Class of 2021 COmmitted athletes.
May 31, 2021 / Hailey Wharram, Co-Editor In Chief
Steward’s Class of 2021 is, undoubtedly, a class characterized in many ways by its abundance of athletic talent. A special group of diligent hard workers, this class boasts numerous state titles for sports such as Girls Basketball (twice in back to back years!), Girls Tennis, and, most recently, the Girls Lacrosse team made Steward history by winning the school’s very first Lacrosse state championship. Luckily for the entire Steward community, we will be able to continue to watch many of our stellar senior athletes flourish, because 10 individuals from this elite bunch are committed to continue their athletic careers in college. With so many amazing athletes set to continue their athletic pursuits at such phenomenal institutions for the next four years, it only felt right to ask a few of them a couple of questions about their athletic experiences at Steward before they leave us to accomplish such amazing things in the future.
Zach Rosenthal will continue playing basketball at Roanoke College.
Anna Pastore will continue playing tennis at Oberlin College.
Claire Saverino will continue playing lacrosse at Sewanee: The University of the South.
Grace Fass will continue playing field hockey at Franklin and Marshall College.
Saara Qureshi will continue playing lacrosse at Mercer University.
When / why did you first start playing your given sport?
ZACH: I first started playing basketball when I was around 4 or 5. I started playing because I found joy in basketball, and it grew into loving the sport more and more and wanting to get involved with everything surrounding the sport.
ANNA: I started playing tennis in second grade when I heard there was a new coach giving lessons after school, and it snowballed from there. We started in the program together, and I'm so happy I was able to spend my entire Steward tennis career with the same coaches.
CLAIRE: I started playing lacrosse when I was ten years old. My brother started playing lacrosse for his varsity team in high school and I was fascinated by the sport. He slowly taught me how to catch and throw with a men's lacrosse stick, and then once I got the hang of that my parents had finally bought me my first women's lacrosse stick. Then once I had my first game in 6th grade, I immediately fell in love with the game and it has been my passion ever since.
GRACE: I started playing field hockey in 3rd grade. My best friend at the time convinced me to play field hockey.
SAARA: I first started playing lacrosse because of my Dad. I always grew up just playing around with throwing and catching in the backyard with my Dad but did not actually start playing until 5th grade. Grace Fass, who came from Maryland which is a huge lacrosse state, encouraged me to join an actual team and that's how I started playing!
What are some of your favorite sports memories?
ZACH: Winning the TDIT Tournament against Trinity was one standout moment for me. Additionally, winning MVP of the tournament this past year when our team beat Virginia Academy and came back from being down 15 points to advance to the state semi finals (the school's first since joining D2 for basketball) was another memorable moment. Lastly, scoring my 1000th career point on Senior night this past year was an amazing memory.
ANNA: One of my favorite memories is winning the state championship my junior year after working so hard as a team for years. It felt so amazing to finally see our biggest goal come true before our eyes, and I wouldn't trade the feeling we had that day for the world. Our bus rides to and from away matches were some of the best times, and I'll never forget singing at the top of our lungs and celebrating wins together.
CLAIRE: My favorite lacrosse memories are both with Steward and when I played travel in middle school with Saara Qureshi. On our travel team in middle school, we were undefeated and had been the first team to win one of our own tournaments, and it was so fun and rewarding, especially since that was my first season playing travel. With Steward lacrosse, there are countless memorable moments, including beating Collegiate in 7th grade, practicing in the snow one time, winning our first game against Cape Henry, and destroying our 2nd place trophy by shooting at it with lacrosse balls.
GRACE: My field hockey team beat Covenant in shootouts during States. I also loved traveling to Disney to play field hockey with my travel team.
SAARA: Some of my favorite memories come from when my travel team went to a bunch of different states for tournaments. My favorite place to go was Florida, where we went three years in a row. We got to go to Disney and the beach, and our team also would do really well in the tournaments.
What will you miss the most about playing your sport at Steward?
ZACH: I will probably miss the atmosphere of Friday Night games the most. I think I’ll also miss my teammates who I’ve gotten to know and play with.
ANNA: Without a doubt, I'll miss my teammates and coaches more than anything about Steward tennis. I feel like my coaches have practically raised me, and I can never thank them enough for the lessons they have taught me over the past ten years. My teammates are like sisters to me, and their friendship and support is more valuable than I can describe.
CLAIRE: At Steward, I am going to miss the people on the team the most. We have been through so much together, especially Nicole Odibo and Saara Qureshi since we have been together on varsity since 8th grade. All of the girls make me laugh so much and truly make me a better teammate and player each and every day at practice. They always have my back, and I will forever be grateful for them and all they have done for me.
GRACE: I will miss all of the inside jokes we have made as a team. My Steward field hockey team has a unique bond that I will never forget.
SAARA: I am going to miss playing with some of the girls I have been playing with since 6th grade. We have always had a big group of us seniors, and we are all so close and have gone through a lot in our years of lacrosse here at Steward, so I will definitely miss playing with all them a lot.
What are you most looking forward to in college as a student athlete?
ZACH: I’m looking forward to the games and experience. It’s been a dream of mine to play college basketball since I first started, and I think the experience of it is something I’m looking forward to.
ANNA: I am looking forward to playing tennis at the next level and making new connections with my new team and coaches. My time at Steward showed me just how much a team can mean to you, and I hope to have a similar experience at Oberlin.
CLAIRE: As a student athlete next year, I know it is not going to be easy, but I am most excited for the challenge. When I decided I wanted to pursue lacrosse in college, which was very late in the recruiting world, I knew it was the right and easiest decision I had ever made, because I could not imagine playing my last lacrosse game in high school. Not continuing the sport that I love after high school was just not even a thought I put into my mind, I knew I wanted to continue in college. I am so grateful that everyday next year I will not only be studying for my future passion in my job career, but I can also do what I love everyday which is lacrosse. I am also looking forward to the life-long friendships I am going to make on the team and also reaching our team goals of winning our tournament in the upcoming years.
GRACE: I am looking forward to forming relationships within and outside the team. I am excited to challenge myself on the field and in the classroom.
SAARA: I am looking forward to being pushed at the next level. I know I will have to work hard, but I am looking forward to that new type of environment and hopefully making an impact on my team in the coming years.
Thank you so much to these five incredible athletes for sharing your stories with us! We are so grateful that each of you so generously gave us a glimpse into your unique experiences within the Steward athletic program.
On behalf of the entire Steward Ink team, we cannot wait to see what phenomenal things all 10 of the committed athletes from the Class of 2021 are destined to accomplish in college and beyond! We are so proud of your hard work and dedication, and we are so excited to cheer you on throughout this next chapter of your athletic journeys. Go Spartans!
(Franklin and Marshall College, Field Hockey)
(University of Mary Washington, Volleyball)
(Emory and Henry College, Basketball)
(James Madison University, Basketball)
(Roanoke College, Basketball)
(Mercer University, Lacrosse)
(Sewanee: The University of the South, Lacrosse)
(Oberlin College, Tennis)
(FC Malaga City Academy, Soccer)
(Salisbury University, Cross Country)
Winning a state championship (x2).
May 31, 2021 / Gates Fox
Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to describe what it feels like to win 2 state championships back to back. However, if I’m being honest, the feeling is truly indescribable. As amazing as winning was, it wasn’t easy. I have played on the varsity basketball team for three years now and I am very grateful for all three years with my team.
After the team worked incredibly hard my 8th-grade year, the team lost to Highland, the 1st seed in the state in the semi-finals, the game right before the finals, in front of the entire school. Though this loss was hard to swallow, the team was in the very fortunate position to have 6 sophomores, 1 freshman, 1 eithgrader, and only 1 senior on the team, so I knew the next year would be a very similar team. I was happy about this situation because I had had so much fun with the team, but in terms of spots this was also a good thing as we would have the advantage of playing together for a very long time, building up our team chemistry on the court.
The next year, we gained a few girls, but the core remained the same. Over the season we had to pull together as a team to stay focussed on our goal of being the first girls Steward Basketball team to win a state title. Finally, after countless hours of practice, long bus rides, late nights, early mornings, and playing our hardest in every game our hard work was rewarded as we obtained the 3rd seed in the state tournament, the highest we had ever been ranked. This meant to get to the finals we would have to play the 2nd ranked team in the semi-finals. After a hard fought game we beat the 2nd ranked team, Millier, and would now advance to the finals to play the 1st ranked team, Nansemond Suffolk Academy (NSA), a team we had lost to twice already that season. However, despite our prior losses to NSA, we worked together as a team and won our first state championship.
We won on February 29, 2020 and within the next few weeks the world shut down from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though COVID made this huge accomplishment difficult to celebrate, we made the most of the situation and were ready for the next season with the same team, with 6 seniors, 1 junior, 3 sophomores, and only 1 freshman. As my sophomore year began, we really didn’t know what to expect in regards to CDC guidelines and the general season, but we knew we could win again if we worked hard. After another season of practices, long bus rides, early mornings, late nights, and the addition of weekly COVID testing and learning to play in masks, we leaned on each other as a team to keep each other fighting for the season. For the majority of the season, we weren’t even sure if we would have the opportunity to play for another state title, which made the announcement that we would indeed be going to the tournament all the more special.
This season, we were ranked 1st in the state and were ready to play the 2nd ranked team, Highland, which was the team we had lost to in front of the entire school two years prior. As a team, we knew this was a redemption game, our turn to win against this team. After a close game, we managed to pull ahead and won our second state championship. Though this win was bittersweet as we would be losing 6 seniors after this season, it was still a huge accomplishment that we were all extremely proud and excited about.
After the past 3 incredible years, I have learned that you can have all the talent in the world, but having great team chemistry, and working harder than everyone else will beat talent any day. This team has become my family, and I can’t imagine going through this journey with any other team. We were able to make each other laugh, but also helped each other focus on the task at hand during the crucial moments. They made the hours of practice a fun hour and a half that I looked forward to every day.
Winning these two state championships was the perfect way for our seniors to end their high school basketball careers, the perfect way for our freshman to start her career, and the perfect way for our sophomores and juniors to learn how to work together and carry the team forward. This team was determined, resilient, and never shied away from the hard competition. Winning a state championship proved exactly what we wanted to prove: all of our hard work paid off. I am so grateful for my time with this team, and am excited for my next two years on the team. I was very fortunate to have a team that got along so well and learned the importance of working together. This team will always hold a special place in my heart.
Sports during COVID.
February 12, 2021 / Gates Fox
One of the most beloved pastimes, not only in America but all around the world, is sports. However, with a global pandemic, what do sports look like?
College and professional sports have had the opportunity to begin playing once again with some newly added precautions. Many games this year have been canceled or postponed due to positive COVID tests as testing is required whenever a player shows any symptoms. Spectators are no longer permitted to watch the games in the stadium unless they have the ability to social distance and wear a mask. Coaches and players are required to wear masks and must remain socially distant when not in the game.
But what about high school? Some high schools have had the opportunity to play. However, many high schools have canceled their winter seasons after fall seasons were already postponed for the majority of schools across America. Some schools follow the same rules as colleges and professionals where players are not required to wear a mask while in the game but must if sitting on the bench. Other schools are requiring players to wear masks while playing in games.
For the Steward School, athletes must follow the Tidewater Conference of Independent School rules which require all players to wear masks at all times, including while playing in games. However, this rule may change to allow schools to make their own decisions regarding requiring players to play in masks and allowing spectators to watch in person. Testing will be required for both players and coaches prior to games.
Varsity boys basketball.
February 15th, 2018 / Tre Chalmers
The Steward Boys Basketball Team is currently sitting at a record of 15-10. The Spartans are doing great with their two dynamic freshman, an athletic playmaking point guard and two great junior leaders. The Spartans recent schedule of games have been very competitive with the Spartans going two and two in their last four games, concluding with a statement victory over Greenbrier Christian Academy.
Sophomore Jabari Atkinson states "Obviously it's been tough to sit out, but I have enjoyed watching the guys play this year and proud of the way each individual has matured throughout the season to help the team become better. I am excited to see how these guys close out this year and this summer it will be time to get back in the lab and to better ourselves even more. I am excited for the noise we are about to make next year when I return!". The Spartans are making a great push for states and have a very strong opportunity to make the playoffs. The Spartans are a hard working team, and are going to do big things in the upcoming future.
A DEMOCRATIC GAME.
February 6th, 2018 / Allison Langenburg
“No one can ever master the game of baseball, or conquer it. You can only challenge it.” So said baseball Hall of Famer Louis “Lou” Brock, and, if this is true, we as Americans love the challenge. In the United States, Major League Baseball is second only to NFL football in popularity. Following this logic, the game of baseball should have many fans at the Steward School.
When Steward baseball players were asked, answers varied as to whether baseball is a technical sport, power sport, or both. Varsity catcher Harrison Johnson decided that it is both. “Anyone can be really good at baseball and still not know how to play it.” He says. “Anyone can go up there and swing a bat.” To be really good, Harrison comments that one needs the ability not just to hit the ball, but to know how and where to hit it. This sophomore has learned from experience that baseball requires more than just brute force, it requires what Harrison calls “baseball smarts.”
Varsity player Logan Ransom, who pitches and plays outfield, disagrees just slightly, calling baseball more of a technical sport “because it doesn’t matter how hard you throw or how hard you hit, you have to get people out.”
But, when asked what makes a good player, Logan’s answer had little to do with throwing or hitting at all. “What separates a good player from a great player is mental strength.” he tells us. This pitcher similarly considers “mental fortitude” the most challenging aspect of his sport. “You can’t let anybody get in your head. If you do, you’re done.” Additional Varsity pitcher Matt Gaither agrees, saying: “You can’t get anywhere without the mental part.”
One article has called baseball “a democratic game”1, meaning that extreme physical prowess is not the most important element of the sport; a player does not have to be big and tall to succeed. If you have watched any sport game before, you may have caught onto this same concept of mental strength.
“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” Once quipped Yogi Berra, famous coach, manager, and MLB player. While perhaps the mathematical total of this quote leaves behind a trail of furrowed brows or counting fingers, the logic holds true for any sport. The most important element of any sport is that in one’s own mind. A drive to work and win, an ability to function under pressure, or when the whole crowd seems to have already foreseen your failure, to focus and defy expectations by giving one’s all is what makes an athlete truly great.
Considering this, as an athlete myself, one answer to the final question on my list by Logan Ransom brought a smile to my face. When asked what his favorite thing about baseball was, considering all aspects, he didn’t hesitate before giving his one-word answer: “Winning.”