From the Stands
Volume XII, Issue 4 February 2020
From die-hard pin collectors to viral sensations, sports fans have captured the attention of the nation with their dedication innumerable times. So-called superfans reminisce on how their fandom reached such a high intensity and what their teams mean to them. p. 20
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Deception on the Diamond
From the Stands
Plays of the Decade
A Blast from the Past
Ballers to Scholars
Viking Tries: Skills Challenge
With a hot start to th e season, sole leade the boys b rs of the D asketball t e Anza div been struc eam have ision with k with inju placed the a record o ries which Conner Lu mselves as f 7-0. Alth have force sk out wit the ough the d Martin S h a fractu minutes fr Vikings ha egura out red elbow om Elijah ve with a con , the team Steiner (â€˜2 cussion an has remain 0, pictured out league d ed strong ) and And play and h , getting b rew Li (â€˜21 opefully m ig ). The Vikes ake a bid a look to clo t the open se division fo r CCS.
Photo By Jenna Hickey
| FEBRUARY 2020
After a disappointing last season going 3-10-6, the girls soccer team looked to bounce back this season. With their new coach Armando Luna, and a relatively young team including sophomore Katherine Thomsen (pictured), the girls have won more games than they had their previous year only halfway through their in-league schedule. With a record of 4-3-7 the girls look to continue their trajectory for the remaining five games.
Photo By Jenna Hickey
| FEBRUARY 2020
Although the girls basketball team lost their star player Annika Shah (â€˜21) to an ACL tear, they have been tearing it up on the court. With no seniors on the team, the young Vikings, with many freshman including Delaney Ball (pictured), look to compete with more experienced teams. Although they are young, the Vikes have put up a strong season record of 12-5 and a league record of 6-1.
Photo By Jenna Hickey
| FEBRUARY 2020
Viking Editors-in-Chief Summer Daniel Dexter Gormley Yael Sarig
Web Director Will DeAndre
Social Media Manager Sofie Vogel
Managing Editors Sanaz Ebrahimi Joey Passarello
Photo Director Conner Lusk
Creative Director Ella Jones
Copy Editor Tina Lagerblad
Multimedia Managers Griffin Kemp Josh Lai Business Manager Alana Abeyta Beat Editors Ryan Bara Lincoln Bloom
Video Directors Sam Cleasby Kevin Cullen Head Columnists Sam Cleasby Kevin Cullen Senior Staff Writer Ryan Stanley
Volume XIII, Issue 4 February 2020 Staff Writers Sofia Bliss-Carrascosa Jackson Bundy Justin Byer Jack Elarde Hana Erickson James Fetter Jenna Hickey Vijay Homan Hayden Jung-Goldberg Sophie Kadifa Nikhil Majeti Matt Marzano Liam Nagesh Adar Schwarzbach Annika Shah Victoria Soulodre Tyler Stoen Luke Thieman Elif Turgut Adviser Brian Wilson
Viking Magazine Palo Alto High School 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301 650-329-3837 Email contact: email@example.com Advertising and Sponsorship Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Viking, a sports magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Advanced Magazine Journalism class, is an open forum for student expression and the discussion of issues of concern to its readership. The Viking is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost. The staff welcomes letters to the editor, but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Advertising in Viking The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with The Viking, please contact the The Viking by email at email@example.com Printing Services 2,500 copies of The Viking are printed, six times a year by Folger Graphics in Hayward, Calif. Logo Font Courtesy of Måns Grebäck All photos taken from Creative Commons unless noted
EDITORS Hello Vikings, After a disappointing football season for all of us Bay Area fans (Niners Faithful and Radier Nation, we can at least come together on this one...), we’re looking forward to a better continuation to 2020 in the coming months. With winter sports in full swing and spring sports on the horizon, be sure to look out for our Paly senior nights. They’re always a memorable event, a chance to say goodbye to our seniors and celebrate the incredible accomplishments they’ve contributed to Paly sports over their years at the school. And they’re a symbol for a bittersweet reality that’s soon to come for the editors: with the everanticipated kickoff of second semester
comes the knowledge that our time on staff is limited – our time at Paly is limited. So just as we’re taking a little extra time to appreciate the parts of Viking that are soon to be a memory — latenight productions, stories that seemed impossible to finish coming together beautifully at the last minute — be sure to take a little extra time to appreciate the senior athletes in your life. With that being said, we’re excited to bring our fourth issue of the year to you, and our second-to-last before our juniors assume their new leadership positions. Our cover story, “From the Stands,” explores fans who’ve taken their loyalty for their team to the extreme. Most of us have felt the pull of fandom and haven’t known why, exactly, we feel so connected to players whose lives are completely separate from our own. Why do we feel the joy of victory when they win and the crushing sense of defeat when they lose when we’ll never be a part of the locker room? Sofia Bliss-Carrascosa
(‘20), Tyler Stoen (‘21), Victoria Soulodre (‘21), and Luke Thieman (‘21) answer those questions and more on page 20. Our second feature, “Ballers to Scholars,” familiarizes Paly with a side of their teachers they may not know well: while we may recognize Debbie Whitson or Kathi Bowers for their teaching prowess, they — and several others on campus — got their start as skilled athletes. Tina Lagerblad (‘20), Nikhil Majeti (‘22), Hana Erickson (‘21), and Sophie Kadifa (‘21) explore how they made the transition from sports to schooling, and how the two fields are more interconnected than we might think, on page 35. In the rest of the issue, you’ll find a plethora of great stories, including an interview with George Talman, a Paly grad from 1952, and a look at Stanford’s football camp, a result of new California legislature allowing NCAA players to profit off of their own image. Happy reading, and Sko Vikes!
Summer Daniel Dexter Gormley Yael Sarig
oing into the state playoffs last year, the Vikings football team was surprised as they were seeded to Division III of the state tournament. In previous years, Paly had been a D1 team, but with the new seeding, the size of a school no longer matters, only their season record. Last year, the boys and girls basketball teams saw this change as well, but only in seeding for the state playoffs. This change comes in order to create closer, more interesting games. Instead of schools being seeded based on their rank within a range of school sizes, the new seeding ranks solely on their record and strength of schedule. The 2019-2020 football season showed two sides of the same coin for the new competitive equity rulings. On one side, we have the Milpitas Trojans: Division IV state champions, and fourth in the De Anza League (behind Wilcox, Los Gatos, and Palo Alto). In previous years, being fourth in the De Anza league would have pinned you at the bottom of the Division I playoff bracket with an unfavorable match up, to say the least. With perennial powerhouse leagues such as the De
Anza, West Catholic, and Peninsula, it allowed for this seemingly David versus was very difficult for teams who didn’t Goliath match up and a disappointing dominate their league to ascend higher end to a very promising season for the than the lowest seed within the top Half Moon Bay Cougars. divisions. In the most recent season, with But does competitive equity make the redesigned playoffs, Milpitas was lower division championships less the top seed in the Division IV bracket, valuable? Viking says yes. In 2006 despite a mediocre performance in when the Vikings won their Division II league play. Albeit, Division IV does not state championship in basketball, they boast the same prestige as Division II, established themselves as the best yet Milpitas still added a state champion school in California with between 1,500 trophy to the ranks of school accolades. and 2,000 students, since school size was Flip to the other side of the coin and how divisions were established before you have the Half Moon Bay Cougars. the change. If this Vikings team were With a 10-0 record heading into the to have won Division II under the new playoffs, the Cougar football team had seeding, this state championship would high spirits as well as expectations for have meant that they were only the 81st success. This was until they learned that best team in California. As we can see, they were seeded lowest in the Division by seeding using competitive equity, the I CCS bracket against notorious power value of lower division championships house Junipero Serra. Their season came become more and more minimal. At to what many believe to be a premature Viking, we believe that CCS and CIF end, as they were defeated by Serra 42- should veer away from competitive 14. Without the competitive equity rules equity in order to preserve the prestige in place, these two teams would be in of a section and state title. With several completely different brackets based off state title trophies among our accolades, of not only the disparity in school size, Paly can attest to the prestige of this but also in the ability for private school achievement. recruitment. The new playoff rules @vikingsportsmag | FEBRUARY 2020 | 11
a quick look at Paly athletes, as told to Alana Abeyta and Griffin Kemp
INSIDE THE MIND OF MACGUIRE FERRELL (‘20) Advice for people looking to improve? Actually hit the wall and practice in your free time. Best part about playing lax?
Who is your favorite teammate?
Team chemistry and building friendships with teammates.
Faisal because he is a straight animal.
How do you get locked in? By relaxing and trying to have fun. Laney Henry (‘21) Lacrosse
Aaron Li (‘20) Tennis
What is one thing you can’t live without?
What are you elite at? What is your pet peeve?
What is your spirit animal?
Miranda Jimenez (‘20) Track and Field
Gretchen Berndt (‘21) Track and Field
Deep dish pizza
Hearing people chew
School bathroom users
“I love watching us win basketball games against rival schools because it brings us Vikings together.” - Faisal Ojjeh (‘20)
K C E
H C D
W O R
“There is no sixth man in the league like ours. It is so cool to go to away games and still see the student section packed. Paly basketball has always been such a historically good program [and] all the students support it so much.” - Grace Thayer (‘20) @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2020
BREAKING NEWS LACROSSE JOINS CCS
By RYAN BARA, SANAZ EBRAHIMI and RYAN STANLEY
Both the boys and girls lacrosse teams have joined the CCS league after many years playing for the SCVAL championships. It has been a long time coming, as the players have been waiting for the greater recognition and competition stemming from placement in the CCS league. The boys have won SCVALS three years in a row and the girlsÂ have come close each year, winning their first championship four years ago. The players hope to gain more respect for their sport and benefit from additional funding with their entrance into the CCS league.
Photo By Jenna Hickey 14
IN LOVING MEMORY of KOBE BRYANT and GIANNA BRYANT 1978 - 2020 2006 - 2020 @vikingsportsmag
Art by Sanaz Ebrahimi | FEBRUARY 2020
by L I JUN NCOLN G-G B OLD LOOM , HA BER Y PAS SAR G, and DEN ELLO JOEY
Destination Resorts Alta (Utah)
Priding itself on a “skier only” atmosphere, Alta is a superb location due to its long runs and advanced terrain. A famous run, the “High Rustler,” is considered to be one of the hardest runs in North America. “I’ve had many funny moments off the HT [High Traverse] like having a double ejection and yard sale then rolling down to the bottom,” said Michael Young (‘20), a frequent skier of Alta. “The High Traverse is a gateway to many different options of skiing and difficulty.” 16
Jackson Hole (WYOMING) Whistler (Canada)
Whistler Blackcomb is widely considered to be one of the best ski resorts in the world. With 200 runs and 37 lifts, Whistler offers a huge variety of terrain in the largest winter sports area in North America. Another perk of Whistler is that skiers can ski year-round on the Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb.
Jackson Hole is the perfect resort if you are looking for intermediate to advanced terrain. Jackson Hole’s snow is of a high quality and is abundant. There are over 130 named runs, with the top ranked being “The Hobacks” and “Expert Chutes.” Rentals are available and the customer service is great. Jackson Hole is also known for being one of the best skiing resorts in North America according to Forbes.
Top Ski Resorts (Tahoe) 1. Alpine Meadows PRICE
“Kirkwood gets the most snow every year, and if you like steep terrain, there is nowhere you can get more vertical feet in one day.” - Dennis DeAndre, Rad Dad
3. Heavenly PRICE
“Heavenly is nice because it is a huge mountain with lots of variety in its runs. This makes it good for every type of skiier.” - Jurgen Dittrich (‘20)
4. Diamond Peak
“Squaw is a good mountain but they don’t have a good culture. They are making skiing into a sport that is only for the upper class.” - Gretchen Berndt (‘21)
Most overrated resorts 1. Squaw
Diamond Peak is one of Tahoe’s most criminally underrated resorts. At just $52 per day, there is not another mountain that can beat this price. Although it is small, locals love it.
“Alpine was the best resort because it was cheap and it was not run by a corporation that only cares about getting your money.” - Gretchen Berndt (‘21)
“I was skiing throughout winter break and the snow was not as good as it could have been.” - Creighton Morgenfeld (‘20)
| FEBRUARY 2020
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com
on the Diamond
by JAMES FETTER and VIJAY HOMAN
The Astros cheating scandal has emerged as one of the most disgraceful actions towards the game in recent years, even drawing comparisons to the infamous Pete Rose incident of the 1980s. But was the punishment towards the people involved too harsh?
hite Sox pitcher Danny this at-bat became proof that the Astros was a promising candidate for the Hall Farquar looks down at his have been illegally stealing signs from of Fame. Cora has a similar story: after catcher’s signs to receive catchers and report them to hitters. thriving in the Houston organization the call for the 2-2 pitch. A As a result of their cheating, the Astros as their bench coach, he became the change-up. It was perfect — the contrast in organization was fined $5 million, and manager of the Boston Red Sox. They speed from the previous fastballs would lost their 2020 and 2021 first and second- would go on to win a World Series title in surely get the batter, Astros designated round draft picks. General manager Jeff his first season with the team. He too was hitter Evan Gattis, to mistime his swing Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were widely regarded as one of the brightest and strike out. both suspended for one year without young minds in all of baseball. Two loud bangs come from the Astros pay, and subsequently fired the day Another controversial aspect of the dugout, and Gattis fouls the ball off. their punishments were released. The investigation was that the players who Farquar next tosses a fastball, no bang punishment led were involved in comes from the dugout, and Gattis fouls to outcries from the scandal were it off again. As Farquar sets up for a numerous fans, granted full immunity change-up on his seventh pitch of the at- who felt that the Lunhow, Hinch, and Cora in exchange for their bat, he again hears two successive bangs people involved are all likely to never be truthful testimony. This from the Astros dugout, just as there had (including the helped the league been on his previous change-up. players) should involved in professional determine exactly He was coming to the realization then have been what happened and baseball again. and there that somehow, the Astros were r e p r i m a n d e d produce their report in reporting to their hitters the pitches he more. a timely manner. was throwing, and that he had to work However, the While some fans around it. He steps off the mound, calls thing that many people fail to realize may disagree with this deal, we do not. his catcher in, and changes his signs. On is that this punishment is much more The report released by the MLB shows the next pitch, Gattis strikes out. severe for the executives involved: evidence that the Astros coaching staff At the time, this seemed insignificant Luhnow, Hinch, and then-Astros bench set up the system, and that the players — one at-bat during the regular season coach Alex Cora are all likely to never be simply executed it. It is likely that some doesn’t usually cause a stir. But as involved in professional baseball again. of the players were opposed to cheating, evidenced mounted for the case that This is a huge turnaround for Hinch, who but to distinguish those players from the Astros used technology to steal came one game away from winning two those who encouraged it would be signs during their historic 2017 season, World Series titles in three years and difficult. 18 | VIKING MAGAZINE | vikingsportsmag.com
Numbers Don’t Lie
Another contention made by fans is that the Astros 2017 World Series title should be given to the Dodgers, as Houston defeated Los Angeles in seven games that year with the use of the sign stealing system. However, to suggest that the Dodgers would have won had the .333 Astros not used this system is dangerous. .308 Both teams were star-studded, and the .282 .278 .270 .258 Astros very well could have won without .232 cheating. .212 The punishments handed out by the league suggest that the MLB wanted to come down with an iron fist in order to demonstrate the severity of the situation. As shown on the chart pictured to the right, this clearly had a positive effect for the Astros hitters. With that considered, this might be the biggest scandal to hit professional baseball since Pete Rose personal experience of this, having that this punishment could have been wagered on games while playing. played baseball for a number of years. handed out in order to scare other teams Rose is the all-time MLB hits leader, While playing for Paly, one of the things that were suspected of doing the same and one of the best players of his that players found most intriguing was thing. As the Astros news has surfaced, generation. After retiring from playing trying to figure out the signs that pitching others have come forward to back up baseball in 1986, he went on to manage coaches relayed to catchers. In order the fact that machine-aided sign stealing his former team until 1989, when he to combat this, pitchers, catchers, and is eminent in the MLB. Most notably, Cywas banned permanently for betting coaches will create more complicated Young winner Jack McDowell accused on games. Even though he is one of the sign systems which use multiple numbers Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa of most accomplished hitters of all time, or movements. setting up a camera in center field to he will likely never get into the Hall of “Here’s the thing: everybody steals steal signs during the late 1980s. For all Fame during his lifetime. The reason for signs, [we] know this,” Suter said. “Is we know, this could have been going on his ban, as explained by the league, was it any different for decades, and this is just the first we’re fairly simple — they doing it with a hearing of it. didn’t want to allow video camera as “How many teams are in the league? 30 people to taint the “Everybody steals signs, opposed to the teams?” Suter said. “Do you really think game. eyeball test, or is it in your heart of hearts that these three John Suter, Paly’s JV [we] know this.” an unwritten rule? people were the only ones that were baseball head coach, There’s a lot of cheating or using video devices?” —John Suter, understands the area there.” He brings up a good point. We think that MLB’s punishment Paly JV Baseball Coach gray We agree. In the the league had to be harsh, but ensure and believes in the grand scheme that it didn’t associate sign stealing with goals that the league of things, sign betting on games, because the two is trying to achieve. stealing is not as big a deal as the media are so different. Sign stealing has been “I think if the public believes that suggests. Many portray it as a distinct going on since baseball’s inception, and baseball is not legit, then it becomes advantage that grants a team free wins, betting on games is just blatantly wrong. nothing but pro-wrestling,” Suter said. but that’s simply not the case. Some Meanwhile, the implicit consequences “And while we know wrestling is fixed, players don’t even like to know what brought upon the people involved is it is definitely not fake in the sense that pitch is coming, because it messes up greater than people realize. Baseball those guys are great athletes.” their routine. While the Astros 2017 fans will always wonder if the Astros were However, he thinks that the damage season will always have an asterisk next as good a team as their record suggests. this does to the reputation of the MLB to it, we don’t think you can discredit They will always wonder if they should’ve is not nearly as bad as Rose’s gambling. their tremendous season entirely or won that World Series, or if it was just the What distinguishes the two is that sign suggest that their sign stealing is as bad product of their cheating. stealing is common practice in baseball, as fixing games. Isn’t that punishment enough? albeit without the use of technology. Coach Suter brings up the fact Runners on second base will regularly relay catchers’ signs to hitters, in order for them to know what pitch is coming. One of us has
| FEBRUARY 2020
Photos by Yael Sarig
From die-hard Oakland superfans to wild World Cup celebrations in the streets of Paris, countless people around the world go all-out for their favorite teams. There is no “right way” to be a fan, and as such, there are a myriad of ways that people express their fandom. Let’s take a look into the unique world of fandom and some its wildest examples. by SOFIA BLISS-CARRASCOSA, VICTORIA SOULODRE, TYLER STOEN, and LUKE THIEMAN
he dominant French national team leads Croatia 4-2 in the final seconds. A desperate lastminute shot from Croatia falls into the arms of French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. He holds onto the ball tightly, as if his life depends on securing possession. The final whistle is approaching, and France knows that the game is won. The French people watching from home are on the verge of pure ecstasy, and those who made the trip to Moscow just for the game are on their feet and beginning the celebration. The French sideline is dancing and hugging, and the players on the field are desperately waiting for the referee’s final whistle to join their teammates celebration. The referee checks his watch, puts the whistle to his lips, and blows. The World Cup is over, and France has won. The bench storms the field and the team forms a mob of exuberant, jumping players. The emotion is overwhelming: utter joy. It is France’s second World Cup, and the long wait –– France’s last victory was in 1998 –– makes the victory all the more satisfying. When the final whistle blows, the population erupts with joy. The entire nation seemed to slow to a stop during the World Cup, as many people paused their lives to watch each
game. During the final, thousands of citizens crowded the streets, watching live broadcasts and collectively experiencing the highs and lows of the game. Following the win, happy mobs run through major cities, waving national flags and singing the praises of the winning team. Paris lights up with fireworks as a wave of euphoria sweeps over the nation. Sacred Heart Prep high school junior Hugo Thomas shared in the celebrations that lasted for weeks following the win. Originally from France, he returned to the country over the summer and experienced a change in the national attitude. “The spirits were just elevated,” Thomas said. “Everything was increased in terms of good mood. Everyone was way happier than usual.” The fandom of the French people manifested in their nationalistic pride, celebrating the victory as a unified country. “Almost every day you would hear someone going around singing the national anthem and people just wearing French colors and people
“It’s not a negative thing. It’s not like it’s a protest. People are doing it because they are so excited. It’s infectious. You can’t resist.” Hugo Thomas
getting excited about the win,” Thomas said. The French reaction to victory was not unusual. For many, their own happiness is tied to the success of their sports teams. Just as a championship can bring ecstasy to a city, a defeat can bring despair to loyal fans. While fans share in their dedication, the origins of their support can vary dramatically. It is extremely common for people to become fans because their parents had a connection to a team. Exposure to others who support the team will often produce young fans, who, like most children, learn from their parents and begin to emulate their behaviors. This is especially true in the case of national teams, since nationalistic values are ingrained in children from a young age. “Part of [the celebration] was also being patriotic,” Thomas said. “There was an elevated sense of nationalism and happiness being in France.” The World Cup victory for France was a unifying event for the nation, and people from across the country were able to share in the joy of winning. It is evident that nationalism is a strong motivator for fandom, and this patriotic pride is reflected in the intensity of the celebration in France. “The streets when they won were just packed,” Thomas said. “People were taking over public transportation, buses were just getting raided and people
“People were getting trampled in Paris.” Hugo Thomas
| FEBRUARY 2020
were just going in there and moshing. People were getting trampled in Paris.” Nationalism is such a strong motivator for sports fandom because it is rooted from something intrinsic about a person: their country. Because of this, people can easily connect with each other in support of their country anywhere in the world. “I was in the US during the World Cup final,” Thomas said. “There were some random French people there wearing Pogba jerseys or Mbappe jerseys, and we met up and started going crazy. So it was really cool to experience patriotism even outside of France. The fact that all the French people were excited about the World Cup brought us together. Strangers that I didn’t know; we started getting super hyped up, and that was really reflected in France as well.” The strength of nationalistic motivations was strongly reflected in the intensity of the celebration of the people. The crazy celebrations spread like wildfire, engulfing the nation in euphoria. “When buses were getting raided and hijacked and people are moshing on them and people are blocking roundabouts and you can’t drive through Photo Courtesy of Tom Galetti
Paris...you gotta join in,” Thomas said. “It’s not a negative thing. It’s not like it’s a protest. People are doing it because they are so excited. It’s infectious. You can’t resist.” But nationalistic motivations are not the only driving factor for fandom; there are many fans whose dedication to their teams go beyond their country. Some support their teams despite having no geographic or familial ties. It is not uncommon for people to become attached to teams for reasons that many may not expect. For dedicated Patriots fan Tom Galetti (‘20), his dedication sprung out of sympathy for the dominant team that had lost its star 22
player and has since developed into a near-obsession. On game days, Galetti wears red, white and blue to represent his Patriots as do other fans to show their support. Galetti, however, found himself a fan of the Patriots under unusual circumstances. “When I was five, I heard that some random team (the Patriots) went 16-0 and I thought that was so cool,” Galetti said. “They never lost a game. But then I saw that the same team lost the Super Bowl, and then to start off the 2008 season that same team lost its best player in the very first game. I felt so bad for them I said, ‘Man, it must be tough to be a fan of that team’ so I started liking them.” Photo Courtesy of Tom Galetti Galetti’s love for the Patriots franchise is evidenced by his closet, as he is known for sporting team bandwagon to die-hard, and the actions of some of the most extreme fans — gear after most wins. For Galetti, the success of his favorite superfans — can cross into the extreme. teams — the Patriots and the Univesity of These extremes cause us to question California, Berkeley — is strongly tied to why we are fans, and what it means to be a fan. his happiness. There are some extreme — and often “I definitely feel destructive — examples of radical a lot better after a Patriots (or Cal) fandom, but superfandom is not limited win and I feel like to short tempers and violence. Superfans my weekend was can range from people who seek to be at least partially unique in their fandom, to those who wasted when the simply want to have fun expressing their Patriots lose,” support. John Silva, known in the Raiders Galetti said. Galetti’s passion community as “El Cucuy,” which refers to for the Patriots has his head-to-toe costume, has witnessed abnormal origins, fans so passionate about their teams that but there are they are unwilling to let others express countless stories of themselves in the same way. He has dedicated fans who found that among the community of fans strongly support their who dress up, some will even become local teams as part of a community of upset when their costumes are replicated supporters. For most, the question “Why by others. “I had a few friends who dressed up and are people fans?” doesn’t change their loyalties. They will still support the teams, they would get mad when somebody buy tickets, wear jerseys, and hope for else would dress up with the same costume that success. One of the they had,” Silva more intricate aspects said. “I told of fandom is not why them, ‘Look, if people are fans, but you got it at a how, and to what store, you can’t extent, they show their not expect support. And if this someone else support crosses into to go to the the extreme, why? store and buy The level of what you’re dedication can wearing.’” range from casual
“I felt so bad for them I said ‘Man, it must be tough to be a fan of that team’ so I started liking them.” Tom Galetti
Since he started dressing in costume for Raiders games in 2012, he has made every effort to keep his persona as unique as possible to avoid these confrontations. Before every game, he wakes up hours in advance, shaves his head, and sits patiently while his aunt paints detailed designs on his face and glues spikes to his head. For a 1:00 p.m. game, Silva will wake up as early as 4:00 or 4:30 a.m. to begin the process. The make-up transformation is so dramatic that fans of opposing teams and Raiders fans alike are shocked when they see him. “When I’m out of town and people see it they’re a little more wowed,” Silva said. “Some people are kind of intimidated at first and then they hear me talk and they see my demeanor and they realize that I’m a pretty chill, laid-back person.” Silva dressing up for Raiders home games is one thing, but when he can, he will even appear in costume to support his team at away games. At times though, logistics impede him from enjoying road
games as El Cucuy. To lug his makeup, Johansen thinks of pin collecting as a hefty airbrush, and other materials, Silva part of baseball fandom, and views the adds an entire additional suitcase to collection he has amassed over the years his travels making the process far more as a window into the past. difficult. “This is part of the very fabric of Even more baseball,” Johansen said. “You can have shocking, though, an entire event, you know, encapsulated is the camaraderie on one little pin… There’s a lot of between dedicated historical references that are on each fans that Silva’s pin.” process reflects. His Johansen has collected 1100 pins aunt — the woman over the years, and wears a fishing vest spending three filled with pins to each game. However, hours on his makeup — isn’t even a Raiders fan. She’s a faithful fan of the Bay Area’s other team, the 49ers. Depsite dressing in what appears to be a very intimidating costume, Silva says that his main motivation for continuing with his character is entertaining the kids who attend Raiders’ games, kids who are surprisingly unafraid of him. El Cucuy isn’t the only Oakland superfan. Die-hard A’s fan Brian Johansen — known in the A’s community Photo Courtesy of Brian Johansen as “the Kingpin” — has been a season ticket holder since his youth his experience as an A’s superfan goes and is a prominent figure in beyond collecting pins, and he has the A’s community due to his formed many lasting memories as “the famous collection of A’s pins. Kingpin.” Last season, he was invited When he went to games onto the field to meet his favorite player, with his dad as a season ticket Ramon Laureano, and got autographed holder, he was inspired to memorabilia. collect pins by a couple sitting “They randomly just invited me onto the next to him. He began to collect field,” Johansen said. “They let me get to A’s pins, and would buy as meet my favorite player Ramon...they many as he could each game. put my name up on the board on the big “I just got screen and obsessed with everything .” it,” Johansen Johansen said. “So remains a every time we fan even came to the despite ups ballpark, my and downs dad would in the A’s fan take me community around the and some concourse recent rough and we pretty patches for much buy any pin that they the team. He has stuck through difficult had.” times under bad ownership, and
“I had a few friends who dressed up and they would get mad when somebody else would dress up with the same costume.” John Silva
Photo Courtesy of John Silva
“When I’m out of town and people see it they’re a little more wowed.” John Silva
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after years of decreasing ticket sales and limited on-field success, he has confidence that the A’s organization — and the fanbase — are on the rise. “We’ve had some tough goes at ownership, and so it’s really turned off a
and yelled, “what the f*ck”. The clip went viral, and has since become an internet meme. However, the moment also ended up being the basis for community charity work. They used T-shirts joking about the moment to raise money, eventually raising over $3000. His fandom has also been a source of inspiration for other fans. In one case, his pin collection inspired a child to take up the hobby. “There’s a little boy named Mason, and I gave him a bunch of pins and, well, next thing you know he shows up a couple weeks later, and his entire Jersey is now covered in pins,” Johansen said. Although somewhat different in her expression of fandom, Robin Schreiber is another fan who is acutely aware of the positive impact their dedication has on others. The famous “Dance Cam Mom” of Oracle Arena, Schreiber is known for dancing wildly on the jumbotron at Warriors games. However, Photo Courtesy of Brian Johansen her story goes far deeper than the big screen. lot of fans, but it’s actually getting better Schreiber has been a fan since her youth with this new management group and and has been a season ticket holder of this new ownership group,” Johansen the Warriors’ for 39 said. “It looks like attendance is going to years with her family. go up.” She has remained In addition to being a loyal fan, he loyal through the has gone viral on the Internet for his good seasons and fandom. The day after Ramon Laureano, the bad ones, from his favorite player, returned from a stress many losing seasons injury, he was hit by a pitch. The A’s led to the dynasty team the league in hit batters, so it was already that dominated in the a sore subject among fans. As soon as mid-to-late 2010s. Despite the recent Laureano was hit, Johansen jumped up struggles of the team, she still attends games regularly to Steph Curry shows off his Curry 4 Dance Cam Mom Shoes show her lasting support. “If you know anything about the Warriors, most of our time spent at that stadium, it was not a winning team,” Schreiber said. “And when we couldn’t go, we couldn’t even give away the tickets.” She is a die-hard fan, and visibly expresses her deep commitment to the
“This is part of the very fabric of baseball. You can have an entire event encapsulated on one little pin.” Brian Johansen team. During a game a few years ago, a video of Schreiber dancing wildly for the stadium’s dance cam in a Warriors ugly Christmas sweater went viral and she came to be known to Warrior fans as the “Dance Cam Mom.” The video had over 140 million views on Bleacher Report and over 200 million views on ESPN. Since the video, she has become a wellknown figure in the Warriors community. “I get recognized in public even [when] I don’t walk around in my Warrior sweater, but it’s funny,” Schreiber said. She has even formed a connection with the team itself. Under Armor and star player Steph Curry partnered to create a custom shoe inspired by Schreiber and her dance cam performances. The shoe features the same design that is seen on the sweater worn by Schreiber at Warriors games. She has also emerged as a symbol of diehard fandom for fellow supporters and gives an example of what it means to be a Warriors fan. “They say ‘You’re part of the spirit of the team,’” Schreiber said. Her big screen dance routine has since become a fixture of home Warriors games, as she usually gets on the jumbotron during the dance cam. But even though she is a superfan like many others, her actions are merely a positive expression of support and not extreme acts of fanaticism. “We go to sporting events for entertainment, nothing more,” Schreiber said. “It’s not serious. It’s not life and death. Just have fun. I hope it adds to the experience.” Though sports do impact the personal happiness of many fans less dedicated than Schreiber, she has a very healthy perspective on sports.
“You’re part of the spirit of the team.” Robin Schreiber
Photo Courtesy of John Silva
“I am not impacted personally, about wins or losses, I enjoy the experience of going to the game,” Schreiber said. “And I think as I mentioned before, I have a good perspective that this is about entertainment.” The impact of her actions goes beyond the seats at Oracle Arena and the new Chase Center. Because of her fandom and dancing persona, Schreiber has become an important part of the Warriors community, and her media prominence is used to help real-world causes outside of the arena. “I’ve done close to 60 charitable events,” Schreiber said. “I really love working with the Boys and Girls Clubs.” She seeks to continue charitable work — not only as an icon but as a person — in the future. “There’s a lot of organizations in the Bay Area that need help,” Schreiber said. “And if you have the time, it’s just something that makes you feel good to get back to your community.”
She has also touched many individuals with her fandom. Her video was one of the only sources of laughter for the wife and daughter of a man in critical condition after a motorcycle crash, and when he awoke after a coma, it caused him to smile for the first time since the crash. She was even approached by a man from the Czech Republic, who says he plays her video in a bar and everyone cheers for her. Her dance-cam enthusiasm has been used to inspire people to better themselves because of her positive attitude and happiness. “To inspire people to get better, or to be happy in their life is something that’s pretty good,” Schreiber said. Silva has also had a chance to make an impact on others as El Cucuy. He partnered with the Ronald McDonald House to meet a young girl needing both a kidney and a liver transplant. He describes this as his favorite fan interaction to date. “[The girl and her sister] got to go to the Raider game with their mom and their mom messaged me and said ‘Hey, I know you’re here, is there any way you could come and see us where we are sitting?’” Silva said. “And so by the time I got over there, the little girl was asleep. Then I was like, ‘Oh,’ and she heard me and she woke up right away and was so excited to see me.” Because of their actions representing the dedicated fan-bases of their respective franchises, Schreiber and Silva have been referred to as “superfans” but they each have their own take on what that word means, and whether it should rightly be used to describe them.
When asked whether she fit this category, Robin Schreiber responded, “Oh, definitely.” Some, she says, call her a bandwagoner. “I always laugh because—are you kidding me? I am the least bandwagon,” Schreiber said. Silva, on the other hand, disagrees with the term. “I think everybody has their own ways of being passionate,” Silva says. “A lot of people consider the people who dress up ‘superfans,’ which, I don’t really care for the term very much.” As someone who dedicates a significant amount of time, energy, and money toward dressing up in support of his team, he understands that others may not have this same ability. “I don’t think it’s a good title because, to me, everybody’s a fan,” Silva says. “Financial situations might not allow somebody to be representing the way other people do, and I don’t think that’s fair for somebody else to be considered a non-superfan just because of their situation.” Fandom is not a concrete term. Whether it be storming the streets in Paris, dressing up in crazy outifts, collecting hundreds of pins, or dancing happily, people express their support and dedication to their teams in different ways. All fans have their own reasons to cheer and own ways of doing so. For many, it’s because of the love of the country. Some have personal reasons that others may not understand. Others just love to have fun in the sports world. Cheer — or don’t cheer — for who you want and be proud of it. In the end, sports can bring people together, build communities, and provide an entertaining outlet for millions of people across the world. Whether you follow sports or not, fandom is an important part of our society. But with this in mind, we must also keep a sense of perspective. Some of the most extreme actions of radical fandom allow us to take a step back and remember — in the words of Robin Schreiber—”It’s not serious. It’s not life and death. Just have fun.”
“I don’t think that’s fair for somebody to be considered a nonsuperfan just because of their [financial] situation.” John Silva
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TOP PLAYS OF
By JOSH LAI, ADAR SCHWARZBACH, and ELIF TURGUT
5. KOSGEI SETS MARATHON RECORD
In the 2019 Chicago Marathon, Brigid Kosgei ran a 26.2 mile marathon in a record breaking 2 hours, 14 minutes, and four seconds. This 25-year-old runner set a new standard for women all around the world and even lead people to believe that breaking a “2:10” for women is definitely possible, a feat that was previously considered unthinkable. Kosgei continues to train and believes that a “‘2:10 is possible for a lady.’” She aims to run even quicker at the 2020 London Marathon.
4. ODELL CATCH With one of the most popular catches of the decade, former Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. became a star overnight. On a Sunday night in November, 2015, Eli Manning launched a bomb to Beckham, who was interfered with but still made a one-handed grab. Instantly, the rookie was on every social media platform, including NBA superstar LeBron James tweeting offering to have dinner with him. Although Beckham’s career has been decorated with unforgettable moments, his three-fingered catch will always remain his greatest moment. 26
As the 2010s wrap up and a new decade begins, a fresh start begins for everyone. To commemorate the last ten years, the most memorable moments in sports are ranked below.
3. USA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP WIN During the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Team USA beat the Netherlands with a 2-0 victory. During the summer, France sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination. After this victory, a crowd of 57,900 people broke into a chant: “Equal. Pay.” This was such a remarkable moment for the sports world because it expressed the emotions that women had advocated for for so long, but now, the general public was making a stand.
F THE DECADE 2. MINNEAPOLIS MIRACLE
Trailing 24-23 in the 2018 NFC Divisonal Championship, the Minnesota Vikings faced a 3rd & 10 on their own 39 yard line with 25 seconds left against the New Orleans Saints. However, this game was far from over. On cue, quarterback Case Keenum dropped a 27-yard pass into the outstretched hands of receiver Stefon Diggs who took it all the way to the end zone for a touchdown. Known as the “Minneapolis Miracle,” the catch instantly becomes a top play of the decade.
1. KICK SIX The Kick Six was the final play of the college football game on November 30, 2013 between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn. With one second remaining in the game, the teams were tied at 28. Vowing to kick a field goal instead of playing for overtime, Alabama was positioned for a 57-yard field goal. The kick was short and fell into the hands of Auburn cornerback Chris Davis, who returned it across the entire field for a 109-yard touchdown.
Aidan Rausch lobbed it up to Ryan Purpur and Purpur just yammed it in and it was a pretty close game so that was a big momentum play. - Ziggy Tummalapalli (‘21)
The center fielder tripped and his glove fell off and then he got up and dove and caught the ball barehanded. - Ritter Amsbaugh (‘21)
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With California being the first state to pass a bill that allows college athletes to get paid with regulations, Stanford Football hosts their first ever camp run by the athletes themselves. Their first camp, held at Hillview Middle School, had a huge show out of young athletes who look up to these players at the collegiate level.
by ELLA JONES, YAEL SARIG, and ANNIKA SHAH
Photo by Yael Sarig.
giving players a chance to be more than just athletes
he arms will take you; the arms and fun can be felt. The heightened will set you free!” Treyjohn Butler energy most likely stems from the novelty says, cupping his hands around of the situation: this is the first Stanford an imaginary football as young football camp organized by Athlete’s players individually sprint out at him. Ten Guide, and the occasion is all the more feet in they make a sharp pivot, turn, and special considering it’s one of the first catch the ball over their right shoulder, if instances where athletes will be able to they’re speedy enough and they properly receive compensation for their collegeutilize those ever-important arms. athlete role. Down the field to the right, two campers For years, Stanford has hosted football crouch on the starting line, and, at the camps for high schoolers and younger shrill whistle, spring forward into pads children. But in all previous years, those held by Stanford players which mimic a camps have been run by Stanford defensive line. Most campers can’t push coaches. Stanford athletes have long had the Stanford players back more than an the opportunity to help with the camps; inch, but considering their frame, an inch however, participation is on a voluntary or two is more than deserving of the high basis, and the work is unpaid. fives and encouragement they receive. Athlete’s Guide is a new concept – a In the center of the field, aspiring groundbreaking one. Aided by changes quarterbacks practice throwing into the in NCAA legislature permitting college hands of the older players and, further athletes to profit off of their own image, down, campers work on their footwork, Daniel Marx, Reilly Madden, and Cole navigating in and out of ladders and Dargan, the creators of the camp, cones under the watchful eyes of the envisioned a new reality for athletic Stanford athletes. Amidst this bustling clinics. Dargan compares it to Uber: why field, a tangible sensation of drive, focus, not offer a similar service where athletes 28 | VIKING MAGAZINE | vikingsportsmag.com
can schedule one-on-one sessions with specific athletes? No more unspecific camps where a defensive back learns from a wide receiver; no more camps filled with too many young players taught by too few coaches. Within the new model, young players would be able to select a specific college athlete whose position, skills, or experience are most applicable or enticing. The young player would then continue to train under the watchful eye of that same athlete for multiple sessions. The athlete is no longer just a trainer; they’re a mentor. “I participated in regular skills camp, which were overcrowded, not coached or mentored,” Dargan said. “They only focused on the biggest or fastest guy to be recruited.” Athlete’s Guide intends to change the traditional format of skills camps, in which campers spend a few hours with a camp instructor and then must learn to integrate those skills into their playing career on their own. “[With Athlete’s Guide,] you get the
chance to continue that relationship [with an active player] after camp,” Marx added. Specifically, active players running the camp offers participants a unique perspective on life as an athlete. “They’re going to understand how to talk to the youth and offer a more holistic view about the larger context of being an athlete,” Dargan said. Presently, the Athlete’s Guide’s trainer offerings are nondescript. Go on their website, and you’ll see the option to book “Softball Outfielder #1,” or “Women’s Soccer Midfielder #2.” Soon, that will change. Laws providing college-athletes an avenue to receive payment will be slow to come to fruition. But it’s a start to combat the shocking realities of life as an NCAA athlete. Behind the glitz and glamour of NCAA victories, the cigar-lighting and the basketball net cutting, lies a grimmer truth that Athlete’s Guide is trying to combat: college players are, overwhelmingly, poor. The statistics are staggering. According to a joint study conducted by the National College Players Association and Drexel University’s Department of Sport Management, 85 percent of players on those full scholarships living on campus live below the federal poverty
line; the figure is 86 percent for those living off campus. Even more startling is the value of the
football player was $121,048. It’s the kind of salary that would set most adults for life. It’s the kind of salary the coaches are paid – at the University of Texas, for instance, college coaches were paid an average of over $3.5 million each in 2010 while 100% of their football players received scholarships that left them living below the federal poverty line. Dargan compares it to slave labor. “The NCAA covers up how many athletes live below the poverty line,” Dargan said. “They live how slaves live; they have money if they’re on the ‘reservation,’ but can’t do things outside of the team financially. Thousands of athletes join groups after graduation to find jobs,” because graduating “without even the experience of working at an ice cream shop on your resumé” sets players up for a life of financial instability. Why not get a part time job? According to Business Insider, college athletes must contend with 30-hour per week time commitments solely from their sport – for some sports, that obligation jumps to 40 hours. Yet these athletes aren’t full-time workers for their school, as a professional athlete would
85 percent of players on full athletic scholarships living on campus live below the federal poverty line. The figure is 86 percent for those living off campus. players compared to the figures in their bank account. The fair market value of an average Football Bowl Subdivision
Donald Stewart, a Stanford wide receiver, tosses a football. Photo by Yael Sarig. @vikingsportsmag
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be. Players are still expected to attend class full-time,. Michael Williams, a senior defensive tackle at Stanford, says he and several teammates actually did work part-time, but found that balancing the job meant giving up on necessities as basic as sleep. “We all have these jobs and all work...but we have to sacrifice sleep towards making money,” Williams said. “It’s a give-and-take type of thing.” The NCAA, of course, has rules and regulations in place to prevent student-athletes from spending too much time on their sport. But the definition of “too much” is subjective – and the regulations are simple to bypass. Athletes are currently meant to spend no more than 20 hours per week on official team activities. But according to a 2010 NCAA survey, no player across any sport practiced for less than 28 hours. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which an athlete, swamped with school-work, is implicitly told that an optional practice is not quite as optional as it seems; that if they want to keep their starting spot on the team, which the springy new player is gunning for, then some extra time in the weight room could do them some good. Completely optional, of course. Or is it? “The extra work is all initiative, and it’s up to your own discretion what you want to put into it,” Dylan Boles, a defensive end, said. “Guys do take a considerable amount of time just outside of what is required through the program to dedicate to their craft. There’s a lot of guys that want to put extra time in the film room or out on the field or the weight room, or whatever it might be to better their game, so you have the regulated part of it that we abide by, but then also a lot of guys take that time to better themselves in their position.” It may be true that at Stanford,
the regulations really are abided by more thoroughly than at other schools. Marx, who played football for Stanford himself, had a vastly different experience than Dargan, who attended the University of South Carolina, did. According to Marx, his own awareness of the collegiateathlete payment debate was limited. “It’s not necessarily something I ever thought about,” Marx said. “I didn’t know
Dargan has a host of harrowing anecdotes about players’ lack of ability to enjoy life as a normal college student. They simply didn’t have the money to do so. “I knew a current Seahawks player, Jadeveon Clowney, who was the No. 1 pick out of South Carolina,” Dargan said. “He had ten dollars in his bank account, but 400,000 followers. So no money, but he obviously could have had more, if he had access.” He recounts a time when he saw a player sitting at a bar for hours while customers bustled around him. When Dargan approached him to ask why he wasn’t buying anything, the player told him he wasn’t able to pay. Dargan bought him drinks. He remembers when a player at Notre Dame was left homeless, because the school had kicked him out of the dorm room once he transferred. Dargan let him sleep on his coach. He recalls a year when South Carolina went to the Final Four – he went to every game to support them, even away games. After a University of South Carolina win, Dargan went out to celebrate with the team, and found that none of the kids could pay for food. Dargan chipped in for their meals. Dargan has carried those memories with him even now, years removed from college. It’s not something that’s easy to forget. And it was a central motivation to
[We’re] just sharing the love of our love, which is football.
– Dylan Boles
how much went into it. There were less [stories of impoverished athletes] at Stanford, but you were on your own after [you graduated].” Dargan, on the other hand, said money was at the forefront of everyone’s mind at University of South Carolina. “I did think about it, because in the South, you go to school to play sports,” Dargan said. “So everyone is thinking about the money and things that go into the game, and athletes are celebrities at school.” And despite that celebrity status,
Young players and their Stanford mentor face off before practing blocking. Photo by Yael Sarig.
his and Marx’s desire to create Athlete’s Guide. “We would hire a lot of athletes with only sports on their resume so players can get that ownership in the program,” Marx said. “And we saw that they start trying to improve the camp to sell it out, not just showing up to get a paycheck. They essentially start running a business.” What really stood out to Marx was how the players truly took ownership of the camp. Donald Stewart doesn’t just explain the stretch to this young player, “When you give these he gets on the field with him and shows him how it’s done. players opportunities, Photo by Yael Sarig. they will amaze you in terms of what they can second – that’s what Athlete’s Guide of encouragement to the players, do,” Dargan said. He noted that when he hopes. With opportunities like the one slapping them on the back or taking the saw them interacting with parents and Athlete’s Guide provides, players will time to give personal advice after each taking the effort to ensure the wellbeing begin to see avenues to contribute to and every catch. In spite of it all, these of the customers, he realized they were their community, to develop their skills, players aren’t here for the money. For generating the life skills necessary to to explore life after college athletics. them, this is about the next generation bolster a business. The chance to assume Because they’re more than athletes. – it’s about forging a connection. And a leadership role where those players They’re more than a debate about it’s obvious that, when given the chance gained entrepreneurial ability, learned compensation. to display it, these players are skilled, to run and improve a real business, is “Generally, just giving back to the compassionate, driven individuals. They an extremely valuable opportunity to community is the primary goal, and just have much more to offer than what we bolster their prospect of life after college. spreading the wealth, knowledge, and already see on the turf. Now, finally, they And more than that, it’s a chance for the wisdom that we’ve gained in our have a chance to show it. “It’s critical for players to be more than just an athlete. college ranks,” Swann said. ”Playing the us to show a guiding way, for these kids It’s one of the least-discussed benefits sport, the detail and the technique that to have somebody that’s been through of the new NCAA ruling. Players getting we can impart in the young kids will allow it and is currently there to teach proper paid is something that should have them to portray it in their games. technique and give them some advice, been happening years ago. It’s a late And of course, there is one force unifying and give them the knowledge to help step; better late than never. But it’s one campers, players, athletes, coaches, from improve their game,” Boles said. “It’s that allows college athletes to form an Stanford, or University of South Carolina, honestly just sharing the love of our love, identity based on more than their sport. or anywhere in between. It’s apparent which is football.” They’ll no longer be athletes first, people when watching the players give words
Blink and you’ll miss him. Photo by Yael Sarig.
A Blast From the Past by JACK ELARDE, JENNA HICKEY and LIAM NAGESH
The class of 2020 graduates are decked out in green and white as they reminisce about their times at Paly. Whether it be a rivalry football game against Los Gatos or going all out for Spirit Week, these memories will last a lifetime... at least according to George Talman. We sat down with Talman, a 1952 graduate, who relayed a series of stories about his life and memories as a Viking and Palo Alto resident. As he recounts what happened 68 years ago, we wonder: what will we remember from our time at Paly 68 years from now?
M aly of P
Photo courtesy of Karen Ambrose Hickey
Class of 1952
Paly’s Original Dawg
Today, dogs on campus are no rarity, with service dogs coming every Wednesday. But back in Talman’s time, dogs were not as welcome on campus, as they were seen as dangerous. Despite this, Talman’s face lit up when he talked about a little black dog named Henry. Although word on the street was that he belonged to the custodians, no one really knew who owned Henry. Henry showed up everyday to school and, prejudices against dogs notwithstanding, was loved by everyone on campus. “Nobody shooed him away,” Talman said. “Everybody loved him. We gave him something to eat.’’ Talman also revealed a hidden gem in the 1952 yearbook. Henry was so loved on campus, he even got his own picture, sitting alongside all the seniors.
Photo courtesy of Paly Madrono
Undefeated, Never Lost When were Paly athletics the most dominant? 2006, when Jeremy Lin led the boys basketball team to a CIF title? 2010, when the football team won their first State Championship and Girls Volleyball won their first State title? Or in 2019, when the girls golf team made history by clinching the State Championship? According to Talman, 1951 and 1952 are considered the “Golden Age of Paly Athletics.” There were no State Championships back then, but the classes of ‘51 and ‘52 went undefeated for two consecutive seasons in football. But Paly did not just distinguish themselves for their dominance in football as the Vikings were also at the top of their game in swimming. “We had the best swimming team in the country, high school and in Paly history,” Talman said. “We had the best team in the history of Palo Alto High in swimming.”
World War Paly Throughout American history, there have been events where everyone remembers where they were when they happened. The assassination of Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, as well as the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers are some of those most memorable events. Living through the assassination of Kennedy, the Watergate scandal and more, Talman most vividly remembers the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He had been playing with friends and noticed the streets were really quiet. He went home and saw everyone gathered around the radio. Talman remembers that the children couldn’t get any gum packs because they all went to the soldiers, and to simulate stockings, women would use brown make-up. Instead of having natural disaster drills at school, they had air-raid drills. He even remembers how one Japanese girl was taken out of Paly.
Mac Wants the Smoke In Downtown Palo Alto, on Emerson Street, resides a small cigarette store called Mac’s Smoke Shop. The building standing today is the original shop, built back in 1934. Talman worked there at nights during graduate school. He enjoyed it because everyone came into the shop and he got to meet a multitude of people including the Stanford Baseball coach. Talman worked for the original Mac, and once he passed away, he worked for his son. “When you go in there and there’s the Mac Smoke Shop sign up there, they have a guy smoking a pipe on the side,” Talman said. “That’s him. That’s his profile. I’d recognize him any place.” @vikingsportsmag
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Bitter Rivals It started as Paly vs. Gunn, then transitioned to Paly vs. Los Gatos. Who was Paly’s rival before Gunns’ founding in 1964? The Sequoia Cherokees. Whereas Paly was only a three-year school, Sequoia was a four-year school and had almost four times the amount of kids attending. Paly had a meager 800 students while Sequoia had 3,000. Although Sequoia had many more students, Paly crushed Sequoia in almost every sport. In 1950 and 1951, Sequoia was dominant, but during the “Golden Age” Paly took control, and never looked back.
10 Years Later...
Paly 68 years 10 years after graduating, Talman decided to student-teach at Paly. While he was student-teaching, later in 2020 the wrestling team was going to be taken over by a gymnast. The coach soon learned Talman was student-teaching Spanish, and that he happened to know his way around a wrestling mat. They got him a temporary credential and he became the new Paly wrestling coach. The last match of one of his seasons was a tense battle between Paly and Ravenswood for the championship. Ravenswood dominated athletics, beating Paly in basketball almost every year except when Paly came close in 1962. Both teams were undefeated in the season, and Paly had to win the last five matches and pin Ravenswood to clinch the title. “And we did,” Talman said. “And we beat them by one point, so we won a championship.”
Hod Ray: The Man, The Myth, The Legend Hod Ray Field: the location of Palo Alto’s very own Friday Night Lights. The namesake is a tribute to the notorious football coach, Hod Ray. Ray coached football at Paly while Talman was in high school until Ray unfortunately died when Talman was a junior. Talman greatly admired Ray as a coach. “Legendary football coach,” Talman said. “Legendary even then.”
The People That Inspired Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
Photo by Jenna Hickey
Everybody knows of Round Table Pizza. Widely considered to be one of the best pizza food chains in the United States, the franchise was started in Menlo Park. Two kids in the class of 1951 were high-school dropouts. Their names were Bill Larson and John Graham. “They were just kind of numb-nuts,” Talman said. “That’s really it. So they had to do something with their lives.” In order to create an environment where their friends could hang out and drink beer, Larson and Graham decided to open up a pizza parlor in Menlo Park on El Camino. They decided to call it Round Table Pizza and soon became multi-millionaires.
Friends to the Last Breath On January 25, 2020, the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star game took place. Wedemeyer taught and coached football at Los Gatos. Talman and Wedemeyer became friends when Talman was coaching wrestling at Los Gatos. “Instead of eating lunch, he and I would go to the gym and play oneon-one basketball,” Talman said. “We did this for two years.” In the two years they played at lunch, Talman never won a single game. Wedemeyer contracted ALS but managed to coach Los Gatos to a CCS Championship out of a golf cart. According to Talman, Wedemeyer would mouth the plays to his wife who would then transfer them to the assistant coach. Years later, Talman saw Wedemeyer give a talk at a church, but didn’t go up and talk to him because he thought Wedemeyer wouldn’t remember him. His friend convinced him to go up and say hi. “I was way at the back and walked up the center aisle,” Talman said. “And the nurse looked up at me and says ‘Is your name George?’” Talman started crying because even though Wedemeyer had ALS, he still remembered Talman. 34
Photo courtesy of Paly Madrono
From astounding athletes to esteemed educators, Paly teachers have been doing it all for decades. Viking sat down with collegiate-athletes- turned-Paly-teachers to learn about their experiences.
by HANA ERICKSON, SOPHIE KADIFA, TINA LAGERBLAD AND NIKHIL MAJETI
PHOTOS BY JENNA HICKEY
| FEBRUARY 2020
lthough Debbie Whitson is a beloved economics teacher at Palo Alto High School, she also once had a career as a Division III tennis player at Lewis and Clark College. Whitson grew up in Los Altos and started playing tennis when she was nine years old because that was the minimum age requirement to take tennis lessons at the local recreation department. As the popularity of tennis heightened in the 1960s and 1970s, Whitson also fell for the trend. Whitson had an active childhood, participating in many sports throughout middle school and high school including a four year career in gymnastics. Whitson was drawn to tennis because of the hand-eye coordination skills needed and because she enjoyed the outdoor aspect. Once Whitson went to high school, there were not many organized sports for girls other than tennis. Despite there not being club tennis teams, Whitson took lessons and still found a way to participate in community tennis events. After high school, Whitson
knew that she wanted to attend Lewis and Clark College for academics and was excited for their Division III tennis team that she could compete on. Whitson continued to enjoy tennis throughout college and had many positive experiences at Lewis and Clark College. Administrators and staff would often come to sporting events which made Whitson feel more connected to
“If you’re an athlete, then your body needs to be an athlete.” -Ms. Whitson
her school. “It's almost like you belong to something and you're part of something for your school, so you have some pride in that,” Whitson said. Although tennis is more of an individual sport, Whitson had great teammates to encourage her. Throughout college, Whitson took a leadership role on her team and led conditioning in order to keep her team in shape. Even though her entire team never went to nationals together, Whitson qualified for nationals at the end of each season in singles as well as with her doubles partner. In her senior fall term, ics Econom Whitson had the opportunity to nioritis ent ting se s to school epartm p D e y c play doubles r c a to His A+ for wear slipper ader e r with someone e o t m na ikely uation Most l who worked al grad n io s s for George H. Profe W. Bush, the Vice President at the time, and flew to D.C. to do so.
“We would go to these indoor courts and senators were playing around us,” Whitson said. It was exciting for Whitson to see the tennis scene in D.C. and get the opportunity to play with others. College athletics gave Whitson opportunities to travel and compete, while still focusing on school. Whitson was able to major in economics and play tennis without having to make big sacrifices. After college, Whitson waited about five years before becoming a teacher. “I had people who would tell me, oh my gosh, you would be such a good teacher,” Whitson said. “I kept hearing that.” Whitson taught at Gunn High School, simultaneously carrying on her tennis skills by working with their tennis team for a year. Once Whitson came to Paly, she focused on teaching. Although her competitive drive from college has decreased, Whitson still participates in pickleball to stay active and have fun outdoors. Whitson tried passing down her tennis skills onto her two daughters, but the sport was not for them. Instead, her daughters both chose to play volleyball and were collegiate athletes themselves. They both graduated from Paly and played Division I volleyball at University of California Davis and University of Pacific, respectively. Although Whitson did not play the same sport as her daughters, her experiences as a collegiate athlete helped her connect with them. Whitson always believed in their dreams as athletes. “I also knew how much it means to be an athlete,” Whitson said. “If you're an athlete, then your body needs to be an athlete.”
erry Berkson, Paly assistant principal, played baseball at the College of San Mateo for four years. Berkson was unusual in a sense because most guys do not play baseball for four years at community college. “It is one of my claims to fame for alumni, as many guys don’t have a senior year of community college,” Berkson said. Berkson started playing baseball at eight years old in Little League. He then continued on to Babe Ruth, Senior Babe Ruth and finally to the high school team at Hillsdale High School. Once he reached high school, he was not a stand out athlete. “Freshman year I was offered to be the
20th guy on the team and I would've had to wear a different uniform,” Berkson said. He decided not to play his freshman year, but worked very hard over the summer to improve his game. Berkson was fortunate enough to play on the JV coach’s Babe Ruth team over the summer between freshman and sophomore year. He made the high school team the following spring and was able to play from sophomore to senior year. Berkson kept working hard throughout high school and was a collegiate athlete hopeful, but thought playing in college was going to be easier than it really was. “I remember wanting to go to Arizona State, and in hindsight, I had absolutely no chance,” Berkson said. “I thought I was a big deal when I got a postcard from the College of San Mateo coach, telling me that he was looking forward to me coming out. I thought I was pretty
special until I realized that a lot of kids a mediocre ballplayer, so if I had never got postcards.” played in community college I would've Berkson’s first year at College of San never been a varsity baseball coach Mateo, he “gray-shirted,” meaning he somewhere, probably never would have postponed his enrollment in classes until gotten an education, probably wouldn’t the second term be where I of his freshman am today,” year. The second Berkson year he redsaid. shirted due Berkson to injury. As a is now a pitcher, Berkson baseball hurt his shoulder c o a c h right before the and has beginning of developed the season, but one of the because he red-shirted, he was allowed top travel ball programs in Northern to play for two more years. California. Berkson’s third year at the school, he “Baseball has done so much for me, was finally eligible to play; however, and coaching allows me to stay in the he sat the bench and quit mid-way game,” Berkson said. through the season. There even was Coaching has allowed him to help a lot a game in his season where his team of kids who may have fallen through the was up by 12 runs, but Berkson still cracks to maximize their potential. He is did not play. still coaching the West Coast travel team “I thought he might put me in, and is currently coaching the 14U team but I didn't really want to go in at which is his son’s team. that point because I wasn't “I can still throw strikes all day,” mentally prepared to play, Berkson said. so I figured I was done at that point,” Berkson said. Finally in his fourth year playing, he had a great season with plenty of playing time. However, during this time Berkson would not describe himself as a passionate student. “I didn't balance academics and athletics and that's why I was at a junior college for four years,” Berkson said. His main priority for the first four years of college was to be eligible to play baseball because Berkson loved the sport. Even with all the hardships throughout his baseball journey, Berkson does not Admin istratio n regret one minute Walkie of it because he Assista tal nt Princ believes that the ipal Golf ca kie expert r t m aster Gatos connections that game contro you make playing l baseball will last a lifetime. “I wouldn't be where I am today. I was
“I can still throw strikes all day.” -Mr. Berkson
| FEBRUARY 2020
efore Kathi Bowers was a beloved geometry and calculus teacher at Paly, she made a name for herself playing Division I softball at Stanford. Growing up in Southern California, Bowers fell in love with softball when she was seven years old and has been involved with it ever since. Throughout her childhood, Bowers loved to keep active playing basketball, volleyball, and soccer on top of softball throughout high school. Bowers enjoyed softball the most out of all the sports she played, and believed she was good enough to play at the next level. During high school, Bowers considered pursuing a college career in softball at the varsity level, but then realized that she was not interested in focusing exclusively on softball. She decided to go Stanford and explored other options in her freshman year, studying economics. However, by her sophomore year, she felt bored from the lack of athletics in her life. “I always loved sports and I was always very sporty and all that, and it was just more that I tried not playing and I was
bored and you have to go back,” Bowers said. To satisfy her craving, she joined the Stanford softball team. In her first year playing, Stanford’s women's softball was only considered
“That [team] camaraderie was really fun.” -Ms. Bowers
a club sport. After spending her sophomore season playing club softball, Stanford finally gave it the varsity sport title. Having played for three full years with her teammates, Bowers recalls the most enjoyable parts of being on the team. “You get to know a group of people really well… and have a little bit of a different experience that way,” Bowers said. “That camaraderie was really fun.” Bowers loved the team sport experience as a whole, but one moment stood out to her in particular throughout her three seasons. She recounted a game against Arizona, the fifth ranked team in the nation at the time. “The Arizona schools they had been to were university, and had all scholarship athletes,” Bowers said. “I mean they had great, great athletes.” During the game, Bowers was a star on the field and at bat. “We beat them one to nothing… we squeaked out a run in the third inning and I was involved in it,” Bowers said. “Our third baseman r e ach Math Te had gotten hurt,” Bowers said. “I was y plug nt wer ke star partme s e n D a normally second th e a M Th all y footb e s a and first, but our t n a F voic Mighty third baseman had gotten hurt maybe six weeks before, so I had gotten moved to third for my
senior year. Our pitching was slow, so of course they're pulling them all. And it was fascinating because, of the 21 outs in the game, I had something like 13 or 15 right to me.” “That was very fun, and our pitcher didn't walk people, you know, everybody kind of was on the ball,” Bowers said. “It was just great, it was a full team effort and to beat them who were ranked number five.” In Bowers’ senior season, everything seemed to click. “My senior year I hit very well and I was second team all region.” Bowers said. After graduating from Stanford, Bowers was unsure of what to do next. She had
previously coached youth softball, and enjoyed her interaction with that age group. She found an ad in the paper for a tutor during the summer for a local private school and decided to try it out. After tutoring in the summer, Bowers decided to teach, interning at Gunn while still coaching junior varsity softball at Paly. The next year, Paly had an opening for a teacher, and Bowers jumped at the opportunity. Bowers remained active, coaching softball and even playing on a co-ed team until she was around 40. The impact of softball and sports in general has been huge for Bowers throughout her life, still able to remember the exact events of that Arizona game now, some 30 years later.
uring his time at Goucher College, Palo Alto High School World History teacher, D.J. Shelton, played Division III lacrosse. Shelton went to high school at Paly and played lacrosse outside of school because there was not a boys lacrosse team yet. In high school, Shelton was a competitive lacrosse player and even started on a club team as a freshman. Although he was talented within the Bay Area, once Shelton got to Goucher, he quickly realized how ordinary his skills were. “I had this mindset that I was very, very good, but then I got to college and I was like ooh I’m average,” Shelton said. “Like I’m good enough … but not much else.” Aside from the high collegiate skill level, Shelton also had trouble getting along with his teammates. Shelton believed that they were “naive and
more positive work ethic and outlook on Shelton majored in international life. relations and received a minor in “I would not have finished college the European history. When he was little, way that I did, done graduate school the Shelton used to joke that he would retire way I did, gotten a job, all those things as a world history professor with elbow came from the work ethic I gained and patches and a pipe. developed Shelton is about to start his seventh f r e s h m a n season as the boys varsity lacrosse coach y e a r , ” at Paly. Shelton has been coaching since S h e l t o n high school and kept continuing his said. passion. He began coaching by running D u r i n g his own lacrosse camp, then coached at S h e l t o n ’ s Mountain View, and now has settled at senior year, Paly. his team “I never got to wear Paly on the lacrosse made it to field, so I love being able to give the kids the NCAA an opportunity that I never had,” Shelton tournament said. and lost in Shelton understands that not everyone the second gets that privilege to play and that it’s not round to a guaranteed sport. He wants all of his the number players to appreciate the time they have one team in on the field. the country. “The playing component has become Shelton was a lot less important to me,” Shelton said. very upset by the loss, but he was still “It’s the coaching that’s definitely my proud of their accomplishments as a passion.” team. “I’m some random kid from Palo Alto, never expected to play, yet I made it all this way, and now I’m sitting at the NCAA tournament.” Shelton said. Shelton had to dedicate many hours to keep good grades while still playing lacrosse. Even though he played a sport he was still able to study abroad, do well in school, and have an overall beneficial academic experience. “I always sat at History Departm the front of the bus ent behind the coaches, History Coache and the cool kids Teache lla reg Cheerl r u l a r eader kinda sat in the in high s chool back, but I just sat History buff there, headphones on, doing my homework,” Shelton said.
“If I wanna play, I need to work harder.” -Mr. Shelton closed-minded kids from the middle of nowhere,” which made them difficult to get along with. Shelton, being from Palo Alto, didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with them on many matters. Shelton became overwhelmed with his teammates and lack of playing time, so he thought about quitting collegiate lacrosse. In the end, he decided that even with the struggles, he wanted to continue training to hopefully get more playing time. “If I wanna play, I need to work harder,” Shelton said. When Shelton came back from his freshman year, his mom noticed a complete transformation in his personality. She noted that he had a
| FEBRUARY 2020
DEAR KOBE: Even as I begin writing this, it’s hard to know what to say. It would be a disservice to you — to your legacy — to pretend I’m the person best equipped to write a tribute to you. How do I properly do justice to a player who was past his prime when I became fully invested in the league? By the end of 2013, you were hobbled. Talented all the same, but hobbled — your body wouldn’t allow you to go for much longer. By the time I got involved, the era of Kobe was over. I’m not a Lakers fan with vivid memories of your trademark fadeaway turnaround jumper, of the confetti raining down on you as you stood, arms spread wide, embracing a crowd to whom you’d just brought a fifth championship. I’m a Warriors fan who remembers you more strongly for the three that Steph Curry drained on you in an October preseason game, of all games, when Steph managed to create a modicum of space against your suffocating defense. You were full-court pressing him (in a preseason game, no less). He stepped back, drilled the three, and you just smiled, slapped him lightly. Even then, having never witnessed the Kobe Bryant as he was at his best, I treasured the moment. It didn’t matter if I’d never seen you as the Black Mamba, the dominant menace on the court. Your legacy is one that surpassed your best years; Steph getting your attention meant he was something really special. And I knew that such an open sign of respect from you was a rarity, something to be treasured not only because of your stardom, but because you so rarely gave your competitors credit. You were the fiercest competitor the league had ever seen, never satisfied with success. Your ambition, your discipline, was more motivating than your transcendental talent. Talent is a result of luck. Your success was not. My knowledge, my understanding of you as a person foremost and as a player secondarily, has had to come primarily from little moments I witnessed after the fact. I watched as you chided a reporter for assuming you would be happy after going up 2-0 in the NBA Finals — “What is there to be happy about?” you asked indignantly, as if it was obvious that there was nothing to celebrate. I watched you getting interviewed with Tracy McGrady, reminiscing about the time when the two of you played one-on-one. You hadn’t 40
forgotten the score, even 20 years later, of a random pick-up game (which no one was keeping score of, T-Mac insisted) — 11-3, Mamba. One of the few moments I did get to watch live was the final game of your career, where you scored 60 points to add one last legacy-defining moment to your career. I’m angry when I think back to that game now; I didn’t understand the weight of the moment, switching between the Lakers game and the Warriors game. To me, then, the latter game meant more — it was the Warriors’ record-breaking 73rd win of the season. I remember making a comment to my dad about the 60 points — you’d scored them on 50 shots, I pointed out, thinking myself clever for seeing that glaring fault that, for some reason, no one else was pointing out. Looking back, I’d like to call it naiveté, but it was stupidity. The moment was simply bigger than me. And now, the moment is too big for me. Your 60 point game re-aired just about a week ago, live on ESPN, and I couldn’t watch it, couldn’t bear to see you. I was never the one to give you the attention, the credit you deserved when you were in the league. Now I find it impossible not to think about you, and impossible to think about you all the same. I hardly knew you. I’m the last person equipped to be writing a tribute to you. Yet I’m as heartbroken as I’ve ever been. You were just a kid from Philadelphia who grew up a die-hard Lakers fan. I like to think of myself as a hard worker, but you worked harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. Despite your talent, you weren’t born an athletic freak of nature. You were smart — you may have known the game better than any other player. It’s something that’s clear listening to you in Detail breaking down the X’s and O’s of Scottie Pippen’s defense, or from looking at you explaining plays to Gigi in a short video clip from just a few weeks ago. Your mind was brilliant. You were never satisfied with how much you already knew, with what you’d already accomplished. You were ferocious. When your right shoulder got injured, you shot with your left. When you tore your Achilles against my team, you still shot the two free throws your team desperately needed. In high school, you routinely made your benchwarmer teammate play you one-on-one to 100 points. In your worst game, you
won 100-12. You were flawed. I struggle now with heart-wrenching feelings of guilt that the last thing I’ll ever have written about you is “Crime Time,” a feature story that emblazoned two images of you over two full pages. One marked up as an angel, one with graffiti portraying you as a devil. That image, forever associated with a story about how we’re willing to overlook the criminal histories and moral depravities of athletes as long as they have incredible talent. That’s the legacy I left for you in Viking. It’s not a legacy you deserved. And I’m the one responsible for it. I struggle to reconcile my feminism with the realities of that case; I struggle to reconcile my grief with how I’ve portrayed you in the past. I was enraged when I saw people tweeting just moments after your death was announced that, with all due respect, you were an accused rapist, and they couldn’t mourn your death with that in mind. How could I get so angry over that, when the only thing I’d ever written about you, a sports legend, a human being, a father, a husband — when the only reason I’d ever brought up your name was to tie you to the rape case? None of my feelings after your death make sense. You’ve thrown me for a loop. In that famous picture of you, a champion, standing on the scoreboard with arms spread wide to embrace Los Angeles, I’ve always thought you looked a little like Jesus himself. And I was the one to crucify you. But you weren’t Jesus. You were a human, imperfect. And yet I believe, deeply, that you were a good person. I see it in the way you committed yourself to the advocacy of women for the remainder of your life. I see it in the way you were a fierce supporter of women’s sports, particularly of women’s basketball — when legions of basketball fans were degrading female athletes, you stood by them, making it that much harder for those attitudes to persist: if Kobe Bryant respects women’s sports, loves to watch them, shouldn’t we grant them that same respect? It was about more than respect to you. Your involvement in women’s sports wasn’t an admission that while men’s basketball was clearly better, maybe the women who worked so darn hard deserved some of our attention, too. Begrudgingly. No — you truly viewed
them as equals. I see it in how you trained Gigi, how you assumed the role of head coach for Mamba Sports Academy’s basketball team. I see it in the way you fathered your four girls. You were proud of your accomplishments in basketball, but it paled in comparison to the pride that shone in you when you talked about your girls. You spoke of how male fans would constantly tell you that you and Vanessa needed to have a son, and how Gigi would scoff at the notion. “I’ve got this,” she’d say. And you beamed. I’m heartbroken for Gigi, heartbroken that we’ll never see her become the woman she was bound to become. There’s no doubt in my mind that she would have made it to the WNBA, perhaps transformed the public perception of the league. You would have lived on through her. Jersey tucked between her lips, tough turnaround jumpers — she was just like you. A competitor. Her love for the game, her love for you, was obvious. And she’ll never get the chance to graduate high school. In 2018, you won an Oscar for “Dear Basketball.” In it, you say that you gave basketball your all. From your mind and body, to your spirit and soul. You gave those things to us. There will never be the right words to express my gratitude. You were so much more than a basketball player. I cry when I watch that short film, and I cry as I write this, not because of who you were on the court, but because we’ve suffered, collectively, an immeasurable loss. A person with enough passion to fill infinitely many Staples Centers. A person with the kind of drive, the kind of determination that doesn’t come around once in a lifetime. It only comes around once. A person whose heart I mourn for. You were larger than life, practically folkloric, yet stoic, a silent killer on the court. You say in the film that you did everything for basketball, because that’s what you do when something makes you feel as alive as basketball made you feel. You made us feel alive. In your dreams, we found ours. I can’t help but see some of myself in you. In your obsessive need for control, in your hunger for improvement. Maybe that’s why I’ve taken this so hard, why everyone has taken it so hard. I think everyone saw a little bit of themselves — or who they wanted themselves to be — represented in you. This tribute can’t sum up your life, your legacy. And I’m terrified of writing a tribute that isn’t worthy of you. I don’t
think I’ll ever feel that what I’ve written is enough to distill your essence into words. Nothing can encapsulate that kid with the rolled up socks, garbage can in the corner, five seconds on the clock. Ball in your hands. 5, 4, 3, 2...1. On Friday, the Lakers played in their first game since your death. This time, I did watch. I’d heard some fans claim that the Lakers needed to win this game for you, to honor you. I disagreed. That’s not what you would have wanted. You would have wanted the team that competed the best, to win. And that’s exactly what happened. Damian Lillard nearly single-handedly propelled the Blazers to a 127-119 victory. Lillard’s dominance, his 48 points, were the best way possible to honor you that night. I don’t
believe in an afterlife, but I know if you could have seen Dame on Friday, you’d have been smiling. The Lakers left two seats open on their bench that game, one for you, one for Gigi. And outside of Staples Center, in a memorial shrine built to you, a mural was set up for fans to write notes to you. Many called you a legend, their idol. One young girl wrote to you: “I play basketball too, just like Gigi.” I can’t write you a note — this letter is the closest I’ll get. But if I could, I’d tell you: Those empty seats left at Staples Center will never be filled. Thank you, Kobe, for everything. – Yael Sarig Artwork by Yael Sarig, Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
| FEBRUARY 2020
Text by JUSTIN BYER, SAM CLEASBY, and SOFIE VOGEL Design by SUMMER DANIEL and SOFIE VOGEL
Since 1951, the best of the best from the NFL have come together in a classic all-star game known as the Pro Bowl. Players from the AFC and NFC go head to head in a highly contested match with an emphasis on entertainment value. The unique draw of the Pro Bowl does not come solely from the match itself, however; a key aspect is the fan-favorite Skills Showdown. Players from both conferences compete against each other in five activities aimed to showcase the specific skills of each player. The challenges include a throwing, catching, and defensive evaluation, as well as a relay race, and last but not least, a dodgeball match. Viking decided to put our football skills to the test and have a go at our very own Pro Bowl skills challenges, competing in Viking versions of precision passing, best hands, and our own addition of a punting competition. Our athletic and competitive nature did not disappoint.
n our first event of the Pro Bowl skills challenge, we competed in a farthest punt competition. Even though not everyone has a background of punting or football in general, the competitiveness was still apparent, and everyone was feeling the thrill of competition. Most of the partaking personnel in these challenges have a background of athletics or partake in a sport. Initially, everyone had the same mindset: wanting to be the best and wanting to win. Although the Viking staff was ready to bring their A game, we unfortunately faced challenges that inhibited our ability to perform at our peak. For example, many were not dressed in the right attire, and the wind had a lot of influence on where the football landed and how far it rolled. We completed two rounds of this event. Josh Lai (‘20) and Justin Byer (‘21) had the furthest distance punts, both reaching 52.5 yards, followed close 42
behind by Sam Cleasby (‘20) with a 52 yard punt. “It was pretty easy,” Lai said. “I got that on my first try; I never skip legs.” The second round was about the same in terms of results, with Lai and Byer in first place, and seniors Dexter Gormley and Lincoln Bloom finishing last. Gormley and Bloom both denied to comment on coming up short. “I’m an aquatic athlete, so my performance on the field doesn’t concern me,” Gormley said. “I’m more worried about my arms and the throwing and catching competitions.”
“Wasn’t my best day,” Bloom said. “In 7th grade I hurt my toes so I’m still recovering from that injury, but I’ll be back at it again next year ready to win.” In our experience partaking in the skills challenges, we had a fun time competing with other athletes from other sports. “I had fun because I was able to show my talents,” Byer said. “I believe a big part of my success was due to my natural athleticism and understanding of football.”
fter the punting event, we moved onto the best hands competition. Our Viking adaptation consisted of a twohanded, sideline, one-handed, and spectacular catch (in which we leaped over a trash can while catching a ball). The quarterback, Kevin Cullen, followed each player around four locations on the field while the competitor would have to complete the course consisting of said catches. The player could not move on to the next spot until the catch was completed successfully. Much like the real Pro Bowl, we based the outcome of each player on the time taken for them to complete this course. Luke Thieman (‘21) came out on top with a stunning time of 17.15 seconds. “My hands are like glue, sticky and dominant in arts and crafts,” Thieman said. While he was able to walk away with another victory, this one was quite close, as Justin Byer (‘21) clocked in at 17.91 seconds after receiving a point reduction for doing a backflip. “I’m just great with my hands in a speedy and orderly fashion,” Byer said. This event ended up being a huge success and we believe, accurately reflected the Pro Bowl version of the hands challenge.
he final event was the quarterback accuracy challenge. While we did not have access to the equipment or funds that the NFL has, we competed in a comparable challenge in which we attempted to hit the crossbar on the field goal posts from 20 yards out. The lineup of competitors quickly began firing balls, none of them making contact in the first round. In the second round, the first few Viking members continued to miss until the infamous Luke Thieman (‘21) stepped up and nailed it. None of the remaining members were able to match him in order to take it to overtime, bringing Thieman the victory. “I was just out there dropping dimes,” Thieman said. While we initially thought this challenge would take us a while to complete, it was clearly not hard enough for this staff of dominant athletes, as it only took us two attempts to declare a champion. Overall, the Viking class had a great time testing our athleticism and skill in participating in our very own Pro
LUKE - 17.15 JUSTIN - 17.91 LINCOLN - 18.31 JOSH - 19.09 SAM - 27.99 HAYDEN - 29.02
Bowl Skills Showdown. Although our accuracy in replicating the real Pro Bowl was hindered by obstacles in obtaining the proper equipment needed, we felt that our competition was accurate in showcasing the football skills of the Viking class. Through adapting each challenge to highlight the same skills showcased in the Pro Bowl, we were able to evaluate throwing precision, hand eye coordination, and even punting skills. While the Pro Bowl does test specific abilities of players, we think that it mainly serves as a fun way for football players to showcase their niche skill sets while entertaining those around them. @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2020
Y FL ER
Everybody knows the Tuck Rule play: young Tom Brady trying to lead a drive down the field to tie the game against the Raiders in the divisional round of the 2002 playoffs. As soon as the play starts, cornerback Charles Woodson blitzes off the edge, hitting Brady as he tucks the ball in from a pump fake. After the collision, Brady loses the ball and the Raiders recover; however, due to the Tuck Rule, the play was ruled an incompletion. Brady then drives the ball down the field to force overtime, and eventually wins the game. After this game the Tuck Rule was abolished, but the damage to the Raiders franchise was done. This raises the question: what if the Tuck Rule was never established and the Patriots lost that game? First, the biggest part of this scenario is the future of the greatest player of all time, Tom Brady. Tom Brady probably never becomes the quarterback that we know now. After Brady is unable to lead his team to the Super Bowl it is very likely that they turn back to their previous quarterback Drew Bledsoe to lead the team and release Brady. This has a much greater effect on the NFL as a whole, opening up three MVPs, three All-Pros, 14 Pro Bowls, and nine Super Bowl trips. The most likely player to fill this role is Peyton Manning, who was in his prime throughout Brady’s dominance. If Brady was gone, Manning would now probably be known as the GOAT. The Steelers and Colts felt the greatest effect from Brady’s dominance – Brady beat both teams in the AFC Championship twice throughout his career. Most look at the Patriots as the evil empire of the NFL, but without the one play that kicked off the GOAT’s career and the team that dominated the 2000s, the NFL would no longer be the same league that we know it as today.
Miracle on Ice
The year is 1980. The dominant Soviet Union is playing the United States in the winter Olympic Games in ice hockey. At the end of the first period the score was 2-2, but after the second period, the Soviets took the lead 3-2 going into the final period. In the final period, the United States scored two unanswered goals to take their first lead, and they would hold out to the end of the game, winning 4-3. The reason this game is considered a miracle is the fact that there were only amateur players and four minor league players on the United States team, while the entire team of the Soviets were all pros. On paper it should have been a blowout, but the Americans powered through and won the game. This game was about far more than just hockey. But what if the Americans lost the Miracle on Ice? First, American morale would have remained low – despite rationally understanding that the US team was unmatched and would likely lose the game, the American people would not have liked the thought of losing to the Soviets in anything. A Soviet display of dominance over America would have had a ripple effect, especially on the arms race. Americans may have begun considering whether the conflict was worth it, since the Soviet Union appeared strong while America paled in comparison. The American people could have protested the government putting money into nuclear arms, seeing the arms race as a lost cause. Once the Soviets had the major upper hand in the nuclear race, this would have put the Soviet Union into the position of power. While it may be an overreaction to say that this would have led to a Soviet takeover of the United States, the effects that losing the Miracle on Ice would have had on the people and the country as a whole could have been catastrophic towards American society as we know it.
Some sports moments have a much larger effect on their sport and the world as a whole. What would happen if just one moment in sports timelines changed, and what larger effect would that change have had?
Derrick Rose’s Injury
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Derrick Rose is the youngest MVP in NBA history and is arguably one of the biggest “what if” stories in sports history. Rose was absolutely tearing up the league prior to his season-ending injury in 2013. During his MVP season, Rose led the Chicago Bulls to a 62-20 season averaging 25 ppg, 7.7 apg, and 4.1 rpg. Everyone thought that Rose was next up – the future face of the NBA. If Rose hadn’t torn his ACL, the landscape of the NBA would most likely look a lot different than it does today. First, Rose would probably still be playing in Chicago as the Bulls would have offered him a max contract and he would have accepted to stay in his hometown. Next, Lebron might not be seen as one of the greatest players in the world as he is seen today. Lebron’s reign of championship appearances occurred mainly during Rose’s injury window. If Rose never got injured, the Bulls would have been the main challenger in the East to Lebron’s Heat and Cavs, and most likely would have beat him in a couple NBA Eastern Conference championships. Lastly, players drafted after 2013 would most likely be on different teams today. Because the Bulls with Rose would have been much better than they actually were without him, the draft order would have changed. Guys like CJ McCollum, Andrew Wiggins, and Victor Oladipo would all have been drafted and ended up on different teams than today. The whole shape of the NBA and where players ended up was completely changed due to the Rose injury.
Nancy Kerrigan Nancy Kerrigan was one of the best figure skaters throughout the world prior to the 1994 Olympics. Though she earned the silver medal in these games, this was not the story defining Kerrigan’s career. After a practice while training for the Olympics, she was walking into a tunnel when an assailant hit her in her landing knee, causing damage to her leg. The assailant was hired by the husband of Tonya Harding, who was Kerrigan’s main rival at the time. America did not want Harding, who was vulgar, poor, and a smoker, to represent the States. At first Harding denied that she knew about the attack but later pled guilty. While Kerrigan was America’s sweetheart in the ice skating world, Harding was the opposite. Despite Kerrigan being unable to compete in the US qualifiers, it was decided that she would go on to the Olympics over Harding. This attack raises the question of how the world would have been different if Kerrigan was never attacked. Kerrigan would have been healthy for the U.S. Championship, while in reality, Harding originally won the US Championship in which Kerrigan did not compete. Harding originally ran the table and earned first place, but was later disqualified. Even if Kerrigan did not earn first in this alternate reality, she would have at least given Harding a run for her money. In reality, Kerrigan went on to compete in the Olympics and earn silver; there is a chance that if Kerrigan never got injured then her silver medal could have been turned into a gold medal. If Kerrigan was never attacked, Harding would never have been banned from ice skating. Even though she won the 1994 U.S. Championship, it was eventually stripped. In an alternate reality, the title would never have been stripped. Harding was known as an extremely good ice skater but simply wasn’t loved by Americans. If she was never banned then she might have left a positive effect on the world of ice skating.
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The Final Word
The New Regime
Yeah, you guessed it, the New Regime is back and better than ever in this new year. We’ve got hotter takes and opinions to relay. Our newest take, one that will take down a powerhouse in the sports atmosphere: the NFL. Roger Goodell we’re coming for ya!
by SAM CLEASBY and KEVIN CULLEN
Head Columnists and Video Directors
he season that has captivated America all of fall and through the winter has culminated to one single day. A day that has somehow eluded the rank of a national holiday, resulting in a severe decline in workforce presence the following Monday. A day with the highest chicken wing sales and lots of guac. This is the Super Bowl. This heavily anticipated event is a pinnacle of American culture. But should it be? All of the preparation for fans leading up to the Super Bowl is simply misguided, it should be the NCAA national championship that brings our communities together to witness history. The Super Bowl is a marvelous event, don’t get us wrong, but the NCAA National Championship is simply better. While professional sports have enormous fanbases, we are here to argue that collegiate sports have become the entertainment epicenter of today’s modern sports world. The layout of collegiate recruiting enables, for better or worse, the creation of perennial powerhouses; the Alabamas, the Clemsons. These schools snag the top athletes from across the country with promises of championship-caliber seasons and a path to the professional leagues. With these powerhouses comes an inevitable skill gap between competitors, consequently providing us with high scoring games and an abundance of spectacular plays.
Very rarely are there collegiate games that highlight defensive play styles, leading to a lack of offense. As the saying goes, “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” This fails to mention the fact that offense wins over fans as well. We believe that the majority of sports fans appreciate high-scoring, offense-heavy games that result in thrilling viewing experiences. The average amount of points scored in an NCAA football game is sixty as opposed to the NFL’s measly 43. There’s a reason fireworks and flag carriers are only unleashed when a team scores a touchdown. You don’t see the skies light up when a team gets a stop on fourth and short or a key sack. People cheer for turnovers simply because it means the ball is back in the hands of the offense, and there is the potential to see what they truly want: points! With sporting rules altering the game to be played safer, we are lacking many of the big hits and plays that usually kept us glued to the spectacle before us. Now we must look for the Odell-esque catches and the Marshawn-style runs that rarely occur in the NFL, but manage to appear on college Top 10 plays on a
weekly basis. Due to the skill gap and the plethora of games to watch, college sports have become the most effective way to witness surreal plays and extreme feats of sheer athleticism. For example, Christian McCaffrey has quickly emerged as one of the most impressive athletes in the NFL. While his displays of athleticism playing on the Panthers caused him to become an MVP candidate, his performance at Stanford made him look supernatural. In the end, it’s not the game itself that causes college sports to top the pros, it’s the atmosphere that surrounds the event itself. The Bills Mafia is notorious as the best fan base in the NFL, and what do they have? Drunken shenanigans and table crashing pale in comparison to the sound of an entire Alabama student body singing “DixieLand Delight” or the spontaneous outbreak of “Jump Around” at Wisconsin. Professional fan bases are linked to their team by mere proximity, while collegiate fans are bonded by blood (metaphorically, sometimes). College sports will always have a much more tightly knit community than the professionals, and with the added skill gap, college sports will always reign supreme.
I’ve been going to Stanford games since I was five. Nothing compares.” Colin Giffen (‘20)
| FEBRUARY 2020
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Ryan Purpur (â€˜20) gets up big to dunk on Carlmont. The varsity boys team is currently 9-0. Photo by Jenna Hickey. 48
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