Shreddin' That Pow Pow

An ELHS student with a cold winter  passion

BY HANNAH VANASSE

Many ELHS students know senior Reagan Masson for her outgoing, optimistic, and bubbly personality. Her 5"1’ stance and blonde bob is often seen rushing around the halls to catch up with teachers or chat with friends. She plays field hockey in the fall, and rows in the spring. In the winter, however, she takes the New England love for skiing to a new level.

Masson devotes her winter weekends to instructing skiing at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire--nearly four hours away from East Lyme. Both her and her dad, Joseph Masson, make the drive nearly every weekend.

Skiing is rooted deeply within Masson’s family, which has influenced her to carry on her skill to others. Her dad started skiing in his twenties, and her parents put her in ski lessons at the early age of two.

"I am very proud of her because she is paying it forward. Someone who was patient took the time to teach her when she was little," said her mom, Maureen Masson. Skiing allows Reagan to spend more time with her family.

"Skiing means a lot to my family. It allows me to spend a lot more time with my dad, and that has made us become closer," said Masson.

She originally wanted to work in the program aiding handicapped skiers, but ended up "just really loving skiing with the kids."

Masson especially values the relationships she forms with her students: "They are fun to be around. They are their own people. They are not worried about anyone else, and they are  relaxed."

Her positivity and ability to connect with the kids has caught the attention of her coworkers.

"Reagan is the kind of friend that can bring a smile to your face no matter the day. She is a joy to work with. She always keeps the work environment positive," said coworker Kyle Lyndes, sophomore at the New Hampshire Technical Institute.

Although this commitment could have led to more stress in Reagan’s already hectic schedule, it has actually had the reverse affect.

"Being a ski instructor increased her responsibility, and improved her ability to manage stressful, difficult situations," Mr.  Masson said.

Jumping from High School to College

ELHS girls’ track team jumps for joy over the return of Coach Sarah Bennett

BY ANNE QUEVREAUX

January 2006: The high jump bar is set to five feet. Senior Sarah Bennett, determined to finally beat her seemingly unbreakable PR height of 4’ 10," looks for reassurance from her coach, Carl Reichard, before making her most memorable jump.

January 2016: junior Isabelle Riker stares down the high jump bar, set to the impossible height of five feet, and looks worriedly over at her coach, Sarah Bennett.

While many people participate in high school and college sports, it takes a special kind of passion to be a coach. For the past four years, assistant track coach Sarah Bennett has been turning the drive and dedication she felt as an athlete into being a coach.

"The girls deserve their accomplishments because I can see how hard they work. Some jumpers don’t even know how great they are," Coach Bennett said.

Coach Bennett graduated from ELHS in 2006, attended school at Ithaca College where she competed in the heptathlon and triple jump, and is now a physical therapist along with coaching long and high jump at ELHS.

Coach Bennett has learned over the years that being a good coach not only takes an understanding of the sport, but the ability to have a strong trust and understanding with her  athletes.

"We don’t just talk about track, we talk about what is happening in our lives, and that helps me be less nervous," said Riker.

Her experiences at ELHS allow Coach Bennett to easily connect with her athletes.

"Whenever I got stressed or upset about something, school or track related, [Bennett] didn’t just tell me to brush it off and focus on the next thing. She really tried to understand why I was not happy, like any friend would do," said alum Haley Ashton, who currently runs track for Ithaca College.

Coach Bennett’s successful coaching techniques not only call for a close relationship with her athletes, but her fellow coaches as well: Carl Reichard and Katie Lima.

"As a coach, I find it tremendous to have athletes come back and coach with me and the team," Coach Reichard said.

Along with her close relationship with Reichard, Coach Bennett is good friends with Lima and will be a bridesmaid in her wedding this summer; 12 hour track meets are the best time to bond.

However, Coach Bennett’s coaching took a break during the 2015-2016 season when she was unable to coach due to a new job in Rhode Island. While not being able to coach was hard for Bennett, it only made her passion for track  stronger.

"When I was at home I would be sitting on the couch doing work just thinking about how I should be at practice," Coach Bennett said.

Thankfully for Coach Bennett and the team, she was able to return to coaching this spring season--and does not plan on stopping any time  soon.

Fencing: As Close To Murder As It Gets

Fencing team on track for another state title

BY CHRIS CICCHIELLO

Most people, when asked to list the winter sports in the high school will say basketball, indoor track, hockey, skiing, and basketball,  again.

But what about fencing?

For a team that is the reigning state champion, there is certainly little buzz about them amidst the halls of ELHS.

"I feel fencing is very overshadowed by other sports, because they have little exposure," senior captain Ian Peitzsch said. "But I also feel many people don’t understand what’s happening when they watch fencing."

You may not know, but there are three primary events in fencing: Foil, Épée, and Sabre. Foil uses a light weapon optimal for thrusting and opponents only get points if they hit the breastplate. Épée, on the other hand, uses a heavier weapon and the entire body is a valid target. Finally, Sabre uses a light weapon ideal for cutting through the air, and anything from the waist up is a valid target except the weapon hand.

A typical practice for the fencing team begins with conditioning followed by footwork exercises. Then, it transitions into various drills focusing on fundamental techniques, and usually ends with them applying what they learned in the drills in "dry" bouting (non-electrically scored  sparring).

Last year, East Lyme’s Boys’Épée team took home States, a team comprised of Peitzsch, senior Mackenzie Bentley, senior Isaac Doggert and senior Troy Stillwell. Together, this squad has carried their success from last year into the new season, acting as an integral part of the team.

Going into the State Finals last year, East Lyme was ranked second with no aspirations of winning.

But that’s exactly what happened.

"It was a surprising success that no one ever expected from us," Peitzsch  said.

In regards to this year however, despite the team having lost six seniors from last year, it has gained 25 members in the past two years and become one of the largest teams in the  state.

One of the most notable standouts this year has been junior Matt Bevacqua, who remains undefeated in his ECC matches and placed 2nd among 32 other contenders in the Winter Classic held at East Lyme.

"I spent the last two years defining my style and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve gotten to the point where I am consistently able to compete at the level of people with more experience than me," Bevacqua  said.

One of the toughest struggles this year has been filling spots of  last years’  graduates.

"The trade off of becoming a family, is that when we lose seniors like we have in the past, it becomes difficult to adapt to the situation not only for filling in varsity slots, but also figuring out how to function as a unit," Bevacqua said. He emphasized that even though it is considered an individual sport, the team atmosphere has a family dynamic.

Currently, the men’s team is 7-1, while the women’s team is 6-2, and this year the Men’s Épée team will be "en garde," as they will attempt to repeat last year’s success.

Whether or not the team gains the same recognition as other teams do, they don’t let anything faze them, they just keep on fencing.

"The strongest parts of our team are all people. We have amazing students who practice hard and represent the school in a professional and courteous manner. We have dedicated coaches who train and spar with the student-athletes to help them reach their fullest potential. We have involved and supportive parents who organize fundraisers without which there would be no team," Coach Eric Gauthier said.

Unifying Through Unified Basketball

To many students, coming to high school means getting a chance to show off their talent through sports. Some kids have even trained since elementary school. However, not all students have the same opportunity, and Unified Basketball brings together students of all abilities to give them a chance while having  fun.

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Running Across The Globe

With a full quarter of American high school securely under their belts, five of ELHS’s Chinese Exchange Students, Lina Yang, Sherry Guo,Jessica Ou, Krisy Guo, and Amber Chen are eagerly embracing their next challenge: track and field. Back at their school in China, there were no after-school sports. Rather, physical exercise and sports were limited to gym class. On top of that, track is not exactly the most popular of all physical activities in China either. Students in China generally play ping pong, badminton, and basketball, if you are a  boy.

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New Swim Coach On The Block

Imagine what your sport would be like if you had a different coach almost every year. Would you be more or less prone to victory? Seniors of the boys’ swim team have been put to this test, having to learn three new coaching styles throughout their past four high school swim seasons.

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The League (Of Gentlemen)

"Hey guys, anyone see that Chris traded Gronk away for Jamaal Charles who had a torn ACL?" was a commonly asked question in my fantasy football group chat last year. In my first year in the league, I had made a rookie mistake: I listened to my friends for trade advice. Sure, they said, you desperately need a running back. And me, being too foolish, clicked "accept trade," sealing my fate as that year’s "sacko" or loser of the league.

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Off to the Ship they Went

The No. 2 seeded ELHS girls’ soccer team would finish their regular season. Headed to the ECC tournament with a bye in the first round, the team continued their fiery season with a 3-0 win over Stonington in the quarterfinals. Days later, the team beat Woodstock 4-3 in a close but riveting match. The ECC final was played between the ELHS girls team and the #1 seeded Plainfield team. In a show of great play, the Vikings took down Plainfield 3-0 to win the ECC Championship  title. The team completed their season with a 1-2 loss over Barlow in the second round of the State tournament.

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On the Success Track

A look at the freshmen taking it to the varsity level

by Hannah Gellar

Girls’ Soccer: Angie Venditti

"All the girls on the team are very talented and hard-working athletes. I am looking forward to learning something from each of them because they all bring something different. From the start all the girls have been so supportive and if I have any questions, not only about soccer but school too, they are so helpful. I know I need to continue to work hard to stay here and prove I belong here. Sometimes during games I feel like everything has to be perfect, but I know that I can’t play that way. I just have to play the way I know how and listen to feedback from my coaches."

Girls’ Cross country: Gillian Goodwin

"Last year if you asked me if I enjoyed running I would have laughed. This year is totally different. I love running; it gives me a rush of excitement words can’t even explain. The upperclassmen make me a stronger runner because I want to be able to keep running with them. They push me to run harder, faster, and longer than I ever thought I could."

Boys’ Cross Country: Chris Abbey

"I am so happy to be running well this year and helping my team. I never expected to be placing so high as a freshman but the older boys are always encouraging me and cheering for me. The upperclassmen always show me ways to improve and become faster."

Volleyball: Sophie Dubreuil (right)

"Since I was I played football in the fall and I decided to change it up this year, I did a couple of camps but I would’ve never thought I would be put on varsity. Being on the team does make Mya and I work harder just to prove we can play with the upperclassmen so we try the hardest to practice at their level. Being the youngest isn’t really different than being the oldest; everyone treats everyone the same and helps each other out just as much so that helps us play better as well."

Football: Scott Galbo

"It’s definitely a lot different than working with guys our age but we’re all friends and everybody is working towards the same thing so that makes it feel normal. I definitely need to pay attention more to keep up with the upperclassmen because it is much more complex than last year in youth and the freshma n team. For varsity you definitely need to stay in shape because the hits hurt a lot more with the upperclassmen. I’ve been playing varsity since late August and I think playing at this level will help us learn how they run things so we will be able to catch on quicker for years  on."

Football: Chris Malcom

"Since the three of us have been on varsity everyone has treated us with just as much expectations and we are just one of the players a part of this team. The real challenges we face are involving our sizes compared to the upperclassmen because people are way bigger than I am."

Football: TJ Horner

"In the beginning it was pretty intimidating but after a couple days I realized that if I push myself the hardest I can everyday then I can hang with the upperclassmen just fine. Playing football with varsity makes my skill level go way up a lot faster. It is way more intense in drills in comparison to freshmen practices. Just playing against bigger and better people will help me improve as a whole.".