Turning Around A Program
By: Addison P. ('21)
The Country Day Varsity Volleyball team is historically a successful team, with several state championship titles under Suzie P. (my grandmother) and Brian R.. In 2013 and 2014, Country Day won back to back state championships. During the 2014 season, the Bucs had an overall record of 44 wins and 1 loss. 2015 was a different season, with only 8 total wins and 23 losses. 2016 was similar, so when the current freshman class came in for the 2017 season, everyone was desperate for a winning season.
Five freshmen made varsity in 2017, nicknamed the “Freshman Five,” including Kayla S., EA H., Faye R., Garrett P., and myself. We added to the stacked team of experienced upperclassmen, including 3 seniors who had been on the state championship team in 2014. Under the leadership of seniors, Braden N., Caroline K., and Ido E., our team finally found some success. We had a record of 24-5, and advanced to the semifinals in the state championship. Country Day volleyball was back on the map.
As sophomores, the Class of 2021 continued to contribute to a successful season. Undefeated in the conference, we advanced to the state championship game. We had game point, but ultimately lost in a close 5 set game to North Raleigh Christian Academy. It was painful to come so close to being state champions, but we undeniably had an amazing season.
As juniors, everyone expected us to have a rebuilding year, after Zoe W., our outside hitter who went on to play at the University of Utah, graduated. However, with sophomore outside hitter Sydney S. and new freshman outside Reagan N., we proved that we still had enough talent to compete with any team and came out with an overall record of 18-5.
The 2020 season was a strange one, with no fans and fewer games, but we were all grateful to have any season at all, especially as seniors. We had five seniors on varsity volleyball this year, Kayla S., EA H., Ashlyn W., Sami E., and myself. We led the team to an overall record of 10-3, and once again advanced to the semifinals game, knocked out for a fourth and final time by North Raleigh Christian Academy. Our class helped turn around the Country Day Volleyball program, and I am confident that the team will continue to be successful next year.
Field Hockey 2020
By: Adele M. ('21)
Without a doubt, the highlight of my Country Day experience was being a member of the varsity field hockey program. Though we didn’t have a typical season this year, we made the most of what we had and were able to play in our third consecutive state championship. Even though we did not achieve the outcome we wanted, this was an incredible group of girls that made Dowd Field my second home and the program my second family.
Our record this year was 7-5, with 5 regular-season wins over Covenant Day and Latin, a quarterfinal win over Covenant Day, and a semifinal win over Cary Academy. Going into this year, we were not sure what we were going to look like, because we had lost 9 seniors from the class of 2020. However, we managed to form a successful new team and overcome all sorts of obstacles thrown our way. We started from scratch and we even adopted a new formation. It all worked out well and I had a fantastic season playing with this group of girls. We were just grateful for the opportunity to play.
Captains were Ellie and Carter ‘21.
Ellie (mid), Cameron (forward), and Caroline (defense) were named All-State players. Zella (goalkeeper) and myself (forward) were named All-Conference players.
Incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program under Coach Thies. Country Day field hockey, thank you for the best four years😊
By: Garrett P. ('21)
As a sport, cheerleading is often ignored, even excluded from the category altogether. Many people overlook the difficulty, time, and commitment that goes into not only drilling cheers and dances but also lifting people into complicated stunts. Prior to the fall of last year, I too, was guilty of this assumption. My decision to join the cheer team was a mere coincidence. After my fourth major concussion from volleyball and soccer, my neurologist, parents, and the athletic trainers at school decided that it was no longer safe for me to continue contact sports. At the time, this turn of events was disappointing, but I would not take it back, as I found a new love in cheerleading.
My now senior teammates, Elly L., Caroline L., and Reagan D., welcomed Kate F. and I, two new juniors to the team, with open arms. While I participated in winter cheer the previous year, fall cheer introduced a new level of intensity, one that rivaled the sports I had played pre-concussions; I can attest to this with the sheer number of accidental bruises and scratches I received from stunting mishaps.
Over two seasons, I grew incredibly close with my team despite coming from different grades and friend groups. Even though our season, alongside football, was cut short, I am grateful for the lifelong friendships cheerleading gave me. Bonding is crucial in cheer, changing rotations into various stunts, requires complete and utter synchronicity, or the flyer can easily fall. This necessary component of teamwork fosters quick and strong friendships, and I am going to miss each and every one of our members next year.
Before I finish this article, I want to say thank you to all the people that made my last season memorable, despite the setbacks Covid presented. Thank you to my coaches, Antonia and Maria, for pushing us to reach our full potential; your words of encouragement helped us to persevere in spite of soreness and fatigue. Thank you to my fellow co-captains for welcoming me on the team and helping to set an example for the underclassmen. Thank you to the juniors for stepping up in the face of last-minute changes; you are all going to be amazing leaders next year. Lastly, thank you to all the underclassmen for jumping into new roles so quickly; I am so excited to see what the future holds for the next couple of years.
I am confident that we are leaving the squad in good hands, and I look forward to returning home from college next year and attending some football games!
Making A Team
By: Patrick M. ('21)
For me, there are plenty of great memories from my senior soccer season. Winning our senior night game against Covenant Day three to zero, having fun in practice, and even some of our socially distanced COVID workouts over the summer are all fun memories, but what sticks out for me are the intangible moments where the guys on the field got closer and came together as a team. This bonding is important for all teams, and it can happen at all moments, but it occurs the most during the toughest ones. When we are sprinting up hills or running 40 40’s for fitness and you look around and see your teammates working just as hard as you, or when we are down in a game and you give or receive encouragement, the bonding is the most meaningful and the strongest.
Soccer is such a team-oriented sport that these moments are invaluable to us as a team. To play well as a team, soccer requires that every player has boundless trust in and commitment to their teammates. Without trust, the game becomes selfish, and dribbling dominates; no matter how good a player is, they cannot beat an entire team on their own. Without commitment, we will not work as hard or feel compelled to put in the effort when it does not directly benefit us individually. For these reasons, it is the team dynamic that is most important in soccer. At the end of the game, it is the better team that wins, not the better players. We recognize these facts, and one of the core values for our team is “culture.” To our benefit or detriment, it is our culture as a team that determines our success. Even if we do not win a game or win the state championship, a positive culture and team dynamic ensures that we will find success in some form. It ensures that we will grow and develop as not only players, but people, and it means that we will always have someone next to us who is looking to pick us up, not drag us down to make themselves look better.
It is in this context that my memories of the realization of our culture as a team become my favorite. When I could feel us forming a community around the team, I was the happiest. However, there is no specific event that I could point out as the reason why we support, trust, and work hard for each other, for that support, trust, and commitment needs constant work over the course of the season. This year, it started in an unorthodox but perhaps more meaningful way. Perhaps it was not the most fun, but we all decided to show up to the pre-season COVID workouts and run through the boring drills at the middle school where we could not touch or really even play because we wanted to get better and we wanted to be a team. During these moments, I knew that no matter what happened this season, everything would turn out alright as we already had one of the most important aspects of a team: commitment. While we could not do some of the fun things that we normally would, we were there for each other. We did what we could as a team, like showing up when it was optional, eating outside at restaurants together, or organizing our own fantasy football league, and in what will probably be the longest soccer season ever, I am glad to say that we stayed united and committed to each other.
It is this aspect of the soccer team, our culture, that has made my four years with the program so enjoyable. From this year when I was a varsity captain all the way back to when I was a freshman playing on JV, I have enjoyed every minute of my time and always looked forward to playing at practice or in games. I could not think of a better way or a better group of people to spend all of my fall afternoons with, and I am very thankful for all of the fun that I have had. In the end, my great experience stemmed from the great culture that we built as a team each year, and because of this culture, the success that we feel can transcend the results that we have on the field. Ultimately, for all teams and all sports, I feel that success starts with how the team comes together and interacts.
By: Timmy G. ('21)
My college recruiting process began during my sophomore year. After performing well during our high school golf season and in several individual golf tournaments that spring, I decided that I wanted to ramp up my summer tournament schedule and increase my exposure to college golf coaches. My summer tournament schedule was quite busy. I was gone almost every week of the summer traveling throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. I played in approximately twenty state and national tournaments and competed against other golfers from around the country as well as Europe and Asia. Fortunately, I played well and posted some strong scores and results. My tournament success provided me visibility with several golf coaches who would often attend these tournaments and watch me play. Often there would be three or four coaches standing ten feet behind the tee box watching us tee-off and would follow us as we played. Since I was somewhat late to playing competitive tournament golf, it was necessary to get this visibility since many of my peers had been playing in these types of tournaments since they were in middle school and were already on the radar of many collegiate golf coaches.
After my summer schedule finished, I emailed golf coaches at the Division 1 schools that I was interested in my tournament results as well as my website golf biography which included my swing videos, academic profile and testimonies from my coaches. I also created a golf-only email to send, respond and track all of my correspondence with these coaches. This is when the process really began to start. I quickly realized that I needed to start to check my personal email and texts frequently. I put together a spreadsheet which listed every school I contacted and their response to my emails. I heard from a number of coaches who were interested in recruiting me and scheduled a few unofficial visits in the fall of junior year. During these visits, I would typically spend a full day with the school’s golf coach as well as the admissions department, taking tours of campus as well as the golf facilities. I wanted to be able to get a feel for what the facilities and programs looked like before I started to narrow down my options. My timing was very fortunate given that COVID-19 would end up shutting down most campus visits as well as all NCAA recruiting in the spring of junior year.
Since I had played in so many tournaments over the summer, my state ranking improved substantially. This enabled me to qualify for more major national tournaments, thus again increasing my visibility with college coaches. I continued to stay in touch with several coaches throughout my junior year, updating them on my tournament results and my continued interest in their programs. The process helped teach me patience and resiliency given several coaches had already made my class’ recruiting decisions when my competitors were in 8th and 9th grade and prior to me playing competitive golf at this level, so I was behind the curve from that perspective. I continued to play in as many tournaments as I could in order to continue to build-out my golf resume. This was challenging given my schoolwork load but necessary if I wanted to play at the next level. I thankfully have supportive teachers and friends that understood when I was gone most weekends.
Fortunately, golf did not stop during the “shutdown period” in the spring due to COVID-19. My dad and I created a makeshift driving range in our garage for the few months when the range at our club was closed. My daily routine during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown was to hit balls into a net off a mat while listening to a pod cast. Competitive golf started back up in June and I started to play in tournaments that included not only high school players but also collegiate and amateur competitors. However, unlike the previous summer where there would be dozens of college coaches at each tournament, the NCAA banned all in-person recruiting due to COVID-19. Fortunately for me, golf is a game where there are measurable results that are objective and as I continued to play well, especially against college players, many coaches became increasingly interested in me. The frequency of calls and texts from coaches as well as Zoom conversations were occurring on an almost daily basis. And finally, in the beginning of July when I was at the beach for summer vacation, I started to receive official offers from Division 1 golf coaches. Elon University was one of those offers. I was really excited to receive this call from Coach Hill as Elon was one of the schools that I had visited and I really liked Coach Hill, the golf program and most importantly the campus and academics. The goal that I had set for myself to play Division 1 golf had come true.