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      2020 was a year to forget, let’s be honest.  COVID-19 took its toll on many of us both physically and mentally.  From mask wearing and social distancing, to zoom calls and virtual classes, life was different.  One part of life at Shadyside High School that remained the same however, was the Tigers’ dominance on the athletic surfaces. Through all of our athletics, football to track, Shadyside student athletes continued to perform at a high level in a year that was never supposed to happen.  May it have been football’s region runner up, an elite eight appearance from the LT’s, a district runner up from the baseball team, or our four state bound track athletes, we made the best of a year of uncertainties.  But that’s the past…Let’s get back to normal.

      2021 summer practices have been well under way with our fall sports having started conditioning as early as June 7th.  Football, Cheering, Cross Country, Golf, and Volleyball have all been going strong this summer in preparation for their upcoming seasons.

      Veteran coach Mark Holenka is entering his 13th season as the Tigers head coach and has been hard at work getting our team ready for this upcoming season. Coach Holenka hopes his team can show some real positive growth through the season. “Hopefully this equates into a playoff run,” he said.  Look for the Tigers to lean heavily on seniors Wyatt Reiman, a two time first team all state running back, Mason VanNest, Rhys Francis, Logan Crozier and Kris Tsoras, among others.  According to Coach Holenka, the offense has really shined so far this summer but he is hoping that the defense will catch up soon. “We feel the pieces are here and just need to get them in the proper positions to succeed.” The football team will have their first warmup contest this upcoming Friday when Buckeye Trail comes to town for the annual Football Jamboree game.  Start time for that is 5:00PM with the Jr High teams.  Varsity will follow, expected to be around 6:40 PM. The football team officially opens up at home next Friday, August 20th where they look to avenge last season’s opening loss against Martin’s Ferry. 

Coach Eric Mercer is entering his third season at the helm and is coming off of a fantastic 2020 season where his LT’s made it to the regional tournament before bowing out.  The girls recently had their first scrimmage following tryouts these past couple of weeks things seem to be very promising.  When asked about summer workouts, Coach Mercer said that they have gone “really well,” and that “ tryouts have been completed and teams have been selected.”  Players to watch this season would certainly have to be Junior Gentry Brown, senior Paige Gorby, and senior Caroline Mercer. During their scrimmage against Barnesville the LT’s dropped the first set, but rallied to take the second and were leading the third before Barnesville called it quits due to time.  The volleyball team will open the regular season up on Tuesday, August 23rd home against Bellaire with a 5:30 start time.

     The Cheerleaders are also going strong this summer, but quite honestly, they never really stop.  Coach Michele Burkhart has had the ladies working hard with practices, camps, as well as getting the school ready for the upcoming year. “Summer practices usually go really well even with not having full squad practices, most of the time, due to family vacations & summer jobs, etc…The girls are very receptive to new ideas and are working very well together as a team,” Coach Burkhart said about her team so far. She’s also go very high expectations for the girls this year. “ This year, cheer in Ohio has a newer version of the “game day” style of cheer which has been recognized by the OHSAA and our team will be able to compete for the State Championship Title.  I feel our cheerleaders, not only, have a good shot at the State Title, but I also expect they will do extremely well at our OVAC cheer championship.”  The cheer team won’t actually compete for any of these until later this year, but we’ll keep you updated throughout their entire season(s).

     The golf team is back at it for the 2021 season as well.  Coach Dave Ragase is entering his second season commanding the Tiger Golfers and has some high expectations for his group entering the season.  “My expectations for this season are to win 75 percent of our matches,” according to Coach Ragase.  He plans on relying on his two veteran seniors, Grace Green, and Cameron Davis, to help accomplish that.  “The kids have been working really hard this summer preparing for this season.  They love to challenge each other to do better.”  The golf team has already opened competition with a quad at Belmont Hills on Monday and another match Tuesday at Becwood golf course.

     Last but certainly not least, the Cross Country team welcomes a brand new but familiar face as head coach this season.  Coach Mike Coyne has traded in his football headset for a stopwatch and a nifty new bicycle as he takes over this year. While still trying to grow the program in numbers Coach Coyne said that his number one goal this season is “compete,” and “have fun doing it.”  Coach Coyne will look to several veterans this upcoming season to help lead.  On the girls side sophomore Kaelee Stewart looks to build off off a promising freshman campaign.  The  boys, however, will lean on the family combination of Landen and Holden Salgat, as well as junior Lee McKitrick. When asked about summer workouts, Coyne said they have been great and “the kids are doing all that’s asked of them.”  The Cross Country team opens up the season with some Ohio Valley Cross Country League action Tuesday, August 24th at Buckeye Local.

     On a personal note, with all of the craziness that was last year, and what may still become of this year, it’s nice to see all of our teams putting in the work needed for their upcoming seasons. That first game at Fleming Field, under the lights, stadium finally packed to capacity and Greg Warren saying “HERRRRREEE Come the Tigers!”, will certainly be one to remember and one that I am more than excited to see. Good luck to all of our teams this season and school year.  Go Tigers!