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Seniors Reflect on Their Sports Seasons Throughout Hopkins

Sophia Zhao ’23, Assistant Sports Editor Hanna Jennings ’24, Campus Correspondent
As seniors are starting to prepare for a new chapter in their lives, they are also reflecting on some of their favorite athletic memories during their time on The Hill, as well as their experiences in the unprecedented fall of 2020.
Captain of Boys Squash, Nick Wilkinson ’21, has great memories from the entirety of his Hopkins athletics experience: “Overall, my experience playing on the Hopkins squash team all four years has been the highlight of all the squash I’ve played in my life. Freshman year was one of my favorite years. I was #1 in the line-up most of the season which was exciting for me. I got to experience my first team dinners, and I got to know some of the seniors at the school... Sophomore year was a good year was the closest the team had ever been. We had our best performance yet at DII nationals, coming in third place or 19 in the country, and we came second in the FAA’s... My junior year was my favorite year. [We won] DII nationals and we were 17 in the country, the best in Hopkins history.”

Being part of a team also helped make the transition to high school a much easier experience. Football captain John Stanley ’21 said, “When I first arrived at Hopkins my freshman year, I was nervous and unfamiliar with my surroundings. I didn’t know many kids in my classes, but I immediately felt a part of the football team. This has remained constant throughout my four years here.” Field Hockey captain Fiona O’Brien ’21 said, “Sports have shaped my Hopkins experience. Growing up, I played five sports, and then at Hopkins I transitioned to three, one for each season. ... I was able to see my friends, and we bonded over our wins and even our losses. I was never confined to just one friend group because I had my field hockey friends, my basketball friends and my lacrosse friends. I was able to meet people from all different grades as well. Freshman year I looked up to the seniors and now I try to advise the freshmen in any way I can.” Jack Kealey ’21, said, “The only sport I played before Hopkins was tennis. I wasn’t too invested in it, but sophomore year I tried out for JV and made it on the team. I started out in the fourteenth spot out of fifteen players and was shy around this team of much stronger players who were already friends. But over the course of the season, the captains and older team members welcomed me and made me feel like a part of the team even though I wasn’t great at tennis at the start. ... I felt like I’d developed a close bond with my teammates and I knew I’d improved majorly. My experience reached its peak when I was chosen to be co- captain of the next year’s team. It was incredible starting out as a shy rookie and gaining so much confidence and friendship over the season that I could become a captain of the team. The Athletics department at Hopkins fosters a welcoming environment for all players, and I really feel like that allowed me to improve and thrive and made my Hopkins experience overall so much more memorable.”

Varsity Football player Evan Alfandre ’21 reflected on this unusual year: “One thing that remained the same is the collective motivation to get better. Every day at practice, the team was ready to work hard to improve, just as we are in any year.” Ranease Brown ’21, captain of Girls Cross Country, reiterated this point, saying, “The heart of the Cross Country team has not changed from last year because we all brought the same drive and determination from previous years.” Stanley said, “What hurts me the most is that I have absolutely zero doubt that we would have won it all this year if given the chance. Although I wasn’t able to have the senior season that I envisioned having as a freshman, I was really happy with how we were able to get a lot better mentally and physically even during the pandemic. Though we didn’t have a season, I’m so excited for Team 149 to dominate and win a championship next year. I’m so glad for everything that’s come with my four years of Hopkins football. Though I won’t be able to call myself a champion, I’m proud to call myself a part of teams 145-148.” Wilkinson added, “The Senior-year season has only just begun... I want to inspire the younger players to carry on the legacy. The next couple of years will be building years because we are graduating six seniors, but getting the kids to do at-home workouts, and motivating them will hopefully lead to some success in the future.”

Alfandre said, “The season was way better than I expected. I anticipated it to be boring and very unsatisfying because we couldn’t play games, but I think we were able to get a lot of good work in and bond as a team despite all of the limitations.” Varsity Girls Soccer player Ella Zuse ’21 stated, “I am super grateful that we were allowed to drive in during our off weeks because I loved getting outside and playing with my teammates, even if I only made it once a week. And obviously, not having games to look forward to was disappointing, but I think the girls did a great job working together despite that, and we had a lot of fun at our on-campus scrimmage.” Brown reflected, “Running at Hopkins has been rewarding, and I am glad that I still got to have a senior season.” O’Brien said, “Although our season got cut short this year, and we were unable to have a senior day, that in no way takes away from the past three years that I’ve had playing Varsity Field Hockey. Those years were amazing and I’m really thankful for this team and everything that they’ve given me... Overall I’m very thankful for the season and I think the most important part was just being around my friends and also meeting some new people. Being able to lead them was really great and practice outside is always the best part of my day.”
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