Winter Sports 2020 Wrap-Up

Students gathered on basketball courts, soccer pitches, and bouldering crags to hone their skills and face challenges during winter sports.
The winter sports season was filled with accomplishments. Interim athletic director, Tyler Popa, recaps the season:

There is something about winter sports that always gets me. I grew up in the Southwest, so when I mean winter sports, I mean 65 degrees, smelling the fresh cut grass on the pitch, or stepping out into a mild evening after a raucous basketball game in the gymnasium. Thacher athletes not only stepped onto the field and court this past winter, but also harnessed in for big climbs in the Climbing Program and even put on their Carhartt overalls and work boots for a winter full of trail work on the Twin Peaks trail.

This winter we had many athletic achievements to recognize. All three of the teams that made it to the CIF playoffs won at least one playoff game. Coming off a historic season, boys’ soccer did not disappoint. The highlight of the year might have been playing under the lights in front of a large crowd on a nice January evening. Girls’ soccer had a bounce back year: They made it all the way to the quarterfinal and lost a close game in Temecula to the eventual champions. The boys’ basketball team had a great run as well: They were undefeated in the Frontier League, had two convincing playoff wins at home, and made it all the way to the elite-eight. Skyler ’21 and Marcus ’21 were named co-MVPs in the Frontier League and provided great leadership for the team all year long. In total, Thacher teams had nine players recognized as 1st team all-league and 11 as 2nd team all-league. The collective work of every player and coach to support not only the team accomplishments, but the individuals themselves should be commended.

One highlight this year was receiving a complimentary comment from another athletic director at one of our monthly meetings. The comment came just after our JV girls’ basketball team persevered even though their opponent was far superior and the score was anything but close. In the last seconds of the game, one of our players hurled up a three-pointer. To the crowd’s delight—swish. The gym erupted, the clock ran to zero, and our fans stormed the court to celebrate this accomplishment. The athletic director, who was in attendance at that game, smiled as he told the room full of other directors, “They have the best fans, I just didn’t know if they knew they had lost.” Don’t be confused, Thacher is not about apathy or not caring. Rather, Thacher teaches its athletes to care about the right things and to do all things to the best of their ability. Life throws many things at you. Who knows, someday you might throw up a desperation three-pointer, and even though you lose, you can celebrate the small victories. 

Girls’ Varsity Basketball
The girls’ varsity basketball team persevered through multiple players’ injuries and a tough schedule due to a change in leagues. Each girl showed up ready to compete in every league game though the odds of a win were slim. More to the point, everyone played as if to embody the team cheer: 1,2,3… FAMILY!

Most Valuable Player: Maxine ’21
Most Improved Player: Claire ’20
Most Inspirational: Dechen ’21, Abbey ’20

Girls’ JV Basketball
The highlight of the season for the girls’ JV basketball team happened in a game against the much larger, St. Bonaventure team. In the final seconds, one of our players shot an incredible three-pointer! We were far behind our opponents, but recognizing this amazing shot, the crowd went wild, hugged, cheered, and rushed onto the court, surrounding our team with Toad love.

Boys’ Varsity Basketball
The boy’s varsity basketball team had a stellar season: they were undefeated in league play earning them the Frontier League championship; they won the Ojai Valley Classic for the first time, and they advanced to the quarter finals in the CIF playoffs. But the highlight of the season was their 64-59 victory over Cate in triple overtime in front of a packed Volt Gym during Alumni Day. 

League MVPs Marcus ’21 and Skyler ’21
Frontier League first team: Owen ’20
Frontier League second team: Tyler ’21
Frontier League coach of the year: Jason Carney

Most Valuable Player: Skyler ’21
Most Improved Player: Cyrus ’22

Boys’ JV Basketball
The turnout for boys’ basketball was so large this year, that Thacher had four teams. Every member of the team called the boys’ JV team scored in their first game against Grace Brethren. The Toads had a spirited comeback attempt that just fell short in an away game against Cate. Every time the coaches joined a scrimmage during practice… there was some great competitive play!

Most Valuable Player: Ben ’22, Ellis ’22
Most Improved Player: Hayden ’22

Boys’ JV B Basketball
The highlight of the season for the second JV team, JV B, was their marked improvement over the course of the season. In their second game against the OVS varsity team, the Toads lost by only two points after losing to them at the start of the season by 18. Tommy Brittingham ’20 had a three-minute hot streak in the first quarter of that game: he hit a 3-pointer, busted out a sick crossover, and took a charge.

Most Valuable Player: Charles ’21
Most Improved Player: Teddy ’21

Boys’ Frosh Basketball
The frosh boys’ basketball team played some exciting games. Highlights include two wins over Cate and a tough overtime loss in their last game vs. OVS. Overall, the boys had a great experience to complement their winter full-time riding commitment. “It was a fun bunch to coach!,” said Coach Fagan.

Most Valuable Player: Rob ’23
Most Improved Player: Adam ’23

Girls’ Varsity Soccer
The Thacher girls’ varsity soccer team had its most successful season in recent history. The team finished with a record of 10 wins 4 losses and 1 tie which put them in second place in the Frontier League and they advanced to the CIF Quarterfinals.

Most Valuable Player: Hattie ’23
Most Improved Player: Julia ’21
Outstanding Defender:  Luca ’20
Golden Boot: Jordan ’23
Coaches Award: Skye ’22, Alyssa ’22
Best Teammate: Tea ’20
Unsung Hero:  Maddy ’22

All CIF team: Jordan ’23, Hattie ’23
Frontier League first team: Jordan ’23, Hattie ’23, Luca ’20
Frontier League second team: Tea ’20, Maddie ’22, Sydney ’20, Julia ’21
Frontier League honorable mention: Skye ’22, Daisy ’22

Girls’ JV Soccer
Almost half of the members of the girls’ JV soccer team had never played soccer before, but they worked hard and improved throughout the season. Their hard work paid off, delivering wins during the last two games of the season. Eight of the players were moved up to the varsity team for next year. Good luck to them.

Boys’ Varsity Soccer
The highlight of the season for the boys’ varsity soccer team was the win against St. Bonaventure at home under the lights on a Friday night. The Toads had lost the two previous games against the Seraphs, but we were finally able to neutralize the player who had scored most of their goals. He only got the ball twice in the final match-up and scored both times. Final score: 3-2 in our favor.

Most Valuable Player: Oakley ’22
Most Improved Player: Lawrence ’22
Best Teammate: Jackson Wolfe ’20

Frontier League first team players: Oakley ’22, Patrick ’21, Jake ’20
Frontier League second team players: Jackson ’20, Satto ’21, Peter ’21, Lawrence ’22
Frontier League honorable mention: Elliott ’21, Jose ’20, Henry ’22

Rock Climbing
Highlights of the season included trips to Joshua Tree National Park, Lizard’s Mouth near Santa Barbara, as well as Foothill Crag and Potrero John Wall in Ojai. We climbed extensively on the boulders and small crags at Thacher, where the diversity of climbing on campus provides an excellent resource for developing fundamental climbing skills as well as for exploring more challenging routes. Once again, the seniors played an important role in helping us to teach students who were new to rock climbing.

Most Improved Climber: Keely ’22
Mentor Climber: Natalie Rie ’22, Cooper ’21, Jake ’20
Most Impressive Climbs: Cooper ’21
Fellowship of the Rope: Jake ’20 (3rd time)

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Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.