“The fall season brought us some tremendous successes, exciting games, and great school spirit,” said Athletic Director Pete Fagan.
The season began before school started when almost 70 athletes from five sports arrived for preseason training. “Our kids were focused and determined all season and never wavered in the commitment to their craft. During the season, we were treated to some memorable moments,” said Mr. Fagan.
The girls’ tennis team avenged a loss to Foothill Tech, with a come-from-behind victory to solidify their standing in the league and qualify for the postseason. The volleyball team delivered lots of excitement in the Voit Gym throughout their season. “They took to the courts and fought hard in every match, defeating Bishop Diego in a big league rivalry contest. Unfortunately, the volleyballers fell short in their postseason bid, but nevertheless provided us with some inspired play,” said Mr. Fagan. The gridiron football players won an exciting overtime victory at Villanova and entertained us all on Parents Weekend with a convincing victory over Blair High School. “And, saving the best for last, both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams continued their dominance,” said Mr. Fagan. “Both teams qualified for the State Championships in Fresno after rolling through the Southern Section finals and finishing strong.” The boys’ team finished 5th in the state and senior Ford finished sixth in the state overall. The girls’ team finished 14th in their class.
Mr. Fagan summed it up, “As is always the case, the student athletes of Thacher competed and prepared to their highest level and left it all out there. We are all proud to call ourselves Toads.
Boys' Cross Country
Last year’s southern section championship and runner-up finish in state was a historic landmark for The Thacher School. Losing five of the top seven runners from that team, expectations as a team were modest. Then, near the end of the summer, Fred Coleman stepped down as the head coach to focus his attention on fighting an early case of prostate cancer.
Starting with just seven runners during the preseason, the boys’ team eventually built its roster to 14 guys. Each and everyone of them improved in some way and went through some pretty grueling workouts. The goal of the Thacher program is to develop life-long runners. Running certainly becomes addicting, because few would voluntarily sign up for some of the workouts the cross country team endured. Upper school repeats, big hills, crazy eights, and the infamous mile repeats are many of the gritty workouts they used to become faster, more disciplined runners. Tyler Popa, the new head coach said, “At the end of the day, running is about finding how far you can push yourself both mentally and physically. Our team was committed to improvement and we saw the fruits of labor at the end of the season. Not really knowing if we’d even make it to state, we surprised ourselves and I’m sure many other programs by finishing third in the southern section and fifth overall in the state. A truly remarkable achievement considering this was somewhat of a rebuilding year. We owe much of our credit to our fearless leader, Fred Coleman who, by example, has showed us what it means to fight for the chance to continue running for health and wellness.”
Most Valuable Player: Ford ’19
Most Improved Player: Teddy ’21 and Johnny ’22
Most Inspirational: Colin ’19
Girls' Cross Country
The girls’ cross country team had an excellent year. Under the leadership of captains, Lily Harding ’19 and Caroline DelVecchio ’19, the team finished second in the League; fifth place in CIF Southern Sections; and 14th in State Division V.
Coach Sara Del Vecchio wrote, “From my perspective as coach, this team was among the greatest I have ever coached due to the incredible leadership of the captains and the dedication of each and every runner to give 100 percent. I have never worked with so many positive, uplifting, and committed athletes.” During pre-season the team stated that their two biggest goals were to have a great sense of camaraderie among all team members as their most important goal and to make it to State. They accomplished both, but most notable was the team’s overall sense of joy and fun. The girls agreed that this was their happiest, most enjoyable season. On a daily basis, the girls were committed to working their hardest and saving their sense of competition for the races. The team agreed to banish all negative expressions and to be only supportive and positive, and in this we were successful every single day. In terms of the “first scoreboard,” at one point the team was in third place in Southern California in Division 5, but the team suffered from a series of unfortunate events, including mono, severe stomach pain, and a foot injury that derailed our progress but not our sense of happiness. Virtually all the girls ran personal records over the course of the season, and that alone is an indicator of success.
Most Valuable Player: Barkley ’20
Most Improved Beginner: Sophie ’21
Most Improved Overall: Karina ’21
The volleyball team, lead by captains Jessica ’19 and Lulu ’19, finished the year ranked fourth in Division 9 with a 5-5 league record and 7-5 overall. In their second match-up against Bishop Diego, the Toads came from behind to win in four sets in front of a large, loud home crowd. While, it didn’t result in a win, coach Iona Popa described the final game of the season as notable: “A hard-fought match at home against Cate in our last game of the season was a season highlight.” She pointed out the play of three girls: Chrissy ’20 making the big kill; Libby ’19 diving for the point-saving dig; Jess ’19 with the timely block. Five players will be graduating this year, but they have laid the groundwork for next year’s team.
Most Valuable Players: Chrissy ’20, Libby ’19
Most Improved Player: Chloe ’21
Best Teammates: Jessica ’19, Abbey ’20
The Thacher football team played its first overtime game (Thacher 22—Villanova 20) in coach Snyder’s 13 years with the team. Coach described the game as a “nail-biter.” Remarkably, at half-time the score was 0-0. Under the leadership of quarterback Mike ’20, the Toads scored twice early in the second half with a pass to Tyler ’20 and a 13-yard run by Mike ’20. By the end of the game, Villanova had tied the score, and the game went into overtime. One more touchdown on a desperate, high-flying pitch to senior RB/OLB JJ, who stretched the ball over the goal line for the touchdown and a two-point conversion put the Toads ahead and even with one final touchdown. The Wildcats were unable to answer.
Most Valuable Player: Jackson ’20
Most Improved Player: JJ ’19
Most Inspirational: Alika ’19
During the fall season, dancers studied technique in three dance disciplines: ballet, modern, and jazz. Along with technique, they worked to building core strength, understand proper alignment, learning jumping and turning techniques, and master longer dance combinations. To supplement the courses taught by Ms. Vickery, dancers had six contemporary classes taught by Tracy Kofford, director of the Dance Department at SBCC, who offered challenging warm-ups and long combinations.
Most Inspirational Dancer: Grace ’19
Most Improved Dancers*: Isabella ’20, Sarah ’20
Most Improved Dancer**: Amber ’19
Teacher’s Award***: Marguerite ’20
*With previous experience
**New to dance this year
***Given to the dancer who is receptive to correction, with a positive attitude, who is supportive of all dancers and the teacher.
All 25 rock climbing team members challenged themselves, supported each other, celebrated each other’s successes, and cherished their time spent together on the rocks, trails, and ridges of our beautiful campus and local mountains. While they don’t maintain a team win/loss record, climbers do experience plenty of victories and defeats. As with team sports, their victories result from many hours (sometimes calculated in weeks and months) of dedicated practice and determined effort. These victories are often quiet, personal moments that are both deeply satisfying and understandably evanescent. “We celebrate and cherished the unique bond between teammates, one that is both symbolically and literally represented by the tying of a double-eight knot at each end of the climbing rope that links us,” wrote climbing coach, Brian Pidduck CdeP 1992.
The Most Improved Climber Award: Peter ’21, George ’19, and Yao ’19.
The Mentor Climber Award*: Owen ’20
The Fellowship of the Rope Award**: Jake ’20.
*The most supportive, encouraging, instructive and helpful climber, especially to the new climbers in the program
**The climber who best embodied the spirit of adventure, camaraderie, embracing physical and mental challenge, safety, and a love for the simple act of climbing in the outdoors.
Girls' Varsity Tennis
After graduating seven seniors last year, expectations were that it would be a rebuilding year. That was far from the case. The team’s overall record was 9-3 with a loss in the first round of the CIF Division 2 playoffs to Santa Barbara High School. They had many satisfying wins, including avenging an early season loss to Foothill Tech, when the Toads beat the Dragons at home at the end of the season. Jacqueline Kong won her match against their number two player to seal the 10-8 victory. Garnering All-League honors were Piper Stacy and Margaret Phipps in doubles and Jacqueline Kong and Natalie Cheng in singles. The girls fought hard all season and competed at every turn.
Most Valuable Player: Jacqueline ’20
Most Improved Player: Dechan ’21
Most Valuable Teammate: Tea ’20
This team did great work during practices and games this year. With 17 players it was a large group when all were there. The girls did a great job of sharing playing time this season—which is difficult with such a large team. Whether the games were won or lost, this team had many extended rallies against some extremely difficult competition. They were playing at a fairly high level by the season’s end. “It was great to see their individual volleyball skills and their team play strengthen over the course of the season,” said coach Omansiek, “This was certainly a fun group to coach this year!”
Most Valuable Player: Andrea ’19
Most Improved Player: Stefanie ’19, Fatoumata ’20, Alyssa ’22
Boys' JV Cross Country
Most Inspirational: Nathan ’22*
*Nathan ran while engaged in the horse program as well as on his weekends and competed in every race offered just to get in shape.