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Fall sports look to the future with hope and pride

From new coaching to young teams to new athletes, St. Martin’s Episcopal School Athletics is looking forward to a future as bright as the Friday night lights.

The fall of 2018 whisked in a new face on campus. Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Frank Gendusa has turned a thinning football team into a growing force to be reckoned with. From new twice-a-week workout plans to more organized practices each day, Gendusa is installing a new foundation for the St. Martin’s football program.

“Gendusa’s getting his feet in the mud and trying to make a real impression for the following years to come,” said Senior Captain Kyle Winkler. “Rather than look at the wins and losses, we’ve been trying to focus on the effort. I truly believe that in the next two to three years we’ll have a winning football team, hands down.”

Change is the new trend in our football program this year. According to Winkler, the team has suffered the loss of a number of starters, many players are new to the team, and others have switched their normal positions in order to accommodate the team as a whole.

Sophomore Jonathan Castaneda went from offensive line to running back, and Sophomore Monte Lewis switched from tight end to wide receiver.

The Saints currently have a 3-3 record, as they’ve celebrated victories against Fisher Middle/High School, Ridgewood Preparatory School, and Ecole Classique and endured losses against Benjamin Franklin High School, Cohen College Prep High School, and Ascension Christian High School.

“It’s a fun team,” said Senior Captain Ethan Everitt. “Coach Gendusa has really been bringing a positive vibe to the team, and I’m excited to see what the future of football’s going to look like.”

Like football, the St. Martin’s volleyball program has also recently suffered from the loss of five alumni, three of whom were vital starters on the team.

Despite the setback, they have put forth a good effort in the first half of their season, playing 19 in-season games and clinching a season turning win, their victory against the Academy of the Sacred Heart, as well experiencing some unfortunate losses.

“The season’s going well,” said Senior Captain Ruby Reeves. “It hasn't been the outcome we’ve wanted so far, but we’ll get there.”

Despite losing their starting outside, setter, and libero, the volleyball team has been resourceful this season, using the many younger players to their advantage.

“We have some new setters on the horizon, and they’re looking good,” said Senior Captain Ellie Hurley.

“They’re young, so as they get older, they’ll become powerhouses. We’re a very young team right now, so it’s exciting for Ruby and me to see that there’s a bright future for our team. We’re struggling right now with pulling out the dubs. We have a lot of good qualities on the team, but right now, we’re still just figuring out how to use them all together.”

The cross-country teams, following the trend of new coaching and a loss of players (or runners in their case), have begun to show promise for the new season.

Due to the loss of three top runners, both the girls’ and boys’ cross-country programs face challenges when trying to compete for team scores.

However, individually, both Senior Captain Anabella Imbornone and Sophomore Isabella Bartholomew have been achieving competitive times as they race towards state. The boys’ team, however, has improvements to make but is on the path to proper success.

“The season is going pretty well,” said Senior Captain Benjamin Bone. “Our top three guys have been consistently dropping their times, and our fourth and fifth guys seem to have a lot of potential. We still have a good shot at winning the State Championship this year, even though we lost one of our top four runners. It’s going to take a lot more hard work and effort, but I think it’s possible.”

New to the team, Assistant Cross-Country Coach Carolyn Deas, assists Head Coach Warren Lind with the many responsibilities he shoulders as leader of the cross-country program.

Along with a new coach, the team welcomed a returning athlete, Senior Gabby Killett.

“I am happy to be back on the cross-country team,” Killett said. “While splitting my time between cheerleading and cross-country, I look forward to the days I go to cross-country. I’ve missed everyone and am excited to be a part of the team again. I look forward to seeing how I can perform again since I’ve been gone and am excited to potentially help my teammates reach goals together.”

Overall, cross-country is taking impressive strides, as they have athletes scoring in the top ten of Saturday morning races and making personal records every week towards state.

“I think we as a team have been giving it our all in our practices and our races,” Bone said. “Even though we are not scoring as high as we used to in individual meets, I look forward to seeing how we do in the future. We still have a lot to do to reach our full potential, but we can do it.”

Similarly, the swim team has endured the loss of teammates, leading to a disadvantage for the entire team, especially for the relays. However, with new members on the team, their future looks bright in the years to come.

“The biggest challenge our swim team has is a lack of numbers,” said Senior Captain Lainey Pickens. “We lost three major athletes from the girls’ team this year, and while the boys’ team has always been small, we lost a number as well. Individually, we’ve seen a lot of improvement, especially in the new swimmers.”

So far the swim team has competed in three meets against all divisions. Though the Saints didn’t have a defined team score, their individual successes provide an optimistic view of the season.

“Individually, there have been a lot of state times already made,” Pickens said. “A lot of people are improving their times already in the season, especially new swimmers.”

New members to the swim team, such as Senior Bennett Kahn, are beneficial to the team’s success as they approach district and state in the swimming program.

“I originally started swimming this year because I recently had a back surgery, and my doctor told me swimming is a great method of recovery,” Kahn said. “Going into it, I knew I’d show up to practice every day and work hard, but I never expected to be on the verge of making state times. (…) State is right around the corner, and I’m really excited for what our team is capable of accomplishing there.”

The swim team is looking to stay on this track of improvement for the rest of the season and hopefully in years to come, thanks to the dedicated coaching staff and incoming swimmers.

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