Early success: Freshmen deliver in varsity sports

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By Alex Gurski and Hiba Samdani, Multimedia Editor and Staff Reporter

As Conestoga begins its new fall sports season, six freshmen are applauded for making varsity teams. From preseason in August until now, these athletes have pushed themselves to make a positive impression on their new teams and to play the sports they love.

Freshmen Amanda Hill and Kate Galica made the Varsity Girls field hockey team, snagging two of the 22 positions available to players.  Hill began playing many sports at a young age but stuck with field hockey. She joined many clubs and played for teams like Fastflix and Mayhem Field Hockey Club. When Hill read the email announcing that she made the team, she was not only excited but had a huge grin across her face. However, as a freshman, she was apprehensive about making mistakes in front of her teammates.

“The one thing I was really stressed about was whenever I made a mistake, but everyone is making mistakes. (What matters) is whether or not you will run hard to get that ball back,” Hill said.

Galica’s experience in a multitude of other sports helped her make the team. Playing lacrosse and having prior experience with field hockey have helped her become a faster runner, a crucial skill when playing on the field. 

“You have to run (a mile) every week, and try to beat your time. I had a bunch of lacrosse tournaments, so that helped fill in for the mile time, too,” Galica said.

Even though she is a freshman, Galica has made an immense contribution to the team. Galica has scored in almost every game this season and is one of the starting players, a position given to players that demonstrate exceptional skills in their sport. 

Freshman Isabella Chen made the varsity girls’ tennis team this year after spending her summer training at the YMCA, spending time in the gym and on the tennis courts there.

Chen started playing tennis at just 3 years old and has continued working on her game since, practicing at the YMCA and the Julian Krinsky School of Tennis as well as competing in tournaments.

Her extensive experience in tennis prepared Chen for her first high school tryout, but she still had jitters beforehand.

“I was really nervous for tryouts. I knew a good amount of people on the team already, but I didn’t know too many people, and I was also really scared of how good they were,” Chen said.

 After finding out she made the team, Chen was “very surprised and really happy.”

With only a few more weeks to go, Chen feels as though she gets along well with the rest of the varsity team, despite her status as the only freshman in the group.

 “Nobody really treats me differently because I’m a freshman,” Chen said. “Everybody just knows I’m on the team. I’m another teammate.”

In an effort to make the varsity girls soccer squad, freshman Mia Galrao spent her time prior to tryouts working on her endurance. She exercised by running, practiced with her club team, FC Delco, and worked with her old coaches from previous clubs in preparation for the preseason.

Galrao was “terrified” going into tryouts, but ended up as the only freshman girl on the team this year. She looks forward to becoming close with her new older teammates.

“I was so happy and super excited to get close to the team,” Galrao said. “They are all so sweet, supportive and encouraging. They are like my big sisters.”

Sara Walheim, this year’s only freshman on the volleyball team, made the team after spending the summer in preparation for tryouts, participating in tournaments with teammates from her club team. 

Walheim has been playing volleyball for two years, working on her skills through playing on her club team, TEVA. Despite the training done on her club team, she was still nervous about making the school team. 

“Being a freshman, tryouts were very intimidating at first. I was scared that I would mess up and that it would affect how the coaches saw me. Towards the end of tryouts though, I was just happy to be on the court again and play my game,” Walheim said. 

In the weeks since the season began, Walheim has become close with her teammates, despite being the youngest on the team. 

“I absolutely love the team. Being the youngest on varsity was intimidating at first but my teammates are the best and have made me so much more confident on the court.”