Girls Get Early Start to Basketball Season with Open Gym

Every Wednesday, from 5:30-6:30 p.m, the girls basketball team has been holding open gyms in the high school lower gym. Varsity Head Coach Donovan Crews helps the girls with plays and answers questions about the upcoming season while the girls split up and scrimmage for an hour.

All junior high and high school girls had the opportunity to attend, allowing the coaches to get a good idea of what the season will look like, and giving some opportunities for some extra help.

“Our open gyms have been going really well. Our attendance has been great, but I didn’t expect anything different out of this group. I think a lot of the kids are excited that the season is just around the corner. We’ve put in a lot of work this offseason and had a really good summer.  Hopefully all of that will carry right into this season and make it an exciting year,” said Crews.

Open gyms end today and the first official practice begins on Oct. 18. If you are interested in playing this year, email crewsd@paoli.k12.in.us for more information about the program.

Story by Carley Higgins

Fall Seasons return in Pandemic

Athletes, Coaches Adjust Programs to Continue Ram Activities

At the start of the 2020 school year the Indiana High School Athletic Association provided a detailed list of how schools should manage their sports programs in the unknown time of the coronavirus pandemic. A year later, the virus is still impacting schools but the IHSAA guidelines have changed, allowing schools to set their own guidelines.

“We just have to keep following the guidelines we are given and adapt, adjust and overcome as things change,” said Athletic Director Darek Newkirk.

Football

For football, guidelines lessened moderately, but some, however, remained the same. Athletes and coaches are still expected to maintain a distance of six feet from another person when in locker rooms if possible, face masks and gloves are permissible and hand-shaking during introductions and post-game have been suspended.

Washing hands should still be done thoroughly and frequently. Games have also been opened to an unlimited number of people this year, rather than an occupancy limit like last season.

At the start of the school year many students faced the challenge of quarantine, which in turn impacted players time at practice.

“If you miss eight to 14, days you must makeup four practices before you can play. If you miss more than 14 days, you will have to make-up six practices. This is different from last season, in that it is days missed and not days of practice missed,” said Varsity Football Coach Neil Dittmer.

Cheerleading

Girls cheerleaders for football games have had guidelines loosened for them as well. Last football season, the girls cheering had to wear masks when performing stunts, which is not a mandated requirement for this football season.

“So far we have dealt with quarantined athletes as best we can – moving girls around and adjusting to still allow our cheerleaders to cheer. I think forcing us to constantly adjust is exhausting, but ultimately it may make us better. We have to constantly problemsolve and that’s a skill that everyone can benefit from,” said Varsity Cheer Coach Heather Nichols.

Volleyball

For volleyball, there were only slight changes to guidelines from previous years. Due to how many athletes that were quarantined, or out completely for having Covid-19 last year, the IHSAA adjusted their rules and regulations of practices. The athletes now have to have four practices in. Pre-game warm-ups no longer count as practices. There was also a recommendation list that provided ideas that would best benefit the team, yet these were not official changes.

Teams do not switch benches in between sets, bench personnel are limited to observe from a three to six foot distance, a player is to remain three to six feet apart from the referee when substituting in, sanitize equipment during and after the warm-up period and eliminate the shaking of hands between teams.

“This has affected our team because it makes it difficult for us to get four practices in when we are playing three nights a week,” said Varsity Volleyball Coach Alexis Speer.

Golf

Girl’s golf also remains the same for their 2021 season, with no restrictive Covid protocols.

“I think this whole ordeal will make everyone aware of staying healthy and safe,” said Varsity Girls Golf Coach Brad Bledsoe.

Cross Country

Cross Country guidelines are also very similar to last year. Athletes still have to maintain a distance of six feet from another athlete, no hand shakes, fist bumps or hugging for encouragement is allowed and sanitization of frequently touched surfaces is mandatory.

“These athletes, or runners, are missing races because of being quarantined. They won’t get to compete and those are races they won’t ever get back or be able to do again,” said Varsity Cross Country Coach Summer Hudelson.

Covid has taken its toll on athletes, students, coaches, parents and Paoli’s school system as a whole in the past couple of years. This year, however, is the year students are looking forward to being back to a bit of normalcy within their sports.

Story by Makiya Russelburg

Rams Face Cancellations, Find Successes in Second Year

Tennis

After six wins and eight loses, only three matches are left in the season. Junior Isaac McBride has been a key player for the singles part of the team, and juniors Lucus Stroud and Treyvin Street have had a strong doubles season. The team’s best match was against Salem on August 17.

“They are a team that beat us last year and lost no starters. We were able to jump over that hurdle and beat them this year and set the tone for some good early season wins because of that confidence I believe,” said Head Coach Matt Wolfe.

Although the junior high tennis team has had multiple games cancelled, they still hold a winning record of 4-1.

Golf

As of September 18, the girls golf team ended their season with sectionals at Otis Park. Their best match was on August 17 at the Valley Links, where they scored 220 points as a team.

Some players that stood out this year are junior Serenity Sweet, averaging 56 per meet, and senior Hayley Taylor, averaging 59 per meet.

“We had five players this year with two of them being freshmen and I knew we would struggle some. We started the season pretty well and I could see improvement from everyone. However, as we finished the last several matches, including the sectional, we actually began to shoot poorer as a team. I think we kind of wore down physically and mentally,” said Coach Brad Bledsoe.

Junior Serenity Sweet and senior Hayley Taylor add up their scores following their golf meet.

Football

As of September 21, the varsity football team has a record of 2-1, and JV’s record is 1-1.

“We have had a lot of guys who have stepped up on offense and defense. Too many to count our best ones,” said Head Coach Neil Dittmer.

Some players who have stood out this season for JV are freshman Johnny Shellenberger and Ian Drake. One of the best games they have played was on September 17 against West Washington.

“We have never had to question effort, they always put forth good effort,” said JV Head Coach Brian Wilson.

The eighth grade football team has a record of 2-0, and seventh grade’s record is 2-1.

“We had initial setbacks due to [COVID19], but as we have returned the team’s effort has been more focused on winning the games that we get to play. There are always things to fix, but our athletes show up everyday looking to improve,” said Head Coach J.D. Emerick.

The Varsity Football players line up and prepare for their next play opportunity.

Volleyball

As of September 21, the Varsity volleyball team has a record of 7-4, and the JV’s record is 7-3. Some players who have stood out this season for junior varsity are sophomores Gracie Brown and Stella Windhorst, who have both stepped up this season, not only with skill but with attitude as well.

“We’ve improved from last season, and we are working more as a team this year than last year. This has made games and our season overall more enjoyable as a player,” said senior Emma McCrary.

As of September 21, the eighth grade volleyball team has a record of 1-4, and seventh grade’s record is 0-5. Some players who have stood out this season for the eighth grade team are setter Maddie Vernon and middle hitter Charli Chastain, and for the seventh grade team are setter Marci Carter and middle hitter Allie Kumpf. One of the best games they have played was on September 16 against Northeast Dubois.

“The junior high volleyball program is coming along as expected. It’s been a tough season for the seventh graders due to missing the entire last season due to Covid. However, I have seen great improvement from many players,” said seventh grade Coach Jennifer Coleman.

The Varsity Volleyball team claps it up after a successful volley.

Cross Country

With the season coming close to an end, the XC teams have been doing really well. Their best meet was the county meet at Orleans, where senior Hannah Albertson placed first. Sophomore Luke Oldham, and juniors Cailyn Baechle, Abby Bruner, and Jacob Workman have been working hard throughout the season.

“The girls are doing really well this season.Hannah and Cailyn put in a lot of miles over the summer and their preseason work is paying off,” said Coach Summer Hudleson.

As for JH XC, star runners this year include seventh grader Zaden Taylo and sixth grader Jordan Albertson, and seventh grader Addy Moffatt and fifth grader Aubrey Burris.

“Each kid is dedicated and has made improvements. They all should be very
proud of what they have accomplished individually and as a team,” said Coach Missy Bostock.

Sixth grader Maria Chastain runs against opponent at Crawford County meet.

Created by Carley Higgins, Gracie Walls, and Peyton Baker.

Umpleby Finishes Out Senior Season

Senior Lauren Umpleby has come to terms with the fact that her senior season of basketball did not go how she had always expected.

“It has definitely been an unusual season with all of the changes we have had to make, but we have adapted. COVID has changed almost everything about the season. We lost a lot of our season to quarantines and cancelations. Along with that, we don’t mix varsity and junior varsity, we go into the locker room in groups, and there are very few people allowed at the games,” said Umpleby.

Despite the many changes throughout the season, Umpleby has still continued to work hard and set goals for herself. 

“I wanted to become more active on the offensive side of the floor this season. I have done this in part, but there is always a way to get better,” said Umpleby. 

Umpleby hopes her team continues to persevere through the changes and makes it as far as possible in Sectional play. 

“My favorite part of the season has been celebrating in the locker room after a win, and we have to win more games to continue to do that,” said Umpleby.

Story by Makiya Russelburg

New Guidelines Put in Place for 2020-2021 Basketball Season

New guidelines and regulations were put in place for the 2020-2021 Paoli High School Basketball season. To decide the guidelines, administrators met and compared plans for other schools and put together a plan that would help keep PHS safe while still allowing for a season to take place. Some of the rules for this season include:

  • Practice social distancing when waiting in lines at ticket booths, restrooms, and concession stands. Social distancing lines will be marked. Avoid congregating inside or outside of the facilities. 
  • Face coverings will be required when attending any Paoli athletic events. Face coverings should be worn at all times with the exception of eating or drinking.
  • Tickets will be sold at the doors ($5.00 for varsity/JV and $3.00 for JH and C-team)
  • Players, managers, coaches, officials, cheerleaders, band members, and workers will not be included in the maximum attendance count.
  • All varsity and C-team games (boys and girls) will be played in the upper gym, while all JH games (boys and girls) will be played in the lower gym.

Attendance will be limited, but the number of people allowed depends on the color of our county or the opposing team’s county at that given time:

  • Blue – 50% capacity (upper gym 1900 people, lower gym 400 people)
  • Yellow – 25% capacity (upper gym 950 people, lower gym 200 people)
  • Orange – 2 tickets per player allowed ONLY for immediate family members, and no cheerleaders or pep bands
  • Red – event will be postponed or cancelled

“We hope by following these guidelines we will still be able to have our sports and have our student athletes doing the things they like to do,” said Athletic Director Darek Newkirk.

A message from the administrators within the guidelines also state, “As we navigate events at PHS this year, we are making adjustments to our procedures based on state and local health officials and COVID-19 guidelines. Our plans today are based on current official rules and expectations and are subject to change at any moment. When a new guideline is published from our state and local officials, we may also adjust our procedures. We appreciate your continued support of our school and especially the support of our student athletes.”For a more extensive list of the guidelines, visit https://core-docs.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/asset/uploaded_file/995012/Winter_Guidelines.pdf

Story by Michael Hannon