Varsity Football Injuries: Bad Luck or Dirty Plays?

By Aiden Wacksman

Injuries have plagued the Oak Hall varsity football team this season, leaving many players on the sidelines. 

Seniors such as quarterback Georgi El-Semarani, wide receiver William Rodriguez, and running back Carter Coleman have suffered injuries. While Coleman has already returned to the field of play, and El-Semarani hopes to play on Sept. 24 against Eagle’s View High School, Rodriguez’s injury is more severe.

Although Head coach R.J. Fuhr believed that most of the injuries were “bad luck”, he argued that Coleman’s injury was caused by a late hit. The senior was bent over a pile, and a player from the opposing team slammed into him. “I was pretty upset about that because the referees didn’t call a penalty,” Fuhr explained. These injuries have been especially difficult to deal with because the team is smaller. Thus, injuries have an even greater impact. “Missing four players is almost like missing eight,” Fuhr said. 

He added that this season has been very difficult from a coaching perspective. “In my 20-plus years of coaching, this has been the hardest start to a season,” he stated. The passing of coaches Eli Walker and David Clark along with the injured players has also made things difficult for both coaches and players. “For us to be 3-0 is a testament to the kids’ resilience and toughness,” he said. 

Senior quarterback Georgi El-Semarani (R) gives freshman quarterback Dakota Brower a pep talk before the next play

Rodriguez played on the varsity football team in his freshman and sophomore years but did not spend his junior year with them. In the third game of this season, he suffered a severe injury. “I got hit on a kickoff and fell on my arm, hyperextending my elbow,” he explained. Rodriguez won’t be able to play for the next three weeks and could miss even more time. “[Not being able to play for a lengthy amount of time] sucks since it’s my senior year,” he stated. 

El-Semarani began his first full season with the varsity team this year. Unfortunately, in the second game of the season, he twisted his ankle on a quarterback draw. Now, he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to play again. 

“Our [team’s] mentality is ‘next man up’,” he explained. He trusts his teammates to take the helm, but El-Semarani is frustrated that he can’t practice or exercise. “[Just sitting on the sidelines] stinks, but it’s fun to cheer on my teammates,” he said. El-Semarani added that he was proud of the younger athletes for stepping up to the plate.

Since many of the more experienced players have been sidelined, younger athletes have been called to action. One of them is freshman backup quarterback Dakota Brower, who led the team to a thrilling 30-23 victory over Seven Rivers Christian. He threw for 182 yards, two touchdowns, and completed a last-second touchdown pass to junior tight end Dylan Provencher.

“Injuries have really made it a struggle for the team… but we have been able to overcome it,” Brower said. Similar to Fuhr, he believes that most of the injuries were bad luck. He also explained how his injured teammates have motivated him. “It really made me want to work harder and do better for them,” Brower explained. Although he feels comfortable in the role of starting quarterback, it was not easy for the team at first. “[My teammates] were still getting used to having a freshman quarterback,” he stated. 

Q & A with Bec & J

By Rebecca Lillie and Julia McMahon

Welcome back to “Q & A with Bec & J” where we ask Oak Hall students, faculty, and staff a random question every week! Our question this week is: “What makes you the happiest?” 

This week’s question was suggested by Upper School English teacher Andy Westfall. Westfall said that there is far too much negativity going on right now and everyone needed a reminder of the things that make them happy! 

Despite the state of the world, our Eagles have plenty to be happy about. This was our first week traveling down to the Oak Hall’s Lower School. Ms. Sexton’s third graders were ecstatic to speak about the things that make them happy. Most Lower School students spoke about family and friends When Kennedy M. was asked about what makes her the happiest, she responded with “Usually when my papa picks me up and we go out for ice cream.” Fellow third grader Curtis H. was quick to tell us that spending time with family makes him the happiest. It is no surprise that these little Eagles love to have fun! Ella M. said that she is happy when she plays with her friends Not only are these eagles having fun outside the classroom but also inside the classroom. Kate M. was the most enthusiastic about her answer, “Thinking about how happy animals are in their habitats!” Though, it seems like she was not the only animal lover in the classroom as Jackson H. said that he is the happiest when he is playing with his cat. 

Many of the older Eagles gave some heartwarming answers to this week’s question. Senior Reece Olinger and freshman Madison Ocariz gave answers similar to some of our Lower School students. After being asked, Olinger replied sweetly and said that spending quality time with her family and friends makes her the happiest. Ocariz is happiest when she is playing sports and hanging out with friends. Upper School math teacher Christine Gutierrez is the very definition of a great teacher when she said she is happiest when she is helping others. 

Though several answers from our Upper School students were practical, many students’ answers made us laugh. Sophomore Harrison Beach said he was the happiest when he beat classmate Quinten Dragstedt in fantasy football! It seems like these Eagles are quite competitive! Sophomore Lucas Katz is another competitive Eagle. Katz is the captain of the boys’ golf team and obviously had to give a shoutout to them! “What makes me happy is seeing my golf team do well in tournaments and seeing the improvement of everyone on the golf team,” stated Katz (Go Eagles!). Senior Kaylin Hogan gave a big compliment to Upper School math teacher Paul McInerney. “Mr. Mac’s colorful shoes,” Hogan answered. I guess you could say that Mr. McInerney’s shoes really do brighten up her day! Senior Savi Gilson and freshman Blaike Ducharme gave corresponding answers. Ducharme answered with “Savi the senior” while Gilson answered with “Blaike Ducharme the freshman.” 

This week’s question made a lot of students think and a lot of students laugh. There are so many things to be grateful for and so many things to be happy about, even the small things. It is so refreshing to take some time out of your day and think about all the good things, we encourage you to give it a try. 

Student Spotlight: Jennifer Berthy

By Tori Kitchens

Oak Hall Arts Conservatory Program (ACP) member and student-athlete, Jennifer Berthy is doing everything she can to enjoy her senior year after joining the Oak Hall community five years ago. She is the president of the Oak Hall Thespian troupe, Dance Marathon President, and the captain of the girl’s swimming, soccer, and lacrosse teams. To Berthy, being a student-athlete means her focus needs to be prioritized on her academics before participating in athletics. In addition, Berthy is a part of the ACP Theater program at Oak Hall, and she has been dedicated to the program for the past five years.

After moving to Clearwater when she was eight, Berthy joined a few athletic clubs which included swimming. When she transferred to Oak Hall, the three-sport athlete found that she was a talented competitor in swimming and became a leader on the team. In her freshman year, Berthy was given the chance to officially become a leader on her team by taking on the role of captain, which she has proudly served as for all four years. Berthy explained that having older girls on the team look up to her was a different, but enjoyable, experience.

For Berthy, joining soccer was not something she expected to do. Wanting to stay active during swimming’s offseason, she chose to spend the winter playing soccer alongside her friends. “I played soccer when I was in fifth through seventh grade. In sixth and seventh grade, I played on both [junior varsity] and varsity because varsity needed more girls in some of their games,” she explained. 

While living in Clearwater, Berthy also joined a club lacrosse team after being introduced to the sport by her middle school best friend. From 2016-2018 joined the varsity squad in her eighth-grade year, after some convincing from then-girls lacrosse coach Deanna Majeski. In contrast to her role on the swim team, “I was the youngest one there, and it was different than swimming because I wasn’t as good as the older girls,” she said. 

Jen Berthy (R) and Peyton Nembhard swing Carson Holley in “Matilda”

After doing theater for the first time in eighth grade, Berthy decided to enter high school theater by auditioning for ACP. Shocked that she had been accepted, Berthy was prepared to work hard. “I like the idea that we were tight, and it was a small community, and we were able to work well together,” she mentioned. In her time at OHS, Berthy has played the roles of a reporter and the dad in James and the Giant Peach and a Big Kid and Rudolpho in Matilda. The actress is most excited about playing the Cowardly Lion in this year’s fall production of The Wizard of Oz

As a senior, Berthy has set many goals for herself including a district championship in lacrosse and acceptance to the University of Florida, where she intends to pursue a degree in the sports industry or forensics. Berthy wants to leave behind a legacy of being a valuable supporter and role model for the younger members of the programs she is involved in. 

A-Z with Jennifer

A – Advice you’d give to your freshman-self? Don’t feel like you have to do everything.
B – Best pre-game or meet meal? Yogurt.
C – Career goals? To do something in sports. 
D – Favorite dessert? Key lime pie. 
E – Most entertaining class? My English class with Campbell last year.
F – Favorite high school moment? Our 9th grade field trip.
G – Goals for your senior year? To win districts for lacrosse. 
H – What college are you hoping to attend? UF.
I – Interesting thing you do outside of the arts and athletics? Read. 
J – Favorite joke? The one about waves waving to waves. 
K – Keys to maintaining homework? Make sure you have a schedule, and do it a couple days beforehand. 
L – Least favorite practice drill? Envelopes.
M – Music you listen to? Country, theater, and 90’s bands.
N – Netflix or Hulu? Netflix.
O – What other sport would you like to try? Cheerleading. 
P – Preparations for a big game, meet, or performance? Sleeping, drinking orange juice, and having some fruit. 
Q – Question you would ask your future self? What do I end up majoring in?
R – Most relaxing part of your day? Sleeping. 
S – What would your senior superlative be? Most rounded, well-rounded student. 
T – Favorite TV show? “Vampire Diaries”. 
U – Most underrated musical? “Mean Girls”. 
V – Favorite vacation spot? The beach. 
W – What does it mean to you to be an Eagle? Always supporting your classmates and teammates.
X – Have you ever had an x-ray? Nope!
Y – What would you like your impact to younger athletes and thespians? For them to think of me as a role model and know that they can always come to me no matter what.
Z – What is your zodiac sign? Libra. 

Faculty Spotlight: Amanda Metzler

By Sydney Jurecko                          

Oak Hall’s Upper School new learning specialist, Amanda Metzler, has dedicated her life to helping students enjoy something she used to struggle with. Metzler is from Jacksonville but attended college at the University of Florida. UF was also where she was teaching before she came to Oak Hall. There, she was a learning specialist, but also a teacher of a class called “Uncommon Reads”, where she selected the “Harry Potter” series and taught two classes on it. 

Her reason for becoming a learning specialist is because when she was younger, she did not like reading. “It was definitely an area that was hard for me, and I just wasn’t engaged in it,” she shared. A really great teacher who spent a lot of time with her completely changed her mind set on reading. The main reason for becoming a learning specialist is because of the amazing teachers that inspired her. Now, she loves the subject she once loathed so much that she taught a whole class solely based on the idea of reading. 

Metzler is a friendly face to students needing assistance

While describing her job as a learning specialist, she stated, “It’s part of my job to meet with students, faculty, staff and help in any way I can with regards to learning for students.” She understands the job varies based on the school environment. At OHS, Her main goal is to be able to help students in any way to strengthen their learning potential. She teaches strategies for note taking, test taking, study habits, and much more. Metzler also helps teachers who ask for her assistance in enhancing their student’s learning abilities. 

She spends most of her free time with her five month old daughter. She also enjoys attending Gator sporting events, playing board games, and running. She has run multiple half marathons, 15k’s, and other long-distance runs. Unfortunately, an injury has side-tracked her for now.

With a few months on the job under her belt, Metzler can already see how OHS is a very special and loving community.