In 5-set thriller, Mac earns respect but not a win

The image of outside hitter Preslie Boswell embracing middle hitter Shaine Rozman tells the story of the Knights’ Friday battle against Lockhart in a single snapshot.

Outside hitter Preslie Boswell hugs inside hitter Shaine Rozman after Rozman spiked an overpass to win the Knights’ fourth straight point in the fifth-set tiebreaker. Boswell had won the first two points with kills, and Rozman had won the last two. Photo by Selena De Jesus.

Both players are smiling but they also appear to be on the verge of tears.

“This was during the fifth set,” Rozman remembered after the match. “I had just gotten a kill by hitting an overpass. The fifth set was super emotional.”

The second-place Lions gave the third-place Knights their best shot, but the resilient Knights consistently mustered an answer. After the Lions took the first set 25-21, the Knights returned the favor, winning the second by the same score. After the Lions took the third set, 25-17, the Knights roared back, 25-22,  in the fourth to tie the match at 2.

With the match knotted at two sets a piece, the Lions pulled ahead by four in the fifth and final set. “It was maybe point 11 when I hit the over pass and we were ahead by two, it was after Preslie had just gotten a couple kills and I had as well (this was my second in a row).”

After Rozman gave the Knights a two-point lead, Boswell wrapped her arms around Rozman. She was happy but also fatigued.

“It was definitely challenging keeping our energy up because we were all so tired,” Rozman said,  “but we knew that if we won, we could possibly be second in our district behind Dripping Springs. So we were all super amped knowing what was at stake.”

The fifth set was the only time in the match that the Lions trailed. They mustered the will to erase the deficit and tie the match at 15. The teams were tied at 16. And 17. But after three ties extended the fifth set, the Lions strung together two points to win the set, 19-17, and the match, 3-2.

I think this was the best I’ve ever seen us play.”

— Junior middle hitter Shaine Rozman

It was a loss. But to a player, the Knights said it was their best performance of the season thus far.

“We had the best energy,” Rozman said. “I think this was the best I’ve ever seen us play.”

Wiley agreed.

“For sure, it was the best game we’ve played. [We] just [made] some small errors here and there, but when we were on we crushed it.”

Even head coach Amy Brodbeck offered the same assessment.

“The girls played outstanding. I was super proud of how they played. They were scrappy and smart.”

Rozman said the team wanted this match, and it showed in the hustle and urgency with which the team played. Liana Smoot landed in the bench area twice after leaping out of bounds to keep a ball in play, and she said that Wiley was simply everywhere … covering tips short and going deep to neutralize kill attempts and keep points alive. Wiley had a game high 41 digs, but she wasn’t alone. Three other Knights had double-digit digs: Boswell had 17, Sophia Henderson 13 and senior co-captain Claire Caudill 10.

After middle hitter Liana Smoot got a kill and a point for Mac, her teammates encircle her to celebrate. One of four returning players from last year’s varsity, Smoot has her own cheer. After a Smoot kill, fans chant “Smoot, there it is!” Photo by Selena De Jesus.

On offense, Henderson racked up 42 assists. When she wasn’t setting up the next kill attempt, she was quick to dump the ball in the perfect spot to kill a Lion rally. Boswell led the team with 21 kills and a 29.2 percent kill percentage. Smoot added 12 kills at 26.1 percent.

The Lions brought out the best in these Knights.

“I thought we could beat them if we did our best, and we almost did,” Wiley said. “We just had too many errors and that’s what decided the game basically.”

The Lions consistently threw the first punch, winning the first and third sets and jumping out to a big lead in the fifth. They smartly served away from Wiley and forced other Knights to receive serve. Rozman said that good teams know to serve away from the other team’s libero because liberos are most likely to receive the serve expertly and set up a counter attack.

The Knights weathered that strategy, and Brodbeck also made other adjustments to get her team back in the match. At the beginning of the match, the Knight would send three blockers to the front of the net to set up a wall against a Lion kill shot. Seeing the triple wall, the Lions exploited a weak spot by tipping the ball over the wall for an easy point.

“We adjusted our defense because they kept tipping really short, and the ball kept dropping behind the block,” Rozman said. “We changed to a double block and the third front-row person would cover short.”

When we were on, we crushed it.”

— Senior libero Lindsey Wiley

The Knights also made adjustments on offense to exploit holes in the Lion defense.

“We started hitting towards deep corners where their defense wasn’t,” Rozman said.

After the adjustments, the Knight beat the Lions in the fourth set, a performance that Wiley said was the team’s most quality set of the night.

“We had kills from Preslie and some aces that really put us ahead and gave us the momentum we needed to win the fourth set.”

Boswell had five aces in the match, and Caudill chipped in three while ace server Janael Copeland added two.

“We have some people that will come in specifically to serve and then come back out after we lose a point,” Wiley said. “Janael comes in for one of the middles to serve and after the other team gets the serve back that’s when she comes out, and I come back in. But other than that, usually a back-row player subs in for a front-row player once they reach the back row and they serve instead.”

Despite the 2-1 loss to Lockhart, sophomore libero Kai Hall said the team played one of its best district games of the season: “Our offense was on, and we had a couple of great digs from the back row,” Hall said. “We fought hard against the Lions, and I hope they’re ready for next year.” Reporting by Bella Russo. Photo by Ale Luera.

The varsity’s tight loss was typical of the evening. The JV and the freshmen teams also pushed the Lions to a tiebreaker final set, and both squads also extended the game into extra points after the final set was tied at 24. Unfortunately for the home teams, both lost the decisive set, 26-24.

The matches had a playoff atmosphere or perhaps more accurately the atmosphere of a rivalry game. The intensity was surprising since it’s the first year that Lockhart and McCallum have been in the same district.

The girls played outstanding. They were scrappy and smart.”

— Varsity head coach Amy Brodbeck

Despite the newness of the rivalry, the Lions have emerged as a team that Mac would very much like to beat. At the beginning of the year, the Knights were much more concerned about Tigers than Lions. The arrival of Dripping Springs in District 25-5A attracted much more attention than the arrival of Lockhart.

Perhaps that’s because the Lions are not in McCallum’s football district, but if their entry into the district was unheralded, their play on the volleyball court since has changed that. The Lions volleyball team has blazed through district play. The team’s only loss came against at first-place Dripping Springs on Sept. 21.

Senior co-captain Lindsey said earlier this season that she had two goals for the team this season: make the playoffs and give Dripping Springs a run for its money.

Senior libero and team co-captain Lindsey Wiley uncorks one of her 21 service attempts during the Knights’ 3-2 home loss to Lockhart on Friday night. Wiley had one ace and one service error. She also led the team with 41 digs to bring her district-leading total to 501. Photo by Selena De Jesus.

Two losses to Lockhart earlier this season captured the Knights’ attention. The volleyball program had Oct. 5 circled on its collective calendar since the team endured an ill-fated district road trip to Lockhart on Sept. 11.  The Knights lost on the road that day, 3-1. It was the team’s first district loss, and it was doubly disappointing because the Lions had already beaten these Knights, 2-1, in a non-district tournament match at the Bastrop tournament on Aug. 17.

“We felt like we could’ve played so much better,” Rozman admitted. “We made it our goal to beat them at home because we know we have enough skill to beat them.”

The Knights came close to pulling out the win, but even in defeat they showed a will to win that shows how much this young varsity team has grown together.

Coach Brodbeck instructs the Knight in their post-game huddle, after losing the fifth set of their home match against the Lockhart Lions. The Knights played their best volleyball of the season but came up just short of a key district victory against the team just ahead of them in the standings. Photo by Selena De Jesus.

Rozman is one of a team full of first-year varsity players. Only four players (Wiley, Caudill, Smoot and Henderson) played varsity last year.

“The team has meshed so well together, and I’ve made so many great bonds with my teammates,” Rozman said. “Playing on the varsity level has definitely made me a better player; playing more competitive teams has helped me grow as a player for sure. Especially since junior year is hard, I’ve had to learn a lot about time management balancing school and volleyball. Even though this year has been really hard, I make it one of my top priorities to have fun, and I always have fun playing volleyball.”

While the rest of the season promises to be fun, Wiley has goals in sight for her team. She wants to take a set off Dripping Spring when they travel to the Tigers’ den on Oct. 19, and she wants to win the team’s remaining matches without dropping a set.

They will get a chance to start that streak tonight when the team travels to Crockett to take on the Cougars.

Starmites: A Behind the Scenes Look

In covering the first six performances plus the final dress rehearsal of Starmites: The Musical, we feel we have documented the intergalactic set, the cosmic costumes and the stellar performances of the cast fairly well. But what about the backstage life of our out-of-this-world cast? Thanks to photojournalism students Evelyn Griffin and Bela Tapperson, we are proud to bring you this exclusive backstage pass to Starmites: The Musical. If you haven’t seen it, you still have two opportunities, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

The free art of ATX

Everyone loves art, especially when it’s free, which is the great thing about street art. You may have noticed some driving or walking past. The great thing about Austin is the art, especially of the street variety, which is even more unique, funny, creative, and weird than anywhere else. We are pleased to take you along with Olivia Watts on her adventure to find the best Austin street art in this week’s #TuesdayTop10.

VSA honors Mac junior

Junior Jackson Sutton was awarded the Director’s Commendation at last Sunday’s inaugural Very Special Artists Texas Artist of the Year Awards ceremony at the Sterling Event Center.

The event featured food, live guitar and vocal performers. The guest of honor included Sutton and the other two honored artists, their families and friends, and supportive community stakeholders.

In addition to Sutton’s award, the VSA recognized Jordana Gerlach with the SPARK Award and Joan Fabian with the Haven Allen Artist of the Year Award.

Sutton has long been known for his artwork. His artwork was featured in a March 2017 cover story in the Shield.

Sutton said that in his art pieces, he likes to make the viewer feel a sense of nostalgia, and he combines other elements from older times and current times to convey this idea. Many of his works are also inspired by Jackson’s early fascination with other cultures and peoples, and he specifically draws a lot from Mayan and Latin American art.

In addition to being a visual artist he is also a poet, linguist, composer, writer and philosopher. You can check out his other works at

We are pleased to feature photos from Sunday’s event as this week’s #TuesdayTop10 photo essay. Photos by Ellen Fox, Edward Johnson and Anna McClellan.

The Glenn Glitch

Gabe Williams stood hopefully in the end zone with the football in his arms. The game was over, and he had either scored the game-ending, game-winning touchdown or he hadn’t.

On fourth down with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter and Glenn leading 30-26, Glenn elected to punt the ball. After the punt landed on the field, the clock ran out and the Glenn players and the referees headed off the field.

I think Coach G is a great man and coach. He’s dedicated to this team and to the game. I wouldn’t want any other head coach.”

— Cruz Escobar

Game over.

The way the McCallum players on the field saw it, however, the Grizzlies never touched the ball down, so the ball should have been still live. Hoping it was, Williams scooped it up and ran to the end zone. But the referees had already called the play and the game over.

Even though the Knights didn’t win this one, the game’s final play revealed what the previous two wins had already made clear: the Knights never give up … not until and, in this case even after, the clock runs out.

“I’ll ride with y’all until the wheels fall off no matter what the outcome is,” Coach G told the team after the game.

They never gave up on the game, and they played until the last down. The stick-with-it attitude of this team was proven before when they came from two scores behind to beat Anderson by one point in the Taco Shack Bowl and when they battled their way to score 27 unanswered against Lehman the week after to win 40-27. No matter the circumstances, this Knights team does not give up easy.

This past Thursday, the Knights traveled to Leander to face the Glenn Grizzlies at Gupton Stadium. The team again rallied from two touchdowns down to take a late lead, but the Knights this time did not get the result that they hoped for, losing 30-26. After a back-and-forth game, the Knights nearly completed a crucial third-down pass play in the end zone. But despite the missed opportunity, the Knights had another good night offensively overall, with 258 yards total, 180 of them coming from the passing game.

DAVIS GOES THE DISTANCE: After shedding several tackles, Cole Davis ran the ball in from 14 yards out to score the game tying touchdown. Photo by Grace Nugent

Takai Satberry led the receiving corps with 98 yards on five receptions, and Cruz Escobar and Darius Lewis had touchdown receptions of 25 yards and 36 yards respectively. For Escobar, it was his first touchdown of the year.

“It felt good to get my first varsity touchdown,” Escobar said.  “It’s something I will always remember, and I hope there’s more to come in the future.”

Gabe Williams and Connor Boggs each intercepted a Grizzlie pass during the game. The Knights made several big plays in the game to be in a position to win. The team rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to tie the game at the half and then took the lead on a 3-yard run by Cole Davis, set up by Tino Depaz’s 97-yard kickoff return that opened the second half.

DOWN THE SIDELINE AGAIN: In a play reminiscent of his game-winning touchdown versus Lehman, Takai Satberry makes a long run after making a short catch and eluding Glenn defenders to put the Knight in the red zone late in the fourth quarter. Satberry had five catches for 98 yards for the game. Photo by David Winter.

“I think we played really hard but we had too many mistakes to overcome,” Williams said. ” I think this game taught us that if we don’t come out completely focused we won’t be as successful as we want to be.”

I think this game taught us that if we don’t come out completely focused we won’t be as successful as we want to be”

— Gabe Williams

This is the first year that McCallum has played Leander Glenn. The team continues the toughest portion of its schedule next Friday when it plays arch-rival LBJ to start district play. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Nelson Field. The Knights hope to rebound off this loss and beat LBJ for bragging rights and a chance to get back in the W column.

“Even though we put up one hell of a fight, we ended up beating ourselves,” Escobar said after the game. “From the turnovers to making mistakes on offense and not having good practices the week prior, it cost us.  I think Coach G is a great man and coach. He’s dedicated to this team and to the game. I wouldn’t want any other head coach.”

Lindsey Plotkin
Sophomore Connor Boggs, shown here running back his first-quarter interception, made a huge impact on the game. In the first half alone, he intercepted a pass, knocked down a pass and recovered Glenn’s onside kick attempt. Photo by Lindsey Plotkin.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this story had the location of Friday’s LBJ game wrong. The game is at NELSON FIELD not House Park.

Second time’s the charm

It was going to be a long night. The entire gym, packed with enthusiastic fans donning purple and blue knew it. The parents, who found themselves on the edge of their seats before the two teams had even shook hands, knew it. The volleyball teams and coaches of McCallum and LBJ sure knew it too.

This summer, a streak of wins at the Jason Landers tournament pitted Mac against rivals LBJ in a tightly contested match before school had even started. After a hard fought game taken to the last possible set, the Varsity Volleyball team had claimed the victory for McCallum.

When the two teams faced off again last Friday, McCallum was able to win for a second time.

In Friday’s rematch, the two teams played again under even higher stakes. Not only was it the first game of the district season, but the Knights had to defend their previous win and protect their home turf. Everyone was looking to prove themselves against LBJ once again, and even though the last game had been a success, the Knights knew this time still wouldn’t be easy.  

I knew then that my girls were never going to give up; they were going to fight for it.”

— Head coach Amy Brodbeck

The first set proved the team right. Both teams fought for points in a frantic back and forth that took the set past game point. LBJ eventually pulled ahead to win the game by two, leaving the first set lost 30-28 to LBJ.

Despite the loss of the first set, the varsity picked it up during the second and third sets, winning both 25-18 and 24-16. All McCallum needed to do was win the fourth set to defeat the Jaguars for the second time this season, but LBJ wasn’t going down without a fight.

The fourth set went LBJ’s way, but not before McCallum stormed back from an 11-point deficit early on to make it close. The set ended with a second set win from LBJ 25-20, which would forced the match into a tie-breaking fifth set.

One more set to go, the outcome still in doubt, yet the varsity volleyball team was already proud of its game.  

“We still lost [the fourth set] but to come back and it be only a five-point difference felt amazing,” head coach Amy Brodbeck said about her team’s resilience despite losing the set. “I knew then that my girls were never going to give up; they were going to fight for it.”

The varsity entered the last set in commanding fashion and were able to crush LBJ 15-6, ending the night with a second come-from-behind victory over their rivals and a 1-0 start to the district season.

“Everything that could have gone right went right in the last set,” senior libero Lindsey Wiley said after the game. “We had been up and down, not only in the set but in the whole game, but we were able to come back. It feels amazing.”

The varsity team breaks down their huddle after winning the fifth set against LBJ 15-6. “Great job, I love you all, we’re 1-0 in district, lets go get ’em!” Coach Brodbeck said to her team to end the game. Photo by Bella Russo.

For Coach Brodbeck, the highlight of the night was her team’s tenacity and technical strength, even when the Knights were behind.

“Everybody was just doing fantastic.” Broadbeck added. “The passes were getting there, the sets were there. Everyone had errors, but we just came together, and it seemed to work. It was a team effort.”

When the varsity team came together for the last huddle of the night, the gym was still abuzz with energy.

Everything that could have gone right went right in the last set.”

— Senior libero Lindsey Wiley

“Everybody was super excited and pumped up.” Brodbeck said.” I basically told them, ‘Great job, I love you all; we’re 1-0 in district, lets go get ’em!” 

The varsity team weren’t the only ones to defeat LBJ on Friday as all three subvarsity team’s all defeated the Jaguars: a four-on-the-floor perfect sweep for the night. 

The junior varsity, much like the varsity, got off to a rough start. After losing the first set 25-19, the team was able to recover to dominate the last two, 25-19 and 25-15, to win the match, 2-1.

A gym over, the freshman A team also beat LBJ, 2-1, winning the first set, 25-17, losing the second, 21-25, and brawling it out in the third to win, 25-20.

The freshman B team not only beat one of McCallum’s biggest district rivals, but also won its first game of the season, and accomplished all of this in straight sets.

“I was so excited to finally win a game, and I’m proud of all my teammates in tonight’s game.” freshman Audrey Racine said.

Even though the team is still savoring their victory four days later, Varsity head coach Brodbeck still feels that there is a lot more work to be done before the Knights move on to play the rest of the teams in the district.

I was so excited to finally win a game, and I’m proud of all my teammates in tonight’s game.”

— Freshman Audrey Racine

“I want to be able to try and beat [Dripping Springs],” Brodbeck said. “That is a goal that I have, and I know it’s a goal that my girls have. I want to keep that willingness to never give up, and that willingness to improve. Improving each step of the way is going to get us there.”

In addition to our story, we are pleased to make the volleyball teams four-match sweep of the Jags our #TuesdayTop10 photo essay. In looking through our images, we may have gotten a little carried away and included a few more behind the required 10. We are pretty sure when you see them, you won’t mind. Photos by Lily Dashner, Bella Russo, Winston Pham, Gabby Sherwood, Maeve Walsh

Love #TacoShack, baby!

As students march into the gym for the Taco Shack pep rally, the band blares the school song, the cheer and dance teams perform, and the crowd goes wild. New teams are announced, and the classes compete in the spirit contest. It is Thursday, Aug. 30, the afternoon before the Taco Shack Bowl football game at House Park.

Student sing the school song at the Taco Shack pep rally on Aug. 30 in the large gym. Video by Ellen Fox.

The pep rally started out with McCallum cheers and the introduction of the varsity volleyball team. After, the cheer team performed its dance routine to a Rihanna and Drake mash-up, the Blue Brigade performed its dance to “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga.

Then came time for the hula hooping contest. The four contestants, one of each grade, were freshman Alba Perez, sophomore Blake Houston, junior Ruby Del Valle, and senior Ethan Blanton. With some great hula skills, Houston won the contest for the sophomores.

The Blue Brigade performs to Lady Gaga at the Taco Shack pep rally on Aug. 30 in the large gym. Video by Ellen Fox.

Then, the spirit stick contest started. Each grade yelled their victory battle cry, but in the end, it went to the class ‘19. Confetti poppers went off, and seniors received their spirit stick with pride.

For seniors, it was the ultimate Taco Shack experience, Mac won the decorating contest in the morning and the game in the evening with a thrilling 21-20 comeback victory.

We are pleased to share our exclusive gallery of still photos and videos from the Taco Shack pep rally.

For more videos, check out the MacJournalism YouTube channel.

Still photos by Ian Clennan, Ellen Fox, Gregory James, Sarah Mbaya, Stella Shenkman, Gabby Sherwood, Kristen Tibbetts and Dave Winter.

Video by Ellen Fox.

Not merely freshmen

It is true that the varsity’s 21-20 comeback victory over Anderson on Thursday was Coach G’s first varsity win as head coach, but the freshmen beat the varsity to the punch by providing their coach with his first ever victory as head coach and athletic director when they pulled off their own comeback victory over Anderson the day before at House Park.

Trailing 6-0, the team rallied to win 8-6. And just like the varsity, it was a defensive play that kept the Knights within striking distance so the offense could rally and take the lead for good. Anderson was driving in the third quarter and threatened to go up two touchdowns when they ran a pass play into the south end zone at House Park. Peyton Bergeron cut in front of the intended Anderson receiver and turned a possible touchdown into a pivotal turnover that kept the score, Anderson 6, Mac 0.

The offense took it from there, turning the opportunity into a lead change. Running back Breyonn Wooley ran the ball in for the Knights touchdown and quarterback Jaxon Rosales followed that with a 2-point conversion to capture a lead that became the final margin of victory, 8-6.

We are pleased to share our exclusive pictures from last Wednesday’s game in this week’s #TuesdayTop10. With the exception of Rosales’s game-winning plunge for the two-point conversion, these are new images that we did not post to our Instagram account the day after the game. We hope you enjoy them.


Photos by Marley Angle, Risa Darlington-Horta, Madelynn Nile and Janssen Transier.

Tie broken

Photo gallery images by Ian Clennan, Risa Darlington-Horta, Zoe Hocker, Gregory James, Bella Russo, Stella Shenkman and Dave Winter.

Many people doubted that the McCallum varsity team could be ready to perform in the 2018 Taco Shack Bowl.

The naysayers pointed to the loss of starters on both sides of the ball to graduation, most of the team’s standout players. For that matter, the team’s coaching staff is filled with new faces or old faces in new roles.

It was a lot of change to negotiate before they even took the field in a real game. On Thursday, however, the Knights proved the doubters wrong. They not only beat the Anderson Trojans, 21-20, they overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit. Even when they were down two touchdowns well into the fourth quarter, and even when Anderson drove 96 yards to the McCallum 1-yard line threatening to go up three scores in the fourth quarter, the Knights found a way to prevail over the Trojans for the third year in a row.

BREAKING THROUGH: Cole Davis runs the ball for a huge gain for the Knights that would set up a 16-yard Darius Lewis touchdown. Photo by Bella Russo.

The Knights offense was led by junior quarterback Cole Davis and senior running back Jalen Sutton. The two combined for 288 yards rushing. Davis tallied 150. Sutton’s 88 yards included two touchdown runs, the first to take the lead in the first quarter and the second to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. With contributions from senior Tino Depaz with 39 yards and junior Darius Lewis, who scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard run, the Knights offense ran effectively all night long. The passing offense was less prolific as Davis completed three of seven passes on the night for 76 yards passing. All in all, McCallum won the total yards game with 369 yards to Anderson’s 289.

“When we were down at halftime, and everybody in the locker room was saying ‘We have to pick it up. This is our time to comeback,'” I thought that was a turning point in our game,” Sutton told The Shield after the game. “We should be fine for next week [against Lehman at House Park on Friday]. We’ll be practicing extra hard this week. We’ve got little things to fix but we can fix them.”

When we were down at halftime, and everybody in the locker room was saying ‘We have to pick it up. This is our time to comeback.’ I thought that was a turning point in our game.”

— running back Jalen Sutton

On the defensive side of the ball, the Knights turned the Trojans over on downs several times and forced three fumbles. The game turned on one of those fourth down stops. With Anderson up 13 and facing fourth and goal inside the McCallum 5-yard line, the defense was literally pushed to the brink of defeat. A three-touchdown lead deep in the the fourth quarter would have put the game out of reach.  But instead of yielding, the Knight defense came up huge, stopping Anderson on the 1-yard line on fourth down and ending a 96-yard Anderson drive one yard short of success.

From the 1, the offense drove 99 yards in a length-of-the-field drive that culiminated in Lewis’s touchdown. On the next drive, the Mac defense, created a turnover on a fumble recovery that proved equally essential to the win. On yet another fourth-down conversion attempt by the Trojans, quarterback Carsten Groos handed the ball off to running back Rivas Wheatley, and Connor Boggs got through the offensive line to sack strip the runner and Charlie Pecina dove on the ball giving McCallum possession deep in Anderson territory. The subsequent McCallum drive culminated with Sutton’s 16-yard run and Trinidad de la Garza’s third successful point-after kick that provided the winning margin in the game.

TACO SHACK COMEBACK: Darius Lewis poses as he scores a touchdown to bring the Knights closer to Anderson making the score 20-14 in the fourth quarter. Photo by Bella Russo

“I knew this stop would be big and I was accountable to give it my all,” Pecina said. “Once I saw the ball the ball pop out of my opponents hands I didn’t think, I just jumped and laid out on the ball. I was thinking I that I had to give my 100 percent for my brothers, for my team because I knew the person next to me and our whole team was giving it their all.”

I knew this stop would be big. … Once I saw the ball pop out of the opponent hands I didn’t think, I just jumped and laid out on the ball.”

— defensive end Charlie Pecina

This season the Knight’s slogan is “Carry the Torch.” After the historic 14-1 season last year the Knights program is looking to carry on the success for McCallum football.

“I compare it to the Olympics,” Coach G told The Shield. “One person gets to light the torch on national television, but there are many people that people don’t know about that carry the torch along a leg of the journey. I tell the guys that although their leg of the journey at McCallum football may not be as glorious as last year’s group, but it’s just as important. They have to pass on the tradition to next year’s guys as well.”

The phrase is also personally significant for Gammerdinger, who is quite literally picking up the torch handed to him by departed head coach Charles Taylor, who left the program to become the head coach and athletic director after the 2017 season ended.

Winning the Taco Shack Bowl certainly is a strep forward to carrying the torch as it extended McCallum’s win streak in the series to three. The series between the team now stands at 9-8 in McCallum’s favor. The Taco Shack tradition goes back 17 years to the inaugural game back in the fall of 2002. McCallum and Anderson had been playing each other as district opponents before the Taco Shack Bowl was created, but each year the fighting between the students got worse and worse.

“There was a lot of drama on and off the field between Anderson and McCallum,” Taco Shack owner Orlando Arriaga said. “It escalated where it was getting out of hand, so a mother from Anderson came to me and asked me if I had any ideas how to make this game a positive thing, because one year a small fight had broken out after one game.”

That’s how the Taco Shack Bowl was started. It was a way to take all the fighting and anger and turn it into a fun and sportsmanship driven game. The idea took two years to get off the ground so that it could be approved by all the principals, get the trophy, find a stadium, and get approval by UIL. It was a long process but now it is a vital part of every AISD football season.

CARRY THE TORCH: The Knights huddle up and listen to Coach G as he talks about the game. Photo by Gregory James

Over the years the Taco Shack has had many memorable games. Like in 2004 when the Knights won their first Taco Shack 42-21, or in 2008 when the Knights, just like this year’s game, took the series lead (at the time 4-3) with a 43-42 win over the Trojans. For Orlando Arriaga, however there is one game that stands out in his mind as the most memorable Taco Shack.

“The first game is the most memorable because of all our hard work two years out, and watching that ball get kicked off into the air the first time. That was really a lot of work behind the scenes that got the taco shack bowl kicked off.”

The game was important for the Knights as they are now 1-0 on the season. Coach Gammerdinger said before the game that the win would be important momentum wise for the team and the team that got it would have a lot of momentum going into week 2. The Knights  face Lehman next at House Park, Friday at 7:30

“We played well for our first actual game with new coaches and with a young team,” Charlie Pecina said. “The takeaway from this game is that it doesn’t matter how many more players the other team has or if they are bigger, if you have more heart its going to be a good and close game.”

Cross country season launches in Lockhart

In our first #TuesdayTop10 of the fall semester, photographers Anna McClelland, Katherine Redmond and Gabby Sherwood take you back to early Saturday morning when the cross-country team kicked off its 2018 season with the Lockhart Invitational, a three-kilometer tuneup race at Lockhart City Park. Because it is a tune-up race to prepare for the upcoming season, the race was 1.8 miles long instead of the usual 3.1 miles (or 5 kilometers). Freshman Chris Riley brought home a third-place finish in the 3K race with a time of 10:44. “I didn’t like this course because of the tight turns,” Riley said, “and the heat really made a difference.”

Six photojournalists win national excellence awards


The curators of the wrk x fmly project, a national project involving nearly 1,000 student photographers who submitted more than 2,000 images, have named six McCallum students as Award of Excellence winners for photos they captured while they were 2017-2018 photojournalism students.

The McCallum winners are Catherine Nalle, Kirsten Pacotti, Wyeth Purkiss, Bella Russo, Sarah Slaten and Cole Tilson.

All of the images depicted the interplay between work and family in the lives of the student photographers and their families. Each student winning an Award of Excellence received an award certificate and a $50 honorarium, plus selected images of the awardees were featured on the project website.  It’s the second year that Mac photojournalism students have participated in this project. 

Kirsten Pacotti, Harvesting, 2018
My family lives on an urban farm, so in addition to the jobs we all have, we also have to tend the garden every other evening. In this picture, my dad crouches down on the ground after scolding me for stepping on a mound, which is where seeds grow. He searches intently for any vegetables. I point out THREE times that there is a fairly large zucchini RIGHT THERE. He expresses his excitement when he finally finds it. “Oooh! Look at that,” he chuckles as he cuts off the zucchini.

“Participating in this project made me a lot more conscious of how much of our time at home is spent on work and the time that we spend not socializing as a family because of that,” Nalle said. “The major takeaway for me was ‘How can I help improve the amount of work we are doing at home and how can I bring more of my family into my work?’”

Classmate and fellow Award of Excellence winner Cole Tilson, who had two images identified as winners, agreed.

“I learned just how much work and family intertwine in everyday life,” Tilson said. “It just wasn’t something I thought about much until this project. We often get so caught up in real life that we don’t take a moment to stop and take a look at something like this. … It turns out that pretty much each time work or family can be mentioned, the other can be intertwined or applied as well.”

The McCallum students produced the images as a photojournalism assignment facilitated by professional photojournalist Brandon Thibodeaux, whose portrait work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and many other publications.

Cole Tilson, Trapped in a Prison, 2018
My mom was bucked by a horse and had a concussion. She couldn’t watch TV or listen to music or podcasts. In the picture, she is using my laptop to listen to white noise to keep her head from hurting. The whole experience was horrible, as you can tell from the expression on her face.

“One of my favorite parts of the wrk x fmly project was talking to Brandon and getting to learn about his career as a professional photojournalist,” Russo said. “His work documenting refugees crossing the border was really interesting, and he gave lots of advice about the project when critiquing our photos.”

Because he was often on assignment during as the class completed the project, Thibodeaux communicated with the students via video conference using the web application, Zoom. While the students were taking their images for the project, for example, Thibodeaux was on assignment taking pictures of Oklahoma teachers striking for higher wages for The New York Times.

Thibodeaux said he was impressed with the students’ photographs and the captions they wrote to provide the larger context in which the images were situated.

“[The McCallum] students had exceptional work this year,” said Thibodeaux, who added that he hopes to return to Mac as a photo facilitator with the project next year.

Associate Director for Program Development and Partnerships Barbara Filion shared Thibideaux’s assessment of the photojournalism classes’ work.

Sarah Slaten, Far Fetched, 2018
In January, we got my dog, River. She has become the fourth most important member of our family. We all contribute to taking care of her and a lot of our family time is spent with her.

“Your classes produced amazing work,” Filion wrote in an email to photojurnalism teacher Dave Winter. Filion also said that every participating photojournalism student at Mac produced at least one image that was incorporated into the wrk + fmly project archive.

While the six award winners were pleased to have won, they also said that the real award came from the process of doing the project.

“My favorite part of the project was getting to spend extra time with my family and really examining and thinking about our time together,” said Slaten, the only Mac student who had three images chosen for the gallery.

Nalle agree that the photography assignment wasn’t just a way to document work and family. It was a way to bring the two together for her and her family.

Wyeth Purkiss, Feeling the Power on the Water, 2018
Feeling the power on the water. The whole family — my brother (Mason), dad (Chris), mom (Sarah), and I — took a boat ride around the Rockland, Maine, harbor. This was the first and only time that Mason would ever ride on a boat. On the water, Mason was so peaceful; he didn’t have any seizures during the trip. He was there — present and enjoying the wind. He loved nature and enjoyed looking at the trees. “The harbormaster was taking people out for tours around the harbor and to the lighthouse, and he was totally chill about taking Mason out,” his parents said. This was a treasured moment for the family.

“My favorite part of working on this project was the actual photographing process,” Nalle said. “I sort of made it a whole event for my family. I had studied when and where certain events in our daily routine would be available to photograph, and I made a schedule of when to shoot each photo based on when the best natural lighting would be and when it would look the most realistic to what we usually do.”

The students learned about their families to be sure but they also learned a lot about photography.

“I think the most important thing I took away from the project was how different the intersections between work and family could be represented visually,” Russo said. “I learned that there are many different ways to get your point across in photography, and that sometimes the little things that you may overlook every day have the potential to tell a story.”

For Tilson, the photography assignment provided a creative outlet and an opportunity for inquiry.

Katie Nalle, Two Screens, 2018
My mom is working in front of the TV at night. Even though she works a nine to five job and does overtime, she still has to work very late at home sometimes as well.

“My favorite part was probably taking the pictures themselves,” Tilson said. “I don’t take pictures often in my own time, so this was somewhat refreshing for me, and as I have a relatively creative personality, it was a welcome change. The planning stage wasn’t that bad either as it allowed me to actually think through the implications of both work and family in my life.”

Purkiss, another Award of Excellence winner, said he enjoyed the process of taking the photos but also the process of describing the images after he had captured them.

My favorite part of the work and family project was the actual process of taking the pictures and thinking how to make the photos best,” Purkiss said. “I learned to shoot and capture the environment and details to enrich the photo. I also really enjoyed the writing of the captions and thinking of details that help tell the story of the photograph. What I learned and took away from the experience is that in order for a photo to tell a story you have to write with rich details.

Fellow winner Kirsten Pacotti, who joined Purkiss and Tilson in having two images selected as winners, also said she most enjoyed explaining the context behind her images. 

My favorite part of work and family was writing the captions. I think I learned how to write captions better. I feel like I gained experience with writing with this project. [Plus,] It was fun to write about our daily lives in a comedic manner. I liked being able to spend time with my family for a school project.”

In other words she liked being able to work and spend time with her family at the same time, rather than having to choose one over the other, which is what the whole project is all about.

Bella Russo, Magnets, Memories and Milestones, 2018
A menagerie of family vacation photos is pinned in commemoration on our fridge, next to an email congratulating my father on 17 (17!) years at his company. My parents work a lot, but they strike me as very “vacation motivated” people. Many of our most cherished family memories are the ones we make when my parents are many miles or oceans away from their jobs. When we return home, my dad goes back to planning our next adventure, taking lunch breaks to research flights and look at travel guides.

We have reached out to the wrk+fmly curators to find out which Mac photoj images were chosen for the the 2018 project archive. Once we know, we will include a gallery of those images here.

Graduation Gallery 2018

Mac held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2018 on Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center on the UT campus. The day was filled with the staple elements of a Mac graduation. The band played “The Spar Spangled Banner,” and the choir sang John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “In My Life.” Superintendent Paul Cruz, principal Mike Garrison, salutatorian Niko Leuba-Jones and valedictorian Davis Roe each celebrated the past year and the McCallum experience. Mr. Garrison reported that the class had been offered just shy of $16 million in college scholarships. Enough with the words, right? Check out our gallery of the best images we captured from this rite of passage for the members of the Class of 2018.