding with a 1600 meter leg. Hansson was slotted to run the 400 leg, her specialty, but in the hours leading up to the race, she, her teammates, and her coaches all had their doubts as to whether she could run the relay. “I was so sick,” Hansson said. “I looked really pale, and everyone was telling me not to run. Coach [Jonas] Koolsbergen came up to me and said, ‘Lauren, you don’t have to run. We can put Zaakirah [Daniels ’10] in.’ ” Hansson had already run five relays in the past 2 days, all in grueling conditions. She finally decided to run in the DMR. She ran her 400 leg in 55.33 seconds, faster than she had ever run it before, and helped secure the new school record of 11:46.15. “It was definitely my proudest moment,” Hansson said. That brought her total number of school records up to ten (the others are in the open 200, the open 400, the 400 meter relay, the 1600 meter relay, the 800 meter relay, the sprint medley, and the 3200 meter relay) and secured her reputation as the number one female sprinter at HarvardWestlake. When going through security for the flight home from New Balance Nationals, her bag had to be searched because the number of medals it now contained was considered cause for alarm. Hansson’s track career began in ninth grade, when she was grounded for skipping school. “I had nothing to do, and I was really bored, so I decided

14 | BIG RED Spring 2011


sprint medley


800 meter relay


400 meter



400 meter relay

3200 meter relay


distance medley


800 meter medley


1600 meter relay

printed with permission of cami chapus

to do track,” she said, laughing. “I wasn’t always good at it,” she said, “but I liked how hard you would work during practice and how great you’d feel after, with all the endorphins.” During spring break of ninth grade, instead of attending track practice every day, she went on a two-week trip to the Dominican Republic with her family where she did no exercise and ate a lot, she said. So it was to her surprise, as well as the astonishment of her coaches, when, in her first race back, she PRed by five seconds, running a 61-second 400. Since then, she’s progressed steadily and track has become her main focus. To avoid injury, she ices daily and receives weekly athletic massages. She trains practically all year, working over the summer with sprint coach Quincy Watts and doing training in the winter to prepare for the spring season. This year, she joined the cross country team. “I did it because lots of girls I love from the track team run cross country, and because when I’m not training I get really weird and can’t focus on things, like homework, as well. I need an outlet for all my competitive energy,” she said. Hansson says having an entire team there to support and train with is the best part, “If you’re running an individual race, it’s really easy to give up if you’re tired,” she said, “but in relays, seeing your teammate on the line waiting for the baton, jumping up and down, it really motivates you.” She loves traveling with her teammates to events like New Balance Nationals. “We bond over being in pain,” she laughs. When she first started running, Hansson was sure she would stop when she graduated from high school. Instead, she’s recently received an athletic scholarship from Duke University to run track. “Coach Watts made me into the runner I am,” she said.

Water Warrior Every Monday through Friday for two hours, Shanshan Heh ’12 heads over to her afternoon swim practices after school. There she swims between 6,000 and 9,000 yards, depending on what the coach decides. However, when the team has double practice in the morning and the afternoon, the coaches add more yardage to the daily workout. For the last seven years, since Heh turned 9, she has been swimming almost daily. While on the Harvard-Westlake swim team, Heh is also a member of Class Aquatics, a club team that she joined two-and-a-half years ago. “They’re pretty awesome,” Heh said. Class Aquatics holds morning practices from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. Last year, Heh attended morning practices more often, but with the homework load of her junior year, she has attended fewer. For the last four years, Heh has qualified for the Junior Olympics but now that she is older, Class Aquatics only competes there as practice for bigger meets. Heh said the largest meets that she has attended include the Grand Prix and Sectionals. “I did pretty well, but I hope to do better this

Shanshan Heh ’12, a nationally ranked swimmer, has had to balance her intense amount of athletic practice with her increasing schoolwork.

By Maddy Baxter

year,” Heh said. The big meets are difficult to place in because they are international. The meets are open to all age swimmers and do not have age group separations. Therefore, a younger swimmer could be competing against a college student. Professional swimmers like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Natalie Coughlin attend the Grand Prix regularly. “So basically there is no chance of winning,” said Heh. At sectionals, the meet is crowded with college swimmers, so again it is hard to place in those meets. Heh said she did “pretty well” at CIF last year. However, although she has had less time to train, she hopes that she will be able to continue improving and reach her ultimate goals. In order to keep improving, Heh attends as many practices as she can manage. Whenever Heh misses a practice during the week because of homework and other activities, she practices on her own to ensure that she keeps up with her swimming.

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 15

The Killer B’s

Golfers Charlie Benell ’12 and Bakari Bolden ’14 are grabbing attention, Benell as number one player on the team and Bolden in an ESPN commercial.

By Michael Aronson

Charlie Benell ’12 Charlie Benell ’12 is the number one player on boys’ varsity golf this year thus far with rounds reaching three under in weekday matches. Beyond his school game, Benell competes in tournaments across the country and is ranked 700th in the nation for boys’ high school golfers according to the American Junior Golf Association’s Polo Golf Rankings. Benell works on his game every day of the week with two to three hours on weekdays and all day sessions on weekends when he isn’t traveling around the country for tournaments. The junior’s top finishes in major junior tournaments were second at the LA City Junior championship, a fifth place finish at the AJGA Stockton Sports Commission Junior Championship, and other top five finishes in national tournaments. Benell’s high school career scoring average in the top junior tour known as the AJGA is 77, or generally five over on regulation courses. “I travel a lot,” Benell said. “During the school year I travel once or twice a month for tournaments but during the summer I am on the road almost every week to places like Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.” Benell hopes to play college golf for a Division I school and will be visiting different colleges over his spring break. At the end of his break, he will play in the Palm Springs Invitational with the varsity boys’ team. “I love golf for a lot of reasons but most importantly it has taught me about working hard and about discipline,” Benell said. Photos by David lieber/vox

Bakari Bolden ’14 Bakari Bolden ’14 starred in a 30-second golf commercial on E S P N in which he hits golf balls impersonating Tiger Woods as a junior golfer. The commercial is part of the Dreaming Big Matters series of commercials on ESPN which was created as a tribute to Black History Month. Bolden is the only freshman on the seven-man varsity boys’ squad this year and he is pleased with his performance on the team thus far. He has posted match scores as low as two and three over par at Griffith Park golf course and even par at Woodley Lakes golf course, propelling himself to fourth best out of seven varsity players. In the commercial, Bolden is seen on a golf mat, hitting a ball with a wedge and commentators in the background announce the scene as if he were playing in a major cham-

16 | BIG RED Spring 2011

pionship. Bolden then makes a half swing with a wedge from a fairway onto a green and lines up his putt. He has focused demeanor and the commercial closes as he putts his ball into the cup, making a signature Tiger Woods fist pump. Bolden originally heard about the commercial role from a man he played golf with who knew the director. The man contacted the director and had Bakari prepare a video of him hitting golf balls for the director to examine. The director chose Bakari for the role and he shot the commercial at Maggie Hathaway Golf Course in Los Angeles. Bolden spent five hours and did 70 takes for the commercial, but in the end Bolden feels all the time spent was well worth it. “The whole experience was really exciting,” Bolden said. “I’ve already seen myself on TV four times. It is surreal to see myself on a network which I watch very frequently.” The link to see the commercial is http://espn.go.com/ video/clip?id=6121760.

The Cheer Life Instead of striving for state titles, the cheerleaders’ main focus is to support the other school teams.

By Abbie Neufeld

Photos by Daniel Kim


lmost all sports teams have one goal: winning a CIF championship. However for the cheerleading team no such title exists. Nor do they usually compete. Instead they support other teams in their quests for championships. “Even though we’re not trying to get CIF we’re really emotionally connected to [some teams],” said co-captain Danielle Strassman ’11. Strassman is one of three captains, with Gaby Figueroa ’11 and Marka Maberry-Gaulke ’12 Even though the team doesn’t aim to win a championship, the team still tries to improve themselves. To do this the team tries to learn new stunts, perfect their old ones, and work on their tumbling skills. Although the team has competed in competitions before, including a first place win two years ago in a dance competition, most cheerleaders are involved in other extracurricular activities, which makes it hard to find time for competitions, in addition to their practice and game schedules. During the football season the team practices four times a week, with games on Fridays, while during basketball season the team just practices for an hour before games, which can be anywhere from two times a week to every day. Like many other sport teams, the cheerleaders also practice over the summer. Though the team practices copiously with their main goal being to support other sports, they are not the only group on campus with

this aim. The Fanatics, a student fan and spirit group, also aim to increase school spirit during sporting events. However for the past two years there has been an ongoing conflict between these two groups. The cheerleaders believe they are sometimes drowned out by the Fanatics, and believe their level of impact depends on how cooperative the Fanatics are, “which they often aren’t,“ according to Maberry-Gaulke. “The Fanatics need to understand that they can be [cheerleaders] if they want to lead a cheer,” said Maberry-Gaulke.” Another problem, Maberry-Gaulke said is that “there are so many of them at some games and so little of them a lot of the time also.” Though this is a problem at some games Strassman believes that they still have an impact when cheering. “We are important especially at girls’ [basketball] games sometimes when there is no one there even though they’re amazing,” Strassman said. Maberry-Gaulke suggested that the Fanatics should have girls in their leadership who might be more willing to cooperate with the cheerleaders. Though there are no female head Fanatics, there are also currently no male cheerleaders either, though there was one male cheerleader on the squad four years ago. Though some have expressed interest in trying out, “Most guys don’t want to be the only boy,” Strassman said.

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 17


With no gymnastics team at school, two gymnasts have chosen to pursue their passion elsewhere.

By Ally White

Katya Konkol ’13 Sophomore Katya Konkol competes in gymnastics, but in a relatively unknown form: rhythmic gymnastics. In this form competitors combine a mix of gymnastics with dance using different apparatus such as ropes, hoops, ribbons, balls and clubs. There is also an event without apparatus known as the floor routine. Katya began rhythmic gymnastics at the age of 2, but began competing at 8 years old. For many years she was exclusively a gymnast practicing three to four hours five to six days per week at Los Angeles School of Gymnastics. She currently goes to California Rhythm after switching gyms last year, but does not go as often, generally two to three times a week due to also being a cheerleader and being involved in dance. These activities, especially gymnastics, use up a lot of time after school, giving Konkol limited time to do homework and study, but this

has taught her how to manage her time. “If I didn’t have anything to do after school then I would procrastinate and end up doing my homework at the last minute. If I know I have a long class one day, I try to do most of my homework the day before so I have less to do after gymnastics,” Konkol said. She is currently ranked level nine out of the possible 10 levels and participates in all of the different events. Her favorite event is floor, “because then I don’t have to worry about dropping my apparatus during my routine and getting deductions,” Konkol said. While she loves gymnastics and plans to continue it through high school, she does not plan to pursue it in college, but for now is enjoying every minute of her gymnastics career. “I can do things now that I thought I would never be able to do when I first started gymnastics, and it’s a really great feeling,” she said. “I love trying really crazy things, because sometimes I end up being able to do them and then I have a really cool element or toss to put into my routine.”

“I can do things now that I thought I would never be able to do when I first started gymnastics, and it’s a really great feeling.”

STUNTING: Katya Konkol ’13 does competitive rhythmic gymnastics outside of school.

—Katya Konol ’13

printed with permission of katya konkol

Paheli Desai-Chowdry ’13 Standing on a fourinch-wide platform four feet high, Paheli DesaiChowdry ’13 takes a deep breath and braces herself. She takes three quick steps and backflips off the edge, perfectly sticking the landing. Desai-Chowdry is one of a few Harvard-Westlake students who do sports not offered at school; she is a gymnast. to DesaiChowdry said she began gymnastics really late

18 | BIG RED Spring 2011

compared to most people, starting three years ago at the beginning of seventh grade. She competes at about level five or six for Josephson Academy of Gymnastics where she competes in all uneven bars, floor, vault and beam. Her favorite event is floor because there’s nothing she can fall off of, she said. DesaiChowdry competed at Nationals in floor events last year.

She practices Fridays and Saturdays and one weekday “if it’s a light homework day” for three hours, she said. This is a major decrease in practice hours from previous years due to the increase of schoolwork at the upper school. “I definitely want to continue gymnastics in high school, even if I won’t get to practice as often,” Desai-Chowdry said. “Although it is similar to

school in some ways (there is a lot of focus on practicing skills and perfecting them and scoring well at meets), the gym is a completely different world and it’s nice to be able to take some time off homework during the week and do something else. “It is so worth it once you finally master a skill you have been working on for a long time; it makes you feel like you can do anything,” she said.

Spare him the details: he’s a bowling champion

Treven Goldsmith ’13, a baseball and soccer player, has another athletic passion: bowling.

Photo printed with permission of sharon goldsmith

By Aaron Lyons Treven Goldsmith ’13 grabs his red, purple and yellow bowling ball and walks up to the lane. He puts his two arms in front of him as he grips the ball with his right hand, putting his fingers into the holes. He swings his arm back, then forward, and releases the ball. It rolls along the lane hitting the first and third pins, a strike. Goldsmith started bowling when he was 5 years old. After going to a friend’s bowling birthday party, he enjoyed the sport and continued to play; signing up for a junior league. When he was 13, he won the doubles state championship along with his teammate Evan Burdzinski ’13. “I just thought of every shot as the most important shot ever,” Goldsmith said. Goldsmith now bowls two to three times a week and plays in a league. However, Goldsmith not only bowls, but also plays baseball and soccer. “It is not easy balancing my three

sports along with schoolwork. I usually have to stay up really late to do work and my days sometimes involve two practices in a day,” he said. Goldsmith has an average score of 209, but has yet to bowl a perfect game. His highest score is a 299. “I was both frustrated and happy at the same time,” he said. I still beat myself up about it all the time, even though I threw a good shot but nothing wanted to help me out. The greatest knowledge that I gained was that I not only proved to myself that I can do it, but that it should hopefully lie ahead in my very short future.” Goldsmith competes in tournaments about once every two months, and plays about three to four times a week. “I just practice a lot and work hard,” he said. Goldsmith hopes to bowl in college, and possibly the Professional Bowling Tour. Goldsmith says his favorite sport is “whichever one I am doing at the moment, but I like baseball and bowling a little more than soccer.”

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 19

Inside Spring Sports

Austin block/chronicle

20 | BIG RED Spring 2011

The quest for success

Baseball, lacrosse and boys’ volleyball don’t have the acclaim of some other school teams. The players and coaches are looking to change that.

By David Gobel

daniel kim/chronicle

leaders: Connor Dillman ’11, David Kinrich ’11, and Damiene Cain ’11 are key players on the baseball, lacrosse and volleyball teams, respectively.


very big name sports school has its big name teams. When Concord de la Salle sports come up in a conversation, the discussion most likely revolves around football. When you’re talking Westchester or Taft, the basketball teams can’t be avoided. Like these schools, Harvard-Westlake has its most distinguished teams. Boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball are two, and many others have risen in recent years. But to get to the next level in the development of a team, sometimes a culture change is necessary. “Building any program takes time,” Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas said. “You have to get the right coaches in place, you have to get the right playing philosophies, and it takes time to develop kids.” Three spring sports, baseball, boys’ volleyball and lacrosse, are in different stages of the culture-changing process. In a highly publicized 2006 move, Head Baseball Coach Matt LaCour was hired to get the languishing baseball program back on track. After leading the girls’ volleyball team to a state title in his first year on the job, Adam Black took over the boys’ volleyball program last season. Matt Lewis is in his first year as Head Lacrosse Coach. LaCour, Black and Lewis share a common trait as coaches trying to build successful programs at Harvard-Westlake: they have previous experience in winning. LaCour made his name at El Camino Real. Lewis made his at Loyola.

Judd Liebman/chronicle

Black’s success came in Taper Gym itself. To build a program, a team must have talented and experienced players along with comprehensive facilities. However, the most important catalyst for a successful program is the coach. A coach that has experience on how to develop players and has a definite plan for achieving prominence is essential. “I believe that those coaches have plans for success,” Barzdukas said. “They have well-established networks, so they’re able to hire good assistant coaches, and they’re able to put a roadmap in front of players, parents, and in front of the school, the map that shows us how to get from where we are to where we want to be. That’s one of the most critical abilities for being able to start a program at a school like Harvard-Westlake.”

Baseball “I really think that the baseball program is ready to have a breakout year this year,” Barzdukas said. At public school El Camino Real, LaCour established one of the most dominant baseball programs in Southern California. Although at first LaCour faced some challenges adjusting to the climate at a private school, LaCour said he has since adapted to the Harvard-Westlake climate “At El Camino there was a place for the highend students, but there was also a place for the kids who struggled at school,” said LaCour. “We all understand that Harvard-Westlake is not the right fit for kids that are not serious about their

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 21

Insi academic performance.” Baseball is different from sports like basketball and football in that it is even more of a “team” sport, LaCour said. A baseball team cannot simply rely on one superstar athlete to carry the enitre squad. “We have to be deep 1-9 in our lineup, and we have to be deep 1-5 in our pitching staff in order to compete and the level that were playing,” LaCour said. The baseball team has had some highly-talented prospects like outfielder Austin Wilson ‘10 and pitcher Lucas Giolito ‘12, but since LaCour arrived he has been trying to institute a system in which all players can get to a certain skill level. “In [Wilson’s] freshman, sophomore, and junior year there was definitely a talent gap,” LaCour said. “It’s hard when a freshman walks on campus and is instantly the best player on the varsity team. That gap is significantly reduced when you look at Lucas, who is a premier arm in Southern California if not nationwide. But if you look at the guys that are behind him on the mound like Jack Flaherty ’14, Sam Horn ’11, and Brandon Deere ’12, these are players who have good high-school arms.” As part of narrowing the talent gap in his years at Harvard-Westlake, LaCour has increased the number of students playing baseball year-round. “Next year, when our freshmen step on campus, we’re going to have something like 56 players in 9th-12th grade, which is a huge number compared to when I first got here,” said LaCour. “When I got here [five years ago] there were about 30 players in 9th-12th grade.” By seeking out young players to develop, he has more time to institute his philosophies and get them situated with how the baseball system at HarvardWestlake works. The first class of players that has received LaCour’s training from the seventh grade level onwards is this year’s sophomores. “Our sophomore class is really our first class that we’ve gotten to take through our whole process that we want to do,” LaCour said. “We’re seeing the hard work and dedication of our coaching staff and players start to pay off in some easily identifiable numbers, and I’m sure it will start to show on the field as well.” In LaCour’s first years as head coach the team has not shown huge strides of improvement; just last year the team finished 16-14 overall and 5-7 in league. However, LaCour said this is due to a variety of other factors, one of which is that Harvard-Westlake competes in the very difficult Mission League. It would appear that these next few years are critical in seeing how good baseball can truly be. “We are not interested in building a team, a one-year wonder,” said LaCour. “We are interested in having that success that we talk about year-in and year-out.” LaCour has high expectations for baseball in the near future, and genuinely believes that they are poised for success. “Our goal is to compete for CIF championships on a yearly basis,” said LaCour. “Past history tells us that if we are competing at a high level in our league, the CIF championship isn’t far behind that. I think we’ve gotten to a level that we’re competing at a high level in our league.”

Boys’ volleyball Head Coach Adam Black is implementing the same fundamental strategies that he used to take the girls’ volleyball team to a state title to develop the boys’ team. “We just want to get them fundamentally sound, so I do that by teaching [new players] how to to pass, how to hit, and how to do certain skills,” Black said. “From that phase of just basic teaching and learning, we go through more advanced game-like situations where they have to perform that skill. We’re not focusing on the perfect result, as long as we have the fundamental techniques in place.” In his first year as the head coach of girls’ volleyball, Black was able to win both CIF and state championships. This contrasts to his first year at boys’ volleyball, where the team wasn’t able to make CIF playoffs at all. However, in Black’s first year as head of girls’ volleyball, the team had 10 seniors on the squad and only one sophomore, UCLA-bound Meg Norton ’10. One of the obstacles that could prevent the boys’ volleyball program from prolonged success is the lack of interest in boys’ volleyball compared to other sports, Black said. However, Black is mainly concerned with the players he already has, and unlike LaCour in baseball, he’s not making huge efforts to enlist young students to play volleyball. “I’m trying to build the program to see how good and great we can become,” Black said. “Along the way if we generate interest and popularity then that would be great, but at the end of the day our improvement over time is what is important.” This season, the addition of varsity basketball players Damiene Cain ’11 and David Burton ’11 has helped. “If you have kids that are athletes, and not just in the sense that they’re athletic, but that they’re competitors and have strong enough minds and emotions to overcome the initial struggles and continue to try, they can be used in any sport,” Black said.

“We’re not interested in building a team, a one-year wonder. We’re interested in having success we talk about year-in and year-out ”

—Matt LaCour Head Baseball Coach

22 | BIG RED Spring 2011


Out of the three sports, lacrosse might be seeing the quickest ascendance of them all. Before handing Loyola a 17-4 beatdown on March 18, the Wolverines had never beaten Loyola at home. The Loyola win was the fifth in a schoolbest 7-0 start. Lacrosse had already been on an upward curve since Lewis took over the program in late September of 2010. But under previous coach Mark Haddad, some players believed poor communication was holding the team back from further growth. Lewis has tried to build a tighter-knit unit. He can ocassionally be seen commenting on his players’ Facebook wall posts. “Communication is very important on any team,” Lewis said. “Personalities aside, if my team believes in me and I believe in my team, we will have great success.” Lewis, who lives in Las Vegas in the offseason, has also won the respect of the team for living away from his wife in the spring to coach the team. Lewis is responsible for overseeing player development from grades 7-12, and since arriving at Harvard-Westlake, the coach has made no bones about his expectations. “My long term expectation is to win several Mission League championships and change the culture of this program. I am striving for a tradition of excellence.” For lacrosse, baseball and boys’ volleyball, the only two questions remaining are if and when?

Inside Track and Field

Event Exposé


Cami Chapus ’12 1600m

Aaron de Toledo ’12 3200m

“You definitely have to have a strategy for each race. For example, for the mile, if I want to keep a consistent pace per lap, so I don’t want to go out too fast. In the last 300 you have to start kicking and pushing.”

“It is different than all other events because it is the most endurance oriented events. In the 3200, I have to budget my energy and not go all out in the first mile because there is always a second mile.”

“If it’s a dual meet, and I’m just running to get points for the team, I’d stay out in front. If it’s a bigger meet where I know I’m running against someone really fast, I’ll tuck in behind them and stay behind them, and then eventually, in the race make a move when they seem kind of tired.”

Track athletes explain the uniqueness of the events in which they specialize.

“I am able to push myself to stay in contact with the leaders, but no matter how tired I am I always have a burst of energy to go all out the last halfmile to catch up and hopefully take the lead.”


Chelsea Edwards ’11 High Jump

“Well, it’s a pretty different event. It’s a field event, so there isn’t really that much running involved. A big difference is that you’re going backwards, so you can’t see what you’re doing.”

“I was naturally good at [high jumping]. I started track at the Middle School, and when I got to the Upper School I tried and just got into it. I really like the whole going backwards thing and landing in the pit. It’s really fun. ”


Connor Kalantari ’14 Discus and Shotput

“You get four throws. At some meets, they’ll just have you throw four, measure them at the end and take your best and sometimes they’ll measure each one but they record your best one.” “[Discus and shot] are essentially the same, just the shape of whatever you’re throwing is really the only difference. Youre using the same form, the shot put is a little bit more about strength and the discus is more about speed.”

Abbie NEufeld/chronicle

Sprints Jamias Jones ’12 200m, 400m

“The hardest thing is the final hundred, because you get to a point where it is no longer physical, its mental. You can’t buy into the fatigue; you go to your form and gut it out, for the last 50, which is where the race really starts because you have to mentally take the sprint to the next level.” “For the 400 you have to build endurance but at the same time you have to still train for speed. In addition to having the stamina for the race, you also need the speed. To be a 400 runner you have to have the aggressiveness of a sprinter but also the patience of a distance runner.” Photos printed with Permission of cami Chapus and Arielle Winfield

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 23


Inside Golf VIEW FROM THE TEEBOX: Michael Aronson ’13 has shot as low as one under par this year. He calls golf a “risk-reward” mental game with a razor-thin margin for error.

David Lieber/Vox

Teeing off on game day Michael Aronson ’13 gives a first person account of playing the final holes with the match on the line.


t’s a weekday afternoon at Griffith Park Golf Course and the pressure is building. We arrive at the course an hour early to practice with a humorous attitude, not focusing on the task at hand. Each of us has his own routine to warm up, generally hitting wedges and progressing to irons, woods and our drivers before making our way to the first tee. My teammates and I look down the sloping downhill first fairway with nothing in mind but our targets. Our humorous demeanor turns to focus beyond the norm. It is a deep concentration instilled in the mind of a golfer. Our minds are cleared during our stroke to prevent any small distraction. I’m so focused that I don’t even know

what my own name is as I address the little white ball staring back at me. The margin of error between a good shot and an atrocious shank can be a centimeter difference in ball position on the club head at impact. I find myself in the second or third group as the nerves kick in. I tee up, take a few deep breaths, a practice swing or two with my eye in a dead stare at my target and let it rip. This is where even the best can lose their composure. The strongest and most powerful of men can play competitive golf, but when it comes down to it, it’s the six inches between our ears that separates a good player with talent from a great player with a rocksolid mental game. Our group makes it to our last hole, the ninth, a long par four with out of bounds on the right and trees left. It’s a tough 415-yard par four with a microscopic green and one of the harder approach shots on the course. Just one

lipped out three foot putt could decide the entire match. We all have the gut-wrenching thought playing like a never-ending record in our minds that each of us has the chance to either carry the team to victory with a birdie, or lose it all in one hole with a bogey. My partner and I both hit 260-yard drives down the ninth, splitting the fairway. The difficult 150-yard approach to the par four lies before us with a deep bunker elevated just before the green hiding most of the pin from sight. It is just a pile of sand in a hole, but to a golfer it is a grotesque atrocity. The nervous sweat is wiped from our hands with our towels and our hearts beat at an unhealthy pace. We hit our shots and hope for the best. My teammate and I have each made pars the majority of the time we play the monster of a hole. Here’s where the fun of golf sets in. We sit and relax as we watch our teammates hit their second shots, experiencing the same pressure we just endured. We use our phones to add up scores and plan scenarios that would give us the win against our league rivals. Though golf may seem like just a leisurely two hours, it separates those with clear and strong minds from those who lose their composure after a single bad shot. Some matches have ended with a final score of 198-199. There is no margin of error in the sport and it is times like these that make varsity golf what it is; a round of risk-reward that can devastate the best of players or can pay off with the low score and a win.

Inside Softball

Expanding the program By Michael Aronson This spring season, the softball program has added a JV team into its system because of increased participation and talent, Program Head and Varsity Head Coach Joe Aranda said. “The interest in softball has grown in the past couple years and we just have more talent,” Acevedo said. Acevedo said that popularity for the sport is a substantially larger among participants this season and there

24 | BIG RED Spring 2011

wasn’t enough space for girls to play if they only had a varsity team. The JV team has won games 20-0 against Poly High and 20-2 against Birmingham High. Softball player Lauren Li ’12 is on varsity and is pleased with the addition to the program. “Our school’s program is on the rise, and I think anyone that comes out to watch a game this season would be surprised by the amount of talent these girls have,” Li said.

WIND IT UP: Lauren Li ’12 is a star pitcher for the rapidly expanding softball team.

Graydon Feinstein/vox


Inside Swimming

Swimmers opt to practice for club teams during week By Abbie Nuefeld Most Wolverine teams require players to be at school practice at least five times a week, but most days after school at Zanuck Swim Stadium, one will only see a fraction of the swim team. Because of the individualistic nature of the sport, the team has a policy that swimmers are only required to attend two school practices and/or meets a minimum of twice a week. “We feel that the club kids who are working hard get a good practice with their clubs can get a good workout there,” Head Coach Cheyne Bloch said.  This policy may affect team unity, but Bloch said “We’re trying to work on that.”                                                                                         Swimmer Catherine Wang ’11 said,

“To be honest, yes, I think it does [affect team unity].Swimming is an individual sport, so I think it’s a compromise that sometimes must be made.” Wang has taken advantage of this policy and swims six times a week, four times with her club, Team Santa Monica. “At club, everyone is used to the coaching methods of their coach so there is no period of adjustment,” said Wang.    Other swimmers who also swim with a club during the season include Adit Gadh ‘12, Eusene Lee ‘12, Patrick Kang ‘12, Shan-Shan Heh ‘12 and Reyna Calderon ‘12. However for some of the most serious swimmers even the two practice requirement presents too much of an additional time commitment. Sam

Lone ranger: Eusene Lee ’12 is one of many swimmers who practice for their club teams and only swim with at Harvard-Westlake twice a week.

Ruddy ’11, who last year made CIF finals, also swims for Team Santa Monica, and only team Santa Monica. Ruddy is trying to make the 2012 Olympic trials and follows a very regimented program. Ruddy swims 10 times a week, in addition to lifting weights three times a week. “I would have love to swim [for Harvard-Westlake]but the way training goes is regimented and specific, so I ended up having to choose,” said Ruddy. “I really wanted it to work out. I do miss high school swimming; it was a lot of fun,” Ruddy added. So far this policy does not seem to have adversely affected the boys’ team which is undefeated, but the girls’ team lost its out-of-league matches and won its first league match.

It’s all in the preparation By Austin Lee For tennis players, coping with stress plays a crucial role when playing in difficult and significant matches, as even the slightest deviation in concentration when returning a shot can lead to a great opportunity for the opponent. In order to relieve some of this anxiety prior to a big match, the players do various activities in order to ensure that they are in the best possible physical and mental condition in the days before such matches. On top of the consistent training that all of the players put in throughout the year, the players make sure to work on their weakest shots before any big match to try and get as much improvement as possible in a short amount of time. In addition, they all continue working on some light hitting so that they can keep themselves focused and ready for

the match. “Personally, in the days leading up to a big match, I like to practice whatever I feel I need to work on at the time and hit enough balls to stay sharp on the court,” Jackson Frons ‘12 said. “The day before a big match is really about getting in a light productive hit and really just staying focused for the next day.” The team, as a group, prepares right before a match by going through an extensive warmup, which involves a combination of running, stretching, and hitting. Then, the team does a team huddle with advice from the coaches Chris Simpson and Tony Isaacs along with some encouragement from the team captain Matt Wagner ’11. “The coaches, Chris and Tony, will offer advice and pump us up for the match,” Jeffrey Bu ’12 said. “Wagner, the captain, will put in a couple encouraging words, and Roy Murdock leads us through our shout of ‘Harvard!’”

Inside Tennis

Staying focused: Jamie West ’12 (above) and his teammates each have different rituals before his match.

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 25

Don’t ask, don’t tell? 26 | BIG RED Spring 2011

Homophobia continues to be an issue in professional athletics. At Harvard-Westlake, homophobic behavior in athletics is on the decline, though it can still at times be uncomfortable for gay students to be on sports teams.


By Austin Block

few months ago, Calvin ’12* was chatting with a teenager from Texas on Omegle, a website that connects strangers who want to talk. After discussing music and sports for a while, the boy asked Calvin if he had a girlfriend. “No, I have a boyfriend,” Calvin answered. The response was angry and immediate. “He completely flipped out and was like ‘Oh my God you’re a [expletive], you’re going to go to hell’ and just that one thing, I like boys, he couldn’t handle,” Calvin said. “He liked me before I told him that, and that’s like the only thing that was wrong with me in his eyes.” Calvin could have terminated the conversation, but instead he stood his ground. He asked the boy why finding out Calvin was gay so strongly affected his perception of him when they had been getting along well just minutes before. Calvin said he hopes their conversation will make the boy more accepting of gay people. “I guess in a way I am happy when I encounter someone that’s homophobic or mean to gay people because there is always a chance that by them talking to me they’ll begin to be more comfortable,” he said. “I take it as an opportunity to open their mind to it. I definitely think it’s going to get better, just … like every other movement in history, with black people, with women, it’s just another step for people to become more accepting.” The climate at Harvard-Westlake is significantly more accepting. Calvin is one of a few openly gay athletes at school. He runs cross country and is also on the swim team. Though sports teams have traditionally been seen as havens for homophobia, he said there is little outright homophobia in athletics at school. However, Calvin said it is still difficult to be an openly gay athlete. He said one of the most uncomfortable parts of athletics is showering and changing in the locker room. “For most guys you just go in there and get changed and go out, but when you’re gay … you can tell that the atmosphere changes when you go inside, sometimes, not all the time, but depending upon who’s in there, they’ll turn away from you, or pick up a towel if they were naked,” Calvin said. “I don’t want to see guys naked… I purposely do not look anywhere in the direction, because if I even glance at them, it would be uncomfortable… When Jarred [Green ’11, his boyfriend] and I would go in there to get changed before cross country we would purposely pick the least populated section of the locker room to get changed in so it’s less awkward for everybody else … it’s just one of those things that you have to deal with.”

He said that there is no discrimination on either the swim or cross country teams, though he said he does have to be careful about what he says on the swim team to avoid making anyone uncomfortable. “Outside of the locker room, it’s fine. I feel like it varies from team to team. Some teams are a lot more accepting than others.” he said. “In the swim team, it’s acceptable if one of the guys says something about a hot girl because that’s just what happens, but if you said ‘oh so and so is really hot’ but it’s a guy, I feel like it would be really uncomfortable because everyone is barely wearing any clothes and they’re really close together and you just have to be conscious of who you are around, especially at those times.” He occasionally hears homophobic language that can make gay athletes uncomfortable, but he believes it isn’t used out of hatred toward gay people. “I feel like a lot of the times when someone says [expletive] or ‘that’s so gay,’ especially in a sports situation, I wouldn’t say they hate gay people, it’s just a way of putting down things that some people don’t really think about as offensive to other people, especially in a sport [like] football where it’s really not expected for any gay people to play I guess,” he said. “If you’re gay and you’re doing football but you’re not out, I feel like that would be uncomfortable for you in that environment having gay people put down.”


he situation has improved vastly over the past 20 years. School Counselor and teacher Luba Bek said in the early ’90s, she asked Headmaster Tom Hudnut’s permission before telling the school newspaper that she was gay. “That was a very different time,” Bek said. “When I started Project 10, people would meet in this office, and whenever somebody would knock on the door, they would hide behind the couch.” In the middle to late ’90s the situation had improved somewhat, but there were still no openly gay athletes playing for the Wolverines. When members of the water polo team would gossip about girls and dating, Michael Crosby ’98 would never participate. He was gay and afraid that someone would find out, so he stayed silent and pretended he just wasn’t interested. “I just tried to pass it off that I was just this nerd who doesn’t feel confident enough or doesn’t have an interest in dating girls,” Crosby said. “Thank goodness we didn’t actually shower as a team …That would have been uncomfortable. I was not out to any of my teammates for all of high school because … it was hard enough just fitting in,

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 27

Slurs from the stands? Although some think the “Boyola” chant carries homophobic undertones, it seems homophobia is minimal in the fan section. By Austin Block Homophobia among fans at sports games seems to be minimal and on the decline. Gay Straight Alliance Co-President Gabe Benjamin ’11 said that he has seen a decrease in fan homophobia in the past couple of years. He said the only times he noticed any homophobic sentiment was at Loyola basketball games and on the Fanatics’ Facebook page, which advertised the first Loyola game of the year. “There was the Facebook group that [said] ‘Boyola’ [with] the picture of two guys holding hands, which I found kind of offensive,” he said. “Personally I think the chant ‘Boyola’ is bordering on homophobic remarks because, some people don’t agree with me on that, but I think that they’re … implying that ‘you’re boys’ and I don’t understand why that’s a negative unless you’re connecting that to being gay.” The picture was quickly taken down after administrators expressed their disapproval, and Head Fanatic Brian Harwitt ’11 said the Fanatics recognize the picture is inappropriate. Benjamin said the homophobic vibe at the Loyola basektball games this year was not as strong as it has been. “In the past couple of years I’ve definitely heard, outright, people yelling things like ‘you’re gay’ and calling them [expletive], so I haven’t heard that this year,” Benjamin said. “I feel like each year it’s getting better.” Harwitt said he has not seen homophobia at games or in the school community. He said that while some chants, like the “Boyola” chant, may be interpreted as inappropriate, he said that “Boyola” is not a homophobic cheer. “It’s’ not like ‘oh you’re gay’ ... it’s like ‘you’re stuck with all guys, we have girls,’” Harwitt said. “It’s supposed to encompass ‘where are your cheerleaders?’ and the level of maturity of their fans. I feel like that chant easily could be misconstrued but if you break it down … it can be funny.” He said the Fanatics do not wish to make any player or fan uncomfortable. He said if a student approached them and said a chant was offensive, they would talk with the student and, if the student remained uncomfortable, would stop using the chant. However, he explained that cheers at ganes should not be seen as attempts to offend people. “I’ve never felt like there’s been homophobia. I’ve felt like there’s been some maybe unintended remarks that maybe sound homophobic but aren’t actually …. We’re a very openminded community at Harvard-Westlake,” he said. “Everything’s kind of said jokingly and nothing is meant to be personal or serious or offensive.” Science teacher and Sports Council Chair David Hinden also said he hasn’t seen much homophobia this year, though he was not sure if the level of homophobia at events has decreased recently. At the second Loyola game, a few students also wore T-shirts featuring the same picture that was on the Fanatics website. The shirts were condemned by the Fanatics and the administration.

28 | BIG RED Spring 2011

and when you’re a younger kid, the older kids picked on us younger kids a lot,” Crosby said. “There were a couple out students and definitely some openly gay teachers at Harvard-Westlake when I was there and there was the Gay Straight Alliance, but I was afraid to death to go to it because I was afraid if I went people would think I was gay.” Crosby said use of homophobic language was common and said that the very physical nature of water polo made his experience uncomfortable. He also thinks his teammates would have reacted differently if he had told them he was gay in his freshman or sophomore years, when he wasn’t as skilled a player, than if he had done the same in his junior or senior year. “I think if I had come out when I was a freshman or a sophomore … it would have been crazy and I think I would have been teased and hazed more so for that. I can’t be sure of that, that’s just kind of the vibe I got from a lot of the upperclassmen is that that was not OK and … they would have just targeted me for that reason,” Crosby said. He said he isn’t quite as sure how the team would have reacted if he had come out in his junior or senior seasons, when we received more respect on the team. “I think it would’ve thrown the dynamic of the team a little bit … it was kind of like don’t ask don’t tell, the expectation was if anyone had same-sex feelings towards anyone that they were going to keep that to themselves,” Crosby said. “I don’t think anyone even dreamed that anyone on the team would come out and try to stay on the team, both coaches and players alike. If I were to come out my guess is that it would have explained a lot for a lot of my teammates, but at the same time I don’t think it would have brought me closer to them. I think I may have still felt a little bit like an outcast. It’s hard to say though. Maybe they would have surprised [me].” Crosby said the school community as a whole was somewhat more accepting than the water polo team and the swim team, of which he also was a member. “It was a mix. You definitely got some people who didn’t play sports who seemed pretty homophobic and liked to use the f-word and use gay slurs and put people down … but I felt like my friends, the ones that I felt comfortable enough to tell [that I was gay] senior year … seemed in general to be pretty accepting,” he said. “I think that besides my friends it seemed like there was a decent amount of people at Harvard-Westlake that felt that way [accepting].”


se of homophobic language both in athletics and in the general school community is much less common now, though it varies from team to team. “On the three years that I’ve been on varsity, I haven’t seen or heard anything against gays or anything, no strong language against anybody,” softball player Emilia Louy ’11 said. She added that she thinks a having an openly gay member of the team would be “totally normal.” “I don’t think people on the team would see it as a big deal,” she said. Charlie Porter ’12, who plays for both the soccer and football teams, said homosexuality just isn’t really talked about. Though he said there is more use of homophobic language on the football team than on the soccer team, he said he wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if an openly gay athlete joined the football team and thinks everyone would be accepting. Bek said use of homophobic language is more common among boys than girls.

“When we’re really threatened and something is unacceptable to us about ourselves we tend to act the exact opposite, so that’s why like in elementary school if a boy is torturing a girl, he has a crush on her. She comes home, goes ‘Oh mom, Johnny is so mean, he pushes me and spits in my lunch’ and mom says ‘Oh no, no, no, he has a crush on you.’ That’s what happens here. If guys think ‘Oh my god what if there is some gayness in me?’ it’s threatening,” Bek said. “It’s all in your own level of comfort with yourself, and boys at this age [are] easily threatened, but it’s getting better.” Although there is some use of homophobic language on the cross country team, runner Ben Saunders ’11 said that the problem is minor and that those comments aren’t intended to insult gay people. “That happens everywhere. I won’t lie and say our team is perfect. Obviously we say it a couple times, and we shouldn’t say it, [but] our team is trying to work on it, we’ve gotten a lot better with that.” he said. “I think that our team has generally been always accepting of all kinds of people, I think we’re just happy to run, it doesn’t matter what their sexual preference is.” “I haven’t heard [homophobic language] but I know that just like any parent or adult you just don’t hear everything that kids say,” Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas said. “We just won’t tolerate any environment like that and if we learn about it we’ll shut it down. I think sometimes kids are not aware of how words can hurt. I would hope that

ings.” there are more openly gay kids on camCreznic said that she thinks the pus now. She said this trend is slowly atmosphere at school is comfortable increasing student acceptance of hoenough for a field hockey player to tell mosexuality. her teammates that she is gay, though “I think what has changed is we have she said that discovering one’s own sex- way more openly gay kids period on ual identity is always difficult. campus, not just in athletics …Any kind “Figuring out that you’re gay in high of exposure to anything that is atypical school would be difficult regardless makes it more acceptable to people,” of where you are. I feel like Harvard- Bek said. “From what I hear from kids Westlake is one of the most embracing who are out and kids who are not out communities I’ve ever been in, in terms of their discomespecially compared to Kenfort not much has changed tucky [where she grew up]” IN THE because that’s an internal she said. “I’m sure if there ClOSET: thing, that it is awkward was a player who was com- Michael Crosby if you are a gay kid who is fortable by herself with being ’98 came out to changing in the locker room gay then I think it would be a few friends as and whether other kids are fine, I think everyone on the a senior, but concerned about whether team would embrace her and not to his you’re going to look at them if anything give her extra at- teammates. or not, you’re concerned about them thinking that you’re going to look, so that’s an internal process that will change gradually. We’re a very politically correct environment and more accepting than others so I think every year brings a little bit of a change.” Calvin said he has noticed this gradual change as well. “A lot of people are turning out for the GSA, which is a good indication that the whole school has gotten more accepting and more open-minded,” he said. “I think people are starting to see there is nothing wrong with gay people, it’s just like VoX ’98 someone saying that they’re left-handed.” “It was kind of like don’t ask, don’t tell,” water polo player Michael And despite Calvin’s confrontation with the boy from Crosby ’98 said. “The expectation was if anyone had same-sex feelings Texas, he still uses Omegle. towards anyone that they were going to keep that to themselves.” Just weeks after his first encounter, a similar situation happened again. “This guy called me a coaches, kids, anyone of sound mind tention for it, but I think it’s difficult [expletive],” Calvin said. “And I knew would just respond to that [homopho- to deal with any big issue like that as he was about to disconnect so I said bic language] with ‘Really? What is it a teenager.” ‘yeah pretty much.’ I know that sounds that you are trying to say?” weird but he stayed [online] … I asked English teacher and field hockey our years ago, in a Big Red ar- him what was bad about being gay and Head Coach Erin Creznic agreed with ticle about homophobia in Har- told him it was just that I’m differBarzdukas. vard-Westlake athletics, Zack ent. I asked him if I had done anything “The kids [field hockey players] from Mirman ’07, a football kicker and soc- that upset him and he said ‘no, but it’s the very beginning have always known cer captain, said that homosexuality just weird.’ And I told him, weird just that I was gay, and I married my wife is not quite as accepted in athletics means different. I tried to tell him that two years ago, so they’ve always been as in the school as a whole because of I’m just a normal person and eventuvery accepting,” Creznic said. “From the “heterosexually-dominated sports ally I just disconnected because I said my perspective, the kids at Harvard- scene” and the “macho characteristics” what I could.” Westlake are so respectful and even that are emphasized in sports. At the “I don’t get my feelings hurt because though they may say something like time, he said that the idea of an openly I know that it’s their problem and not ‘it’s so gay’ when they’re not thinking, gay student joining the football team mine and I feel bad for them,” he said. if they realize that they would be hurt- did not sound very plausible. “I was trying to help him because it ing someone’s feelings [they won’t say Bek said that although there prob- sucks to go through life hating people it] and obviously if I am in the room ably has not been a dramatic change for no reason at all.” they don’t want to be hurting my feel- in these attitudes in such a short time, * name has been changed


BIG RED Spring 2011 I 29

Winter ’10-’11 season in photos Photos by Daniel Kim, Alex Leichenger, Graydon Feinstein, Micah Sperling and Judd Liebman

CrossOver: Josh Hearlihy ’12 passes by a La Verne Lutheran defender in the quarterfinals of state playoffs.

Through the middle: Danielle Duhl ’12 evades two Santa Margarita players by dribbling between them.

And one: Skylar Tsutsui ’11 drives in for the bucket against Anaheim Canyon player in the Wolverines’ 66-45 CIF Finals loss.

30 | BIG RED Spring 2011

Speed run: Alex Goodwin ’12 quickly moves the ball down the field in a game against Alemany. The Wolverines won the game 1-0.

no ball left behind: Brooke Levin ’12 dives for the ball in a girls’ basketball game against Chaminade. The Wolverines won 57-41.

Dueling swords: Daniel Kim ’11 evades an opponent’s sword while stabbing his foe in the arm.

sweet victory: The girls’ water polo team’s dominance culminated in its first CIF Championship.

Fan-tastic: Fanatic Jack Usher ’11 cheers from the Loyola team’s bleachers.

Deadlock: Jordan Bryan ’11 tries to pull his opponent to the ground and place him in a pin.

Longshot: Camille Hooks ’11 prepares to pass during the Wolverines’ CIF championship win.

TOgether a team: From left to right, Christine Kanoff ’11, Katie Speidel ’11, Katy Park ’11 and KC Cord ’11 meet the Lousiville players at the center of the field on Senior Night.

BIG RED Spring 2011 I 31

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