By Staff Writers Anagha Mandayam, Jenny Miao, & Vicki Xu
Winter sports at MSJ include Girls’ and Boys’ Basketball, Girls’ and Boys’ Soccer, Cheer, and Wrestling. In the Winter Sports Assembly, each sport announced its nominee for Winter Athlete of the Season. Here, the Smoke Signal spotlights these nominees and their accomplishments.
Michelle Lin, Girls’ Basketball
Captain Junior Michelle Lin began playing basketball out of curiosity in fourth grade, when she discovered she enjoyed the sport and has pursued it ever since. While this year’s team is relatively young and had a more difficult season, she is confident that the team will become more effective in future seasons. Lin loves the collaborative nature of basketball. Taking inspiration from everyone around her, she said, “I think that if I am going to play basketball, I might as well play hard … so that I won’t look back in the future and regret not playing my hardest.”
Food that gets her going: Mangos, because “if he’s wasting your time, let that mango [man go]!”
Something she can’t live without: Food, especially bananas.
Austin Chang, Boys’ Basketball
Winter Athlete of the Season and Captain Junior Austin Chang has played on both school and club teams since fourth grade. This year was one of his best seasons, with twice as many wins as last year. Because working together is key in basketball, Chang’s teammates are his greatest motivation. For this reason, he hopes to hold more bonding events next season, so team members can get to know each other better. Regarding sports, he said, “This is something you signed up for yourself, you put your time and effort into it, and no matter what you do you’ll be successful.”
Food that gets him going: Ramen, but not the instant kind.
Something he can’t live without: His basketball, since it’s gotten him through some tough points in life.
Jiti Sarkar, Cheer
After watching several MSJ games and being captivated by the energetic cheerleaders, Captain Senior Jiti Sarkar joined the cheer team in her freshman year. Though she has had some difficult experiences, like becoming captain only as a sophomore, Sarkar has learned to become more confident and more herself. On her greatest accomplishment, Sarkar said, “Over the summer, we went to cheer camp at [University of California, Davis]. There, I won an All-American nominee and was invited to cheer at events like the [London Varsity Spirit Tour], the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Citrus Bowl, and others.”
Food that gets her going: Candy (but too much makes her hyper) and Hot Cheetos, because the whole cheer team bonds over them.
Something she can’t live without: Her phone, because it keeps her connected to a lot of people, including her family.
Maleni Morales, Girls’ Soccer
Captain Senior Maleni Morales started soccer at just 8 years old, when she decided to try it out with her friends. Morales has been the Girls’ Soccer captain for two years now. On some of this season’s difficulties, Morales said, “There was a period of time where we had to adjust to our new coach. There were also a lot of injuries and illnesses that we faced. I’m so proud of my team for learning to be resilient over the season.” Her biggest accomplishments include winning First Team All-League four years in a row, and winning Most Valuable Player this year. Morales will be playing with the Sonoma State soccer team next fall.
Food that gets her going: Gatorade protein bars, because they make her feel healthy and ready to start working out.
Something she can’t live without: Her family, because “They’ve always been there to support me, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” she said.
Michael Crawford, Boys’ Wrestling
Captain Junior Michael Crawford began wrestling freshman year. After originally joining the football team, some upperclassmen suggested he try out wrestling, and he loved it. His journey has been a wonderful learning experience so far this year. He is always striving to improve, his biggest motivation being his opponents whom he has lost to. Along with being captain this year, Crawford went on to place fifth at the MSJ tournament and seventh at NCS. Crawford said, “I don’t really have plans to wrestle in college for now, but we’ll see.” His one piece of advice for his team is to constantly work hard in the room and to never give up in a match; with dedication like that, anything can be accomplished.
Food that gets him going: Sushi, sashimi, and poke bowls.
Something he can’t live without: Horchata, a drink that is just too delicious to live without.
Vishal Ramana, Boys’ Soccer
Throughout his entire 13-year journey in soccer, Captain Senior Vishal Ramana’s his greatest motivation is his family. As every season progressed, Ramana enjoyed getting to know his classmates and his team felt more like another family at the end of the season. As advice for younger players, Ramana said, “To always have fun while [you’re] playing. Sure, winning is important, but laughing on the field in the middle of the game is much more memorable.” His biggest accomplishment and most memorable game was against Washington High School, when MSJ came back from a 1-3 score, winning the game with a score of 4-3.
Food that gets him going: In-n-Out; he has it before every game as a pre-game snack, and has surprisingly never cramped up during a game.
Something he can’t live without: His contacts, because he is basically blind without them.
Graphic by ehs.svvsd.org