The girls’ volleyball team huddles together after scoring off a rally against Madison at the last home game of the season on Oct. 8. Photo by Brock Kennedy.
Story by Brock Kennedy.
Athletes all over FC hang up their jerseys for the last time this season. Seniors will never wear those jerseys again, while younger athletes look forward to playing in the next season, assuming the pandemic allows for it. Throughout the uncertainty of the entire fall sports season, teams have had to adapt to and overcome adversity, as well as challenges surrounding practices.
“Getting used to games while going through this pandemic definitely took a while,” said senior volleyball player Courtney Combs. “We couldn’t do our usual things like team dinners, [shaking] hands with the other team, or really even celebrate with each other. We had to worry about wearing masks while playing which was not ideal, but I think the team eventually understood what was at stake if we did not follow the school guidelines.”
Along with the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic, injuries limited many teams throughout their seasons. Senior Riley Casey felt that the boys’ soccer team experienced this.
“I feel like our biggest setback of the season was losing [senior] Jeevan [Sivamohan] due to his injury. As our best defender, we had to adapt to not playing with him anymore. I feel as though as a team we adapted very well however, putting younger players in for his position at center back,” said Casey.
The soccer team were not the only ones who had to deal with injuries. Senior Gabe Cora, who is a four-year varsity tennis player, experienced this piece of bad luck on a personal level.
”My main setback was cramping. I cramped in two different matches that I was in a position to win,” said Cora.
When the teams came closer to tournament time, they all had a slightly different outlook on things. Combs came into the season optimistic, even with the challenges of a new and relatively inexperienced team consisting of eight underclassmen and eight upperclassmen.
“I knew the beginning of the season was going to be a challenge because we were pretty much a brand new team playing with girls from all grades, but we had plenty of talent and girls who wanted to work hard,” said Combs.
The girls’ cross country team was even more optimistic, already preparing for state after their domination at semi-state.
“I personally had a very slow start to the season, but my time has finally begun to drop,” said senior Sydney Baxter. “As we got closer to state, girls were continuously getting PRs [personal records] which means we are improving every week. It’s all that you can ask for.”
The girls’ cross country team dominated sectionals, regionals, semi-state, and when it came to state they recorded a top seven finish. Earlier on in their sectional they even received a perfect score with all top five places being FC runners. The boys’ cross country team did equally as well, winning sectionals, regionals, and placing second in semi-state.
There is a reason for the boys’ cross country team’s recent success. According to senior Hunter Griffin, “The team just piled on hard weeks of training while preparing for the semi-state meet. We would do 10-plus mile runs and super hard workouts. We trained like we always have: with passion.” This training saw them through to a top-20 finish at state.
The girls’ and boys’ soccer teams both had their ups and downs this year, but for the most part, both teams feel as though at least one portion of their season was highly successful.
The boys’ soccer team went on to have an 11-4-1 record during the regular season, securing four major wins against a top Bloomington South team, an undefeated Jeffersonville team at the time, number one in Class 1A Providence, as well as handing New Albany their first loss ever at their new soccer stadium. To add to that, they also managed to keep nine of those 16 games scoreless for the other teams, despite multiple defensive injuries.
“I think that beating rivals Providence, New Albany, and then Jeffersonville during the regular season all while not conceding a single goal to them during the regular season was really awesome. That was a very big accomplishment for the team,” said Casey.
The girls’ soccer team was expected by many skeptics to have a less than considerable season, having lost multiple players including two key players, Murray State commit Audrey Brumfield and Indiana State commit Katie Yankey, both 2020 FC graduates. Despite the skepticism, soccer coach Lewis Stevens came into this season slightly more positive than others.
“I was cautiously optimistic, since we had lost a big group of starters from the previous senior class and then lost two more due to offseason injuries. We still had some key players but there was a lot of inexperience as well,” said Stevens.
Heading into the tournament, the girls’ team came in with a record of six wins and eight losses, which was nothing too impressive compared to last year’s 13-game-win season. However, against the odds and having the toughest route to become sectional champions, the girls team defeated Seymour, Jeffersonville, and then New Albany in the final to claim their fifth sectional title in a row.
The girls’ volleyball team finished their season with a record of 21-13. This included big wins against number four in the state class 3A Silver Creek, who at the time was undefeated, and number one in class 1A Trinity Lutheran.
The girls’ team, who was mainly led in stats by sophomore Caroline Hilbrich, senior Anna Hilbrich, and senior Kayden Holcomb, grew in big ways as the season went on.
“We came a long way from the beginning of our season. We grew mentally tougher and started making improvements that lead to big changes in our play as we gained more experience,” said Anna.
Despite having a young team, girls’ volleyball managed to come out with a winning record as well as a 3-0 tournament win over rival Jeffersonville. The future looks bright for the girls’ volleyball team.
The girls’ golf team took home many good finishes when it came to their tournaments, the most significant ones being their second place finish in the Fuzzy Zoeller Invitational, as well as two first-place finishes in the Sunnyside Classic and the Hoosier Hills Conference Sectional Tournament. The team was led by freshman Trinity Bramer, senior Zoe Hoehn, and state finalist junior Sophie Cook.
Throughout the season, Cook made many good memories but she could not pick out just one.
“My favorite memories were made at all of our weekend tournaments. We all had so much fun with the team and became so close,” she said, who added that the run to state was especially memorable.
“Making it to state,” said Cook. “It had always been a goal of mine from the beginning and I am proud of myself for finally making it there. The support I received there was fantastic.”
The boys’ tennis team, led by Cora, added to the success of the other FC teams, coming away with big season wins, upsetting Bloomington South, downing Avon 3-2, and sweeping rival New Albany 5-0. In addition, the Highlanders dominated the Hoosier Hills Conference, making it four straight HHC wins in four years.
Cora spoke positively about the team, saying that “our team improved a lot leading up to sectionals. Everyone worked hard in practice to prepare.”
Football season finished up as one of the last fall sports to be playing at FC, but it came to an abrupt end in sectionals, being surprised by Jeffersonville, whom FC had twice beaten in the regular season with a combined point difference of 63.
The football team, led mainly by seniors Tristan Polk, Wenkers Wright, and Zenuae Michalski, an Ohio State commit, finished their regular season with a 7-2 record, securing every single possible victory in the HHC before tournament time. In their regular season, they only took two losses which were to power schools Columbus East and Elder out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Every one of their victories came with a margin of 28 points or greater, including a 56-19 win against New Albany at New Albany, as well as a 42-0 home win over Providence.
“We improved week by week, it was beautiful, watching our new plays work and our defense perfect a new scheme,” said senior Colin Cummins.
Throughout all of the seasonal difficulties and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, injuries, and cancellations, FC fall sports made the 2020 season one to remember yet again. Winter teams, it is time to shine.