If you have ever spent your Saturday morning at Ben Franklin, you’ve most likely witnessed the coming together of high school boys from different towns, schools, and sports, to play a game of recreational basketball.
However, for these boys, its a lot more than a pick-up game of hoops. “It taught me teamwork and I was able to create awesome memories with people I met from other schools,” Says Erik Hernandez (‘19). Hernandez goes to McMahon and has been participating in the basketball league since he was a sophomore.
Young men from Brien McMahon, Norwalk High, Fairfield Prep, and other surrounding schools may have nothing in common except for their love for JBA.
Sebastian Fernandez, a senior at Fairfield Prep says, “I have a bunch of friends from the Norwalk schools but don't get to spend a lot of time with them so JBA really was a chance for me to do that and bond with people I rarely see.”
Even with a strong cross town rivalry between McMahon and Norwalk High, when the boys hit the court, everyone is family. “I met a bunch of kids from McMahon that I never would’ve even talked to if it weren't for JBA,” Says Trevian “Trey” Taylor, a sophomore at Norwalk High.
This league, however, wasn’t just for making friends. “My coach and the boys on this team taught me about family. No matter where you came from, we were all brothers.” Adds Taylor.
Because of this league, the boys who don't play basketball for their high schools were able to show their talents. “I play soccer at Norwalk High but I love basketball so competing in JBA was a good way to switch stuff up,” Says Gianluca Trofa, a senior at Norwalk High.
Even though basketball might not be his main sport, Trofa was always seen putting his all into these games.
Despite coming from different schools, this mix of guys had one goal in mind this season; winning the championship game. Donyae Shavers (‘19) of Brien McMahon says, “My team, the Bulls, won back to back championships this year and last year and it was such a great feeling.”
PrideTime Senior Editor
McMahon baseball is expected to be one of the better teams in both the school and FCIAC this upcoming season. Only losing two starters from last season's 10-9 record, the senators have nothing but high expectations.
The big problem for the Senators last season was consistency. They had huge wins over FCIAC powerhouses Staples (15-4) and Ridgefield (16-4) - however, they also gave up major losses to teams like Wilton (7-9) and New Canaan (7-9), which kept them out of the FCIAC playoffs. Coach John Cross blamed inexperience for the lack of consistency saying, “we were young last year which attributed to our lack of focus.”
His team definitely doesn't lack experience this time around. They are a senior led team with seven on the roster, as well as returning seven starters in the field and all of their pitching staff.
Two pitchers received All-FCIAC honors last season: Frankie Greco (All-West) and James Stefanowicz (2nd Team) who are both seniors. Another pitcher to watch is Max Pomponi who did a great job on the mound last season yet lacked consistency. Senior pitcher, Frankie Greco has high expectations for this upcoming season saying, “I think we have one of the best rotations in the FCIAC. Not many teams have three seniors they can always rely on when they take the bump.”
In the field, they lose catcher Anthony Socci (2nd team), yet they return sophomore catcher, Peter Meyerson who received 2nd team all FCIAC as a freshman. The other starter they need to replace is 1st baseman Chris Ehlers, but coach Cross has high praise for replacement Chris Clemens saying, “Chris Clemens could be an electrifying bat filling the first base void.” Other important players in the field with big expectations are Korey Morton, James Stefanowicz, and Shane Popkins.
Cross’ squad considers this season a revenge tour. Their eyes are on teams they lost to last year. Morton commented on the schedule saying, “we look forward to every team we lost to last season, we also are obviously excited for Norwalk high and also powerhouse Staples.”
Anna Makover (‘21) Left
The now sophomore star lacrosse mid-field player, Anna Makover, has taken McMahon by storm. She scored the highest amount of goals (43) on her team and helped put them over the edge of going to States for the first time in eight years.
“It’s evident that the McMahon girls lacrosse program has been improving over its past couple seasons. I think this year we will be able to make States again and hopefully move forward in the tournament.”
She plays lacrosse non-stop during the offseason, while also participating in soccer and indoor track during the other sports seasons at Brien McMahon. Her drive to be the best not only carries out in lacrosse but in her academics and arts as well.
“I have been playing lacrosse non-stop and working out when I can and I feel like I have worked hard in the offseason...I’m expecting it’ll benefit me once we get into the season” says Makover.
“In school so far, I’ve been able to balance my work with sports. Playing soccer in the fall, running track in the winter, and playing lacrosse in the spring while maintaining high grades has been a difficult task that I’ve been able to achieve.”
Playing lacrosse in college has always been Makover’s dream and she is hoping to be committed by the fall of this year. Girls college lacrosse has gotten very competitive over the last couple of years, so in order to reach that level, Anna has been working as hard as she can.
“I have always loved playing the sport and meeting new people, so I think I would really enjoy being on a college team.”
With Darien beating our McMahon players for top college spots, Makover has had to participate in outside-of-school clubs like the CT Grizzlies which is one of the most respected club teams in our area and she has been competing with them since just fifth grade.
“Each summer I play in tournaments on a very competitive club team [CT Grizzlies], which takes up the first two months of my summer. Competing on this club team is a major accomplishment for me, being the only player from NHS/McMahon in the club in general.”
With her entire summer being filled with lacrosse and work, Makover has very little time to relax, but instead of hitting the pool, Anna went hiking through the Alps for the last three weeks of summer.
Between the years of 2013-2017 the girls lacrosse team averaged 3.25 wins and last season they nearly tripled that with nine. They hope to further that improvement going into this season.
The Brien McMahon Girls Lacrosse team looks to keep up the momentum, intensity and hard work from last season. The team ended up with a 9-7 record and a state run last year.
“Last season our team definitely did a lot better than we have in the past. We made states which was a great accomplishment for us and competed well with a lot of difficult teams,” said senior Charlotte Hussey.
With five seniors graduating last season, the team looks to rebuild and keep the program moving forward. “Last year’s team was a lot more upperclassmen heavy, and since we lost so many seniors, I think there's going to be a ton of new freshmen and lowerclassmen brought up to varsity,” said senior Delaney Oak.
The team has a better opportunity to place higher in States and FCIAC´s has they don’t play the top FCIAC teams like Wilton, New Canaan, and Darien this season.
The team looks to keep improving in every aspect of the game but they hope to key in on the ability to score goals which is crucial in winning games. McMahon girls averaged 11 goals per game last season and they need to increase that average drastically if they want to surpass the top teams like Darien who had an average of 16 and Greenwich who had an average of 15.
“Last season we were very good at getting the ball down to the attacking side of the field, but we weren’t aggressive enough in getting the ball into the goal, so I think this year we'll be working on a lot more plays in order to get a shot off, ” said Oak.
The team has a lot of expectations for this season and hope to achieve as much as possible. “This season we will definitely aim to make states again and work to go further in the tournament than we did last year” Hussey added.
Both seniors want to leave everything they have on the field knowing that this will be their last season. “I want to help contribute to the team in whatever way is necessary to get us to win games and compete against other teams. I also hope to help pump up other players about the sport and get them feeling confident enough to reach all their potential on the field,” said Hussey.
The team’s first game of the season is a home opener against the Danbury Hatters on April 2nd and they hope to start the season off with a win.
Junior Korey Morton set a new school and meet record for the 55 meter dash, competing on January 31st for the FCIAC Indoor Track and Field Championship.
To Morton, beating the school record was the biggest accomplishment he has had in his short career which only began his sophomore year. “I'm surprised someone like me was able to beat the record,” said Morton who trained for this achievement by working during the off-season with Coach Rudy and Coach Bradley.
At the start of the season, Morton’s goal was to make all FCIAC, an accomplishment he achieved quite easily. “All FCIAC is always a goal and something I am happy that I accomplished and there will be more to come.”
Morton started off playing basketball, that was his biggest interest, but after Coach Dustin stepped down as the varsity basketball coach coming into Morton’s sophomore year, he lost interest in the sport and wanted to try something new. This became track.
Despite his success in track, Morton is planning on playing baseball in college, currently looking at schools such as: Bryant and Seton Hall to play at. “Running track is another way for training for baseball, it’s going to help me improve my speed.”
Doing all this work in track, Morton feels that he will be ready for the baseball season to start as they play Norwalk High away on March 30th for their season opener.
Brendan Duddy, captain for the Brien McMahon golf team, feels that this years golf team has potential and will have a chance to have the best record in years.
Duddy started playing golf in the 8th grade but only fell in love with it his junior year. He likes the fact that you can begin to play golf at such a young age and can continue to play into your old age.
Duddy is excited to see what this team will bring. He says he also loves playing for the golf team because of his coach, Robert Kane. “He [Kane] gives us a lot of freedom to develop and he’s super motivational giving us instructions even during our matches.”
Last year the golf team hardly had enough committed players to form a varsity team. Duddy spent this past offseason working on his game as well as recruiting athletes throughout McMahon in order to have a strong team. He says that while he has been focusing on this season and recruiting seniors, he also has been planning for the future of McMahon golf by targeting sophomore and freshman to join the team. Duddy’s efforts have shown, now having more than enough members for even a JV squad.
Coach Kane believes that Duddy has great leadership skills, is very positive and is very encouraging. He says he really shows that he loves this sport. “As a golfer he has much potential as anyone. He seems to have caught the ‘golf bug’ and will probably play for the rest of his life.”
Kane saw the improvement Duddy had made from the first time he’d seen him play in last March. By the end of the season Duddy was a solid 4th player. However, the golf team struggled with not having many players and weren’t able to be a competitive team.
“We were a lot younger last year, but with Peter and Paul Buellesbach, Sexias Aldridge and Brendan Duddy, we have a more experienced team coming back. We just need one or two players to make us competitive” Kane said in terms of what he expects for this season.
“I know that most likely we won’t be able to beat a lot of these teams we play but ik we’re going to be competitive. All we need to do is play our game and try and get into the other team’s head” Duddy added.
The golf team tees off for their first match Thursday, April 4th against St. Joseph at 3 pm. This match could set the tone for the rest of the season, hopefully positively.
As captain of the throwing team for Track and Field at Brien McMahon, senior Vassili Kyrkos has decided to play golf for the spring season.
Leaving track was a major decision for Kyrkos, but once he took into account his future, he knew what his mind was set on. “Going to a college in Canada, I feel like my major is more important than any type of sports career and I don't feel like pursuing track and field will really help me financially in the future,” said Kyrkos.
Kyrkos, wanting to major in civil engineering once he gets to college, understands that sports and school will not mix well. “The courses are very rigorous and I feel like playing a sport will really affect my studying and doing well in school which will prevent me from accomplishing big things in college.”
Kyrkos was Brendan Duddy’s (‘19) captain in the track season, but now the roles have reversed as Duddy serves as Kyrkos’ golf captain. “I mean obviously it’s a huge blow for the track team, but they have Kelete with them and Vassili helped him all winter to improve so I don’t think they’re really losing any points.”
Most student athletes that play different sports want different experiences, but when it comes to track and golf that is not the case being that they are both individual sports. “Track was a very individualized sport for me until the championship season, so I feel if I can focus on myself I can do really good in golf,” said Kyrkos.
Starting golf just in this past October, Kyrkos has already fallen in love with the sport. He feels that it is game of patience and something he could improve on for the future.
“He’s always sending me videos of him practicing at home and always asking me the next time we’re gonna play,” Duddy said. He went on to add “He’s improved so much since the first time I brought him out. I think he’s even surpassed some of the kids on the team last year… we definitely have a chance at a winning record if we all improve like he has.”
As a senior, Kyrkos wants to live up his final year to the fullest and choosing golf will help him to do just that. Kyrkos believes that golf is something he is able to do in future, with his friends or even individually.
While competing at a regular competition at Hill House in New Haven a senior and well known athlete Justin Forde landed wrong while triple jumping spraining his ankle and causing a devastating loss to the Track and Field team of Brien McMahon.
“I don’t want to go out and compete and hurt my ankle more severely, knowing that Nationals is right around the corner” said Forde.
With a positive mindset Forde is determined to come out stronger and better making sure he is doing everything he can. “I have do a lot more to prevent anything else like taking it easy, stretching and icing” Forde added.
Senior Captain for Norwalk High Ashley Wilson said: “I think what makes us successful is that we always work together, but we did more than we usually do so that way we can have bragging rights against our friends from McMahon.”
Coming from halftime much didn’t change except the gap between scores, McMahon played even worse in the second half and finished the game 79-29 taking a sad loss.
From McMahon, Senior Michelle Menard leads the team scoring 8 points throughout the entire game, also doing a good job cleaning up the boards.
“The game didn’t go as planned, but it was my last time playing The High and I think I played my best game trying to fight against stacked up odds,” said Michelle Menard.
From Norwalk High, both Senior Captains Ashley Wilson, and Naeva Rene lead their team scoring 16 and 18 total points throughout the game.
Norwalk High and McMahon both have tough games coming up between Trumbull who has only lost once and St. Joe’s who is 7-10 hopefully they play their best, and finish their last few games strong.
The game started off with Norwalk High scoring two two-pointers within the first two minutes, leaving McMahon at the edge of their seats, wondering why the worst team in the Eastern Division of the FCIAC was beating them 4-0.
“I had a hard time scoring the ball so I had to find others ways to help my team and offense putbacks was my game that night” said Williams.
It was at the turn of the second half of the game when the senators started to communicate and play as a team. Points were coming in left and right and they started to gain a lead with Norwalk High falling behind.
With three-pointers coming from both teams, the lead started to disappear. Key players like Justin Lebron made a lasting impact towards the team's success in the final minutes, and seconds, of the game.
Williams added; “I think Jajuan Wiggins and Latrel Stewart were our key players. Jajuan did a great job at attacking and controlling the flow of the game. He played a solid all-around game. Latrel Stewart was in foul trouble early but he didn’t let that affect him despite missing the whole second quarter. He came in and did a fantastic job on the boards and creating for his team.”
With the end of the game closing in and McMahon in the lead by seven points, it was all looking good until there was an injury on the court that stopped the game for about a five-minute break in the middle of the quarter. McMahon got the ball once it started back up again and luckily, they were able to score another two-pointer, giving them a hard-earned win against their biggest rival: Norwalk High.
“Yes we still won but the game was way closer than it should have been and we let them hang around with us for too long.” (Fitzpatrick ‘20)
Eduardo Vargas (‘19), mostly known by his fellow classmates as ‘Eddy’, has recently committed to Iona College where he will be playing soccer for the next four years. Vargas has been playing since the age of 6, his hard work and dedication paid off and he will be joining the Gael family this upcoming fall.
After playing the sport for many years, Vargas reveals that he hasn’t always been a fan of soccer. “My parents forced me to play soccer, even though I wanted to play football because I was a big and chubby baby. Sometimes I would even cry because I didn’t want to play soccer, but when I noticed I was sort of good, I enjoyed playing and everything went uphill from there.”
Vargas would often travel to different states for soccer showcases where he would show off his wonderful skills in hopes of getting contacted by coaches from many different colleges. This is when he first heard from Iona.
“I first heard about Iona when the coaches reached out to my parents after seeing me at a showcase in Texas, asking about me and if I wanted to train with them over the summer.”
While still getting offers from different schools, he always had Iona on his mind.
“It was not my first choice, but definitely in my top three. Northeastern University was my first choice and Elon University was my second, but they didn’t offer enough money and they didn’t have much interest after I got injured and was out for a while my junior season.”
Vargas got to know more about Iona and built a relationship with the coach, helping his decision of choosing a school a little easier.
“I knew Iona was the right choice when the coach offered me a lot and guaranteed me a good career and playing time as long as I work hard. The people there were great and I am looking forward to be attending.”
Melanie Vargas (19’), a long-time friend of Eddy said, “Eddy is a great player and I think he deserves everything he is accomplishing. I am truly happy for him.”
Vargas’ future plans for his soccer career is to get better everyday at the sport he loves playing the most and to do well in college. He hopes to get chosen for the Major League Soccer (MLS) draft or go pro overseas.
Justin Forde: Senior track star Justin Forde, went to a track meet in Virginia at Liberty University to show what he is capable of. In the Men's High Jump event Forde is ranked top four at 6’10, and in the Men's Long Jump he is number six in the nation. However, what makes Forde stand out is being ranked number one in the nation in the Men's Triple Jump.
Ajia Andrews: Senior Girls Basketball player, Ajia Andrews, worked to help her team to a possible victory against Staples on Friday, January 25th, 2019. Andrews had nine points all from the three point line, along with six rebounds, two assist, three steals, one block, and no turnovers.
Eric Miller: Junior Boys Basketball player, Eric Miller, had a total of twenty-one points in the loss to Staples on Friday, January 25th, 2019. Miller hit a total of five three’s. All of Millers points occurred in the first and third quarter, and ended the game with only one foul.
Peyton McNamara: Junior Track Captain, Peyton McNamara, showcased her skills at the Western Division Championships. McNamara won the 50-meter dash, and participated on the winning 4x200 relay team.
Forde has been voted by the students of Brien McMahon High School as, The Athlete of the Week. Senior Track captain, who is committed to the University of Miami, is a top threat for many other track stars around the country. Forde is number one in the nation for Men’s Triple Jump. He says, “I’m very comfortable,” after being asked how it feels to be number one in the nation. Forde’s freshman year opened up with him being a three sport athlete but for his senior year he had decided to focus on just track and it seems to have been paying off. Not only is he number one but he is also number six for the Men’s Long Jump. The Brien McMahon Track program has been noticed more because of Forde, however, when asked about the chances of BMHS winning a state championship he states, “It isn’t an individual that can win States because of the lack of seniors, so it's going to be hard but not impossible.” Forde is a very important athlete figure to the Brien McMahon community.
PrideTime Sports Editor
1. The Business Behind the Bows:
You’ll never catch a cheerleader without a colorful or sparkly bow. Whether it’s on their backpack or in their hair, these are the ultimate Cheer accessory. Typically, our cheerleaders sport a “D.W.” bow, in memory of Coach Kelsey’s father who passed away this year.
2. It’s more than flips and sparkles:
Cheerleaders spend the summer in the weight room building up their strength for the football season. You may catch them in the mini gym on the mats after school hours, but they can also be spotted at a private gym practicing tumbling.
3. Different Roles:
The Flyer- Usually the lightest person, who gets held up by others.
The Base- Seen underneath the flyers, supporting them and holding them up.
The backspot- Just as important as the bases, backspots stand behind and grab the ankles of the flyers to pull them up.
4. Looking Good while Doing Good:
In addition to coordinated outfits and hair, there are many strict rules when it comes to competitions. No long nails, nail polish, or fake nails. In fact, their nails cannot go past their fingertips. Points can be deducted if a bellybutton shows, and of course, cursing on the mat is a big no-no
5. Practices are just as important as serious as games:
With coordinated outfits and themes, the cheer team spends a lot of time team bonding while improving their stunts and routines. Practice can go for as long as 4 hours with tumbling. Expected to be just as loud in practice as they are in games, cheerleaders put their all into everything.
Keep track of the different letters you get and tally them up at the end to see which McMahon cheerleader you are!
With a hard fought match Tuesday, the McMahon Boys Varsity basketball team took a well needed win against the Trinity Catholic Crusaders 51-47.
Coming off of back to back loses last week against Danbury and Staples, the Senators came ready to battle. Senior captain Saikwon Williams who lead the team with 17 points, 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter.
“I feel I could have did a lot better, I’m not usually used to playing like this but I played within the game and how the game was flowing and helped my teammates do whatever I could do” said Williams after the game
In the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, the senators went on a 6-0 run to extend their lead against the crusaders which they were able to maintain until the final buzzer.
McMahon started off the game strong and hungry causing turnovers and and taking a 13-8 into the second quarter. As the crusaders tried to rally and fight back to stay in the game, the senators were able to retaliate and take a three point lead heading into halftime with the score 21-18.
At halftime coach Joseph Laprad gave a pep talk to the team in which he stressed the importance of rebounding and transition defense while also bringing the game to Trinity.
Throughout the third quarter the game went back and forth and both teams giving very little edge to the opposition however McMahon was able to take a five point lead into the final quarter of the game (33-28).
McMahon was able to push through and get the win. After the game Coach Laprad stated “We faced adversity towards the end of the game foul troubles, not making our fast break layups, but once we changed our attitudes and mindsets, we were able to fight through and pull out the win.”
With New Canaan coming up on Friday the senators celebrate their victory but get right back to work at the next two practices.
“We need to improve upon rebounding and our half court off needs a little bit more flow and ball and player movement and really need to get the defense to shift and flex” said Laprad post game.