High School Sports

As a senior going into high school, I have taken many opportunities to reflect upon prior high school years, from freshman year, to sophomore year, to the most recent junior year. Even though I have admittedly faced plenty with school, such as homework, tests, and balance with my personal life, I will admit that sports has had a massive impact on my high school experience. Going into freshman year, I had my own club sport and highly debated on whether or not I should do a sport or deal with another round of PE during high school. As a last minute decision due to a recommendation from a friend, I decided to try out for the cross country team and made it on thanks to a decision from one of my coaches.

Although the first semester of my freshman year did not end well due to an early injury that year affecting my first cross country season and feelings of disconnection from a friend group, I grew dedicated to the sport after my recovery and the following Track season that year, despite being cut short due to the coronavirus, had some kind of payoff for me after my injury. However, the lockdown ended up with a disconnection between me and the rest of my team. Although sophomore year did face some setbacks due to the ongoing pandemic, I did end up racing during Track season that year, notably going sub 5 minutes in the 1600m and sub 11 minutes in the 3200m, as well as making more friends on the team. After that year, I had goals to Varsity letter next year in both XC and Track.

During my junior year, I was under plenty of pressure on myself, as well as mental stress balancing heavy schoolwork, personal life, and sports. My XC season was definitely my most successful season yet, as I went 16:16 in the 3 mile race during Sea View League Finals and had the best race of my life that race alongside two of my best friends and teammates, creating a great memory. Following League Finals, my team qualified for CIF, and I had my second favorite race at CIF Finals at the hilly Mt. Sac course with a time of 17:12. Although my Track season did not top my XC season, I did have some good races, such as going under 4:50 in the 1600m and improving by 30 seconds in the 3200m with a time of 10:20.

Even though I had plenty of success throughout my sports career, the truth is that I could not have done a single part of it without my teammates. I ran with them everyday, talked with them, and shared plenty of moments and memories with them to the point where I can honestly say that they are a significant part of my life. Even though we have had struggles and arguments like a team normally does, we have come together and found success last year and look to continue our success to even greater lengths this upcoming year. High school sports has made a huge impact on my life and I’d highly recommend anyone to take high school sports and gain that experience.

How Stephen Curry Defies Expectations

Wardell Stephen Curry was born on March 14th, 1988. He had a brother and a sister. His father was a great shooter in the NBA and played for the Charlotte Hornets. 

Early in life, Curry loved basketball and always practiced shooting and scrimmaging with his brother in their backyard. As he finished middle and high school, people began doubting Curry for his size, despite his incredible shooting. Curry was criticized because of his size and some argued that he wouldn’t survive in college/nba. But he proved them all wrong and was drafted 7th in the 2009 draft.

 In the first few seasons, Curry dealt with many ankle injuries and had to have surgery to repair it. People began to doubt him once again. In 2015, Curry would win the MVP and prove everyone wrong, going on to win the championship that season by defeating Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6 games.

Over the next 7 years, he would lead his team to a 73-9 record, win 3 more championships, a unanimous MVP, and a finals MVP. He has proved himself to be the greatest shooter of all time and certainly a top 10 player in NBA history.

Interesting Sports Podcasts to Try

If you get bored while running, resting, or doing whatever it is that you like to do, you might want to try a podcast. I enjoy listening to sports podcasts to discover the opinions of experts on certain topics, and I’m here to share some of my favorite ones with you. 

There are 3 podcasts that I feel separate themselves from the rest of them and for different reasons. Some of them offer incredible insight on basketball, while others are fun because they have people debating passionately about players and headlines. 

The Draymond Green Show

The host of this show is the man himself, Draymond Green. He breaks down NBA games and talks about how his team, the Golden State Warriors, played and how the other games went down. His podcasts are especially fun to listen to after he has a big game or an important moment in a game, such as an ejection. Sometimes, he’ll have a guest on the show, who might be a fellow NBA player or someone associated with the NBA. His attention to detail really shows in his podcasts, and I recommend his podcast to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about basketball. This is definitely my favorite podcast at the moment. 

First Take:

What’s better in a sports podcast than Stephen A. Smith yelling at Kendrick Perkins or someone else on the show for their “blasphemous” takes? With various guests on the show as well as the usual crew (Molly Qerim, Stephen A. Smith, and sometimes Kendrick Perkins), the podcast can be really entertaining to listen to or also watch on ESPN. On this show, they primarily debate about basketball, but also have some sections that include football or baseball. Although it’s not my favorite podcast, it’s definitely in the top 2 and I love occasionally listening to small segments at a time. 

Skip and Shannon: Undisputed:

If you want a lot of deep analysis about the game of basketball, don’t go to this show. If you want to see Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe bickering back and forth for two and a half hours, then this is for you. On Undisputed, the 2 hosts don’t really talk about what teams need to do or what they should have done, but they debate on controversial topics concerning ejections, who’s better than who, and certain plays. However, before listening to this podcast, be aware that a lot of the things Skip and Shannon say are heavily biased, especially the ones from Skip. That being said, this show is still a lot of fun and I definitely recommend you check it out. 

If you’re a basketball (or sports) enthusiast, in summer, you might find yourself bored with nothing to do, and if so, give these podcasts/shows a listen. You probably won’t regret it!

-Mert A.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP is a book that details Giannas Antetokounmpo’s rise to greatness. 

In 2008, if I told you that a skinny Nigerian kid living in Greece was going to become the face of the NBA and win 2 MVPs, would you believe me? If you said no, you would agree with the majority of people. However, if you said yes, would you stick with your answer if I told you that this kid had illegal immigrant parents, and he had to sell on the streets every day to get his family food to eat? If you would still say yes, you would have predicted the rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Giannis had to go through many struggles as a kid. He would go with his mom to sell sunglasses for a couple of euros each just to try to get food on the table. Sometimes, he would have to go to sleep with a rumbling stomach, imagining the food that he wasn’t able to eat. He would always try to smile, so his brothers wouldn’t start to worry. His family would get evicted a lot, and they would have to move to a different apartment often because they couldn’t pay the rent. However, basketball was a way out. Giannis would forget about all of his worries when he was on the court, playing his heart out. He would dream of playing in the NBA and having his family all with him along the journey. 

Giannis’s childhood was difficult, but he worked hard and didn’t complain. His story should be a lesson to all of us: Anything is possible as long as you put in the effort and work extremely hard. His childhood shows us that we should never count anyone out based on their circumstances. 

The author, Mirin Fader, did a great job including interviews and quotes from people who played a role in Giannis’s childhood. His mom, brothers, and former coaches all had quotes in this biography of Giannis Antetokoumpo. 

While reading about Giannis’s rise to stardom, I was not able to put the book down. It was so intriguing to read about the struggles that he faced and overcame to get to where he is today, and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Giannis Anteokounmpo. Also, anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about the challenges that some people face would find this book interesting, too. 

-Mert A.

List of Video Games to try!

NBA2K21: With the NBA Playoffs in action, if you are a basketball fan, you might want to get on NBA2K21 and play with the real matchups a little bit. With the different game modes from MyCareer where you build a player or the Play Now game mode where you can play with all of the current NBA teams. This is my favorite video game and I suggest you try it. 

Madden NFL 2021: If you enjoy watching or playing football, I suggest you play this game because it is based off of the NFL. You can buy the latest version of the game which is Madden NFL 2021 at the moment, but you can also play the older versions like Madden NFL 2020 or Madden NFL 2019. If you want the current NFL rosters, you might want to play the newest edition, but if you are just looking for the Madden experience, I recommend Madden NFL 19 or Madden NFL 20. You can purchase them at a more reasonable price. 

Minecraft: Building, creativity, and survival are all different elements in this game. You can use your creativity to build different structures and homes, but you need to make sure to survive. I love to play Minecraft, especially with my sister. Playing solo is fun, but playing with friends is awesome! You can play in Survival mode, where you have to collect materials and craft tools, or you can also play in Creative mode, where the game is mainly based off of building. You have unlimited supplies, and can do anything you want without worrying about dying in the game. 

Tennis World Tour 2: If you are a fan of tennis or play the sport yourself, you might want to try this game. With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal headlining the players you can use in this game, there are many great options for you if you are interested in using your favorite tennis players. I recommend playing this game against your friends or family, but you can also play against the computer. Also, it is a fun way of learning the rules of the sport. 

Rocket League: This is definitely one of my favorite video games. You can customize your dream car and use it during matches. My sister and I also enjoy bringing home the championship trophy after a long season filled with competitive matches against the computer. It doesn’t end there though, because you can play online against others or you can play exhibition matches in your favorite Rocket League stadiums. 

The Golf Club 2019: If you have been looking for an incredible golf game, look no further than The Golf Club 2019. In this game, you can customize your character and you can choose if you want to start a career in golf. You can also just play a competitive exhibition match against your friends.  

These games are very enjoyable and fun to play. It might take some time  to learn the controls at first, but later, I am sure you will enjoy these games as much as I have. 

-Mert A.

UEFA European Championship

Since 1955 Europe has held a tournament known as the UEFA European Championship tournament or for short the European Cup. All the countries in Europe come together to battle in a tournament. Each country in Europe brings its top players from each of its greatest soccer teams in order to compete for the title of best European soccer team and its trophy. So, in 1955 the first European soccer cup was established and would continue to make history as more and more countries joined to play in this great tournament.

There are many different parts to the European Cup. It first starts with actually qualifying for the cup. Qualifying begins in the summer with three rounds and then a play off takes place. Teams who win these rounds are placed in the groups stage for September. Teams who lose these round don’t get to participate in the Cup at all. The group stage involves eight groups of four teams, with each club playing everyone else in that group home and away. The top two sides in each group move on to the round of 16 and the start of the knockout phase begins, while the third-placed team drops into the UEFA Europa League. As teams get eliminated there will be only two teams left to face each other in the final for title of best European soccer team.

The First European Cup was held in 1955, where thousands of people tuned in to watch this magnificent battle between countries. Some fans cheered on as their team continued to rise in ranks while others booed in disappointment as their teams were eliminated. Some teams persevered while others hung on by a thread fighting for their spot in the top two. That year 16 teams played in the cup some including Milan, Real Madrid, Saarbrucken, Rapid Wien, PSV, Essen, Hibernian, AGF, Reims, Djurgarden, Gwardia, and Servette. As teams got eliminated Real Madrid and Reims were the first two teams to advance to the finals of the first European Cup. The Cup ended with Real Madrid being the first ever team to win the first European Cup, beating Reims 4 to 3. It was a glorious day for Real Madrid as they raised the first trophy of the European Cup over their heads.

The 2020 Euro Cup this year (the cup this year classified under 2020 do to the cancelling of the cup of last year due to COVID 19) is most exciting as 24 teams have entered the tournament and fans are at their edge of their seats watching the tournament this year. So far the teams that have been eliminated so far is Turkey, Finland, Russia, North Macedonia, Scotland, Poland, and Hungary. The teams that have qualified to move on are Italy, Wales, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, Ukraine, England, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Spain,  France, Germany, and Portugal. This far in the tournament teams have entered round 16, also known as the knockout round. From here on teams must win each round in order to advance, there are no second chances. If a team loses they are to be considered eliminated from the tournament. This years Cup should be most exciting and it is highly recommended to watch this years European Cup as it is known to be the best tournament yet.

Rocket League Game Review

Competitive games with cars playing sports, boosting up and down the courts and fields, kicking soccer balls into goals and shooting basketballs into hoops… Rocket League is a video game that transforms the impossible into the possible. With this video game, you get an exciting experience, playing against the CPU or against other online players. You have an opportunity to compete for a league championship against the Computer- Generated teams. This game is a game that shows that anything can be possible in video games! Rocket League is a game you will not want to pass up!

In Rocket League, you can customize your dream car and unlock different accessories to decorate it. Also, you don’t just have to change the car every time you want a new look, but you can make many different cars and use each one whenever you want to. Then, you can compete in a showdown against the CPU players or you can take it to the next level, and play online with other Rocket League competitors. Rocket League is a competitive game, but it is also very fun. You can score goals and baskets in the SOCCAR and Basketball game modes. You can also take it to the ice and play hockey with your cars.

This game is fantastic because you can play it online or offline. There  are many different online modes, as well as there are many different offlines modes. The online modes  include playing an online match with random people playing at the same time, or you can play with your friends in a club. If you prefer to play video games offline, you can play multiplayer with your siblings or friends simply by connecting another controller. In addition, you can play against or with bots. It is possible to compete in seasons against bot teams for the championship trophy. 

Another great thing about this video game is that whether you are a girl, boy, kid, adult, or senior, you can always trust Rocket League to make you smile and have fun! This game is for anyone with even a slight interest in sports or cars! 

Rocket League is a fantastic video game with great graphics and can teach you the game of soccer, basketball and hockey as you play. 

I would give this game a 9/10 rating because I believe that they could add daily goals and levels to the game to make it more exciting to play and beat the levels. But, overall, Rocket League is an amazing game and I would definitely recommend you to try it!

-Mert A.

Film Review: Pele, Birth of a Legend

This movie follows the story of Edson “Dico” Nascimento, better known as the football legend Pele. This movie shows Pele’s life before his illustrious soccer career, back during his childhood in Brazil and eventual lead up to the 1958 World Cup. It shows the trials and obstacles Pele had to overcome before even playing for the National team.

Whether it be because of his mother discouraging him from playing soccer to eventually losing interest in playing soccer at all, Pele’s path to football stardom seemed all but lost. However, and as can be seen in various moments throughout the movie, Pele refused to give up. Determination and undying hope would follow him everywhere he went and would be the fuel pushing him to pursue a career in professional football.

This movie was a heartwarmer, showing his family life as a child, and showing who Pele was. Rather than just knowing him as a really good football player, it showed all the struggles he would face and just how difficult his journey truly was. What can be taken away from this movie is that you should always stay true to yourself and never once doubt in yourself and what you are able to do. Never give up in whatever happens, and no challenge is impossible to overcome.

-Kobe L.

Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica

Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica is the inspiring story of true friendship. Nate Brodie is a massive Tom Brady fan. Because of that and his arm he is often called Brady. He plays quarterback for his school football team in Massachusetts. Nate starts feeling a lot of pressure when his dad loses his job twice, his mother has to start working two jobs, and one of his closest friends named Abby McCall starts going blind. This pressure affects Nate on and off the field, but Nate soon realizes that his pressure is very little compared to others. Abby then learns that she may have to go to a special school for the blind, and this harms Abby and Nate’s friendship even more. Nate hears about a throwing contest held by the Patriots, Nate’s favorite team. Nate decides to go to the event and see if he could win. The night of the contest comes quickly, and before Nate knows it it’s time to leave for it. At the contest, Nate meets his role model Tom Brady and wins the throwing contest. The prize is one million dollars which Nate offers to Abby for a surgery that could fix her eyesight.

-Emilio V.

Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Cowboys Draft Plan

On Friday, April 13th, the Dallas Cowboys formally parted ways with star WR Dez Bryant. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has come out and stated that the Cowboys do not believe they have a receiver that can come in and completely take over the “WR1” mantle previously held by Dez. This is a sound assumption as there are no real wide receiver prospects in the 2018 draft that look as though they would be home-run picks like Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones. However, there are many receivers that look to be solid WR2 receivers that have the potential to turn into WR1 caliber receivers. The release of Dez Bryant has led to many tying the Cowboys with drafting a WR in the first round. However, the timing of this release seems to state otherwise.

As many teams do not want to give any hints as to what their draft plans may be, the timing of Dez’s release seems intriguing. If the Cowboys really were planning on drafting a receiver at 19 or potentially even trading up in the draft, keeping Dez– business wise– may have been the best move to hide a lack of star receiver power. As a result, it seems as though the Cowboys are not planning on actively pursuing a receiver, but may instead be pointed to drafting a defensive player in the first round to add to their lineup. Furthermore, the signings of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson seem to indicate they are fine with drafting a receiver in some of the later rounds of the draft, as this receiver class, though lacking in star power, has solid options that can be selected in the second and third rounds. With Sean Lee getting a year older and David Irving potentially being suspended to start the season, the Cowboys have more pressing needs at linebacker and defensive tackle and would be in their best interests selecting one of those positions over WR.

-Kobe L.