With spring slowly approaching, many opportunities open up for outdoor activities. One of these activities is bike riding, also known as cycling. Now the casual Mount Saint Joe student, not already invested in bike riding, might overlook this activity, especially when presented with sports like football and basketball. But bike riding can be a casual activity that helps improve your health, and an outlet for competitive sport.
Let us start by looking at cycling from a casual perspective. Cycling is both easily accessible and an easy-to-master exercise tool to keep in shape. And it shows, as around 51.4 percent of the United States population take up cycling, showing off its popularity.
Cycling is an aerobic activity, designed to work out your lungs, heart, and blood vessels. As a result, cycling is recommended to reduce health problems.
Cycling can also be beneficial to your mental health. Studies show that people who cycle regularly have a lower risk of depression and anxiety. This is because cycling releases endorphins, chemicals released during activities like exercise, that are shown to reduce stress levels and improve well-being.
But the act of cycling isn’t confined to just casual enjoyment. Cycling has the potential to be a highly competitive form of sport. In fact, cycling is one of the events featured in the Olympic games.
One competitive cycling sport is BMX racing. BMX racing, also known as Bicycle Motocross, involves multiple riders competing against each other for first place on a dirt track designed with lots of jumps, turns, and rollers. It definitely is a sport that requires a lot of experience.
So how can an MSJ student get involved? For those with a competitive spirit, MSJ has a mountain biking team, where you can compete against other schools in the MIAA. So next time the Fall comes around, give the mountain biking team a chance if you are interested.
But for those who are looking for a more casual experience, there are solutions. With the spring, comes the perfect weather for bike riding. If you can, try to take your bike out on a nearby trail and take in the scenery as you build up your health.
Aidan Bajadak is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.
Mount Saint Joseph Football started their conference schedule with a dominant 40-0 win over Loyola Blakefield, a 35-14 win over Gilman, a 23-7 win over McDonogh, and a 33-22 win over defending champion, Calvert Hall. The Gaels have clinched home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Junior Quarterback Winston Watkins has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, helping push the Gaels to victory.
In an interview with The Baltimore Banner, Head Coach Dominic Damico said, “We’ve had really good preparation (for the conference season),” he said about a team that lost a close game to St. Ignatius of Ohio before suffering a 52-14 setback to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power Our Lady of Good Counsel. “We were ready to play.”
Many believe the Gaels have already faced the best teams they will face all year. The loss to Good Counsel really helped motivate MSJ. With their wins against Loyola Blakefield, Gilman, McDonogh, and Calvert Hall they are currently the number #1 seed in the A Conference.
The Gaels starting defense has been stellar, only allowing 29 points in A-Conference play. With these dominant performances, it’s hard to deny the excellent form of the Gaels’ defense, with a combined 128 tackles and 20 sacks this season by Sahir West, Deshaun Merrick, and Nick Paxton.
Through 4 games, the Gaels have dominated their opponents. The Gaels this year have a mission in mind and are focused on reaching their ultimate goal – a championship. Coach Damico says the reason for this start is that “We have a great group of seniors who have bought into the culture, they practice hard and play hard in the game.” He also added, “The focus of this group is getting better every week.”
With this new focus and constant improvement, Coach Damico said, “we have set the bar very high for this group; our goal is to be playing on Nov 18 at Navy-Marine Corp Stadium.” Also, with the added motivation of a first-round exit last year, they have shown they want to take what’stheirs.
Nicholas Paxton is a Senior Member of the Multi-Media Journalism Class.
The Mount Saint Joe community takes pride in the athletic teams. Massive investments are made to ensure that athletes are the best they can be, giving them a higher chance of winning tournaments and games. But while MSJ loves to give attention and plenty of details to the matches and competitions, practices are only mentioned as a footnote.
You really don’t know what practices for some of these sports are like unless you are on that respective sports team. So what should a new student, or someone who wants to be involved in athletics, expect from some of these practices?
To get insight into what some of these practices are like, I attempted to contact some of the coaches for these sports teams. I contacted Mr. Jack Peach of the cross country team and Mr. Sam Bianco of the volleyball team. Some questions I asked included how long practices last, what exercises take place, and where these practices are held.
The first person I reached out to was Mr. Peach, the coach of the cross country team. The majority of the athletes’ workouts include a whole lot of running. Mr. Peach said, “The athlete’s workouts vary between running hills, doing track workouts, or just running long runs.” Practices usually last for around 2-3 hours, and usually take place on Campus. However, Sometimes the team runs at Patapsco or Centennial Park.
The cross country team is usually expected to run 5-7 miles per practice. However, Mr. Peach says, “Newer runners may only run about 4-5 miles.” The expectation for the athletes is to run every day; however, rest days are worked into the schedule.
The second person I interviewed was Mr. Bianco, the volleyball team’s coach. Most workouts include plyometrics, a type of exercise that uses speed and force to build muscle power. Mr. Bianco says, “Practices usually focus on explosive movements. I like to combine skill work with conditioning.”
Practices take place in the Smith Center and occur 6 days a week. The time that practices last depends on whether it is pre-season or not. During pre-season, practices last for 3 hours, while during the season, practices last for only 2 hours.
According to Mr. Bianco, practices consist of a warm-up, 2 three man drills, serving and passing drills, and 3-6 additional drills. Mr. Bianco states, “There are around 8-10 exercises per practice.” However, he added that breaks are worked into the schedule.
Hopefully, this article will shed light on a typical practice for MSJ sports. Though they seem very different, the structure is similar. This information may encourage someone new to this school to try some of the athletic programs, and to know what to expect when they show up for workouts.
Aidan Bajadek is a junior member of the multimedia journalism class.
The Varsity Gaels Football Team looks primed to compete for the MIAA championship. The Gaels have arguably the best defense in the MIAA (with an average of 12 points given per game last year). With an explosive offense led by Junior Quarterback Winston Watkins, with many talented wide receivers, running backs, and offensive lineman.
With being the #29 team in the nation in 2019 (Pre-Covid), and being the #2 team in the A conference in 2021, they knew that this season would be a dominant one with most of last year’s starters returning. With multiple schools losing their best players due to transferring, MSJ has managed to keep its core players. Thanks to this, Saint Joe has a fantastic opportunity to reclaim their title as best in the MIAA. They have a team full of hungry players who remember the sting of their Semi-Final exit last year.
The plan for the season is complete domination, with the team’s focus continuing to dominate through all 4 quarters. With the addition of 6 new coaches, this year’s team looks more like they will reach the ultimate goal.
The team is looking forward to having games against great teams to prepare them for the championship. They played St. Ignatius in a match many thought would be a blowout and MSJ held its own. Even though they came up short, they opened a lot of eyes. The team also has a game against the #35 team in the nation, Good Counsel.
The Gaels will come into league play starting off hot on September 24, against Loyola Blakefield. Then for the rest of the season, all of the other games are league games. These games will determine if they will reach their ultimate goal. MSJ looks to claim the #1 seed to ensure home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Nicholas Paxton is a senior member of the multimedia journalism Class.
On any given Monday, you are likely to find 30 high schoolers in purple jerseys cranking their gears, trying their hardest to climb that final hill. During these confusing and unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of our activities were put on hold. Many sporting events had to be postponed or stopped altogether for safety reasons, such as high school football and soccer. However, there is one sport that has managed to survive through these uncertain times, and that is the sport of mountain biking.
While many of the other sports teams at Mount Saint Joseph High School had to, unfortunately, be paused, Mountain Biking was still given the grace to continue during the quarantine period. How did the riders continue their sport with these new complications, and how has COVID-19 caused a lasting impact on mountain biking? As a mountain bike team member myself, I reached out to riders and coaches to try and find the answers to these compelling questions.
Mountain biking coach Mike Saverino, from the class of 1983, said this sudden increase was the result of people looking for new sports to try during the quarantine. “I believe the sudden increase had a few reasons. All other sports were canceled, mountain biking is an outdoor, distanced, and safe sport. It is also all-inclusive so siblings and families could all participate,” said Saverino.
Many MSJ students wanted to get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air of the woods, and they saw the mountain biking team as the perfect opportunity to be able to not only exercise but to be able to join a community of fellow bikers.
One aspect of the bike team that has culminated in the result of the pandemic was the community of riders on the team becoming closer than before. Communities of bikers could always be seen at special events such as the NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) races, trail building at Patapsco, and many other places. However, due to COVID-19 and its many restrictions, races and larger gatherings were not able to be held, but the riders still found a way to form their communities, by strengthening their relationship with members of their home team or other rider friends.
At Mount Saint Joseph, the biking team is composed of a vast number of members from grades 9 to 12, and a variety of skill sets and abilities. As a team of fellow Mount brothers, the riders together form a community that is strengthened with every new ride. Junior team member Felix Smolen ‘22 said that people had a natural longing to want to spend time with friends, and this led to people forming friend communities on bike teams.
Felix Smolen ’22: “I think that ignoring demographics and politics, it’s giving people an opportunity on how they spend their time with people because at the end of the day, we have to stay inside and be with our family, and sometimes that drives people crazy, and I love my family but I also want to hang out with my friends. So we’ve had fewer opportunities to do that in the normal sense, going to the mall or watching movies, so we’ve had to get creative with it. It’s brought people together in different ways and hopefully, once all of this is over, it’s gonna strengthen people with different methods of bringing people together, and make whatever bond there is stronger.”
The future remains uncertain for the time being as to when restrictions will finally be lifted for things to “return to normal,” but the way we do things with other people in public will never truly return to normal. COVID-19 will always have an impact on the way we go about our daily lives and activities and has shown the world how we are to be considerate as to what are the activities that matter the most to us. The communities of mountain biking have grown stronger and closer together ever since the order to quarantine, and once the quarantine ban is lifted, those strong bonds will certainly continue to be felt for many more trail rides to come.
Jackson Reichardt is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class
The Mount Saint Joseph Mountain Biking Team is one of the more recently established teams at The Mount. Few people are aware of how the team actually competes as an official sport. I interviewed the team’s head coach, Ms. Nikki Kelley, and one of the team’s long-time members, Senior Dan Kallmyer, on what it is like to be a part of this new school sport. This video interview delves into the inner workings of the team for any current riders, or anyone interested in joining in the future.
Evan Saverino is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.
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