Upper School athletes enjoyed a successful winter season. The swim team and boys and girls basketball teams qualified for and took part in post-season competition.
A big thank you to Swim Team Head Coach Sara Watchorn and assistants Anne Henkels and Janey Heyman; Boys Basketball Team Head Coach Ronnie Ross and assistants Romaro Rogers and Paulino Beach; and Girls Basketball Team Head Coach Bill Tatomer and assistants Ashlee Ostler and Stacy Martin. These individuals spent many hours working with student-athletes and helped each Winged Lion achieve success individually. This, in turn, helped the teams finish strong. Well done, Winged Lion coaches and athletes!
“Finned” Lions Make Splash at State
By Anne Henkels, Assistant Coach
The “Finned” Lions Swim Team demonstrated their athletic prowess once again this season. Swimming runs October through February, amounting to the longest high school sports season. That didn’t stop Rowland Hall’s twelve remarkable swim team athletes from surging ahead in their athletic and mental progress.
Under the expert guidance of Head Coach Sara Watchorn and her coaching staff, the team incorporated dryland training and meditation into their workout regimen, in addition to time in the water. Each and every swimmer underwent growth as an athlete and as a person through their dedication, excellent attendance, and work ethic.
At the Region meet, both the girls and boys teams finished third overall. On the girls side, the Medley Relay took first, as did the 200 Free Relay. Top individual finishers included Julia Sanderson, first in the 200 Individual Medley (IM) and first in the 500 Free; Alison Puri, first in both the 200 and 100 Free races; Bella Goh, first in the 100 Back and second in the 100 Free; and Sophie Hannah, third in the 100 Breast. The boys 400 Free Relay team took first and the 200 Free Relay placed second. Individual top finishes included Isaac Landau, second in the 100 Breast and third in the 200 IM; Alex Fort, second in the 100 Fly; and Ethan Goh, second in both the 200 and 500 Free races.
Both the girls and boys team qualified for competition at the State 2A Meet held at Brigham Young University on February 12, when each swimmer attained a personal best time! Senior Julia Sanderson was named the Female Swimmer of the Year and Senior Donovan Murphy was honored as an Academic All-State athlete. The boys team finished third, scoring a total of 140 points. Donovan Murphy placed sixth in the 50 Free and third in the 100 Free; Isaac Landau took second in both the 100 Breast and 200 IM; Ethan Goh placed sixth in the 200 Free and 500 Free; Tarik Basic took seventh in the 200 Free and eighth in the 500 Free; Alex Fort placed fifth in the 200 IM and sixth in the 100 Fly; Hayden Stotts took eleventh in the 200 Free and seventh in the 100 Back; and Sam Thomas was an alternate qualifier in the relays. The Boys 200 Free Relay team (Murphy, Goh, Landau, Fort) and the 400 Free Relay team (Murphy, Goh, Fort, Basic) both placed second.
The girls team took fourth place, scoring a total of 133 points. Julia Sanderson won the 500 Free in 2A state record time, breaking the former record by 8 seconds, and took first in the 200 IM; Alison Puri placed second in the 200 Free and tied for third in the 100 Free; Bella Goh took fourth in the 100 Back and tied for third in the 100 Free; Mia Chamberlain placed fourth in the 200 Free and eighth in the 500 Free; and Sophie Hannah took seventh in both the 50 Free and 100 Breast. The Girls 200 Free Relay team (Sanderson, Hannah, Puri, Goh) took first, setting a new 2A State record in the event! The Girls 400 Free Relay team (Sanderson, Goh, Puri, Chamberlain) placed second.
At their end-of-season awards celebration, Julia Sanderson was named Most Valuable Female Swimmer; Ethan Goh won Most Valuable Male Swimmer; Sophie Hannah won Most Improved Female Swimmer; Tarik Basic won Most Improved Male Swimmer; and Donovan Murphy received the coveted Coaches’ Award.
The coaches were continuously thrilled by this team’s perseverance, talent, and ability to have fun and enjoy the sport. Congratulations to all! We invite others in the Rowland Hall community to join us next season.
Girls Basketball Ends Successful Season
By Bill Tatomer, Head Coach
The girls basketball team concluded the season competing against Millard High School at the 2A State Tournament, held at Orem High School. This game capped a fantastic year for the Lady Winged Lions, with many reasons to be proud.
The team started the year 1-6, then roared back: they won eight of their next ten games, including two victories over archrival Waterford away and at home in the Den. Playing with confidence and an emphasis on team, this year’s squad gelled as a family and had a ton of fun competing together. They made great memories on and off the court, playing and hanging out together.
Much of the team’s success this year came as a result of two incredible and talented senior captains. Quincy Pinnell-Jackson led the team in points scored and three-point field goals. With her versatile basketball ability, Quincy, fondly known as “Q,” possesses a strong basketball skill set and love for the game. Her passion and quiet intensity helped push her team to work hard and play at a higher level, with the mindset of competing with character, winning with grace, and always doing your best, no matter the score or situation.
Equally as impressive was senior Chelsea Birkett. Chelsea elevated her game and positive attitude this season. An inspirational team leader and mentor, she led the team in rebounds and blocked shots and was as determined and successful on defense as she was on offense.
With an extremely talented squad of returning starters including juniors Julia Villar, Kaela Gilbert, Olyvia Mugweh, and Shubaira Aminzada; and sophomores Allison Bagley, Meg Janes, and Gillian Larsen, the future looks bright. This year showcased several incredibly athletic freshmen, including varsity players Claire “Sandy” Sanderson and Ally Hansen, and strong Junior Varsity team members Tess Edgley, Amaya Hoglund, Emilie Orfanakis, Sam Carlisle, Leah Button, and Lillian Brown. A big “thank you” to team managers Jacqueline Graham and Grace Riter for their behind the scenes help!
End-of-season team accolades went to Quincy Pinnell-Jackson, Most Valuable Player; Claire Sanderson, Most Improved; Allison Bagley, Coaches’ Award; Julia Villar, Offensive Player of the Year; and Kaela Gilbert, Defensive Player of the Year.
Boys Basketball Finishes Strong
By Ronnie Ross, Head Coach
The boys basketball team’s season consisted of change and trying new things. With a new coach on board, the team did more than try different plays or practice routines. The entire team philosophy morphed, and along with that came new goals and expectations. Change can be difficult to implement and sell to players, but this group was hungry for more and ready to take on the challenge.
During pre-season, players adjusted to the new philosophy and increased expectations, ultimately developing their mentality and game. These talented and intelligent young men responded well to being pushed beyond their comfort zones. Great strides in individual skills and team play ensued as players began to realize how much the coaching staff believed in them.
With growth in confidence and self-expectation, the team experienced its best season start in recent years, with some exciting wins and battle-to-the-finish losses—several against much larger schools. The regular season brought with it some to-be-expected bumps as the Winged Lions continued to develop and the bar continued to rise. However, with each obstacle, the team endured and fought for their own growth, and for each other. The Winged Lions had some close, heartbreaking losses, but the players gave themselves a chance to win big games, which was a huge improvement.
By season’s end, every player had honed old skills or picked up new ones, showing they had more talent than they knew. The team finished the season strong, qualifying for the first round of the State 2A Tournament for the first time in several years. They had a great showing there against a number-one seed.
It has been a great honor coaching this group—they taught and inspired me in many ways. I look forward to the continued improvement and success of returning and incoming players. A special thanks to senior team captains Will Dischmann and Kyle Eng for their strong leadership. Congratulations to Will, Kyle, and our five other seniors: Isaac Adondakis, Garrett Furubayashi, Jonah Holbrook, Eric Tokita, and manager Sam Galvez-Chew. And congrats to the rest of our Varsity team members for their hard work all season, including Jack Dischmann, Trey Provost, Luke Roberts, Jack Scaife, and Leif Thulin. Junior Varsity and freshmen/sophomore team members continued to improve all season under the watchful eyes of Coaches Romaro Rogers and Paulino Beach. We look forward to the return of players Austin Davison, Wesley Johnston, Nektarios Mantas, Adin Mustajbegovic, Levi Ollerton, Maya Royer, Youssef Salama, Max Scaife, and Zander Smith next year.
Congratulations on end-of-season award recognition to Kyle Eng, Most Valuable Player; Will Dischmann, Coaches’ Award; Garrett Furubayashi, Most Improved Player; and Luke Roberts, Defensive Player of the Year.
Coach Tolbert Named Community Servant of the Year
The University of Utah’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity recently recognized Upper School Track and Field Assistant Coach Roland Tolbert as the 2015 Community Servant of the Year.
Coach Tolbert has actively promoted the sport of track and field in the Salt Lake City area for thirty-six years. During his outstanding career, he has coached at East High School and Rowland Hall. In the club track community, he has served as head coach of the Cheetahs Youth Track and Field program. He is a favorite among Rowland Hall track and field athletes and has brought much knowledge and passion to the program since joining the staff several years ago. His easygoing nature and enthusiasm for the sport draw many to participate, and Coach Tolbert has impacted countless young lives over the years with his welcoming and insightful coaching style. He has worked throughout the community with youth track and field student-athletes of all ages and backgrounds, serving as a role model and leader through his involvement with parks and recreation centers and inner-city community neighborhoods. He spearheaded various programs throughout the city, including the USA Track and Field (USATF) Junior Olympics, the Hershey Youth Track and Field program, Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Youth Track and Field programs, and the USATF and Hershey Run Jump Throw program.
The challenges faced by inner-city youth are all too familiar to Coach Tolbert: he grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and then moved to Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood. Gangs were prominent in both neighborhoods, and Coach Tolbert could have easily been negatively impacted by his surroundings. Fortunately, competing as a Track and Field athlete influenced him and ultimately helped him change his life—he earned an athletic scholarship to the College of Eastern Utah, where he was a highly successful long jumper. His experiences shaped his life, and his own story is the driving force behind his involvement in youth track and field.
The Iota Iota Iota Graduate Chapter of Omega Psi Phi recognized Coach Tolbert and nine other community members at an annual Achievement Awards Ceremony in December. Omega Men observe Achievement Week annually to promote the study of African-American life and history, and to seek out and give due recognition to individuals locally and globally who have made a noteworthy contribution toward improving Black Americans’ quality of life. As part of this recognition, an African-American Scholars college scholarship has been sponsored in Coach Tolbert’s name.
Congratulations, Coach Tolbert, on this well-deserved recognition—the Winged Lion community is proud of you!
And My Thanks Goes to…
By Kendra Tomsic, Director of Athletics
No Athletics Department or Director of Athletics can achieve success without the help of many who work quietly behind the scenes. Rowland Hall’s athletic programs couldn’t thrive without the help of others, so I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to those folks.
Director of Operations Ann Burnett and her amazing staff play a key role in helping prepare the Lincoln, McCarthey, and Steiner Campus gymnasiums and fields for use by Rowland Hall athletes for practices and contests. They are our program’s unsung heroes, without whom I couldn’t successfully perform my job. A huge shout-out to Lincoln Operations staff members Jose Beach, Lorena Magdaleno, Mark Thomas, and Stan Oldham; and McCarthey Campus Operations crew members Zenon Bulka, Laurie Underwood, Paulino Beach, Patrick Murphy, and Kaden Plewe for all they do.
Director of Transportation Josh Leger and his drivers Garrett Alberico, Chris Forward, Paulino Beach, and Pablo Franco provide much-needed transport for our Middle and Upper School teams from Lincoln to McCarthey or other nearby venues. Their help is invaluable.
The Booster Club Board—Faye Mitsunaga and Ashley Holbrook, Co-Presidents; Angela Tooze, Treasurer; Robin Puri, Upper School Liaison; and Eric Keil, Middle School Liaison—forms a fantastically supportive team of parents who meet monthly and aid the entire athletics department. Their efforts to fundraise and recruit other parents to become team liaisons make such a difference to our programs. Thanks!
The Upper School individual team liaisons coordinate snacks, drinks, and ticket-taking responsibilities as needed for each Upper School team. They also organize the end-of-season awards celebrations. A big shout-out and heartfelt thanks to these parent liaisons: Ashley Carlin (girls soccer); Dorene Sambado (girls tennis); Evelyn Matsumura and Linette Baneth (volleyball); Michelle Rasich and Mary McIntyre (cross country); Connie Furubayashi and Theresa Sueoka (boys golf); Zoe Cunniff (swimming); Johanna Birkett and Christine Riter (girls basketball); Ashley Holbrook and Faye Mitsunaga (boys basketball); Dawn Houghton and Sarah Button (softball); Faye Mitsunaga and Connie Furubayashi (Baseball); Karen Oliver and Kitty Stoneburner (boys soccer); Patty Yun (girls golf); Michelle Rasich (track and field); and Bob Tucker (boys tennis) for their work as sport liaisons this year!
Members of the Rowland Hall arts faculty play a key role in helping to provide national anthem performers and halftime entertainment at volleyball and basketball games. Much appreciation to Bret Jackson and the Rowland Hall Jazz Band for the many times they played at Upper School events—such a wonderful addition to the evening! Thanks to Jeremy Innis and the Upper School Choir for the several anthem performances they provided this fall and winter. And a very special thank you to Cindy Hall and the Lower School Choir for their fantastic performance at one of our home basketball games—it was wonderful!
Upper School Principal Lee Thomsen and Upper School Assistant Principal Dave Samson deserve kudos for their willingness to be on-hand to help supervise home contests during the fall and winter seasons. Their help was invaluable.
Kathy Howa, Linda Hampton, and Gita Varner were stalwarts at the score table during volleyball and basketball home games. Those events would not have happened without them. Many thanks!
Last but not least, to all loyal fans who support the Winged Lions through thick and thin—faculty, students, and parents—thanks for being there for our athletes and coaches. You truly do make a difference.
Thanks to all—You are the best!