Making of March Madness

At 11:30 pm on Monday, April 3, thousands of people poured onto Franklin Street in celebration over the UNC Men’s Basketball team’s win over Gonzaga in the NCAA National Championship Game. With a score of 65-71, the Tar Heels claimed their sixth national title.

In a tournament with match-ups between the top 68 collegiate basketball teams in the country, the NCAA tournament is better known as March Madness to many, including a majority of the CHS student body. According to a survey sample of CHS students, at least two-thirds of students followed the 2017 NCAA tournament in some form. 20.6 percent of students admitted complete devotion to making brackets and watching in angst as the unlikely team (Xavier) took down the favorite (Arizona). However, another 23.5 percent of students had no clue what March Madness even meant.

62.5 percent of CHS students correctly predicted UNC’s tournament success. A win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs meant redemption for the Heels after losing to Villanova by three points at the buzzer in 2016. Only 5.9 percent of students foresaw the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ first ever national championship appearance, and no student thought Gonzaga would be named 2017 National Champion.

The most common predictions for NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament winner after the Tar Heels were reigning champion Villanova and Duke. Both Villanova and Duke ended their championship hopes earlier than expected this year with respective losses to Wisconsin and South Carolina in the second round, shattering brackets all across the country.

.CHS students predicted which NCAA team they thought was going to win the tournament. 64.5% of them predicted it right. Photo courtesy Google Docs.

Although Duke’s meager performance in the NCAA disappointed many fans in the CHS community, the Duke and UNC Basketball programs have each earned one national title in the last three years, continuing their legacies of dominance in men’s basketball on the national stage. As Carrboro lies within a 14 mile radius of the both universities and basketball rivals, it is no mystery as to why many students make bets for the best bracket and sport the colors of their favorite team each year throughout the month of March.

 

Aiming for iron

Devoting countless hours to a school sport is a major commitment for any student— especially when paired with maintaining grades and friendships. Nevertheless, many CHS athletes have enrolled in school sports for all three seasons.

One of those dedicated “Iron Jags” is junior Gabby Adams. Juggling basketball, soccer and track, Adams has a lot on her plate. A balanced agenda becomes one of the most important things for any three-sport athlete, and it’s important not to get overbooked.

Keeping up with one sport, not to mention three, can be pretty tough at times. There are practices five times a week, games, less time for homework, sharing practice spaces with other teams and the stress of competition that can all take a toll on a student.

However, despite her busy schedule, Adams encourages all student-athletes to stick with the team, even when keeping up with sports gets difficult. School sports allow for students to make friends, have time outside of school to destress, and to get involved in extracurriculars. “It’ll definitely be worth it in the end,” she said.

Friends can make playing sports a lot more fun, too. A lot of Adams’ motivation to keep going comes from Coach Clanton and the seniors on her soccer team. “[The seniors] have been really nice,” said Adams.

She also finds that participating in multiple sports has its benefits. Adams feels a sense of commitment, which helps with life outside of school. “Players have to learn to multitask, and there’s a strong sense of community within the teams,” said Adams.

Naturally, many sport teams are known for the camaraderie between players, and nothing brings a team together like game day. Finally, all the hard work pays off. Everyone comes together to make it work, and a season’s worth of practice is put to use.

With all the hard work student-athletes are doing, they need to be able to relax and have fun, especially when getting into the game day mindset. At a school game, you might catch Adams listening to “The World’s Greatest” by R. Kelly to get ready for the match.

Despite the grind, school sports have a natural appeal. Whether it’s the camaraderie, the victory, or the workout, CHS students are very passionate about their teams—and three-sport athletes prove it.

 

A fantastic obsession

It’s a sport that nearly 60 million people in the U.S. and Canada take part in, yet it requires absolutely no physical activity. The involved costs range from thousands-of-dollars all the way to zero. And around 32 percent of teens in the U.S. are players (FTSA).

Fantasy sports have seen massive growth in the past few years, with the number of participants doubling from 2009 to 2015. At Carrboro, it’s become a favorite pastime across grades and genders.

Fantasy football the most popular of the fantasy sports. Junior Karl Naomi attributes
its success to the combination of football being such a massive sport—one that “millions of people watch every Sunday, Saturday and is high Friday too with school [football]”— with the monetary benefits and “pride against their friends” that winning a league can earn someone.

One phenomenon that the growth of fantasy sports has brought is an increased interest in the sports themselves. One survey by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association found that 64 percent of fantasy players watch more live sports and 61 percent read more about sports as a result of playing fantasy sports.

Photo courtesy www.beckett.com

Karl Naomi again comments, saying, “I’m definitely watching more intensely when fantasy’s involved.”

When it comes to the success of fantasy sports, sophomore Tommy Holt considers the cause to be slightly different. When asked why they’ve risen to such heights, he alluded to science. “ It is because of the competitive human nature.”

However, the various types of fantasy sports aren’t limited to football and basketball. Junior Sydney Mosteller describes how her “friends like to watch [The Bachelor] together, so we thought it would be fun to enter and compete against each other,” and how the group formed a fantasy Bachelor competition.

The group went all out on the punishment for league-loser Millie McGuire, as Mosteller describes: “Each of us goes to Walmart and picks one article of clothing that’s super ugly, and then [Millie] has to wear the combined outfit to school.”

Rewards, however, can make competing very appealing. After beating CHS junior Joe Zhang in the championship of their football league, Episcopal High School junior Connor Kocis won over 200 dollars.
Clearly, there’s a lot on the line. When it comes to fantasy sports, with their growing popularity they’re just one more activity that students balance in their busy lives—but also one of the most fun.

And with so many ways and reasons to compete, it’s a trend that will continue to grow.

 

Opinion: The price of success

You probably don’t associate your high school volleyball team with the wage gap in America. But high school sports, as well as club sports teams, have more to do with the wage gap than you think.

From Little League to the NBA to even the Olympics, sports create a sense of friendly competition and passion among players. However, not everyone gets the same opportunity to pursue that passion. Playing a sport, especially for a club team, is a privilege that some can’t afford.

According to the Capital Area Soccer League’s mission statement, their goal is, “To provide positive, high quality soccer opportunities at all levels of play for youth and their families and to serve as a valuable community partner.”

However, club sports teams are expensive and elite. Parents hope to refine their children’s skills, and make them the best they can be at their sport. Whether it’s CASL, TUSA, CHAVC or NCLA, clubs charge thousands of dollars to parents yearly. For example, one year in Chapel Hill Area Volleyball Club can range from $708-$3,836, depending on the team you’re on.

Many parents choose to start their kids in club teams at a young age – as early as three or four years old. Meanwhile, for children whose parents can’t afford the elite teams, they have to wait for school sports that allow them to play the sport they love, without additional costs.

Once teenagers enter high school, sports become an even bigger deal. With the right amount of talent, you could get a scholarship to a dream college and even continue to play professionally. The level of ability needed to play professionally can be given to you through club training. Club teams are able cultivate skill and guarantee a superior level of training, which also guarantees a better chance to gain scholarships.

These skills can be earned, but there are also those who don’t have the opportunity to develop the abilities because of factors such as money or geographical access.

No one should be refused the possibility to do what they love. The small differences between those who can and can’t pay have bigger consequences. According to CNN, white families typically earn more per year than minorities. This means that those who are paid more annually are also able to pay for extracurriculars and privileges like club teams. Those who have the club experience are more likely to get scholarships for their achievements and play professionally. This possibly lessens the diversity in the athletic community.

This racial gap stems from something greater than just club versus school teams. It’s possible that this separation is actually a result of the wage gap in America. People of color, women, and other minorities are usually paid less, resulting in little wage gaps all across our country. A man of color typically earns 65-75% of a white man’s hourly wage, according to a recent report by Time Magazine. One small can become the difference between those who can pay for a club sport and those who can’t. Not only is there already discrimination in the athletic world, but there is also under-representation of different races in different sports. In the U.S., the land of opportunities, this seems more than a little unfair.

In order for these club teams to comply with mission statements such as CASL’s, these high quality sports opportunities should be offered to all. Scholarships based on need or talent could be offered to different kids who have a passion for sports. Meanwhile, raising the minimum wage, paid leave, and non-discriminatory wages could target the racial wage gap on a larger scale.

Soccer in the courtyard: a CHS community

Students duck as a soccer ball flies overhead and soars through the air, hitting the courtyard wall with a thud. Friendly faces run forth to grab the ball and continue their game as they sprint across the field in a friendly competition built on a tradition only founded a few years prior. But from the outside looking in, the average student wouldn’t see the sense of camaraderie among the teammates.

Senior Jefferson Castaneda has been playing soccer since age four and is a founding member of the group that has grown to become a staple of Carrboro’s lunchtime. According to Castenada, he and a group of friends started the tradition his freshman year.

“We were bored,” said Castaneda. “We can interact with more people while playing soccer, and it’s fun. I came from a different school, so this helped me make new friends. We love soccer.”

In addition to pursuing an athletic interest, cultivating friendships seems to be a key reason behind a student’s choice to regularly participate in games. According to junior Raul Salazar, playing soccer has allowed most of the students’ social circles to expand as a result of meeting the other players.

“You start out with a couple of friends,” said Salazar. “But then, as you meet everyone else, you just become one big group of friends.”

Salazar has been part of the group of players since his freshman year at CHS, and with the guidance of some close friends, was quickly accepted into the group and began playing everyday.

“This is for everybody,” said Castaneda, expressing the openness towards anyone with an interest.

At CHS, a school with championship titles for soccer and a plethora of student athletes from around the community, many choose not to participate; some eat their lunches from afar while others take part in different sports.

Students gather in the courtyard to play soccer. Photo by Levi Hencke

“I haven’t [played with them] just because I don’t wear the right clothes,” said freshman Brynn Holt-Ling when asked if she ever plays. “If I weren’t lazy, [I would].”

Frae Day Moo, a junior, expressed similar concerns. He and his friends would prefer not to dirty their clothes before class, and Moo feels that there are already enough participants. But the courtyard players don’t seem to care; as Salazar sees it, people want to be with their friends.

Whether or not they join in the games, Carrboro students and staff are accustomed to seeing the players in the courtyard the moment the lunch bell rings. As students rush to claim lunch tables, the players rush onto the grass fields, immediately setting up goals with backpacks and jackets. Custodian Cliff Copeland, who often spends lunchtime outside, sees the games every day.

“It could be raining, and they’re kicking the ball because that’s what they like,” said Copeland.

It is hard for spectators like Copeland to imagine the group straying far from the soccer ball, and it is similarly hard for many of the players. Many current participants, including Salazar and many underclassmen, joined the group within their first days at school and have found a home.

“I started playing with them since the start of school, but now I don’t play that much with them because I think they’re aggressive, and they kick hard,” said freshman Joshua Molina. “But if someone wants to play, they can just get in and that’s it.”

For many students like Castaneda, Molina and Salazar, playing every day is more than a means of pursuing a hobby; it is an outlet from school. Soccer has become a new source of stress relief from tests, homework and even a way to avoid the cold temperatures in the building. Above all, soccer is a source of human connection, joy and friendship.

Bouncing Bulldogs establish world’s first jump rope gym

On April 8, the Bouncing Bulldogs Jump Rope Team will jump to new heights with the opening of a new gym. The new Bouncing Bulldogs Community Center (BBCC), located off of Old Chapel Hill Road, will serve as the first building in the world built specifically for jump roping.

The new gym will allow the team to accommodate more jumpers and aid the expansion of programs for preschoolers, children with special needs and adults.

Glimpse at the new community center.
Photo courtesy Bouncing Bulldogs

According to Head Coach Ray Fredrick Jr., “the BBCC will belong to the community, and it will be a place where all boys and girls in the community can come and develop their physical, social, emotional and academic standards.”

The Bouncing Bulldogs program, founded in 1986 by Fredrick at Hope Valley Elementary School as a club of 15 jumpers, now includes a competitive team of 160 boys and girls and serves hundreds more in the community through classes, camps, performances and outreach programs.

As the team has grown over the years, the need for a larger facility arose. Starting in 2011, the Bulldogs began to raise money for a gym of their own after years of practicing in dance studios, school gyms and shopping centers.

“There’s 4,000 jump rope teams in the world, and most are school based or practice at a recreational facility, and they pay rent,” said Fredrick. “[The BBCC is] historic because it will be the first gym just for jump roping ever built in the world.”

Currently, the team has generated a pledge of $1 million towards the BBCC. According to Fredrick, the capital campaign process required years of patience and teamwork.

“I think the Bouncing Bulldogs community has really supported this,” said team co-captain Brooke Bauman. “The mission statement of the program is to help kids grow emotionally and socially and to encourage jump rope for fun and fitness. I think this new building is going to help us reach that goal.”

Members of the Bouncing Bulldogs. Photo courtesy Anna Reeb and the Bouncing Bulldogs

The BBCC ribbon cutting ceremony will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 8 and is open to all members of the community. “This gym would not have been built without the support of the entire Chapel Hill community,” said Fredrick. “We’re going to work as hard as we can to make the community proud.”

Behind the scenes of college signings

Earlier this quarter, three senior athletes signed a sheet of paper and committed to the next four years of their lives. Miah Araba, Laura Sparling, and Natasha Turner aren’t the first to commit to a college for sports, and they won’t be the last.

Every year, student athletes have many things to consider when choosing a college. They need to evaluate a school’s environment and academic programs to ensure they will be comfortable and challenged, just like any other student. They also need to figure out what school will fit their sport and the level of ambition they’ll be bringing for the next four years of college.

In Carrboro’s senior class, there are many student athletes continuing their sport past high school. The JagWire spoke to several athletes who gave us their perspective on what it takes to be recruited to participate in college level sports.

Although a student athlete may not sign until senior year, the committing process starts early. For Araba, Sparling, and Turner, it started around sophomore year. Most students verbally commit to a school around this time, and won’t sign until a year or two later.

These students aren’t only focusing on a prospective college’s athletic program, however. “I wanted to make sure that I was going to a school that was [also] academically rigorous, and if I couldn’t get recruited to a school that was like that I would go to a school for education and not soccer,” said Araba.

While the idea of college security may seem ideal, it has its drawbacks too, with the pressure of deciding on colleges two years early, as well as not having the excitement of being accepted to a variety of schools.

“The recruiting process itself is stressful because you don’t know what’s going to happen; if schools are going to like you or not,” said Sparling.

For Grace Maggiore and Christine Alcox, their commitment for volleyball was similar but still complex. Both Maggiore and Alcox were exposed to college coaches through their club teams. According to Alcox, “Since we play club, we get a lot of exposure that way, (…) if you want to play in college, it’s best to play club, because no one watches high school games anymore.”

Another way the two reached out to colleges was through email. Both Maggiore and Alcox started sending out emails to colleges around sophomore year. While the coaches can’t talk to students directly until junior or senior year, there are ways around that rule. College coaches can use club coaches as a messenger between themselves and the players. Also, coaches can reply over email, but not in person until much later in the process.

“You can call [the coaches], but they can’t call you,” said Maggiore, summing it up.

The last step of recruitment is the actual commitment and application. For Quinton Adams, committing for track, there was an almost three-week process that included sending in videos of himself running, monitoring his diet and weighing himself daily, in addition to the Common Application and his personal information. Depending on the college and the sport, the commitment process could be very low-stress and simple as it was for Taylor Day, or difficult like it was for Adams.

One thing that both Quinton Adams and Taylor Day, who is committing for wrestling, did to further their recruitment was to go to college camps. These college camps allowed Adams and Day to be exposed to different campuses and coaches while furthering their training.

Finally, there are scholarships. Being recruited by a college means they’re willing to offer you some sort of scholarship in exchange for your commitment to their college.

“You could [get] academic, half, or full [scholarships],” said Adams, who is currently in the process of obtaining a half scholarship, which means that the university will fund two years of his college education.

For student-athletes considering recruitment, the most important step is to not be afraid to reach out to various colleges and coaches. It’s also important to get started early, and work your hardest during the process.

CHS wrestling wins States

On February 18, the CHS wrestling season came to a close, marking the end of a successful season for the entire Jaguar team. The season culminated with a victory at the 2A State Championship.

Winning states was preceded by a hard-fought victory at Regionals. On February 2, the team competed and won against Wheatmore High School.

Senior Emmanuel O’Quaye, completing his second full season due to injuries in his freshman and junior years, commented on the effort that he and his teammates had to put forth in order to succeed.

“You get what you give. When you’re on the mat it’s just you and the person you’re competing against,” said O’Quaye.

After the victory at Wheatmore, the team geared up to wrestle in the team state championship. Before the competition, however, the team went to the dual-team state championship, where they lost 32-28 to Newton Conover City School.

Ultimately, however, Newton Conover gave up the title when it was discovered that they used an academically ineligible wrestler.

CHS didn’t let the loss get them down, however, and got right back to work preparing for the team state championship two weeks later. That work was clearly evident by the season’s end.

David Veltri, junior, described the atmosphere and mood heading into the final test of the season.

“States was fun. We showed up there trying to show the whole state that we’re the best team,” said Veltri.

Coach DeWitt Driscoll has been an integral part in the team’s success this year. In an interview, he spoke about the reasons for CHS’s success.

“I think the team dynamic was great this year and it definitely showed on the mat,” said Driscoll, speaking on the season as a whole. “Overall, all the guys put 100 percent effort into this season, and it has definitely been one of our best.”

The season is over, and the seniors who finished their last wrestling season at CHS are proud of their accomplishments.

“These past years on the team have been great and definitely shaped me to be the person I am today,” said senior Curtis Selby, who took on a leadership role this season.

For Selby and other seniors, the win is bittersweet.

“I will definitely miss wrestling. These past years have been the greatest moments of my life,” said Selby.

Clams carry CHS spirit

For most high school teams, the prospect of not being associated and funded by their school would stop them in their tracks. The Carrboro Clams, a club frisbee team, however, are used to it. For the “Clamily” this dependence has never been a problem.

“It’s not very hard. Sometimes logistics are difficult but all of the players are very driven and independent,” said senior Ben Heuser regarding the student-run aspect of Frisbee.

That’s not to say the Clams being a club doesn’t influence the team at all though.

“The biggest influence of being a club is not having access to school fields – we’re about to lose our practice fields and don’t have a backup,” said Heuser.

Since their main practice field is located at Lincoln Center, some recently-unveiled plans bode very poorly for the Clams. With plans to replace the fields out front of the center with a parking lot, the Clams will have to find a practice field, and fast.

The Clams don’t let this get them down however, as they prefer to look at the positives.

“I really like that Ultimate Frisbee is a club and not a sanctioned school sport. While the Clams might not have field space at Carrboro, we gain a lot of flexibility in our practice scheduling,” said senior captain Connor Greene.

Once again, the Clams prefer to look at the positives.

“We have the ability to attend several tournaments every year, which give new [and returning] players a lot of valuable experience.” said Greene. “But the best part about the Clams is how relaxed it is, but also how much people care about and each other. It’s a lot of fun, but we get serious when we need to.”

But no matter how intense it can get, the Clams always keep the fun-loving and positive attitude that make them one of CHS’s best, and quirkiest, teams; sanctioned or not.

Students on the Slopes

On Friday, February 3, seven hours away from Carrboro in temperatures that dipped into the single digits, 29 CHS students were ripping down the ski slopes. After waking up at 4:30 am and driving through the morning to get to Snowshoe Mountain, in West Virginia, everybody was on the slopes by 2:00pm. The group stayed two nights in the resort hotel. Most attendees skied into the night on Friday, throughout the day and night on Saturday and then on Sunday morning.

This was the second ski trip for the CHS Outdoor Club. Last year, a group of 25 students drove four hours to Wintergreen Mountain, in Virginia. This year, however, the club opted for the longer drive to West Virginia in return for Snowshoe’s guarantee: “more open terrain than any other ski mountain in the Southeast.”

The decision paid off, according to sophomore Alex Naismith, who said, “Yes, so much better—like one-hundred times better,” said Naismith when asked about his preference for Snowshoe.

While most of the trip’s attendees were fairly experienced skiers or snowboarders, some were still learning. CHS Junior Izzy Benson, for example, had not been skiing in more than three years before the trip. However, similar to everybody else, she said she had fun.

There was one attendee who didn’t have a good time: Camden Aguilar, who broke his collarbone
on Saturday morning. However, after being taken care of by Snowshoe medics, he was in good spirits during his recovery.

Sunday morning, after skiing for a couple hours, everyone packed their bags and got back on the bus. The group left West Virginia around 11:45am, leaving just enough time to get home for the Super Bowl.

After a weekend of skiing, and friends in West Virginia, all the returning members of the Outdoor Club are already looking forward to next year’s ski trip.