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june 6, 2013

Spring season brings new beginnings for athletes Brendan Duggan Sports Columnist

Spring is all about starting over. Neighbors shovel the last few mounds of snow, and farmers ready their fields for spring and summer to come. It is primetime for recharging and getting back to work. Although the school year may be drawing to a close, it is most definitely primetime for sports. The snow and slush from early spring is long gone and sports now take center stage. Every day, students are seen around school sporting their jerseys and uniforms, and you can always expect to see the Red Sox, Celtics or Bruins on any given night. As far as high school sports go, there is baseball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball. For South, these sports are among the most successful programs we have, as several of those teams have made tournament appearances this year, — Congratulations to all teams and players that made it to the postseason. In professional sports, America’s pastime, baseball, is starting up. The Red Sox, though few expected it, have risen to the top of the spectrum in Major League Baseball. Old stars have shown up in the form of David Ortiz and Jon Lester, and the Fenway experience (now in its 101st year) has never been better. NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing. In my opinion, the NBA and NHL playoffs are the two most entertaining sports to watch. No one cares how many regular season games a team won, or how many hat tricks someone scored. It’s a new season, and the intensity and stakes are higher than ever. An 8-seed can take down a 1-seed, which we have seen in recent years. Superstars emerge. Players who can handle the pressure, the boos from opposing crowds and the controversial calls from the referees are the real stars. The Celtics and Bruins, who both punched tickets to the playoffs this season, captivated us. Amidst all the stress of school and extracurriculars, we know we can turn to these games for an escape. Sports are packed with jaw-dropping comebacks and intense rallies that never cease to amaze viewers. The Celtics looked all but dead after an injury-plagued regular season, and the first three games of the playoff series with the Knicks didn’t help. Then they won game four, a back-and-forth overtime triumph. When the Celtics proceeded to close a 26-point deficit in game six, they captivated a region. Although the thrilling night ended in a loss, this team showed us that seeds, rankings and stats are essentially meaningless when crunch time comes around. The Bruins, down 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third period of game seven, pulled off a comeback for the ages, which was was reminiscent of the Red Sox in 2004. Talk about bringing together a city that has been through so much over the last few weeks in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. So, to wrap up, go see a Sox game, cheer on your classmates as they take on the postseason, catch a game on TV and stay posted on the happenings in the professional realm. Spring is in session.

photo courtesy of Kristin Spink

Football players demonstrate dedication with early morning practices and newfound drive to win well before fall sports begin


By Sam Detjen and David Kim

lthough many fall sports do not start their practices until late in the summer, South football players have already suited up to prepare for the fall season. The team has been holding captain’s practices at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Due to Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, coach Ted Dalicandro is not allowed to be present, nor were the extra practices his idea. “[Neither] myself nor the coaching staff at South decided to start football practice early,” Dalicandro said. “The captain and parents with some volunteers have created weekly volunteer football workouts.” Junior captain Kevin Dober said that regardless of the early start time and voluntary status of the practices, many players attend. “About 25-30 kids attend early morning practice before school,” he said. Coaches and players alike hope that with these practices, they can usher in a winning mentality. “The biggest change has been a change in character and commitment. We have more guys who aren’t just going to accept losing without doing something about it,” junior captain Erik Manditch said. “That’s something we didn’t have a lot a couple of years ago.” Dober agreed with Manditch. “I see these spring practices and workouts as the beginning of a shift in mentality of the football team,” he said. Junior captain Drew Levine is confident that these early practice sessions are already having their desired effect. “The football team has already more dedication this year than it has ever had while I’ve been at South. We have a great

group of captains as well as a ton of guys that are also dedicated to getting better,” he said. “We have a new level of confidence and a ton of experience and talent returning for next year.” Dalicandro agreed, and said the most notable change has been in the mentality of current players. “There is not a change in the program, but a change in the commitment of our players,” he said. With preseason practices already underway, many players are beginning to set goals for the coming season. “Well, like every team our goal is to win a championship, but that is a step-by-

I see these spring practices and workouts as the beginning of a shift in mentality of the football team. - Kevin Dober, Class of 2014 step goal,” Levine said. “Right now all we want is at the end of next season, we know there is nothing more we could have done, we couldn’t have worked harder and we gave it everything we had.” Several of the captains have targeted making the playoffs as a realistic goal. “The goals for our upcoming season are to win more than last year, get better each and every day as a team and hopefully have an opportunity to make the playoffs,” captain Jake Alexander said. Manditch agreed that the playoffs are becoming closer and closer in reach.

“Winning the state championship just might not be the expectation for us right now,” he said. “What I will say is that with the new playoff system and with more guys dedicated and driven, it is a goal for us to make the playoffs.” Dalicandro said this attitude change on South’s football squad began with last season’s senior class. The 2013 seniors were “a great group of unselfish, committed players who were more interested in winning games than creating their own highlight tapes or where they were going to go play in college,” he said. “We had a 300% increase in wins from 2011 to 2012.” Dalicandro said that specifically Brian Spink, Sam Houston-Read, Patrick Fabrizio, Lucian Cascino, Matt Roberts and Mike Sugrue helped pave the way for this change. Despite the loss of the motivated senior players, the attitude among the team remains strong, with the early morning spring practices already showing this. With South due to face powerful teams such as Acton-Boxboro, ConcordCarlisle, Lincoln-Sudbury, Waltham and Westford, the Lions need to start strong. According to Dalicandro, this is what makes the early morning practices so important. “Most of the players on these other teams have to workout at 5:30 a.m. because they play a winter and spring sport,” Dalicandro said, “I would like to see us more competitive versus these other teams.” With players already demonstrating this dedication to making South football a competitive force in the Dual County League, Dalicandro is optimistic for the future of Lions football.