Graduated seniors prove hard to replace

Will McDonald, Managing Editor

Every year, when high school athletes ditch their traditional uniforms for caps and gowns at graduation, they leave behind a gaping hole on the roster of their former team.

According to boys’ volleyball co-captain Todd Goldstein ’14, one of just two returning varsity starters, the departure of seniors represents the loss of a core of the team.

“It’s always tough because you  are losing invaluable leadership and experience,” he said. “For us, coming off a victorious championship season, it is even harder.”

While captain’s practices and other pre-season activities provide teams with early peeks at who will step up in the coming season to fill the role of the departed seniors, there is no way of knowing for sure until official practices begin.

Thus, as Goldstein notes, teams are often left with only two weeks before their first contest to scramble to find a lineup that works before embarking on another season.

Both Goldstein and Nick Vega ’14, a tri-captain of the baseball team, agree that the issue is not that the seniors were irreplaceable, but that determining who is going to replace whom can take time.

“It’s more reconfiguring than anything,” Vega said. “We definitely think that we have the pieces to fill the gaps, we just need to find some new chemistry with the new faces and that is done through the leadership of some of the returning and familiar faces.”

While in most cases these new faces are seniors who once sat on the bench as juniors behind previous seniors, in some instances a dearth of current seniors forces teams to draw upon underclassmen in order to fill the void.

For example, this year’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team sports only three seniors on their roster. However, thanks to a strong younger contingent that includes several juniors who have already committed to play in college, co-captain Meredith Hood ’14 believes that those new to receiving large amounts of playing time on varsity will “definitely rise to their potential and fill their spots well.”

For some teams, though, the open spot left by a senior may be too big for one person to simply fill. Such is the case for the boys’ track team, who find themselves without Henry Wynne ’13, a two-time national champion in the mile and one of the best runners in Connecticut history. With no new Henry Wynne level talents coming along in the foreseeable future, the team was forced to search for another solution in order to make up for the dozens of points Wynne would rack up in every meet.

“Obviously no one is going to try and step up and run as well as he did, so instead we’ve tried to fill the void with our increased depth in events this year,” boys’ track co-captain Peter Elkind ’14 said. “Whereas last year Henry would win and that would be that, this year we try and make up the points by maybe having one guy finish second, another around fifth, and hopefully one more in seventh or eighth, and while it doesn’t always add up to last year, it’s more than enough to keep us in the FCIAC title hunt.”

Not all teams find themselves gutted by graduation, however. The girls’ tennis team finds itself with nine out of ten returning from last year’s starting lineup. While they may be lacking competitively from the loss of last year’s class, co-captain Melissa Beretta ’14 acknowledged that leadership and lessons imparted by the seniors will be missed – but not forgotten.

“Their messages and lessons will be carried on with all of us in our years on the team and beyond,” she said.