Senior athletes look back at their athletic seasons

Senior+Julissa+Jaco+played+on+the+girls+water+polo+team+for+three+years.+She+won+a+CIF+championship+during+her+last+year+on+the+team.

Valeria Luquin

Senior Julissa Jaco played on the girls water polo team for three years. She won a CIF championship during her last year on the team.

Like many student-athletes, those at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School juggle academics and long hours of practice for their sport. Here is a look at some of the students who played on a team at Birmingham Community Charter High School at some point of their high school life.

QUEEN BASKERVILLE 

By Giselle Kahlil

Queen Baskerville is on the Birmingham Community Charter High School track team as a long and triple jumper. Sadly, her season got cut early due to COVID-19. 

“The biggest lesson I learned was not to rely solely on sports because my final year got taken away from me,” Baskerville said.

Baskerville was nominated for and won the “Most Likely To Be An Olympian” award. One of her biggest achievements was when she got nominated for a track award from the city and won

“Keeping up with school and sports at once is definitely tiring. It took me a while to learn how to manage my schedule, but once I figured it out, everything got a little easier,” she said. 

Baskerville has been doing track for two years so far. She wanted to have a sport on her transcript and ended up choosing track. During her years of playing, she managed to stay in shape whilst befriending her teammates. 

“The nomination was a surprise. I am flattered at the thought that my peers see me excelling as an athlete in my future. I welcome that energy and push which comes with the nomination and the title,” Baskerville said humbly. 

Her favorite memory while playing in track was during a meet because she took her team to a win in the 4×1 relay. Even though she has been so successful in track, she has other goals in life for her future which stray away from sports. 

“I need to keep my head up, keep running towards my goals, and continue doing what makes me happy,”  she said. “I will be pursuing a career in the art industry and my first venture will be opening a small business.”

In her sophomore year, Olivia Bullock was the varsity team’s goalie. In this photo, Bullock, in the pink shirt, protects the goal during a close home game against William Taft Charter High School. (Jade Campbell)

OLIVIA BULLOCK

By Jacqueline Prava

From playing soccer at a young age to tee-ball and softball, senior athlete Olivia Bullock has found her passion for sports and developed her skills throughout years of dedication. 

One of her favorite memories was from the recent soccer season when her team competed against Chatsworth High School on Feb. 7, which they won (1-0). The opposing team was very competitive. A girl from the opposing team kneed Bullock on the back of her leg causing her to fall. Since the girl was behind Bullock, she fell too. 

“I had the girl under me bucking like a horse, so every time I tried to stand, I couldn’t get up to get off her,” Bullock said.

After the incident, the captain on the other team came marching over and as Bullock got up, the captain then shoved Bullock causing the Birmingham team to be furious. As angry as Bullock was, she remained calm on the outside to continue the game and lead her team to victory. 

“It’s one of my proudest moments,” Bullock said. “Afterward, my team congratulated me on an almost perfect game and on keeping my composure in the midst of all of it.”

Since Bullock is 5’8, which is a little taller than the rest of the girls on her team, she served as Birmingham Community Charter High School’s soccer goalie for three years and for her senior year was going to play defense. Playing for the Patriot’s varsity soccer and junior varsity softball, Bullock made many unforgettable memories with her loving teammates

Playing various sports is a lot of work and requires a lot of energy. As an all-rounder, Bullock has managed to be successful in both academics and athletics. Maintaining an amazing grade average, Bullock is one of three valedictorians in Daniel Pearl Magnet High School 2020 graduating class and will be attending UCLA this fall. 

“I owe probably a lot to the teachers that had a predictable schedule because the amount of time I actually did school work is suspiciously low and the grades I got suspiciously high,” Bullock said. “Continuing to play soccer would be a dream, especially with a Division 1 school like UCLA.”

Bullock will be majoring in mathematics as she wants to be a teacher in the future. Although she would love to play soccer, she believes it would not fit her schedule and she wouldn’t be able to give it her all. 

“It’s really unfair to join with your only reliable skill being reliable at all, and then not be able to deliver on that,” Bullock expresses. 

With that said, Bullock will still continue to play outside of school with her team at American Youth Soccer Organization, who she’s been playing with since she was eight. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty with sports. Unfortunately, this spring season was cut short for every athlete.

“To be quite truthful, I have the most mixed feelings about not playing,” Bullock said.

If she had gotten to play softball her senior year, she would’ve moved up to varsity because she played junior varsity for the past three years. She is, however, grateful that soccer started early and she still got to play this season.

“If I didn’t get to play one more year of soccer, I think I would have broken down,” Bullock explained. 

She is super passionate about playing sports and dedicated years to her team. It would’ve upset her knowing that she wouldn’t be recognized for her dedication and also not being able to play with her team at school anymore.

“Especially knowing how far I’d come, that after three years of playing goalie, I would finally be playing defense,” Bullock said.

MIA GARCIA

By Zuena Islam

Mia Garcia expanded beyond her gymnastic abilities and cartwheeled her way into the world of singles tennis. 

  “I got inspired because I liked the feeling of singles,” 17-year-old Garcia said. “I like solo sports, like gymnastics.”

Garcia’s journey with the Patriots’ varsity tennis team at Birmingham Charter High School began recently in the fall semester of 2019. Though the time has been brief, she hopes to continue sports after high school where new adventures await her in college. The most enjoyable component she finds in the sport is the unity and closeness of her crew. 

“I liked having the team with me,” she said. “I like the talks and laughs we have.”

Out of all the games from last semester, she recalls the last one being the most memorable and favorite. Her team competed against Ulysses S. Grant High School in November, which resulted in the Patriots’ loss. Despite the defeat, the last season ended with a special ceremony, in which their coach Jack Tulatammagul handed out goodie bags and flowers, along with a sentimental speech about each senior graduating. 

“It was hot and we were all tired after, but we had an amazing season,” she said. 

Due to the pandemic closing schools and discontinuing all activity, athletes cope with being unable to play sports and compete in games. Students, such as Garcia are unable to practice at all because of limited space in their homes. Now that her high school tennis career has been wrapped up in a bow and officially ended, she offers advice for future student tennis players.

“Try it out,” Garcia said. “It’s a lot of work, great for exercising and finding new friends.”

Senior Julissa Jaco played on the girls water polo team for three years. She won a CIF championship during her last year on the team. (Valeria Luquin)

JULISSA JACO RODRIGUEZ

By Ashley Harrison

Whenever she plays, Julissa Jaco Rodriguez aims to improve so in the next match she can be even better. Her hard work in the water paid off when she and the rest of the water polo team won the city championship.

“My favorite memory is the whole process it takes to win championships,” said Jaco, who was on the Birmingham Community Charter High School team for three years. “All the hard work gets paid at last.” 

After being named city champs, the team went to the state championships and in the end, they got to second place. 

“My favorite part about sports is that you get to meet more scholar-athletes like you with the same mentality to be better and better every time,” said Jaco, who graduated high school in just three years.

She was named most improved player title two years ago. Just last year, she got the most valuable player and CIF medals.

The position she plays the most is on the left wing but in water polo you move around a lot, so her position changes often. 

When it comes to the future, she does not plan on doing sports. She will be attending California State University Northridge and major in civil engineering.

Senior Tylin Jarrett played boys basketball for three years. He served as a team captain for two years. (Harlow Frank)

TYLIN JARRETT

By Nathalie Miranda

Tylin Jarrett started playing competitive basketball when he was four years old and didn’t stop until he was 17. 

“I truly love playing competitive basketball,” Jarrett said. “I’ve loved all the teams I’ve played for.”

Jarrett played forward and center on the basketball team for Birmingham Community Charter High School. He was captain the first two years of being on the team. His third year was mostly an equal amount of team effort all around. However, Jarrett’s love and passion for music was much stronger than his love for basketball. After much consideration, Jarrett decided to quit basketball after his junior year.

“Varsity basketball at Birmingham is very fun but very time-consuming,” Jarrett said. “I wasn’t willing to commit that much time and energy for another year if I wasn’t going to pursue it further on.”

Jarrett started playing when he was two years old and started competing not long after. Playing for different teams and meeting many different people was something Jarrett particularly loved about playing basketball. Being part of a team that had each other’s backs no matter what is definitely something Jarrett grew to love during his time playing competitively. 

“We were a very good team but we did have our ups and downs,” Jarrett said. “In the end, we came out proud of ourselves and what we’d accomplished.”

Because of COVID-19, no one has really had a chance to see their friends. Many student-athletes haven’t been able to play with their teams. Jarrett hasn’t played basketball all school year but during this time in quarantine, he’s gotten to know what it feels like to not be able to play with a team even if he wanted to. Being stuck at home is making everyone feel nostalgic for the normalcy we had only a few months ago, Jarrett being no exception. 

“I really miss playing competitively, just for fun, and I miss the social interaction,” Jarrett said. “I miss the fire that is lit under me when I’m on the court, even if I don’t play for the school anymore.”  

MADISON METZ   

By Angela Ledesma

Madison Metz was content with only watching her friends play soccer, but soon enough she became entranced by the sport. Becoming a vital team player, she led her friends to victory. 

“I was inspired to play because my best friend played,” Metz said. “I watched her games and I always felt the urge to get in the games and play.”   

 Soon, Metz worked up the courage and asked for a spot on the team. She was only 12 at the time but Metz was accepted and became the last defender. The last defender is one of the closest defenders to the goalposts, having primary responsibility organizing the defense in the back. 

“My favorite memory would probably be in my sophomore year of high school, when I played with one of my best friends, Rosalinda,” Metz aid. “She assisted me with a ball from a corner kick, and I scored as a defender. We celebrated, and I was so proud of myself. Everyone around me made me feel so good, and my coach then wanted me to start scoring for the team.” Metz said. 

Metz was a last defender for Birmingham Community Charter High School. She decided to not play this year since she was focusing on the next step in her life: college. 

Though Metz is focusing on college, she did play soccer for fun. She’s also considering playing for California State University Northridge, a Division 1 school. 

 “Soccer means a lot to me because it has inspired me and shaped me as a person, Metz said.  “When playing a sport, you learn a lot of characteristics and you gain some. It definitely has built me up along with my attitude towards many things.”

Though playing a sport competitively can be stressful, you gain a lot from it, she says.

“My advice to future student-athletes would be never give up,” Metz said. “No matter what anyone tells you, do not let your guard down. We all have our good days along with our bad days. Along with that, learn to balance school and sports.” 

SILVANNA NUÑEZ

By Delilah Brumer

Silvanna Nuñez has played varsity tennis for two years and has grown and learned a lot during this time.

“I would say my biggest achievement was becoming a better team player,” 17-year-old Nuñez said. “My teammates are definitely super kind and supportive.”

Nuñez is a senior attending Daniel Pearl Magnet High School. She plays for the Birmingham Community Charter High School girls’ varsity tennis team. For Nuñez, one of the challenges of being a student-athlete is balancing schoolwork and tennis. She manages her work well, but sometimes has difficulty juggling sports and schoolwork. The most challenging class she is taking is precalculus.

“I feel like when I have a busier schedule I stay more on top of my stuff,” Nuñez said. 

Nuñez has had several close and intense games, including a recent game against Chatsworth Charter High School, in which the teams kept trading the lead. Although she has played many games over the years, she still sometimes feels worried before she begins playing. 

“I get really excited and also really nervous because there is a lot of pressure on me,” Nuñez said.

Due to the coronavirus, spring school sports were canceled. This has affected Nuñez because, although her games are in the fall, she has had to miss spring practice and conditioning. 

“I don’t really play in the spring, but I’m kind of sad,” Nuñez said. 

As a graduating senior, Nuñez has several pieces of advice for future athletes. Her understanding of perseverance has been greatly influenced by playing tennis.

“I would say don’t give up and put in the work.” said Nuñez, who will attend Santa Monica College and is unsure if she will play tennis for the school.

Senior Keona Paniagua received several awards while doing track and field, basketball and volleyball throughout her high school career. (Marjina Haque)

KEONA PANIAGUA

By Naamah Silcott

Whether you’ve heard of her through sports, academics, leadership or her scholarship, Keona Paniagua’s life as a student-athlete is full of renowned and praised accomplishments; but she didn’t get there alone.

“My teammates are everything to me. Some of my closest friendships were made during volleyball, basketball, and track season,” 17-year-old Paniagua said. “I made an effort to learn something from every person I came across and did my best to appreciate the people around me.”

During high school, Paniagua played many different positions or participated in many track meets for Birmingham Community Charter High School (BCCHS). During volleyball season, she played middle blocker. For track and field, she ran the 100m hurdle, 300m hurdle and did high jump on track and field all 4 years. For basketball, she was constantly switching positions but played power forward for the most part. Even if this is the end of this chapter in her life, a new one is about to begin.

As a student-athlete, she has accomplished many feats. She has won awards in all of the sports she has played, including Coaches Award (2016, 2017), Second Team All-League (2017, 2018, 2019), Second Team All-City (2018, 2019), Co MVP (2019) during Volleyball, First Team All-League JV (2017-2018), Outstanding Defensive Player (2016-2017), Outstanding Rebounder (2017-2018) during Basketball, and Frosh-Soph Girls City High Jump Champion (2017), Frosh-Soph Girls City High Jump Runner Up (2018), High Jump West Valley League Champ (2017, 2018) and Outstanding Leader (2019) during Track & Field. 

She’s been awarded tremendously for all that she has accomplished during all four years of high school; from playing volleyball and running for track & field, she’s often been recognized for her talent, and rightfully so.

I never really planned on joining the basketball or track team. I think it kind of just happened. I wanted to play volleyball because my aunts played in high school, and I really look up to them,” 17-year-old Paniagua said.  “I really made an effort to cherish every game, every practice, every workout, and every tournament.”

Even so, Paniagua’s time with sports was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially this year’s track & field season.

“I’m pretty bummed about it. Track has been a really important part of my life for the past few years. I’m definitely still processing it and kind of just trying not to think about it since I know there’s nothing I can really do,” 17-year-old Paniagua said.

 Despite these trying times, Paniagua still looks forward to college. She doesn’t plan on continuing sports in college because it is a Division 1 team, but she is considering collegiate boxing, whether they have a team already or if she has to start one.

Paniagua plans on majoring in sports medicine and minoring in nonprofit management at Pepperdine University, where she has a full-ride scholarship to attend by the Posse Foundation. 

Paniagua has left a mark on two schools both academically and athletically, and her passion for what she does and strives for greatness is sure to be remembered.

My advice to future athletes would be to have fun, keep your priorities straight, and keep an open mind,” 17-year-old Paniagua said. “Sports aren’t just physically demanding, and offer opportunities for you to grow in ways you could never imagine. You just have to be aware of the fact that that often means coming out of your comfort zone.”

Senior Christopher Rodriguez joined the boys soccer team during his senior year and immediately excelled. He is committed to play for Moorpark Community College after high school. (Sara Marquez)

CHRISTOPHER RODRIGUEZ

By Jeffrey Vasquez

At the age of three, Christopher Rodriguez played for fun and then went on to play competitively once he turned 10 years old. 

“One of my biggest achievements is coming back from injuries,” Rodriguez said.

He joined the varsity team at Birmingham Community Charter High School as a starter during his senior year. Rodriguez helped the team reach second in the league with a record of 6-2-2.

Rodriguez was able to help his team as he played. Before he joined the Patriots, he focused on playing only for his club team for three years in high school until he chose to play for the Patriots as a senior.

“My first goal was against Valencia in a preseason game tournament. I scored a header that won the game,” Rodriguez said.

His father was his source of inspiration that made him like the sport and improve his performance on the field. He is determined to keep pushing himself to become better for the next game. He is set to play soccer after high school at Moorpark Community College.

“I grew up watching my dad play all the time and I would always go to his Sunday League games when I was younger,” Rodriguez said. 

Even though this year was his last and only season playing for the Patriots, he has made a lot of memories. He has reached another level of competitiveness and has learned what to improve on from his coach and teammates. He has learned to be a better leader and not give up even when it’s a bad game. Rodriguez recommends to keep going and give it your all.

 “To the future athletes, like what my coach told me: dreams are dreams without goals and what I mean by that is anybody can enter without going,” Rodriguez said. “But the ones who make it are the ones who dream with goals such as training and making sacrifices.”

Senior Maria Ruiz played Lacrosse for two years. Even though she stopped playing after her Junior year, she continued to practice her skills. (Casey Wanatick) 

MARIA RUIZ

By Emily Short

One of the greatest accomplishments that Maria Ruiz had the pleasure of being a part of was when the girls lacrosse team won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championships during her sophomore year. They won the game 10-6 against the Palisades Dolphins, marking the team’s 14th win in 2018. 

“I had so much fun in lacrosse,” said Ruiz, who played lacrosse for two years. “My teammates and I were always joking around and encouraging each other. We always had each other’s back.”

The city championship game was very intense and Ruiz and her teammates were sure they were done for. In the end, they won with four points ahead of the Dolphins. 

 “My favorite part about playing lacrosse was definitely the game,” said Ruiz, who was a midfielder on the varsity team. “I’m a midfielder so I’m always moving around so there’s never a dull moment. Running up and down the field really made me feel alive.”

 Ruiz had a pretty difficult time trying to balance school work and playing lacrosse. She was never really good with managing time for school work. She was always scrambling to get her work done so she could pass her classes. Eventually, she got the hang of balancing school work and lacrosse and passed her classes. Even in moments where she felt stressed, she still gave it her all and was able to balance the two equally.

 “I always go out and practice on my own whenever I can,” Ruiz said 

She didn’t play during her senior year but she still practices at home when she has the chance to. Ruiz dedicates some of her time playing lacrosse, but she also has school work to deal with. She’s determined to pass and finish all of her classes. 

 “I would say, really throw yourself into your practices and games. Give it your all and always enjoy yourself in everything you do,” Ruiz said.

Senior Matthew Spahr only got to play one volleball game this season due to his injury and the season being cut short. That still didn’t stop him from trying his best. (Mahali Sanchez)

MATTHEW SPAHR

By Dashiell Caloroso

Matthew Spahr only got to play in one volleyball game this season, something that he never anticipated.

“I only got to play one game this season because I got injured after my first game and then the whole pandemic happened,” 18-year-old Spahr said. 

Spahr is a senior and this was his first year playing volleyball at Birmingham Community Charter High School. He plays middle blocker in volleyball, which both does defense and offense for his team, and helps the outside hitters get blocks while on defense, and score points in the middle on offense. 

“I’m most proud of myself for trying something new, making my friends and family proud,” said Spahr, who plans to attend CSUN in the fall. “I got really fired up at the game I played when my friends came to cheer me on.”

Spahr is most proud of finally getting to try this sport because of new social skills he got to learn by meeting new people and also learning self-discipline. He explained that he doesn’t want to let his team down by sticking to new schedules to have more time to train and practice.

“My team, whether they knew it or not, pushed me to try my best so I wouldn’t let them down,” explained Spahr, “I wouldn’t really call it brotherhood, but we became a really tight-neck group after a while.”

Spahr sets an example showing many other people interested in doing a sport, that you should give it a shot and see what happens. It’s a brand new experience for anyone trying something new, but people such as Spahr can learn something new every day.

“If you want to do a sport go for it, the worst thing that will happen is you not making the team, otherwise you’ll have a great time,” he said.