Knights win silver bracket title at Bastrop tourney

David Winter
Russo and Smoot prepare to return a serve during the Knights’ 3-0 season opening victory over Killeen Shoemaker on Aug. 6.

If you thought the varsity volleyball team was going to fold up its tents after not making the gold bracket of the Bastrop ISD 2019 Varsity Tournament, then you were wrong.

After struggling on Friday in three tough matches, the Knights came out with a purpose on Saturday.

“We went out flat on Friday,” senior outside hitter Liana Smoot told MacJournalism after Saturday’s Silver Bracket tournament title.

“We did really good on Thursday, so we had our guards down. Today, we had that motivation to win because we didn’t make it to the gold bracket, so it was our goal to win the silver bracket. We also had played Hendrickson before, and they beat us, so we wanted redeem ourselves.”

[The Stony Point match] was one of the most exciting and best games we’ve ever played.”

— senior outside hitter Liana Smoot

The Knights checked off both boxes, but it wasn’t easy.

After defeating Lubbock Cooper in straight sets, 25-21, 25-20, the Knights were down a set and down 11-5 in the second against Stony Point.

Smoot said they were able to fight their way back into the match and keep the serve.

“That was one of the most exciting and best games we’ve ever played. The coaches and parents were saying, ‘That was real volleyball,’ and we gave it our all the whole game. Neither team really made mistakes.”

When McCallum has it rolling, Smoot said, “it looks like constant moving, yelling and playing. No ball hits the floor, everyone is hustling and doing everything they can to keep the ball in play.”

According to junior Bridget Russo who played libero for five of the tournament matches and defensive specialist for three, the team is at its best when it plays up tempo.

“We are all communicating, celebrating our highs and coming together between points,” Russo said. “We are at the top of our game when we work together as a team, meaning that we are talking and moving together.”

We are at the top of our game when we work together as a team, meaning that we are talking and moving together.”

— junior libero/defensive specialist Bridget Russo

Match point came on a Preslie Boswell block that went straight to the ground before a Stony Point player could dig it.

Russo said the Knights played their hardest against Hendrickson in a two-set championship-clinching sweep. Smoot said the team found another level they did not get to in the team’s first meeting.

“We were able to hit around their block better today. We also served more aggressive, which made them struggle in serve-receive,” Smoot said, adding that the team played with more energy than they did the first time.

When we asked Smoot to offer a game ball for today’s success, she said it should go to junior setter Sophia Henderson. “She made some great sets today and some great assists,” Smoot said. “She even got some blocks in the front row as a 5-foot-4 setter.”

Smoot said Henderson is an all-around great player who always stays positive, always plays the whole game and is always hustling.

She made some great sets today and some great assists. She even got some blocks in the front row as a 5-foot-4 setter.”

— Smoot

Russo singled out the outside hitters, Smoot and Boswell, for their consistency on the court.

“We can always rely on our outside hitters,” Russo said.

Even though they had their first day of classes during the day, the Knights are back at home this evening when they will take on St. Andrew’s.

The match is a change for the Knights to avenge a narrow defeat at the hands of the Highlanders at the AISD Jason Landers Tournament on Aug. 8. In perhaps its most competitive match of the tournament, Mac battled toe to toe with St. Andrew’s before falling in a tiebreak set, 25-22, 20-25, 25-16. Smoot had 10 kills in the match.

Since it’s a home game [tonight], the crowd support will hopefully give us the energy we need to play a good solid match.”

— Russo

“We were really hoping to beat them when we played them the first time,” Russo said. “Since we lost, we are now more determined to beat them. We now know what to expect when we play them and will play harder and with more energy than we did the first time. Also, since it’s a home game, the crowd support will hopefully give us the energy we need to play a good solid match.”

The varsity plays at 7:30 p.m. preceded by the freshman A team at 5:30 p.m. and the JV at 6:30. Smoot encouraged all fans to come out and support her team because they will continue to improve.

“We are going to work our butts off, and we are going to do the most during district and during playoffs.”

— with reporting by Isabella Dietz




Mac learns tough lessons at Landers Invitational

After  placing second in their pool yesterday at the Austin Sports Center, the varsity volleyball team moved on to play against other first and second place teams on the second day of the Jason Landers Invitational at the Delco Center.

With tournaments like this, especially at the very beginning [of the season], you get to see where everybody fits and works well together and what we need to improve on. This is teaching us early on that we can’t just be satisfied, we need to push ourselves to improve throughout the game.”

— Varsity head coach Amy Brodbeck

As they did on Thursday, the Knights played three games today. The first was an Instant Taco Shack match made possible when Anderson and Mac were placed in the same bracket after they both finished in the first half of their brackets on Thursday.

Against the Trojans, the Knights started strong, taking an early lead, but falling short and losing the first set 25-23 and then having a repeat of the first set in the second, losing 25-23 both times. 

The Knights didn’t have much time to dwell on losing to their nextdoor rival. In their second game, which immediately followed the first, the Knights took on the very strong El Paso Tigers, losing in straight sets again, 25-8 and 25-15.

“With tournaments like this, especially at the very beginning [of the season], you get to see where everybody fits and works well together and what we need to improve on,” head coach Amy Brodbeck said. “This is teaching us early on that we can’t just be satisfied, we need to push ourselves to improve throughout the game.” 

After the Knight had about an hour break, they returned to Delco Center Court 2 to face the Giddings Lady Buffs. The Knights defeated Giddings 25-22, 25-19.

“Coming back from playing back to back was tiring for everyone,” junior Preslie Boswell said. “We all came together for the last game and finished the day strong.”

Varsity volleyball at Day 2 of the Jason Landers Invitational tournament

Outside hitters Liana Smoot and Preslie Boswell led the Knights with 29 combined kills for the day and Sophia Henderson helped the scoring effort with 35 assists. 

The Knights ended up finishing third in today’s pool behind first-place El Paso, which went 3-0 in the group and Anderson, which finished second at 2-1 for the day.

Coming back from playing back to back was tiring for everyone. We all came together for the last game and finished the day strong.”

— junior outside hitter Preslie Boswell

The Knights’ end result on Friday was much like its Thursday result. The Knights also ended up 1-2 on Day 1 of the tournament at the Austin Sports Center.

After losing in two competitive sets to Vista Ridge, 25-20, 25-19, in a morning match, the Knights rebounded to sweep San Antonio Marshall, 25-11, 26-24. In perhaps the most competitive match of the day, Mac battled toe to toe with St. Andrew’s before falling in a tiebreak set, 25-22, 20-25, 25-16.

A few statistical highlights: Against Vista Ridge, junior defensive specialist Brienna Martinez had 12 digs. Against Marshall, Henderson was a dual threat with 11 digs to go with 10 assists. In the St. Andrew’s contest, Smoot had 10 kills. 

For Saturday’s final day of the tournament, El Paso is in the Gold Bracket, and Anderson is in the Silver Bracket. McCallum will play in the Bronze backet. Based on their third-place finish, they earned a bye and will play the winner of the game between Hendrickson and McCarthur at 11 a.m. at Delco Center. 

If the Knights win that game, they will play for the Bronze title at 2 p.m. If they lose, they will play for third place in the bracket at 1 p.m.




RBI Austin blazes to Florida for RBI World Series




Houston returns to coach at his alma mater

We’ll call it a comeback.

2008 Mac alum Jarred Houston has returned to Sunshine Drive as a member of the athletic coaching staff, Houston announced via Twitter on Monday.

It’s a dream come true: to have the opportunity to be able to come back and pour into lives. I’m beyond thrilled!”

— Coach Jarred Houston on coming back to Mac

Houston knows a little something about comebacks as it pertains to Mac football.

On Nov. 2, 2007, Houston was a senior running back on a Knights team that trailed the Travis Rebels, 28-0, at halftime. Two quarters and four overtime periods later, the Knights had outscored the Rebels, 43-7, to secure a 43-35 victory that kept the Victory Bell on the north side.

Former AISD athletic director and Travis quarterback and head football coach Tommy Cox called the 4-OT thriller “one of the best high school games that I ever saw.”

Howard Payne University Athletics
Houston played defensive back in college first at Howard Payne and later at Sam Houston State. He recorded 10 tackles, 3 unassisted, playing for the Yellow Jackets as a freshman in 2008.

Houston told MacJournalism he could not be happier to be back at Mac.

“It’s a dream come true: to have the opportunity to be able to come back and pour into lives. I’m beyond thrilled!”

Houston said in his tweet that he will serve in the fall as the varsity co-special teams coordinator and as a wide receivers coach. In the spring, he will serve as the boys head track coach. The past two seasons, Houston served on the football coaching staff at Elgin High School.

Houston said the 2007 Battle of the Bell victory was his fondest memory as a Mac player, but MacJournalism uncovered that Houston had many other highlight moments while wearing blue and gray on Friday nights.

After the joy that comes with accomplishing personal bests throughout a season, my favorite memory would be standing on the medal stand at the district track meet.”

— Coach Jarred Houston on his favorite memory running Mac track

According to The Allandale Neighbor, on Sept. 17, 2007, Houston rushed for 108 yards on 13 carries in leading the Knights to a 42-14 win over Lanier in the team’s district opener. According to the sports website at Howard Payne University, one of two colleges where Houston played football, Houston was an all-district running back and also made the all-district academic team in his senior year.

He also excelled in track and field as a sprinter. When asked to recall his favorite track experience, Houston told MacJournalism, “After the joy that comes with accomplishing personal bests throughout a season, my favorite memory would be standing on the medal stand at the district track meet.”

In addition to coaching football and track, Houston will serve as a special education teacher in the SCORES program.




Rudy named to Academic All-American swim team

Class of 2019 graduate Claire Rudy learned on June 12 that she had been named to the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America Academic ALL-AMERICA Team.

According to the coaches’ association, there are more than 342,294 students involved in high school aquatics, and only 2% of them are named high school All-Americans, which means that there is only one word to describe how Claire did in all of her McCallum classes: swimmingly!




Tibbetts tandem talks tennis together

Kristen Tibbetts: Is it OK if I record this interview?

ST: No. Ah, you’re recording! That’s illegal.

KT: Steven, please.

ST: Yes. You really didn’t have to ask me that.

KT: OK. Where do you play tennis?

ST: I play tennis at McCallum High School, and I play tennis at MAC 360 Tennis Academy.

I would preferably barely make the starting lineup in my first year and work my way up. But, even in my senior year, I probably still wouldn’t want to be the best player on the team. That was my goal, and I think I found that at Southwestern.”

— senior tennis player Steven Tibbetts on his ideal college tennis program

KT: Where else have you played throughout your tennis career?

ST: I played at Westwood Country Club.

KT: Why did you start playing tennis?

ST: I was a very competitive kid, and my dad is a tennis coach. Your dad is a tennis coach. So that helped me get started with it, and I just liked it. I like playing an individual sport because I get to play all the time.

KT: What do you remember from when you first started playing tennis?

ST: When I first started? I just remember playing with Mom in our cul-de-sac. We just hit a tennis ball around [in the street].

KT: How do you think having your dad as a coach has helped, or possibly hurt you?

ST: It helped me because it’s probably the only way I would have gotten into tennis or even known about tennis really. It didn’t really hurt at all because he just wanted to be a dad and not my tennis coach. I also just wanted him to be Dad and not Coach, so that worked out pretty well.

KT: What are the differences between playing for McCallum and playing for MAC 360?

ST: I practice a lot more at MAC 360. There really isn’t that much difference. At McCallum, the fall season is team-based, so I don’t get to count that for USTA [United States Tennis Association] or anything. I play a lot more tournaments in USTA than I play high school tournaments. There’s a ranking for USTA.

KT: What rank are you?

ST: I’m in the top 50, but I’m not sure exactly. I’m somewhere in the 40s in Texas.

Kristen Tibbetts
Steven Tibbetts won first place in the boys singles tournament at Bastrop on Jan. 26, 2018. Photo by Kristen Tibbetts.

KT: Can you walk me through your schedule on an average week?

ST: In an average week I practice 18 hours. Twelve of those are at MAC 360, and that goes Monday through Thursday. I practice the other six hours over the weekends. From Friday to Sunday, I play two of the days and usually take one off.

KT: What are some of your memories from freshman year tennis at McCallum?

ST: I remember playing line two when I should have been line one, but [by the end of the year] I got to play line one. That was pretty cool. I remember that year at districts I beat Connor Teseny, who was the second-best guy on the team. He was a senior. Then, I lost two other matches to LBJ players, so I got third in districts, and I was one away from making it to regionals. I remember that in the fall [of that year], we got third place behind LBJ and Bastrop. We got killed by LBJ, but we barely lost to Bastrop for second place and ended up getting third. Then, we got clapped in the playoffs. I remember we didn’t win a single match. Aaron [Baldauf] and I were pretty close to winning our doubles, but we barely lost. I didn’t get to play my singles, though. If I had gotten to play my singles, we would have won a match.

KT: Why didn’t you get to play?

ST: Because it was already over. We got clapped so bad. Honestly, though, it was probably the best year that we had as a team.

I like how you can directly tell how good you are because it is individual. It’s not like ‘Is my team carrying me?’ or ‘Am I carrying the team?’ because I can tell exactly how good I am.”

— Steven Tibbetts on why he likes tennis

KT: And then the next year your stupid little sister joined.

ST: And she kind of ruined it. No, actually I think last year was the best year.

KT: The team placed third in districts last year, right?

ST: We got third every year, except for fourth this year because they changed our district. They added Dripping Springs and Lockhart, and we lost to both of them. That’s the other different thing [between club tennis and high school tennis]. In high school, I know beforehand if the team will lose or win, and most of the time I know if I will lose or win as an individual. In club tennis, USTA, it’s more up in the air.

KT: Do you prepare differently for club tennis and high school tennis?

ST: Nope. I feel a little bit more pressure for high school tennis, I guess.

KT: You recently went to the Capital Area Tennis Association (CATA) banquet and received an award. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

ST: I won the Capital Area Professionals Tennis Association [CAPTA] scholarship for $500, and I got the McCallum High School male MVP award. [Senior Vivian Williams won the female MVP award].

KT: How did you apply for the scholarship?

ST: I submitted a resume, an essay, and Coach Purkiss and Coach Barber wrote a recommendation letter for me. I also submitted my transcript.

KT: How did you know that you wanted to play tennis in college?

ST: It was always a goal of mine to play in college, ever since I started playing really.

Elisha Scott
Senior Steven Tibbetts won all three of his matches (6-0) (6-0) at the district tournament. He later went on to achieve third overall at the 5A Region IV tournament at Blossom Tennis Center in San Antonio after winning his first two matches (6-4), (6-1) and (6-0), (6-0) and then losing his semifinal match two sets to one and winning his last. “I was impressed with Steven’s performance, no opponent won a game off of him,” Purkiss said. “From Steven, who is the most experienced, all the way to the new players, everyone played really hard and tried their best. It was a great performance overall for the team.”

KT: What schools were you looking for?

ST: Preferably a school where I would make the team, obviously. I would preferably barely make the starting lineup in my first year and work my way up. But, even in my senior year, I probably still wouldn’t want to be the best player on the team. That was my goal, and I think I found that at Southwestern.

KT: What line do you think you will play next year at Southwestern?

ST: It won’t be easy to be starting my first year, but I think I can do it. There are six lines in singles, so I could see myself being five or six. We’ll see. Then, in doubles, I could be line three, which is the last line in the starting lineup.

KT: How is Southwestern ranked?

ST: They are about 30th in Division III in the nation and second best in the conference.

KT: Who’s first?

ST: Trinity.

KT: Is that a big rivalry?

ST: No, not really, because Trinity always beats them. Southwestern beat them once last year, though.

KT: I know you were also considering going to Trinity. What made you chose Southwestern?

ST: Southwestern was a lot cheaper because they offered me a much bigger scholarship. Also, I think at Southwestern I will be able to play my first year. At Trinity, that would be unlikely for my first few years.

KT: Do you think that you’ll be able to beat Trinity in the next few years?

ST: I don’t think we have a great shot next year, but maybe in three years. Southwestern got a bunch of really good freshman last year, so by the time they are seniors, Trinity will lose a lot of their best players.

KT: How would your life be different if you didn’t play tennis?

ST: I would have a lot more time, but I would be bored a lot if I didn’t play tennis. I would definitely play another sport, though.

In high school, I know beforehand if the team will lose or win, and most of the time I know if I will lose or win as an individual. In club tennis, USTA, it’s more up in the air.”

— Steven Tibbetts on the difference between high school and club tennis

KT: What would be your second choice?

ST: Soccer, even though I’ve always felt that baseball would be my best sport. Unfortunately, it’s the most boring sport in the world.

KT: Do you want that on the record?

ST: Yes.

Dave Winter
Graduate Steven Tibbetts is headed to Southwestern after getting his diploma and shaking principal Mike Garrison’s hand at the commencement ceremony at the Erwin Center on May 29.

KT: Why did you choose tennis over the other sports?

ST: I thought it was the sport I would be best at, and I like how you can directly tell how good you are because it is individual. It’s not like “Is my team carrying me?” or “Am I carrying the team?” because I can tell exactly how good I am. I can say “I am a top 30 senior in Texas,” and it’s kind of indisputable.

KT: That’s all based on your record, right?

ST: Yeah.

KT: Do you ever feel the pressure of changing your record when you’re playing tournaments?

ST: Not while I’m playing. I mostly think about if I’m going to damage my self esteem or if I’ll be sad or happy.

KT: What has been your happiest moment?

ST: There was one USTA tournament where I won singles and doubles. It was a long time ago, but it was probably my happiest moment.

KT: When was that?

ST: It was when I was 14, I think.

KT: That was around the time your sister started playing tennis with you. What was that like?

ST: Awful because she’s really bad. You need to put that in there.

KT: I will.




A fresh starter

He hangs his head and crumples his dusty white and blue hat in his hands. His feet drag along the red clay dirt beside first base. He stares at the scoreboard then back at the first baseman’s mitt that covers his fingers and palm. Sweat stings his eyes and the sun pierces through his tinted Oakley glasses.

All around, he sees the mark and the colors of his opponents, the signs that say “Go Tigers!” and the brown and gold logos that dot the stands. He is oblivious to the crowd sitting on the bleachers watching him intently. He is oblivious to the opposing teams in the dugout chanting names and yelling the occasional “Get ‘em kid!”

Grace Nugent
A starting pitcher for the JV teams, Honea put on a first-baseman’s mitt to play where his varsity coaches needed him to play.

It’s the bottom of the eighth inning, and the score is tied a 6; his opponent has two runners on base, two strikes, and two outs.

[Andy] can catch, he can pitch, he can play the infield, and if it is necessary he can play the outfield. Oh, and he’s a great hitter, too.”

— Honea's JV1 teammate Jaxon Rosales

His team had led 5 -1 early in the game, and looked poised to sweep one more district series and keep their undefeated district record in tact, but the lead had evaporated, just a painful memory, overwhelmed by reminders of his three trips to the plate in the game: all strikeouts.

There would be no shot at redemption on this day as the next batter swings and slams a dinger over the left field fence. Walk-off home run. That’s the game. He stumbles to the dugout, sits down in the darkness and buries his head in his hands. He tries to shake off the three strikeouts he acquired on the day, but they keep playing back in his mind like a snippet of an old movie.

For freshman baseball player Andy Honea, the game is an aberration. A bad day in an otherwise breakout freshman season. We tell this story not because it’s the ending, but rather because it’s the obstacle to be overcome. In a year that began with Honea playing freshman ball and ended up with him starting for the varsity, he’s shown a penchant for overcoming obstacles and reaching goals.

Grace Nugent
Honea headed for third (as in his third Mac team this season) when the coaches called him up to varsity.

He’s been playing baseball since elementary school. He played T-ball, little league and select baseball; pretty much whatever he could do to swing a bat. His parents started him off young and have supported him ever since; always in the stands cheering and providing enthusiasm.

However, the real story lies within Andy’s freshman high school baseball experience. The McCallum Knights varsity baseball team won its ninth consecutive district title this year and Honea was a part of that… but not at first.

I feel like we are a family. I’m a family with varsity, JV1 and freshman. It’s cool I’m like the only guy who has played with everyone.”

— freshman Andy Honea

He started off at the lowest level of high school baseball; JV2, also known as freshman ball. There he played with his old Little League buddies and was rotated through position after position.

“He really brings a sense of unity, and he lifts up other players,” freshman teammate Hudson Koch said.

On the freshman team Honea faced non-district opponents such as Austin High, Pflugerville and Bowie; each opponent brought tough defenses and formidable hitters. Although his team lost games, Honea came out and brought his all, whenever he was on the field or in the dugout.

People noticed. Honea and a few of his fellow teammates were asked to start playing on the next team up, JV1. “Andy brought everything to the team because he can catch, he can pitch, he can play the infield and if it is necessary he can play the outfield,” JV1 teammate Jaxon Rosales said. “Oh, and he’s a great hitter too.”

So Honea jumped up to JV1 and started playing tougher opponents. He still pitched but now his focus was on first and third base. Although he played on a different team he still kept up with everyone. “I feel like we are a family,” Honea said. “I’m a family with varsity, JV1 and freshman. It’s cool I’m like the only guy who has played with everyone.”

A few games into Honea’s stint with JV1, the varsity roster suddenly thinned at the first-base position. The varsity coaches, Grant and Searle, needed to find someone who could step up and fill that void.

Each different level of baseball brings out a different angle of ability in a player. On the freshman team, Honea showed his leadership qualities and attributes on the mound and at the plate. He built up his other teammates and encouraged them to be better players. Then on JV1 Andy figured out how to expand his role from pitching to different positions. All of this lead up to his varsity debut.

Annabel Winter
Honea delivers a pitch the second game of the JV2’s doubleheader loss to the Bowie Bulldogs at the McCallum baseball field on March 9.

“You’re going to be going with us on varsity from now on,” Coach Grant told Honea, and with those words, Honea’s first season at McCallum forever changed.

“Andy is very steady and even-keeled. He will not be affected by a fielding error or a bad at-bat. It never changes his game.”

— Coach Steve Searle

Of course Honea was shocked and honored to hear these words. He may not have known, but the varsity coaches had observed his potential, and his hard work paid off.

“Andy was consistently swinging the bat really well, no matter what level he was playing,” varsity assistant coach Steve Searle said.

But the head on his shoulders is perhaps more valuable than the bat in his hands.

“He also is very steady and even-keeled,” Searle said. “He will not be affected by a fielding error or a bad at-bat. It never changes his game.”

One of Honea’s goals at the beginning of the season was to start and make an impact on whatever team he played on. He accomplished this goal. Although he only played nine games on varsity, Honea earned honorable mention all-district honors, with a batting average of .368 and a perfect fielding percentage. Honea made his mark on varsity, helping secure the district clinching win against Dripping Springs and thanks to a torrential rainstorm that moved the location and start time of the Knights’ opening playoff game, a return to Dripping Springs Tiger Stadium and a shot at redemption.

This time his day at Tiger Stadium would be different.

Grace Nugent
He may have had to move from the mound to first base, but Honea was comfortable at the plate at all three levels this season.

He proudly put on his worn white batting helmet and cinched up his gloves. He walked up to the plate, sighed, and took his stance. The pitcher was trying to psyche him out, but it was to no avail. He was ready for the slider, curveball, fastball or changeup. Dirt and grime had built up on his hairline and he smelled faintly of sweat and sunflower seeds. He was focused on smashing the ball as far as possible. He still saw the brown and gold colors that cover the stands, he may have been at the same field where he had failed earlier, but it was a different opponent and this time he was ready to dominate.

Andy really brings a sense of unity, and he lifts up other players.”

— Honea's freshman teammate Hudson Koch

This was his game, his time. His grip tightened on the the bat and his cleats buried next to home plate. In place of K’s, contact and results.

He jogs into the dugout and earns some helmet slaps and a few “nice job kid”’s. By the end of the night, Honea lead the Knights with four RBI’s. The team wasn’t as lucky by game’s end, but Honea had earned a personal victory with a terrific game and the venue where he had suffered his worst day of the season.

It was his finest varsity moment on the biggest stage: the first round of state playoffs.

For Honea, it was a good way to end his season’s journey from JV2 to varsity in one season. It’s a long road, especially for a freshman, but it was certainly a home run for him and for his team.

Sophomore season, filled with optimism and hope, awaits next spring.

Grace Nugent
Honea’s future with Mac baseball is so bright …. well, you get the idea.




In Selena we trust

11 p.m. Selena De Jesus sits down at the computer; her older brother and mother are sound asleep in the other room. The house is silent. Selena has just gotten back from her volleyball games. She begins sorting through the hundreds of photos she took.

11:30 p.m. She selects seven photos at a time and uploads them onto an email to send to Mr. Winter, the photojournalism teacher at McCallum. The mouse is clicking in the silence of the house. Each second feels like a minute. Selena has not yet figured out how to use Flickr.com, a website that stores photos. As Selena stares at the clock, willing it to stop, she regrets not learning how to do it.

 

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GLAZED AND PRAISED: Fifth-period photojournalism students Selena De Jesus, Dashel Beckett, Viv Osterweil, Izzy Wolf and Gracie Jones enjoyed thank-you doughnuts for the 111 photo credits the class earned on Macjournalism’s online platforms during the first six-week grading period. Fifth-period had a huge lead in the photoj class contest against the third- and fourth-periods, but the A-Day classes caught up after a slow start. “At first we all thought we were going to win,” De Jesus said, “but fourth period pulled off the impossible and beat us by one credit.” Fourth-period will enjoy a Chick-Fil-A lunch in appreciation for their 112 photo credits tomorrow. Third-period earned a respectable 90 during the first six weeks. Photos by Maeve McGeady and Olivia Capochiano. #dayinthelifeatmac #MACphotoj #photoj #macjournalism

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11:45 p.m. The Internet begins to slow. The loading sign seems to mock her as she waits for the attachments to load. Today is the last day of the first six weeks grading period of her freshman year. Her class trails fourth period but only by a few photo credits that she could earn if she can just send the emails in time. In order to win a breakfast party for her fifth period photojournalism class, she must send these photos.

12:07 a.m. Done! Selena glances at the clock, and her heart drops. Too late. She feels disappointed in herself. Only seven minutes too slow. The final score of the winner of the photojournalism competition was only one credit away, but it was too late to catch them.

Anna Bausman
Freshman Selena De Jesus on a assignment as the varsity volleyball topples the Reagan Raiders for a road victory on Oct. 12.

At most of the volleyball games, basketball games and other school events, it is very common to see Selena De Jesus standing on the side of the court, camera in her hands. She is always a comforting sight to many of the players.

“The teams get used to her taking pictures because she takes them so often,” Mr. Winter said. She gets better pictures because the players are just so relaxed. “They see Selena with the camera and they’re like ‘Oh! Of course.’”

Although she seems so comfortable taking pictures now, it wasn’t always that way.

“When I started, my pictures weren’t as good as they are now,” Selena says. “I used to take pictures of everything and everyone, but now I am more focused and get clearer pictures.”

As a photojournalist, taking pictures is not all Selena had to do. She also has to write captions, create stories and collect interviews from the people in her photos.

Selena De Jesus
Freshman Selena De Jesus earned an Interscholastic League Press Conference Individual Award in the print newspaper sports reaction category for this picture of the varsity girls celebrating their road victory over LBJ. Photo by Selena De Jesus.

According to Mr. Winter, “Selena’s biggest area of improvement has to be her caption writing.

“We used to have to work to get her captions up to speed with her photos,” Winter said but now, Selena goes the extra mile to help Mr. Winter out. “It’s super helpful. She just does it all. She knows how to get a really good quote from the players and collect all of the details from the game in order to write a good caption.”

Selena has only just started taking pictures this year. This hobby was never her first priority. Sports were. Playing volleyball, basketball, and track is already creating a busy schedule.

But Selena goes above and beyond! She stays after her games just to take pictures to support the Macjournalism Instagram and staff.

This isn’t even all that she does, she still has school! She is first and foremost a student who has to finish her homework, complete projects and study for quizzes and tests. In addition to being success on the court as a player and on the sideline as photographer, she has also excelled in the classroom.

 

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FIFTH TAKES THE THIRD: Fifth-period photojournalism students enjoyed the fruits of their photojournalistic labor today as they received a complimentary @chickfila breakfast for earning the most #macjournalism Insta credits for the previous grading period. It was a particularly close contest. Fourth period pulled to within one photo credit at 164-163 after school on Dec. 14, the last day of the third grading period. Photoj rock star Selena De Jesus covered the girls varsity basketball game against Lockhart and earned the credits that clinched the win for fifth. MVPs Anna Bausman and Kennedy Weatherby led the scoring effort racking up boys basketball credits throughout the grading period. Third and fourth period will try to supplant fifth period for #photoj supremacy in the fourth six weeks. Fourth period leads for the year with two wins to fifth period’s one. Photos by Dave Winter. #dayinthelifeatmac

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Selena led her class effort in the second six weeks grading period, but it wasn’t enough as her class again fell to fourth period. In the third six week grading period, her class held a narrow lead but fourth period was gaining on them. Late on Dec. 14, the last day of the grading period, fourth period pulled within to within one credit at 164-163.

Selena shut the door on the contest by covering the girls varsity basketball game against Lockhart, and no faulty computer problems were going to stop her this time.

Since then, she’s photographed track and field, the AVID cording ceremony and the fourth annual Ballet Folklorico quinceañera.

“She is just a dream student,” Winter said. “She goes so far beyond what the class requirements are. It makes you feel good about being a teacher when you have a student like that.”

We are posting this story today, the first day of spring semester finals for all students at McCallum, because it is also Selena’s birthday. Happy birthday, Selena, and thanks for being such a photoj rock star!




A true single lady

The Shield: How long have you been rowing?

Raiya Myren: I learned how to row the summer before 6th grade, 2014 I think, but I didn’t start rowing competitively until my sophomore year of high school.

TS: What’s your favorite part about rowing?

RM: I love how much it pushed me, both physically and socially. It’s one of those sports that teaches you that what you think you’re capable of, and what you’re actually capable of are more different that you realize, in a good way. It also helped me learn how to be a good teammate, which always seemed daunting as an introvert.

TS: I’m a rower, so I have to ask- sculling or sweeping (sculling has two oars, sweeping has one)?

RM: Sculling! When I first learned how to row I loved sculling and thought sweeping was the worst. For a while I actually preferred sweeping because my best races were sweep events, but this year all of my priority  lineups were sculling and I was glad to be back.

On April 14, Myren (second from left) celebrates with the rest of her varsity quad after placing third in their race at Texas Rowing Championships.

TS: What is your favorite boat?

RM: My favorite type of boat to be in is a quad, which has four people sculling, so everybody has two oars, but my favorite physical, actual boat is a single named the Kahout! I rowed it almost exclusively in the fall, as I was training for the Head of the Charles and the Head of the Hooch.

TS: What has been your favorite memory this year?

RM: My favorite fall memory is getting to go to the Head of the Charles. When my coach told me I was going to row a single at Charles I panicked.I had never raced one before, and I thought I was going to fail dramatically. To my surprise, I never flipped or hit anything, and I managed not to lose any races. My favorite spring memory was going to the San Diego Crew Classic in my varsity quad. We had two-a-day practices all during Spring Break, so this trip felt like the beach vacation we missed out on. Plus, I got to wet launch for the first time, when you launch your boats from the water not from the dock, and that was pretty exciting. We also got to race against teams I had never seen before, and walk around in beautiful California.

On May 14, Myren and other seniors planning to row in college were recognized at their club, Texas Rowing Center. Myren, who plans to row at Rice, is excited for her upcoming year.

TS: What are you going to miss most about rowing?

RM: I’m going to miss my teammates and beautiful Lady Bird Lake! This year especially I have gotten really close with my team, and it’s going to be really hard to say goodbye. Luckily Rice Crew races in Austin a few times a year so I’ll get to see everyone in a rowing setting again.

TS: So you’re going to Rice for college, and you’re going to be rowing there? What do you expect that to be like?

RM: Yes, I’m going to be rowing on Rice’s crew team next year. It’s probably going to be a big transition because it is a small program and most people have never rowed before, but it will allow me to continue the sport I love without eating up all y free time. I’m excited to get coaching from different perspectives and become a leader for new rowers.

TS: How do you think your school year went?

RM: My senior year was pretty crazy. I took 9 classes this year, 8 in the fall, 9 in the spring, with 8 of them being AP or OnRamps, which is not something that I would necessarily recommend. When I look back I wonder how I had time for everything, but I still had a really good year.

TS: Do you have any advice for rising seniors?

RM: My one piece of advice to rising seniors is that senior year, especially the fall, is really hectic with college apps and scholarships, etc., so you need to be kind to yourself and your friends. Everyone is pretty much going through the same thing and they are doing the best that they can, so don’t take it too personally if relationships shift. And finally: everything tends to work itself out in the end. Just because your future didn’t turn out the way you expected doesn’t mean you failed or will be any worse. I never expected to become a varsity athlete, as an asthmatic nerd, but I am so happy I did.

TS: Overall, how did your rowing year go?

RM: It was unexpectedly challenging and rewarding. In the fall I was forced to overcome my biggest rowing fear: racing a single. The weather this year was pretty extreme, with all the flooding and wind. Multiple regattas were cancelled or shortened due to inclement weather, but it taught us resilience and helped us get in shape with all the land training. I re-found my love of sculling and raced in the varsity quad all spring. I think even with all the ups and downs, this was my favorite year of rowing, and I can’t wait for many more.

Myren (in the front of the boat) races with her varsity quad in San Diego on April 7. Finishing out a great weekend, her quad placed third in their C Final after a stellar race.




Gomez named Centex Newcomer of the Year

She was always giving 100 percent in every single game, and she did a lot for the team.”

— Gomez's teammate Avery Miller

Last Thursday, freshman Mia Gomez was named the Newcomer of the Year on the Austin American-Statesman’s All-Centex girls soccer team. As a standout striker on the varsity soccer team that earned a co-district title and a bi-district championship, Gomez scored 32 goals and dished out 11 assists. Twenty of her goals came in district play, making her the Golden Boot Award winner as the most prolific scorer in the district.

If you think the goal scoring is what impresses her coach the most, then you’re wrong.

“I knew she was talented from the get go, but what surprised me is how much of a leader she would become for our team,” head coach Stephanie Watson said. “Mia practices every day like it’s game day, and she encourages her teammates to do the same, all while having a fun, energetic attitude on and off the field. … I think that’s what’s so great about Mia. She LOVES soccer, and it’s infectious.”

Her teammate, sophomore Avery Miller agrees.

She is a team player in every way, always working hard for the good of her team.”

— Head coach Stephanie Watson

“She works really, really hard,” Miller said. “I think she really deserved [the award] because she was always giving 100 percent in every single game, and she did a lot for the team.”

Prior to being named All-Centex Newcomer of the Year, Gomez was named District 25-5A Newcomer of the Year.

“You’d think with all of these accolades that Mia would have a big head, but she doesn’t,” Watson said. “Mia has never been about her own glory or scoring for the sake of her own stats. She is a team player in every way, always working hard for the good of her team. … She’s always asking me what I need from her and she always does whatever she can to do it, even if that means having to be carried off of the field after a game because she gave everything she had.”

Watson, who was named the District 25-5A Coach of the Year, concluded her remarks by saying she’s looking forward to the next three years as Mia’s high school coach: “She’s a blast!”

Mia Gomez gallery

Photos by Anna Bausman, Risa Darlington-Horta, Arthur Gomez, Gregory James, Anna Schlett, Gabby Sherwood, Maeve Walsh, Annabel Winter and Dave Winter.




Serving up a gallery

The McCallum tennis team traveled to several tournaments at schools around the Austin area during the spring season and brought home many victories.  Coach Oakley Barber and assistant coach Chris Purkiss were very happy with the success of both the fall and spring season and are excited for the future of the team. “I’m excited about the team because it’s young [and] there aren’t many seniors,” Purkiss said. “We’ll definitely miss Steven [Tibbetts] and Vivian [Williams], [but] it’s exciting to see a lot of new players getting excited about tennis.”

The team traveled to Del Valle Middle and High Schools on March 29 for their last tournament before districts. Photo by Oakley Barber.

Senior captain Vivian Williams and freshman Peyton Casey converse during their last doubles match together. They won their first set (6-3), lost their second (4-6), and won their tiebreaker (6-5). The pair, shown in this image competing at Districts on April 2, lost to Dripping Springs in their final match (6-0, 6-0). This was Williams’ last tournament before graduating in May. “Overall, I’m pretty happy with my performance,” Williams said. “Winning my first match was a good way to go out senior year. And these are some of the best players in the state so being able to get a few points off Dripping Springs was still an accomplishment.” Photo by Elisha Scott.

Freshman Lily Christie and junior Wyeth Purkiss won the mixed doubles consolation bracket, earning 3rd overall at the Del Valle tournament. Freshman Bobby Currie won the A boys’ singles bracket and took 1st place for the entire tournament. Photo by Elisha Scott.

Senior Steven Tibbetts won all three of his matches (6-0) (6-0) at the district tournament. He later went on to achieve third overall at the 5A Region IV tournament at Blossom Tennis Center in San Antonio after winning his first two matches (6-4), (6-1) and (6-0), (6-0) and then losing his semifinal match two sets to one and winning his last. “I was impressed with Steven’s performance, no opponent won a game off of him,” Purkiss said. “From Steven, who is the most experienced, all the way to the new players, everyone played really hard and tried their best. It was a great performance overall for the team.” Photo by Elisha Scott.

Casey prepares to serve the ball during her doubles match with Williams at the Connally High School tournament on March 8. Photo by Elisha Scott.

Freshman Evelyn Griffin follows through on her return shot during her first district match. Photo by Elisha Scott.

Currie returns the ball during his semifinal match against Akins High School at the Del Valle tournament. “Bobby’s performance at Del Valle was one of the best matches of the year for MAC tennis,” said Purkiss. “He won the first set, lost the second, and then came back with an extraordinary performance for the third set, and it was a tie break and he was down 8-5 and he fought back and he won.” Photo by Elisha Scott.

Sophomore Lorena Gonin readies for a return during a match against Crockett on March 15. Photo by Elisha Scott.

Freshman Jewel New returns the ball to her opponent at the Crockett High School tournament on March 15. Photo by Elisha Scott.

Casey hits the ball to her opponents during her and Williams’ match against Dripping Springs. Photo by Elisha Scott.




Answering the call of college athletics

For every serious athlete in any sport, getting a college scholarship and commitment is a dream come true. As athletes dedicate their high school careers to athletic excellence, it becomes their top priority, perhaps even above academics or social activities.

Many athletes have to sacrifice the chance of a normal high school life to achieve this dream, passing it off as part of the sport; however, very few of these students end up playing in college. According to statistics available on the National Collegiate Athletics Association website, of the estimated 8 million students who play high school sports, only about 480,000 of them continue playing in college.

It’s a process and no matter who’s negative in your life, you need to figure out your goal. If you have figured that out, and it makes you happy, I’d just say don’t give up on it.”

— senior Julia Crofut

At McCallum, so far this year, there are only two seniors officially committed to play sports in college: Julia Crofut and Lindsey Wiley.
McCallum’s athletic director Thomas Gammerdinger said there will be more.

“I know there will be a handful of others, but they just haven’t decided yet.”

Senior basketball standout Norman Boyd received several offers to play college basketball, but he opted not to accept them and will instead attend the University of Arkansas.

On March 20, Crofut signed her official commitment to play softball for Texas Lutheran University, a Division 3 school. Crofut signed her letter in a library ceremony while surrounded by her supporters in the McCallum community.

She was part of the relatively small number of students to make it to the next athletic level; according to the NCAA website, of the 480,000 students who make the cut to play college athletics, only 2 percent or one in 54 high school athletes play at Division 1, or D1, schools. For many student athletes, including Crofut, landing a D1 scholarship is the ultimate prize.

OUT WITH A BANG: Crofut follows through after connecting for a home run during the Knights’ 22-6 win over Lanier on April 19. Crofut hit two home runs in her final high school game. Photo by Caleb Melville.

“I had started out with looking at D1 obviously,” she said. “I mean, go big if I wanted to.”

But with great athletics comes great complications. As Crofut realized, larger colleges with more competitive athletic programs are very selective in the scholarships they offer, and they are less likely to accommodate the needs of athletes who aren’t nationally ranked. These detractors cause many athletes to consider the still competitive but less intense nature of D3 sports programs. Crofut had a chance with a D1 college, but it did not work out.

“They were only willing to give me a couple thousand dollars,” Crofut said. “I needed a little more of a foundation, and [the D1 organization] was further away. Texas Lutheran was the closet and was offering me the most money. [TLU] was the best choice for my education.”

Crofut and Wiley have been playing their respective sports since they were very young and grew up with athletics in almost every aspect of their lives. Crofut began by playing baseball with the boys at Northwest because she was too young to play softball.

Though it started out as fun and games, like most serious athletes, the older Crofut got, the harder she trained and the more competitive she became. Wiley’s experience in youth athletics was similar to Crofut’s.

Both athletes reported that their commitment was tested on the college recruiting trail. Both girls laughed in relief when recalling their preparation for the recruiting process.

Gregory James
ALL IN AT ANDERSON Wiley celebrates taking a point in the Lady Knights’ 25-20, 25-21, 18-25, 14-25, 15-11 triumph at Anderson on Aug. 24. Because Wiley plays libero, a defensive specialist position, she wears a different colored jersey. Wiley signed her commitment letter to play college volleyball at Prairie View A&M on April 12. Photo by Gregory James.

“Oh God! What didn’t I do?” Crofut said. “I woke up at 5:30 in the morning, probably three days a week for workouts, then I’d go to school. Then, after school, I’d go to practice and a hitting lesson or something. Then, maybe a lesson with fielding after that.”

The recruitment process doesn’t just take a toll on the physical body, it is also equally tough on the mind. Wiley, who is committed to Prairie View A&M for volleyball, talked about the mental toll of the process.

“I took and sent out a lot of videos,” Wiley said. “Every game I played came with a video. Along with practice, I went to lots of camps where I talked to coaches, emailed them and got my name out there.”

I took and sent out a lot of videos. Every game I played came with a video. Along with practice, I went to lots of camps where I talked to coaches, emailed them and got my name out there.”

— senior Lindsey Wiley

Though the recruitment process is both physically and emotionally taxing on the athletes, both players said the payoff is worth the effort it took to earn it. Student athletes also maintain that they learned life lessons through their experiences in sports. Both Crofut and Wiley claim that it has helped shape them into the people that they are today. Crofut credits softball with helping her gain a larger sense of responsibility.

“[Being a student athlete] just kind of gave me a responsibility in knowing what I need from my body and knowing how my schedule is so uptight,” Crofut said. “I needed to time manage everything and be really good at it. I have always heard that in college you really need to have that, or you’re just going to drown, especially as a student athlete.”

Wiley agreed that working hard toward playing sports in college has shaped her character in positive ways.

“It’s made me really determined and hardworking in everything I do,” Wiley said.

Athletes gain many skills from their commitment to sports. However, it doesn’t mean the future will hand them no struggles. The jump from high school to college sports includes many changes.

Jaimie Duffek, the softball recruiter and a member of the National College Scouting Association, told The Chicago Tribune that it is very difficult for many athletes to make the transition to college sports because “everyone is talented.” The increased speed and ability of the opposing players makes it hard to thrive.

Caleb Melville
SUN’S OUT, YOU’RE OUT: Before the sun goes down during the Knights’ March 29 rematch against LBJ, Julia Crofut makes a throw while warming up before the game. In an instant classic between the arch-rival teams, the Knights and Jags went toe to toe for nine innings before the Jags prevailed, 10-9, on a walk-off ground ball with the bases loaded. Melany Reese hit a two-out, two-run single to make the score 9-4 Knights in the top of the sixth. Crofut had an RBI, a run scored and three walks in the game. Photo by Caleb Melville

Because of this heightened competition, Wiley views college athletics as a completely different world than the one she experienced in high school. After college, out of the 2 percent of high school athletes who are able to compete in D1 sports in college, only a very select few continue their sports career at either a professional or even an Olympic level.

While very few college athletes turn pro, many athletes, including Crofut and Wiley, plan to continue their love for sports through other occupations related to the sport they play or by playing the sport as an extracurricular. While 87 percent of college athletes graduate with a degree, the NCAA reports that psychologists say many also leave with the feeling that there’s a hole in their life after they stop playing the sport that has been such a big part of their life.

“I couldn’t see my life without it,” Wiley said, and most athletes feel the same, so the excitement of graduation is also combined with the fear of losing their sport. Many athletes find a way to keep sports in their life. Crofut and Wiley both plan to major in kinesiology, the study of the body. Wiley wants to then go to UT for a doctorate in physical therapy, while Crofut says, “Right now, I want to stick with being a coach.”

Becoming a college athlete at any level is no easy feat. Due to the stress and work required to achieve this dream, many student athletes are discouraged. To those people, McCallum’s commits have some advice.

“I would say don’t give up,” Crofut said. “I’ve had a lot of coaches talk about my physical shape, my mentality and how I wasn’t good enough. They’d say that I would never make it, and I’m sure that’s everyone. I would just say it’s a process and no matter who’s negative in your life, you need to figure out your goal. If you have figured that out, and it makes you happy, I’d just say don’t give up on it.”

Wiley echoes Crofut’s advice, but keeps it short and sweet: “Get your name out there,” Wiley said. “Know your skill level, and have a backup plan.”

Softball - Mac 22, Lanier 6 (Caleb Melville)

Photo album: Mac 22, Lanier 6 (Senior Game) – April 19, 2019.
Photos by Caleb Melville.

Lindsey Wiley signing -- April 12, 2019 -- Selena De Jesus

Photo album: Lindsey Wiley signing – April 12, 2019.
Photos by Selena De Jesus.