Starting a new school and a new sport during COVID.
By Madison Sciba
COVID hit during the last semester of my senior year of high school. I thought I was just getting an extra week of spring break, not losing prom and graduation. In March of 2020, I had no idea where I was going to go to college. A month into quarantine I decided on Saint Mary’s. It wasn’t my dream school choice, but a practical one. Saint Mary’s checked all the boxes of criteria I had for schools. Small school? Check. Close to home but not TOO close? Check. Not in a big city? Check. Gave me a scholarship? Check. And the final criteria, has a rowing team? Check.
I had been a swimmer my whole life, swimming on a club team for 10 years and for all 4 years of high school (even though both of my senior seasons were very short). After doing sports my whole life I knew I wanted to continue that in college, but I knew college swimming was just not my thing. So the question remained: what sport can I do? The answer became rowing. My cousin rowed at UCLA and recommended that I reach out to the team at Saint Mary’s and be a walk-on, just like she did at UCLA. So I did. I reached out to the assistant coach and was given paperwork to fill out and told to have a sports physical. Next thing I knew, I was on a team of a sport I knew barely anything about.
Because of COVID, there was no competition of any kind in the fall, so I decided to save money on housing and stay home for my first semester of college. When Jan Term finally came around I moved onto campus and was at my first practice a week later. Almost two months after seeing a racing boat for the first time, I was racing every weekend at a different racecourse on the varsity crew. No spectators were allowed and COVID rules were strictly enforced. Masks were always required unless you were actively rowing, frequently tested, and sanitized everything.
Sophomore year was vastly different. There were events on campus, no more required testing, and we finally had a fall season of racing. It was a whole new kind of racing, with different courses, different rules, and new experiences. Spring semester was where things really picked up. Masking was only required in classrooms and the library. Teams were finally able to do weight training without sweating through their masks and spectators were finally allowed. My parents were finally able to come and watch one of my races. It was a really big deal for me, I had sent photos and told them all about it but now I had people shouting my name from the shore.
All sports are finally getting the seasons and spectators we so greatly need. I cannot imagine how weird it must have been to go from loud screaming fans at basketball games to empty silence. The infamous Gonzaga game was just an example of that. When I told my family and friends that I was going to go to Saint Mary’s, everyone mentioned the basketball team and how legendary the student section was. Freshman year, I had no idea what they were talking about. No one was allowed at games because of COVID. When that was all lifted in 2022 there was a packed house, people practically on top of one another, ready to support. It was an incredible experience watching and supporting our team as they beat the best in the country. It also made me sad, thinking about what else I had missed out on my freshman year.
Women’s Rowing Second Varsity 8 Crew racing at Lake Natoma in 2022. (Image Courtesy smcgaels.com)
Basketball season is over, and there is no better time to keep the Gael spirit going by introducing ice hockey into the stadium.
By Eden Llodrá
As of late, the Saint Mary’s faculty has been talking about transforming the basketball courts into an ice hockey rink. “We have rugby and lacrosse, I don’t see why we shouldn't introduce another contact sport, it would be a perfect distraction during the wintertime blues,” said one of the Saint Mary’s sports directors. “It’ll get more students and locals out in the stands.”
An ice hockey rink at a D1 school in California would most likely be underrated and have high success rates, with our biggest competitors being on the East Coast. This would give Saint Mary’s a lot of press attention and popularity. It could also bring in more financial benefits to the college campus.
There is not much attention veered towards ice hockey, “I was watching the winter Olympics and it occurred to me that I didn’t see any Saint Mary’s representation,” said President Rick Prune. “Basketball is feeling a bit cheugy right now but hockey is very fresh.”
It is pretty important that Saint Mary’s stays up to date with the newest sports trends, to keep things exciting and receive more attention statewide and even nationally.
The students have said, “We don’t want Saint Mary’s to be hidden in the Moraga hills, we want to be on the front of the papers. We want to be able to tell people the town we live in without confused and estranged looks.” Ice hockey could bring Saint Mary’s the attention it needs to gain more recognition nationally.
Bringing ice hockey to the stadium could turn things around for the better, “I mean who doesn’t want to see a bunch of dudes slamming into one another?” one student said. The overall consensus seems to be that ice hockey would bring a sense of comradery amongst students and give more entertainment to the UCU pavilion.
Worrying new “Basketball Mania” sweeping the campus
By Joseph Amir
Visiting Sports Reporter and Virologist
A worrying new pathogen has emerged on campus, afflicting both young and old alike. This virus has infected our athletics managers, the employees at the Office of College Communications, the student body, and even our very own President Richard Prune. This pathogen has the unusual effect of causing the host to forget about any sport that is not men’s basketball, causing them to elicit confused looks or devolve into mumbling, lilting sing-song when asked about any sport that does not feature Tommy Kuhse. This story was first uncovered after a mass, super-spreader party off campus, after which multiple guests of the aforementioned event were scheduled to be interviewed about men’s rugby. When asked who was the standout player of the team, Jeremy Kuzak responded “Tommy Kuhse, of course!” The interviewer then gently reminded him that he was speaking about the wrong team and that he meant rugby, to which Kuzak replied “what’s rugby?” At this point, the interviewer began to explain how the sport of rugby was played when the subject became irate and belligerent, and was subsequently removed from the room by Public Safety.
This pathogen is believed to be extremely dangerous, having already endangered the life of the Saint Mary’s College women’s softball coach. They sustained impact trauma to their cranium after forgetting what sport they were coaching, rushing the batter and were struck in self-defense. Additionally, several students have reportedly savagely attacked roommates after these individuals have claimed to play sports such as “volleyball,” “baseball” or “soccer.”
In an unrelated development, it is said that as a result of the fallout from this virus, Coach Randy Bennett will have his salary increased from roughly $700,000 to $10 million per year. In a major restructuring, President Prune has announced that he is cutting all sports programs except for men’s basketball, eliminating the performing arts, communications, and business departments, and pouring their funding into the budget for a 2nd, bigger stadium that is planned to replace the Saint Mary’s Chapel and Oliver Hall. This stadium, as a result of back-door dealings made by President Donahue before his departure, will be named Wells Fargo Stadium despite receiving no financial assistance from that bank.
All the info you need about the upcoming SMC vs. SCU fight!
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
We all know that the first rule of fight club is not to talk about fight club, but this news is just too juicy to keep a secret. A recent undercover investigation has uncovered an underground fight club at Saint Mary’s College. After living in disguise for over a month, I finally have the proof to expose the extracurricular activities of the Lasallian Brothers at SMC, and finally clarified what exactly goes down in the catacombs underneath the school: between prayers, and teaching and advising responsibilities, the brothers have formed a bare knuckle boxing ring.
Known for their black outfits and white collars, community members may be surprised to learn that the brothers are stripping off their shirts and shoes to pound their peers.
Chloe McPhloe, a sophomore theology major and Mission and Ministry Employee witnessed one of these fight nights last month while she was helping to prepare for a Solidarity Supper.
“I was looking through the closet for some paper towels and I saw a huddle of half naked men,” McPhloe said. “I looked closer and I realized that it was the brothers and that they were fighting each other. They were surprisingly agile for elderly men. I think I saw a roundhouse kick or two.”
A group of business majors have found a way to monetize the athletic prowess of Saint Mary’s Ministry and have set up a series of fights with the Jesuit brothers of nearby Catholic schools. One such fight has been planned to take place against the Santa Clara University Jesuit Brothers on April 7th.
Brother Geoffery Teffley says that he is stoked for the upcoming fight.
“It’s one thing to fight my brothers,” Teffley said. “But to fight the Jesuit brothers will be the culmination of centuries worth of rivalry.”
Many students are looking to place bets on the fight, with many betting on the SMC Lasallian Brothers having a sweeping victory. Watch parties are also being planned at local businesses with a particularly large one planned at Roundup. Students looking to witness the event live can buy tickets to the upcoming fight on the athletics website for a small donation of $6.66.
Alumni and former basketball player Sie Chambers came back to Saint Mary’s as part of the 44 Days speaker series, telling his story of “finding purpose” in his career and postgraduate life.
By Ryan Ford
Sports Section Editor
Sie “Savage” Chambers came back to speak at his alma mater this past Wednesday, embodying the name he gave himself, “I’m a savage at everything I do and I wanted to embrace that.”
On February 23rd, Chambers spoke in front of Saint Mary’s students as the featured speaker in the 44 Days event, Embracing Pride and Purpose. The event followed a Q&A format, with Kinesiology professor and faculty co-chair for the BLM committee Robin Dunn facilitating the conversation.
Chambers attended Saint Mary’s from 2005-2009. While he went to Saint Mary’s originally as a standout high school basketball player, his mindset changed when he started working with social justice-oriented groups on campus, “When we think of the word savage we immediately think of negative connotations of primitive, uneducated people, but we also think of power. I think of fighting the system, fighting capitalism, fighting bureaucracy.”
Chambers was a redshirt player as a freshman and played on the women’s basketball team for overtwo2 years, but left halfway through his senior year season because his heart and soul were no longer in the game. “Sie went on to serve as Vice President of Diversity Outreach and Education, graduating with a BA in Sociology.”
During the 44 Days event, Chambers was asked how SMC is different now compared to when he attended the school, “I feel like during my time at SMC, the campus was becoming more receptive and starting to understand that this isn’t just a christian boy’s school anymore.”
Among many other occupations, Chambers currently works as a “community advocate, philanthropist, artist, yogi, coach, educator, plant-based chef, consultant, future farmer and 24/7 hustler.”
Switching his mindset from an athlete to an entrepreneur was hard, as Chambers had to figure out his identity without the community of being on a team, “Teams are forced families… sports were my outlet for being a people person.”
But Chambers was able to take what he learned as a dedicated athlete and apply it to other ventures in his life, learning life lessons from coach Paul Thomas, who has served as the head coach of SMC’s women’s basketball team since 2006, “I look at life competitively, strategies roll over from sports to business and life.”
When asked what advice he would give to current Saint Mary’s students, Sie “Savage” Chambers said, “I think it’s okay to set expectations and aspirations, but also just go easy on yourself and relax.”
(Image Courtesy Writer)
In Saturday’s home Rugby game the Gaels stood their ground and held onto the lead in both halves.
By: Eden Llodrá
The Gaels went into their game this Saturday ranked no. 1 in the league, so sixth-ranked BYU knew what they were getting themselves into. Nonetheless, the team brought their A-game against their competitor.
In the first half and at the eighteen-minute mark, SMC had scored two tries and BYU one, making it 12 to 7. In the first half alone, SMC got four tries and BYU got three, making the halftime score 24 to 21. It was tight enough that BYU could have made a penalty goal to tie up the game, but the Gaels defense held their advantage.
At the start of the second half, Storti got a try making it 29 to 21. Just as much as the Gaels offense was aggressive and found breakthroughs in BYU’s defense, they also held a strong defensive line which put pressure on the attacking team.
With thirteen minutes left in the second half, the Gaels were ahead 36 to 21, consistently forcing their opponents to make errors and lose possession. With six minutes left BYU scored a try, yet missed the kick, leaving the score 36 to 28. In the final minutes of the game, SMC had possession and Keane made the penalty goal, asserting their advantage and winning 39 to 28.
After the game, Keane, who plays the fly-half position, said “We were pretty proud of the results. Beating BYU is never easy, they've always been a top 10 ranked team in the nation,” adding that “looking forward, we hope to continue what has so far been a successful season.”
Reaction and grades for both teams following the biggest trade of the NBA season. (Image Courtesy New York Post)
By Ryan Ford
Woah. This may be the blockbuster trade of all blockbuster trades.
Rumored in the days leading up to the NBA’s trade deadline, which occurred at 3 pm ET on February 10th, the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers swapped disgruntled stars James Harden and Ben Simmons in a trade-only hours before the deadline, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic (@ShamsCharania) and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (@WojESPN).
There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down team by team.
What they acquired: Guard/forward Ben Simmons, guard Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond, 76ers’ 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), 76ers’ 2027 first-round pick (top-8 protected)
Instant Reaction: Only 13 months ago, the Nets pulled off the first blockbuster trade to acquire James Harden from the Houston Rockets to team him up with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Many saw this as the new ‘Superteam’ of the NBA, and the tantalizing potential that this star power seemed capable of was obvious to everyone.
Now, it’s hard to view the move to get Harden from the Rockets as anything other than a failure. Over the last two seasons, the trio of Harden-Kyrie-KD played “a grand total of 16 games and 364 minutes together.” (Steve Aschburner of NBA.com) In those games, the Nets were 13-3, but they didn’t win a championship last season after injuries derailed Kyrie and Harden, and now the experiment will always be known as a big what-if.
On the bright side, the Nets were able to turn James Harden, who was clearly frustrated with his role in Brooklyn, into Ben Simmons, who has been an All-Star three times, an All-Defensive team member twice, and an All-NBA player once. He’s also only 25 years old, and is under contract through the 2024-25 season. Throw in sharpshooter Seth Curry and paint-menace Andre Drummond, and Nets fans have to be happy about the return, all things considered. Did I mention that they got draft capital on top of all of that? Grade: A
What they acquired: Guard James Harden, Forward Paul Millsap
Instant Reaction: I may be in the minority on this, but I think Ben Simmons is a great basketball player. But clearly, he and Philadelphia were not going to work long-term given everything that has happened since last season’s playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Ben Simmons was essentially an empty-roster spot, an expensive one at that, having not played a minute for the 76ers since he demanded a trade in the offseason. Meanwhile, center Joel Embiid is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, averaging a league-leading 29.4 points per game with shooting splits of 49.8/35.8/81.2. Despite Simmons’ holdout, Embiid has the Sixers only 2.5 games out of the first seed in the crowded Eastern Conference.
Add former MVP James Harden to the fold, and suddenly Philadelphia looks like a legitimate championship-contender. Granted, Harden hasn’t looked his best since the move to Brooklyn last season, and he is considerably older (32) and more expensive ($46,872,000 player-option for next season). But I think he will be more motivated than ever to silence his doubters and finally find some postseason success, and his fit alongside Embiid on paper is as good as any duo in basketball.
The Sixers are all-in. Their much-maligned GM Daryl Morey deserves credit for not settling and instead waiting for the best deal throughout this Simmons saga. High-risk but potentially high-reward. Grade: B+
Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after losing a court battle due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19 and lying about medical information in travel declaration form.
By Eden Llodrá
The Australian Open began Monday, January 17th of 2022, yet days prior the world’s No. 1- ranked men’s tennis player was in the midst of a visa court battle. Djokovic entered the country with a COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption, and at first, the Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly ruled that he could stay in the country as long as he quarantined for four days in the Melbourne hotel.
According to CBS, Djokovic remained under the Australian Border Force (ABF) while he waited on a final decision for his visa. Djokovic had been under the impression that because he contracted COVID-19 in December, he was still eligible for an exemption.
On Sunday, November 17th, 24 hours before Djokovic was lined up to play the world No. 78, Miomir Kecmanovic, his visa was canceled and he faced deportation. Alex Hawke, the immigration minister was the one to rule Djokovic out of the country on the grounds that it could lead to an anti-vaccine sentiment and “civil unrest,” while also setting a bad example for Australians.
Whether or not Djokovic’s deportation could lead to a three-year ban from the country is still up in the air, as it would mean him missing the next two Australian Opens.
In an interview with CNN, Djokovic said, “I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister's decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” adding “I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country.”
On January 17th, the day Djokovic would have been playing his first match in the Australian Open, he arrived back in Belgrade, Serbia. His deportation shows the importance that countries are not only placing on the vaccine and COVID-19 safety protocols but the idea that no matter who you are, the rules stand.
With the next grand slam tournament being in May, the question lies, is Djokovic going to be allowed to compete in the French Open?
After finishing their non-conference schedule in dominating fashion, the Gaels look to improve upon their conference record as they embark upon a long slate of WCC competition.
By Ryan Ford
Saint Mary’s men's basketball team currently sits at an impressive 13-4, but due to the collective hot-start of the WCC, they have only the fourth-best overall record in the conference.
Gonzaga’s early dominance is no surprise, following a championship run last season and the addition of star freshman Chet Holmgren. Saint Mary’s bitter rival is ranked number one in the country. But surprising starts from the Dons and the Cougars have some analysts thinking of the WCC as one of the better conferences in the NCAA this year.
ESPN’s College Basketball analyst Joe Lunardi currently believes that there are four tournament-worthy teams in the West Coast Conference, according to his most recent NCAA Bracketology update. The Gaels find themselves in the “On The Bubble” section of the site, meaning that they will need to continue to rack up wins if they expect to be dancing in March.
Saint Mary’s first conference matchup of the season took place on January 8th against Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It’s always tough to start your conference slate on the road, and after a back-and-forth first half, the Gaels went home with a loss following a 52-43 final score. The Cougars did a great job of limiting bigman Matthias Tass’ touches in the paint, and their swarming defense forced the Gaels to shoot 29.3% from the field.
Randy Bennett’s squad righted the ship in their next game, however, in a 77-62 drubbing of Pepperdine on January 13th. Guard Logan Johnson paced both teams in points with 20, while Tass notched his second double-double in as many games with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. Perhaps most impressive is that this performance came on the road, their second consecutive road-conference game.
The Gaels went home to face Santa Clara on January 20th, winning 73-65, before a quick turnaround sent them to Loyola Marymount on the 22nd, a game that was televised on ESPNU.
Hopefully, Saint Mary’s offense will be able to stay hot and improve upon their 1-1 conference record, which has them tied with Santa Clara for 5th best in the conference. The Gaels are 13-0 when they score more than 60 points, compared to 0-4 when they are held below that threshold.
How Spirit Squad, Sports Band, and Gael Force liven up home games, and what events are to be expected in the near future.
By Eden Llodrá
At Saint Mary’s, the new year is starting off with a women’s basketball home game on Tuesday, January 11th, and a men’s game on the 15th. As some games were recently canceled due to Covid-19, it is Gael Force’s focus now more than ever to prepare more fun upcoming events that follow the health and safety guidelines. Amanda Hofman, president of Gael Force, said one of their priorities right now is “getting people back into games since conference is coming up.”
The Gaels Sports Band and Spirit Team both add a lot of enthusiasm and support not only to the players but the student section as well. Some of the most recognizable songs that the band plays are “The Bells of Saint Mary’s” and “Fight song.” Director of the band, Dr. Montesinos and President Sara Mameesh schedule the rehearsals and put together the band’s repertoire for games. The band and Spirit Team will be supporting both the women’s and men's basketball teams throughout the duration of the West Coast Conference.
Some big events, such as the big game against Gonzaga on February 12th and the Australian Heritage nights, are things that students have to look forward to. Hoffman said, “Gael Force has been working with the athletic department to plan theme nights.” This way they are able to highlight key moments and get information directly from the coaching staff.
Make sure you show up to a basketball game this semester and show the Sports Band, Spirit Squad, and Gael Force your support! Go Gaels!
Melanie Moyer '22,