It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! No, I’m not saying it because of the snow. It’s winter sports time!! It’s time to pack up your light RBR windbreakers and put on your Buc beanies and winter hats, because the winter season means it is going to be cold no matter what sport you’re watching. However, that’s not the case for the teams themselves this year. The Bucs are looking to come out on fire this year, and spread their heat everywhere they go. In that case, take a seat, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate, throw on your coziest Buc gear, and take a listen to my preview of the 2013-14 RBR winter sports teams.
Preview: It has been a long and difficult year for the members of the RBR boys’ basketball team. Just a few weeks ago marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of RBR senior and basketball player Albert Martin. December 3, 2013 was a very difficult day for many at RBR, especially those like head coach Scott Martin who were present at the basketball game on that day. However, the Bucs are using this upcoming season as a chance to dedicate their season to the memory of Albert. “We are driven to fulfill some promises that we made last year,” says coach Martin. “Promises that we made to each other, our school and communities, and to Albert. We want to make him proud, and will not stop until we do.” Another aspect to the success of the Bucs this season will be experience. Many of the starters returning are familiar with the program and the way that the Bucs play, so if anything, the team has both talented and experienced players under their belt. Although they will undoubtedly face tough competition this year in the Shore, another thing that these RBR boys have this season is motivation. They are motivated to make the entire school, the communities, and Albert proud this year. I guarantee you, this is not a team that will disappoint.
Coach Scott Martin on his expectations for the season: “We return every major player from the last year’s program, and are looking to have a strong season. The returning players worked very hard in the off-season improving their skills, getting stronger, and coming together as a cohesive team.”
Preview: “Fast” and “Furious” are two words that can easily describe this year’s RBR Indoor Track team. The first word is pretty self-exploratory. Come watch even just one indoor track team practice and you’ll see what I mean. Most of these runners are so fast that when you watch them, you wonder if your jaw dropped on its own, or the wind that resulted as these kids flew by caused it. And for the athletes who participate in more of the “event” kind of things rather than the speed and running sections, (i.e. shot put, high jump, anything involving large and heavy medicine balls) it is as if you can feel your own arms growing weaker as you see how far, and how hard these kids can throw these exercise tools. As for the “furious” part, there is something about the way that these athletes work that shows their anger. It’s not an “I’m mad and annoyed about something” kind of anger. It’s more of a physical thing, showing that these guys and girls are ready to compete this season. In the Bucs’ case, they are not only ready to compete. They are ready to win. And based on what we’ve seen of them through their training so far, that’s exactly what we can expect.
Assistant Coach Brendan McGoldrick on his expectations for this season: “The Bucs are looking forward to advancing in the ranks of the Shore Conference, as well as Central Jersey Group II, and hope to have a number of boys and girls at the Group and Meet of Champions meets, as well as the New Balance Indoor Nationals meet in New York.”
Coach’s Players to Watch: Xavier Chestnut, Scott Reeves, Sean Patterson and Mario Williams are all returning upper classmen who won the 4x400 m relay outdoors at the Monmouth County Championships and Shore Conference Championships. All four athletes are looking to come back stronger and faster than last outdoor.
Kyrsten Gilmartin is a returner who qualified for the Meet of Champions last outdoor in the 800 m, and the 4x800 m relay, and looks to continue a great career. Sophie Conti, Breana Whittington, and Natalie Sidun are all sophomore returners who will be able to place very well at most of the meets this year.
Preview: The motto of the Red Bank Regional boys’ and girls’ swim team this year is “with a purpose”. Spending two hours in the middle of the week at practice in Asbury? Done with a purpose. Working through difficult dryland (out of the pool, it’s kind of self-explanatory) training sessions? Done with a purpose. Choosing swimsuit designs in the preseason? Even that is done with a purpose. According to coach Jennamarie DeVito, it’s all about making the little things count this season for the Bucs. “Everything we do in the pool and during dryland practice is done ‘with a purpose’, allowing us to focus on the little things that transfer into shaving time from races. It is a phrase that our senior class has adopted and the freshman class will follow”. And even though the season has only just began, it looks like the Bucs are definitely going to work to make these small details a key part of their success. In the past two weeks, both the girls’ and boys’ team had a very strong start to their meet against Wall, a team that was ranked 10th in the Shore Conference in both boys and girls. The RBR girls’ won the meet, while the boys lost, although they stayed in the race for most of the meet. The Buccaneers have a huge amount of talent, coming in both packs of experience and packs of freshmen. Expect a great amount of success from Buc swimming this season.
Head Coach Jennamarie DeVito on her expectations for the season: “I am proud of how hard our girls and boys team are working each day in practice. We are training more than last season. The team is ahead of where they were this time last year. This competitive work ethic, in addition to our solid team chemistry, will be the key to our success this season.”
Coaches’ Players to Watch: Seniors Zack Bradley (sprint freestyle), Ian Stafford (IM and butterfly), Andrew Gledhill (all around), Ray Reynolds (all around), sophomore Wally Anderson (RBR’s top freestyler and backstroker), junior Jack Whittman (all around)
Senior Emma Sullivan, returning Monmouth County Champion in the 100 breaststroke, all around events, and freshman Kelsey Ballard, 100 backstroke and freestyle. Both Sullivan and Ballard are vital members of the 200 Medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay.
Preview: Way back before the winter season began, head RBR girls’ basketball coach James Young approached his three senior players, and asked what style of play they wanted to play in their final season. Their reply was fairly straightforward—“fast”. In a Shore Conference where girls’ basketball is a sport as well known and advertised as football, the competition level each season is always high. That’s part of the reason why the Buc focus this year is on speed and intensity. This is a team that has been working on all aspects of their game since the early summer. People got to see a hint of what kind of team this will be during the summer Maroon and White Team Camp at RBR, and even more so in their past two scrimmages. I think the key to RBR’s success this season is how they balance and use what they have. Two of the main things that this year’s squad has for sure are talent and experience. The Bucs’ emphasis on playing and doing everything as a “family” should also be a large contributor to the team’s sense of unity this year. Combine those three things with the Bucs’ new style of fast, up-tempo, and paced play, we should see another successful season from the Lady Bucs.
Coach James Young on his expectations for the season: “Coming off of last year’s season, it’s my hope that we are just as successful as last year, and we’re looking to have a winning record, and make both the Shore Conference and State Playoffs, and hope to go as far as we can. Instead of a player to watch, how about a team family to watch?”
Coach’s Players to Watch: When you talk about RBR basketball, you definitely talk about the three Van Loon sisters. Senior Jazz Van Loon is RBR’s lead returning scorer, and one of the top defenders on the team, and twin senior Paris Van Loon is the team’s returning rebounder, along with junior Devon Van Loon and senior Mia Schoening.
Preview: Bowling is a highly underrated sport. Although this might come as a shocker to those of you who consider yourselves champion experts at Wii Bowling, it’s not as easy as you think. Bowling successfully at a level other than in your basement takes a high level of skill, concentration, and a few mistakes made here and there. That is one of the reasons why the RBR bowling team deserves a heck of a lot of credit this season. The athletes on this team compete almost daily at Harmony Lanes in Middletown, and for a sport that only achieved varsity status a few years ago, have been very successful. The Bucs are looking to find even more of that success this year. With a talented team of experienced upperclassmen, mainly juniors and seniors, the Bucs are scoring a lot more than the gutter balls and lucky strikes that most of us end up with in a game of video game bowling.
Coach Mary Karlo on her expectations for the season: “Both the girls’ and boys’ bowling teams compete on a varsity schedule. We compete almost daily, and have a very talented and key group of bowlers, including 6 juniors/seniors for the boys and 7 juniors/seniors for the girls.”
Coach’s Players to Watch: Junior David Yang, with a high game of 199 against Long Branch, and senior captain Matt Kowalski.
Junior captain Victoria Seebeck, with a high game of 162, also against Long Branch.
Preview: Let me start off by saying that we am so fortunate RBR has a hockey program. There is something that is really special about watching a high school hockey game on a cold winter’s night, with half of the students watching the game from a student-section balcony, and the other half scattered around the rink, pounding on the glass in some way or another. When you think about it, we are pretty lucky to have a hockey team at RBR, considering the fact that we don’t live in northern Minnesota or New York, and instead in a place where the days are commonly spent counting down to summer. It also helps that the Bucs hockey team is also a successful, and an ever-improving one. Despite their numbers so far (0-2-1 in their first four games), first year head coach Colin Morris insists that the records do not say it all for the Bucs this season. “We have shown some ability to skate with every team we’ve played so far this season,” he says. “But penalty trouble and some undisciplined play has led to some untimely goals that put us behind in each game we’ve played.” With each game, the Bucs are showing improvement in a skill that they might not have been quite on top of last game. With a high amount of talent, and a strong sense of leadership found among the older players on the team, expect nothing but more improvement, and then eventual success from RBR ice hockey this season.
Coach Colin Morris on his expectations for the season: “My goals for the team this season is to have a strong showing within our division amongst good programs like RBC, SJV, and RFH. Overall we’d like to have a .500 record, and be able to clinch a berth in the state tournament. Last year’s team was able to win a couple games in the state tournament, and that’s something my older players who were on the team last year are very proud of, and would like to get the chance to do again.”
Coach’s Players to Watch: Junior Brian Lynch, a forward who has the ability to be one of the better players in the Shore Conference, and senior Hunter Donleavy, who acts as both a team asset and a team leader as the goaltender.
Preview: Last season, the RBR wrestling team was a popular news story. Finishing with a 13-13 dual meet season, the Bucs saw their first 100 career match winner in Dillon Stambaugh, a graduate now wrestling for Roger Williams University. Returning seven varsity winners to the lineup, the Bucs are looking for success this season once again. Despite the experience the squad already have in their upperclassmen, I think one of the keys to success for the Bucs this season is the new talented faces that they have coming in. With 28 freshmen and sophomores (combined) on the roster, there is a high chance that a good amount of the team’s success will come from young, talented athletes. According to head coach Scott Ferris, the athletes will not be the only active ones in the gym at RBR this year. “The gymnasium at Red Bank Regional will be very active this year, with the Buc Classic, JV Fight Nights, District 22 Tournaments, and, new this year, the center of the Shore Conference Finals.” And so, whether or not you can see it through the sweaty mats and interesting uniforms that will be filling up the RBR fieldhouse this winter, this season, as well as the future of Buc wrestling, is looking very bright.
Coach Scott Ferris on his expectations for the season: “The Bucs are looking for a great season. We are looking to have a .500 record, and hopefully qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament, and qualify for the state tournament.”
Coach’s Players to Watch: Seniors James Cross (126), Mason Gaetano (195), Christian Castro (132), and newcomer senior Rich Diaz.
Preview: Man, there are days where I just really wish I could dance. It doesn’t help that much when attending a school like RBR that is full of dance majors. However, in the case of this year’s dance team, the fact that there is a huge number of dancers at RBR is very beneficial. Did I mention that it helps that all of these dancers are talented and skilled?!? Since the dance team began at RBR as a way to maintain the amount of pep that the cheerleaders brought to football games in the fall into the winter seasons, the Buc dancers have been bringing smiles to faces during basketball games in the winter. This season, that’s exactly what the Dance Team is planning on doing. “Basketball spectators can expect to see some hip-hop during the breaks between each quarter of the games, and classic jazz choreography during halftime,” says coach Maline on what to expect from the dancers this season. From what we know heading into the season, it looks like basketball won’t be the only highlight in town on Friday nights at the RBR gym this winter.
Coach Jill Maline on her expectations for the season: “I am excited to be back as the Dance Team coach for the second year…last year we changed our style a bit, from hip hop to more contemporary jazz – we received many compliments about our performances and halftime routine because of it and so we are continuing to move in that direction this season.”
Coach’s Athletes to Watch: Three senior captains Alyssa Amato, Gianna Pianoforte, and Gabriella Redaelli. According to coach Maline, all three are true team leaders and are all talented choreographers.