Spring sports showcase

Previews into the seasons of ETHS’ upcoming spring sports
Spring sports showcase
Photo courtesy of Dylan Malow-WIlliams
Experienced boys volleyball digs deep

As ETHS alum Stanley Antoine rolls into his fourth season as boys volleyball head coach, he maintains his long-time connection to the school and the volleyball program.

“I’ve always been a Wildkit. I feel like I’ve always been here,” Antoine said. “I’ve been doing summer camps since I graduated high school, so it’s funny when people ask [me] when I started coaching for Evanston… [I’ve been here] forever. Ever since the summer of 2003.”

Last spring, the Kits accumulated 19 wins and 17 losses with the lift of four seniors—including 6’9” hitter Aidan Klein—and landed fifth in the Central Suburban League. Evanston also squeezed out a huge win over New Trier, which marked the first teams that the Kits had beaten the Trevians in 15 years. However, Loyola Academy ceased the Kits’ playoff run in the IHSA Regional Finals.

After waving goodbye to last year’s graduating class, Antoine will depend on returning seniors Dillon Malow-Williams, Levi Martin, Camden Ey, Tyler Tang, Jacques Philippe and Henry Vanden Heuvel to step up with their experienced backgrounds. 

“We definitely want to be a lot more consistent [as] a team. Last year, we had huge ups and downs, beating top teams in the state and losing to teams who we thought weren’t at our level,” Antoine said. “[But] we’ve made huge strides in our culture. We’re going to have a very experienced team, and what we are trying to do is find consistency, not just on the court but [also] in the classroom.” 

The Kits’ downstate expectations are well-defined, especially with the confidence and energy of Tang, one of the Kits’ captains. 

“We have very high hopes coming into this season,” Tang said. “We lost a lot of critical players such as Aidan Klein but a lot of us are excited. We’re going to be a very senior-heavy team, and that was [lacking] last year. There wasn’t that sense of leadership to bring us all together. This [season], we’re going to have a cohesive team mindset.” 

Evanston has taken pride in being a collective and putting in extra hours in the weight room. Malow-Williams highlighted what preseason training looked like for the Kits.

“We really tried to get a lot more guys in the weight room this year. That was a stress point for us,” Malow-Williams said. “[We] started with plyometrics in the fall two days a week and then we [have] guys in Sports Specific Training. We took a little bit of a break from plyos and focused more on the technical side”

With the season just around the corner, the Kits will also turn to their junior class and new faces to round their 2024 roster. 

“Junior Kaloyan Mirtchev [will] be a solid player for us and [junior]Stephen Hobbs, [as well as] senior Aidan Sweeney are gonna hold us down,” Malow-Williams said. “[Fans should] also keep an eye out for [libero] Daniel Gordon, as well as Dillon Barnes and Henry Vanden Heuvel.” 

Beyond the gym, the Kits plan to stick to their bonding traditions to prepare and glue them together for the season. 

“We definitely try to keep the relationship strong on the team,” Malow-Williams said. “After tryouts, we’ll go bowling as a team [and] once the weather gets nice, we’re out playing beach volleyball [and] hanging out at the beach. We [also] spend a day [at ETHS] doing team bonding; we have dinner and watch a movie in Beardsley. So [we develop] a [sense] of culture through all levels, and that’s a really important thing to have.”

Evanston will kick off its season and take on Niles West at Beardsley Gym on Mar. 18 at 6 pm.

Photo courtesy of Dylan Malow-WIlliams
Photo courtesy of Charlie Kalil
Boys baseball looking to build on last year’s success

After getting blown out on their home turf in the regional championship, boys baseball is heading into the year on a mission.

“[That loss] stings the most. You never want to lose in the playoffs but especially not to New Trier. It just leaves us wanting to beat them even more. Yes, we want to kill them in the regular season but we all want to see them in the playoffs to change the story from last year,” senior captain Charlie Kalil said.

The Trevians ended an unforgettable season for the Kits. ETHS finished the year with a record of 31-8 and 11-5 in conference play and set the school record for wins, previously set at 29. After losing to Hersey in the season opener 6-4, Evanston caught fire and went on a massive run. The Kits won 24 out of their next 26 games and reached #2 in the Prep Baseball Report Illinois rankings on May 8, 2023. During that win streak, Evanston beat New Trier twice.

“The success of last year was that we were all so close together. We had a great bond where everyone could rely on each other. We have been playing with and against each other since we were in fourth grade so we definitely all know each other,” Kalil stated.

After that stretch, though, Evanston lost four out of five games, dropping those four to Maine South and Glenbrook North. However, The Kits then won three straight games going into the playoffs. Evanston defeated Niles North and Elk Grove to win the regional championship. The Kits then defeated Lane Tech to advance to the sectional championship versus New Trier.

In a massive game, where ETHS brought out additional bleachers to accommodate the huge crowd, the Kits never found life. With the Trevians up 2-0 in the fourth inning, New Trier batted around and put up nine runs in the frame. The Trevians held on to their eleven-run advantage and mercy-ruled the Kits in the 5th inning. With the Kits best players slumping, the bottom half of the lineup failed to give the Kits a spark.

“Last year, we started off the season unbelievable, we got all the way up to #2 in state. But, we fell apart in the playoffs. A big thing this year is making sure that we are producing 1-9. Last year, we had a lot of production at the top of the order but people lower down didn’t always step up. This year, if 1-2-3 are having a bad game, 4-9 stepping up will be huge for us,” said Kalil.

The team lost talent in the offseason. Hank Liss, the team’s ace on the mound and center fielder, graduated and is currently pitching at Belmont. Evanston also graduated Hamilton pitcher Jared Lortie and catcher Brandon Brokowski, who both had productive years for the Kits. Despite a good amount of talent leaving the team, Kalil and the squad are confident they will be able to reload.

“In the outfield, we lost Hank Liss and Brandon Brokowski which are definitely big losses but having Jonah Hofeld and Mathew Luczak, guys that we have confidence in, is huge. We feel like we are in a pretty similar position to last year,” said Kalil. “Granted, we are losing a lot of talent.”

“Owen Vander Velde was called to varsity later in the season but didn’t play as much as he would have liked to. I think he is going to have a very big season,” Kalil said. “Alex Vandurmen was really good for JV last year. He is a senior, he throws the ball really hard and is going to be a very big addition to the team this year.”

Kalil’s main goal as a captain on the leadership team going into his last year with the Kits is making sure that the team bond remains strong. He wants to make an effort to acclimate the new players early into being a part of the team culture.

“I want to make sure everyone is comfortable with each other, where we have eachothers back. We are going to go on our spring trip to Florida and make sure all of the new players feel welcome on the team,” said Kalil. “Making sure everyone is playing video games in the same room together.”

While the ultimate goal of every team is to go as far as they can in the postseason, Kalil has one more goal in mind.

“Beat New Trier,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Kalil
Photo courtesy of Stella Davis
Girls track & field retools after losing star Artley

Last year, girls track & field finished seventh in the state, which marked its third-straight year of top-10 finishes in Illinois. Heading into this season, the Kits are looking to retool following the loss of last year’s seniors.

Abrielle Artley, who now runs at the University of Nebraska, led the Kits to their state finish, finishing second in the 100-meter hurdles and winning the state competition for the 300-meter hurdles in addition to helping Evanston to seventh in the 4×400 relay. Juniors Nyel Rollins and Esther Mueller, who made up two of the spots on that relay, now step into the spring season without Artley. 

“Last season, we had [Artley,] and she really helped out, but she’s gone. So, we have to really push ourselves and try to be better so we can have a good team without her,” Mueller said.

Mueller was an essential factor in the 4×400 team, but with Artley having graduated, Mueller intends on taking on new roles on and off the track going into the outdoor season. Rollins is also a consistent runner of the 200-meter and 400-meter and plans to continue this year.

“I got into track just for fun in fourth grade and then chose to run track over playing soccer in high school. [The ETHS track program] is a really successful program. There are a lot of good coaches and talent,” Mueller said.

In addition to changes with runners, the coaching staff has faced some shifts as well. Unfortunately, the girls track team and Evanston community lost Jesse Sibert on June 9, 2023. Sibert was the girl’s long-distance track coach and an Evanston alum. This tragic loss caused some readjustments to the girl’s program. Coach Gideon Yitref was called to the girls long-distance team because of his experience coaching boys track & field as well as girls cross country in the fall. 

“With this being my first year, I’m working to learn about the storied program and become a part of the culture,” Yitref commented. 

Transitioning to the outdoor season is a difficult process for both boys and girls track, something unique to their sport. Track indoor season consists mostly of dual and quad meets, which are smaller and typically less important compared to ones raced in the outdoor season.

“In indoor, I usually just focus on working out and getting back into it. Outdoor, I just take it more seriously with the races,” Mueller said.

The outdoor season is when the majority of the most competitive meets occur and all teams are pushing to make it to state. With the goal of state champions in mind, training can become more intensive. 

“I hope the girls take roughly one to two weeks off before ramping up for the outdoor season. After spring break, the girls will run a mile time trial on our beautiful outdoor track to gauge pace for future workouts,” Yitref said. 

The team has big goals for this year and lots of talent to assist them on their road to state. Rollins and Mueller have experience with running in state and plan on guiding the underclassmen.

“I plan on dropping my times and doing harder practices. I’m also expecting a lot of the younger girls to move up and continue dropping times, because right now they are doing so amazing and really making their mark. But for the most part, I feel like we’re going to have great relays and also great individual times. I’m not sure how far we’ll go, but I’m sure pretty far,” Rollins said. 

Along the way, Yitref hopes members of the team look internally over the course of the season in addition to their times.

“I would like the girls to enjoy running, conquer their fears, smash self-doubt and embrace fatigue,” Yitref stated.

Photo courtesy of Stella Davis
Photo courtesy of Delilah Liston
Full set of returners tee softball up for success

With softball returning nearly all their players this year, the Kits are ready for a strong season. 

“Last season was definitely better than my freshman year, where we only won two games,” said junior Delilah Liston. “We still had a lot of challenges and things that we needed to work on, especially for this year, but we made good progress.”

After graduated-seniors Ariana Munoz and Kelsey Blickenstaff left last year for Iowa State University and Macalester College, respectively, the team dynamic hasn’t seemed to change much. Despite the losses of two of the team’s top players, the two leaders passed down good examples for players to step up and lead this season.

“[The seniors are] more experienced with the game and havemore connections with all of us so they can definitely bring the team together,” Liston said.

“We have many returning players this year from last year’s varsity team,” head coach Amy Gonzales said. “We have seniors with great softball strengths and leadership qualities.” 

Players like seniors Lexi Lennon, Serafina Goodwill, and sophomore Sophie-Berger White are foreseen to be leaders on the team this year.

The team is excited to face their rival, New Trier who the Kits battled back and forth with last year. Evanston came out victorious against New Trier in one of two matches last year and is hoping to come back on top this season.

“Beating [New Trier] all the times that we can would be great,” says Liston. “I think this year we can do even better against them. Hopefully we get further [in playoffs this season] so we get to play harder teams.”

So far, the team looks promising after hosting tryouts and participating in off-season training for the past few weeks. Evanston fans can catch softball’s first home game of the season against Taft on Saturday, Mar. 16 at 11:00 am. 

Photo courtesy of Delilah Liston
Photo courtesy of Julie Lucas
Girls soccer to establish ‘different dynamic’

With just 11 players returning from last year’s roster, girls soccer is prepared to fight for the CSL title once again while rebuilding their lineup after losing some key players.

“We had a great group last year,” said head coach Stacy Salgado. “It’s always bittersweet, right? But I just look ahead, to be honest with you. It’s not like we’re not going to miss [last year’s seniors] dearly. It was super fun last year, and we had really great chemistry overall. I’m hoping that what we created last year carries over into this season with our new leaders.”

In the 2021-22 season, the Kits traveled to the state finals for the first time in a decade and finished 4th in the state. Last season offered the team another chance to repeat their success, but a dream run that started with a 4-0 regional championship win over Whitney Young ended prematurely with a 1-0 loss to Lane Tech in the sectional semifinals.

“We ended up losing a little bit early on in [the] playoffs,” senior Jocelyn Leigh said, “which obviously wasn’t expected, but I’m still pretty proud of how far we were able to go.”

The Kits had banked five straight shutouts before the sectional semifinal upset, an unexpected result for top-ranked Evanston, which had gone 17-2-1 in the regular season. This year, the team will have to factor in the losses of eight seniors—notably keeper Ariel Kite, forward Adrianna Merriam, and the majority of their defensive squad. 

“It’s gonna be a different dynamic, a different team with the amount of people we’ve lost,” Leigh said. “Seeing how people adapt, what roles people can step into, and how people grow will be fun to watch and be a part of.”

Seniors Leigh—who has committed to play at Loyola in the fall—and midfielder Sydney Ross—who has committed to play at Swarthmore in the fall—have both been on the varsity team since their freshman year. The senior class of 2024 is smaller than that of ‘23 and ‘22, but Leigh and Ross are looking to head another successful team.

Girls soccer’s next home game will be on Mar. 13 against Niles West. They [result]ed IC Prep in their home opener on Mar. 11.

Photo courtesy of Julie Lucas
Photo courtesy of Nina Kaiser
Girls water polo dives in with experience

A new era of Evanston water polo is coming. First year head coach Maggie Hatcher has aspirations to continue to build on the storied history of the Kits’ water polo team. 

“I would like to step into the greatness of what Evanston water polo has always been,” said Hatcher, who has been an assistant coach for the team since the 2020 season. 

For Hatcher, being with the current senior class for their entire high school career has given her confidence stepping into this new role. She has developed the players she will be counting on in her first season taking over.

 “I have been lucky enough to coach our seniors since they were freshmen and to have been able to see the growth and leaders that they have become,” Hatcher stated. “The identity is different every year but we need to establish that mental game and team chemistry to know that we have a chance to win every game going into it.”

Last season, the Kits were somewhat inconsistent but finished their season with an overall record of 13-12 (4-1 CSL). After losing their first game against Naperville North 17-4, the Kits won eight consecutive games before losing to Fenwick 11-5 but followed that up by losing six straight games. In their final ten games of the season, the Kits couldn’t build any true momentum and went 5-4 before eventually losing to the sectional semifinal to Maine West in a heartbreaker.

“We lost right at the end. We fought the entire way and the team just had so much heart last year. We are returning all but two players on our roster so I am feeling very confident about the athletes that we have,”  Hatcher said.

Following the 2022 season, the team lost double digit seniors compared to only losing a couple in the 2023 season. With a more experienced team now, the group is ready to build on last year’s season and take the next step.

“Our juniors and seniors have been a part of some really strong teams. This year they will come through as more leaders of the team whereas last year they were growing and building up that experience,” Hatcher said. “I know the returners are motivated to come back and do something great.”

For senior goalie Nina Kaiser, stepping into a captain role means leadership both in and out of the pool. Making sure the team is in good spirits throughout the season is a focal point for the first year captain.

“Last year, there was some tension between those on the team,” Kaiser said. “The team is a lot closer this year so it is a lot more comfortable to ask questions. [The captains] are making sure that everyone is involved and feels comfortable on the team.”

For Kaiser, keeping focus and not letting distractions get in the way of the team’s success is a staple for this season.

“We need to overcome making sure we are not in each other’s head about the game,” Kaiser said. “Physically, we can 100% win.”

Evanston will open their season at home against Hersey on March 9th in the Burton Aquatic Center.

Photo courtesy of Nina Kaiser
Photo courtesy of Tymek Wlodek
Next step for boys water polo? Beat its rivals

After Maine South has ended back-to-back promising seasons for the Kits in the playoffs the last two years, Evanston Boys Water Polo is eying vengeance and determined to take the next step.

“I am most interested in playing Maine South this year,” senior captain Tymek Wlodek said. “We have struggled with Maine South in the past couple years, and a lot of us are frustrated. [The current seniors] have never seen our varsity team beat Maine South. We want to go and do that this year.”

The Hawks ended an incredible season from the Kits last year, one in which the squad went 21-4-1 and 3-2 in conference play. After dropping their first game in triple overtime, the Kits won 20 out of their next 22, with a tie and a loss sprinkled in. The Kits ended the regular season losing to rival New Trier, 13-7, but won their first playoff game, 9-4, against Maine East before eventually losing a nailbiter to Maine South, 10-9.

Since many Kits play with each other on club and in the school season, the squad struggled with lineup changes that resulted in different looks in the pool.

“Being able to work collectively with new people in and out of the starting lineup was the biggest challenge. We struggled with having different people in the pool, because we are all so used to playing with each other that it gets hard when we bring someone new in when someone gets injured or needs rest,” Wlodek said.

Most noteworthy, the team graduated its second leading goal scorer in Angel Gonzalez, who had 57 goals last season, good for 2.3 goals per game. ETHS also graduated its third leading scorer in Paul Martinet, who scored 30 goals on the year, averaging over one goal per game.

Despite graduating two of the team’s top scorers, many on this year’s squad believe it can take its elite play even higher. The team’s four losses last season came against just two unique opponents.

“Our four losses came from New Trier and Maine South alone. Obviously, the goal every year is to make it to state, but this year, we just want to one up what we did last year.  This year, our main goal is to just minimize our losses and win as many games as possible against those teams,”  Wlodek explained.

In addition to Wlodek, this year’s captains include seniors Bjorn Sievert, Henry Chapon and Ben Cowan. Wlodek is committed to playing water polo at McKendree University and Chapon is committed to Augustana College. Another noteworthy player who Wlodek and teammates alike are expecting a big year from is junior goalie Rijad Dizdarevic.

The boys won’t be eased into the season by any stretch of imagination. Evanston’s first game is on Mar. 12 at home against rival New Trier. The Kits have not beaten the Trevians since 2018, but with a promising group, many on the team believe anything is possible for the 2024 season.

Photo courtesy of Tymek Wlodek
Courtesy of ETHS Girls Lacrosse on Instagram
Girls lax reloads thanks to team continuity

After having only four returning varsity players as they entered the 2023 season, girls lacrosse focused on building the team from the ground up. Now, working on the foundation that was created last year is something that senior Alice Porter won’t take lightly as the Kits enter their season, which will commence on Saturday, Mar. 16 at Lazier Field against Crown Point.

“[We] have a lot of opportunity for success this season, as we have such a huge returning varsity group [from last season],”  Porter reflected. “We have so much unnoticed talent, and since there’s such an overlap between field hockey and lacrosse, a lot of [our] players have had time to already play a sport [this school year], so we should be ready to perform to our best ability.” 

Last season, the Kits finished 14-5, 6-1 in the CSL, only losing to New Trier in conference during the second game of the season. After a continuous battle in the playoffs, the Kits were able to produce a deep playoff run, losing to the former state champs Loyola Academy in the super sectionals, with a final score of 18-2. 

“We had a lot of really good, consistent wins last season, but ultimately, we didn’t get as far as [we] wanted,” Porter remarked. “In the offseason, everyone has been hard at work, looking forward to finishing tryouts and picking up where we left off.” 

With Porter, juniors Bridget Lesch and Kenyon College commit Katherine Granchalek and senior Makalya Clark, the bar is set high for this season, with the same expectations of making yet another deep playoff run. 

“[Now] that we have bonded more as a team by attending open gym practices and team bonding, we have developed a team chemistry that, when we work together, could get us far in the playoffs again,” Porter commented. “That and keeping a good record is always the goal.” 

Courtesy of ETHS Girls Lacrosse on Instagram
Photo courtesy of Abrielle Claude
Young ultimate squad looks toward State

There’s a club at ETHS with a track record for producing high-level talent: the school’s ultimate frisbee program.

“We’re definitely seeing kids learn to fall in love with frisbee in high school and play high level ultimate afterwards, which is really exciting,” co-head coach Christian Contreras said. “I think there’s been like six or seven ETHS alumni since 2018 that have gone on to play in the semi-pro league, and even to represent the U.S. national team at world level tournaments.”

As a graduate student at Northwestern University, Contreras picked up the game when he saw how invested the Evanston community was around the sport. From pick-up games to the school’s team, there’s a pipeline that enables young players to fall in love with the game and compete at high levels. In recent years, multiple ETHS alumni have gone onto play with semi-pro teams, while Kat McGuire, who graduated in 2019, even went on to represent the U.S. in the under-24 World Championships last year in addition to playing in other elite ultimate settings such as College Nationals with Michigan’s Flywheel and Club Nationals with Michigan-based Hybrid. In 2020, just two decades after several ETHS students came together to create a team in 2000, Contreras was presented with the opportunity to serve as one of the program’s assistants, and this past summer, he and Kelly Kulig stepped up to lead the club, which features a varsity squad and a JV squad that are open to all genders as well as DISCO, which competes in the girls division.

Last season, the team ushered in young talent looking to make a considerable impact on the team. This year, with seasoned returners and key newcomers, the Kits are hopeful that they will be able to sustain a full season workload and find success on the field.

“[Last season,] we were mostly freshmen and sophomores, playing against the varsity squads from other high schools, and I think we did a really good job. We had some freshmen who were out playing seniors at other schools. So, my goal for the boys team is to place fifth [this season] at States and really rely on the sophomores and juniors to start outperforming everyone.”

Contreras places emphasis on creating opportunities for the program’s top players, while also implementing promotional efforts to generate interest in the sport.

“We’re hoping to have at least 14 players for our girls team, and for the [Open] team, we usually have somewhere between 20 and 30 players.”

As the team gears up for the spring season, Contreras will turn to junior co-captains Alex Dabbs and Kaidan Mavros, and seniors Laney Taylor and Tarhyall Sevilla to lay the groundwork and maintain an environment built on trust, collaboration and respect.

“We really rely on our captains to decide what the culture is going to be like. If this team wants to be competitive, we [must] make sure that the captains are communicating that with everyone else.”

For Contreras, hard work and discipline will serve as the precursor to success.

“It might sound cliche, but I value hustle. If someone is trying their hardest throughout the entire practice, that’s the best way to learn. Just like giving it your all and trying to get better.”

Under co-head coaches Contreras and Kulig, both the open and girls squads are entering the season with a defensive focus.

“I want us to be the team where everyone’s worried how they’re going to score on us. And once we get the disc on defense, [I want] our offense to be structured enough where the players are automatically scoring.”

A truly unique element of ultimate, Dabbs values the Spirit of the Game that instills mindful behavior by requiring the athletes to uphold the rules and make their own calls, without the presence of a neutral official.

“My favorite part about frisbee is the Spirit of the Game,” Dabbs said. “There’s a certain kind of energy that everybody exudes, [and] if you act unsportsmanlike, that’s just as bad as a foul.”

The team will take part in the Neuqua Knockout tournament on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 at Mercy Health Sportscore Two in Rockford, Ill.

Photo courtesy of Abrielle Claude
Photo courtesy of Owen Chiss
Boys tennis lines up a repeat state run

After finishing 12th at state last season in singles, senior Finn Pollard is eying an even stronger finish this season. Pollard is no stranger to working himself to the best of his ability, sometimes training twice a day.

“[In the offseason], I would be training cardio once or twice a day, along with fitness in the afternoon,” Pollard stated. “I like to get on the court once or twice a week, just to make sure that I’m performing to where I want to be for the season.” 

The Kits had a productive season last year, filled with big wins against top players and teams in the state. On the singles side, Pollard made the finals of the CSL South conference and placed 2nd at sectionals, which qualified him for state. Joining Pollard at state last season was then-junior Evan Gerbie, who edged out a thrilling 3-set match over Loyola’s Peter Alshouse in the state qualifying match at sectionals. The doubles pairs of then-seniors Henry Barbaro/Dominic Armstrong-Matz and then-juniors Owen Chiss/Mike Wasilewicz both came up just a match short from state, but the latter duo will return this year for the Kits. Combined with a large senior class and strong underclassmen, Pollard hopes to do the same thing this season for him and the team.

“Once we improve our conference losses, we should be able to get far in the playoffs, hopefully getting second or third in conference,” Pollard remarked. “As for me, I’ve been working hard, and I think that I have the capability to win conference and sectionals, and maybe get placed in the top six in state.” 

Pollard hopes that with tryouts over and practices underway, the team will have a strong bond that will take them far throughout the season. 

“One of the highlights from last season was just being with the team. It’s so much fun to have a community that you see almost every day, and the team aspect was definitely motivational in conference and sectionals,” Pollard said. 

The Kits will start their season on March 30th at the Oak Park River Forest Invite at 8 am. 

Photo courtesy of Owen Chiss
Photo courtesy of Oliver Hansard
Boys track & field to ‘embrace the struggle’

Last season, Evanston’s impressive relay team fell short at sectionals, which ended the season for many. However, the Kits managed to send three players downstate last spring: then-junior Oliver Hassard tied for 14th in the high jump, and senior Miles Kye had a best long jump of six meters down-state. Senior Miles Granjean finished first place in the 110-meter high hurdle race, fifth-place finish in the 100-meter dash and ninth-place in the 200-meter dash, creating his legacy on the track. This year, head coach Don Michelin and the team are ready to keep making school history and grab a championship.

“The [team must] embrace the struggle, because success may not come right away,” Michelin said. “Part of the culture of reaching excellence is to be able to get one of those championships that [the team] desires.”

Now a senior, Hassard validated this mindset while supporting his coaches’ efforts.

“Coach [Michelin] definitely does a good job at motivating. He expects and requires a lot so [the returners] must [ensure] that the people on the team are actually fulfilling these things and giving their all,” he said. “It’s [about] leading by example.” 

Michelin acknowledged the example the captains have already set.

“[Our captains] work extremely hard, because they’re going at something that is tangible,” Michelin said.

Those three captains for the 2024 season consist of seniors Jack Kleinschmit, Lee Muir and Hassard, who has committed to the University of Pennsylvania and boasts an impressive high jump of 1.93 meters. Kleinschmit specializes in the 800-meter dash , and Muir runs hurdles. Despite graduating top seniors like Granjean, who now runs at Iowa, Michelin offered high-praise of the three leaders and expects them to guide the gifted new runners throughout the season.

“We have a lot of young talent,” Michelin said. “One of the things we really need to work on as a team is harnessing as much as we can from those guys.”

With impressive young blood, strong leadership and a squad that embraces Coach Michelin’s mindset, the Kits will continue their work towards what they hope will be a promising season.

Photo courtesy of Oliver Hansard
Courtesy of ETHS Badminton on Instagram
Core values guide path for girls badminton

With hard work pre-season, increasing team comradery, a strong coaching staff and successful returning players, badminton is a sport to watch throughout the spring season. 

Last year’s season proved to be memorable, as several players took steps towards qualifying for state. Senior Livia Suszko describes their success in “placing third at conference and getting our first doubles team to state!” 

Hard work was an important factor in this accomplishment, and the players have continued to put in work in the off season. 

“We usually attend the Evanston Junior Badminton Club anywhere from one to three times a week. Each day is similar, with the first half of practice being devoted to drills and conditioning and the second half being devoted to matches,” Suszko said. “Summer training is done with the school and is fairly alike.” 

Assistant varsity coach Tina Lulla “values commitment and heart” from the players. “I want them to want to be there, want to play and want to play 100 percent all the time.”

The positive environment and commitment that the badminton team maintains will assist in creating a strong season. Along with strong team morals, a connected team is one way that these Kits plan to work together towards success.

Captains hold captain practices, outside students and staff are invited to play the team and the team gathers all levels for a senior celebration.

“I think these are a lot of the things that help build team camaraderie,” Lulla emphasizes.  

The team has 14 members on varsity, with both returning and new players looking to provide a spark. 

“Racially, we have a really diverse team this year across all three levels. So we’re really excited to have our team reflect the makeup of our school,” Lulla states. 

The Kits are a well-rounded group of student-athletes with an exciting season ahead. Suszko is especially looking forward to the high stakes and exhilaration of the playoffs.

“Sectionals last year were extremely fun,” she says. “All of the matches were intense, and we had some really heartwarming moments with the seniors playing their last games on the team.” 

More excitement is ahead, especially with returning state player Arnie Gopez. Lulla explains the qualifications necessary for state, describing that “you can qualify up to six players… We will always look to qualify as many as possible, and definitely the opportunity is there for us this year.”

These practices and past successes have contributed to setting players up for accomplishments this season. Suszko summarizes her hopes for the season.

“Have fun and get to state!”

Courtesy of ETHS Badminton on Instagram
Photo courtesy of ETHS Boys Gymnastics on Instagram
Lofty goals for boys gymnastics squad

Boys Gymnastics had a wildly successful season last year, qualifying then-juniors Xavier Probst, Mo Frischer, and then-freshman Jacob Potter for the IHSA state meet. However, that season could have been even more memorable if it wasn’t for then-sophomore Erik Van Leer’s conflict that saw him sidelined for sectionals.

Van Leer won the CSL all-around conference championship for the SECOND year in a row and was poised for a legitimate shot at winning state, but the sophomore qualified for the USA Men’s Developmental Program National Championships in Oklahoma City– scheduled for the same weekend as state. Van Leer chose to attend Nationals in a difficult decision, but with Nationals and the state finals potentially being scheduled for different dates this year, boys gymnastics is eying one of the most successful seasons in program history.

The Kits will bring back Van Leer and all three of their qualifiers, who failed to qualify for the state finals after falling just short in the preliminary rounds of state. Evanston head coach Frank Erwin is expecting big things from his team this year.

“I’d like to qualify for state [as a team] which we’ve never done,” Erwin said. “I think that this year, we’ve got a pretty good shot. Lofty goals, but that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Erwin, now in his ninth season at Evanston, was a gymnast under scholarship at the University of Illinois and has seen what it takes to go far at the sport.

“When most guys come into the gym, they like it. It can be addictive. It’s empowering,” Erwin stated. “You’re doing skills that you didn’t think you could do and you gradually progress. So I value hard work, dedication, commitment, having fun, and an open mind to trying new things.”

With four of the best gymnasts in the state to guide the team, it appears as if Evanston could qualify those four into the final weekend of the state finals this year. The Kits will open their season at home against Highland Park and Deerfield on Monday, Mar. 18 at 5:30 pm.

Photo courtesy of ETHS Boys Gymnastics on Instagram
Photo by Adrian Garton
‘Scrappy’ boys lax looks to tackle Maine South

Last year’s postseason loss to Maine South was frustrating, to say the least, for boys lacrosse.

During the regular season, the Kits went into Park Ridge and knocked off the Hawks, 11-8 in a gritty win that was part of an eight-game win streak. So when Evanston was outplayed in all facets in a 14-6 loss in the sectional quarterfinals, Evanston felt a sense of a letdown.

“We were all disappointed because we beat Maine South earlier in the season,” stated Michael Singer, who was a junior at the time. “The way that we lost too– it just wasn’t very close. It’s disappointing we went out that way.”

Evanston finished 9-8 (5-2 CSL) in the regular season but ended the entirety of the season by losing four out of their final five games. Having graduated a large senior class last spring, the Kits will have some big shoes to fill depth-wise going into this season. However, the Kits are returning a strong core of juniors and seniors who are expected to step up immediately.

Evanston is set to bring back the senior group of Singer, Denison commit Colin Swanson, Luke Van Overmeiren, and Matt Streicker, as well as a strong junior trio of Tommy Allocco, Roc Michel, and goalie Omar Pryor. Singer, however, is out for the foreseeable future with an injury that occurred at practice last week.

“We have an experienced group of seniors but there aren’t a ton of them,” Evanston head coach Rob Fournie stated. “There are definitely some contributors, though. We’re definitely scrappy, we’re gonna fight hard, and teams are going to remember playing us.”

The majority of Evanston’s contributors played lacrosse for club teams in the offseason, which has sufficiently prepared the Kits for the season through more practice and game experience. Once the fall hit, boys lacrosse ran open gyms in the fieldhouse, which were unofficial practices for anyone interested in playing the sport in the spring. Fournie highlighted that the open gyms ran as good as he’s ever seen in his six years of coaching.

“The open gyms were the most well-attended that I’ve seen in my time as a coach. They’ve been led well by our leadership team and prepared us well for the season.”

In addition to performance on the field, Fournie is expecting the team culture to look different this season.

“We want to rebuild our culture this year so we don’t have another letdown like last year. We probably [could have finished] as a top-ten team last year. We’re going to come out with a different mindset.”

The Kits will open their season at home against Buffalo Grove on Wednesday, Mar. 13 at 7:00 pm.

Photo by Adrian Garton
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