Category Archives: SPORTSMANSHIP

The nature of effective team support


Cheering from the student section, generating an upbeat vibe, and screaming your head off are all common happenings at a high school sporting event. When teams are winning, dominating to be exact, it generates an intense hype throughout the school that students can feel for the whole week of a game. The winning could have the potential to create an almost unstoppable force of students and community members alike, especially in spectator sports such as football or volleyball.

It’s hard to erase the memory of the packed gyms and hyped student sections of the Papio South volleyball games during their magical national-championship seasons. Many also remember the deafening shrieks and cheers from the Black Hole during the Titans-Monarchs football game.

Does this support carry over against any other opponent? Some students will stand behind the teams through thick and thin, cheering louder than before. Those who remain true to their teams can seem to ignite a flame within the team they are supporting. Sophomore Grace Blum, who is involved in cross country and track, said, “For the most part, our school does well at supporting each other. Especially in football and basketball or when a team is having success.”

To know how to support Titan activities, one must know what quality support looks like. Senior Jordan Davis, a state DECA officer, said, “Support means making the school a better place by playing or cheering with your heart, staying involved in activities, and watching the game instead of being distracted.”

Support can look different from student to student as well. Freshman basketball player Niko Spire said, “Support is showing a good attitude even when times are tough, along with doing everything the Titan way.”

Junior basketball player Justin Steenhoek said, “Support is going to the games and having Titan-wear on. It is also caring about the game and players and going to the game to spectate and cheer.”

About success and achievement stemming from PLS, Davis said, “Many Titans have achieved many things like Raegan LeGrand with her volleyball accomplishments, the girls cross-country winning state, and Nate Kotila renovating the school elevators.”

The people who have achieved a goal that they have been working toward have been supported by others, in some way. Sports teams can also generate a high amount of support from the student body.

On the topic of supportive people, Davis said, “We have people who are more accepting and supportive such as Kyler Caverzagie. Some students also show support by encouraging players and going out of their way to show them that they matter.”

When a team feels the passion and energy from a quality crowd it might impact their play. Junior soccer player Jaden Torbensen said, “When a team gets that support they’re almost unstoppable.”

Senior basketball player Lexi DiGiacomo said, “Effective support here at Papio South is to support activities by having the leaders at the school at the game and having students wishing the players good luck. The players can also stress to their classmates how important an upcoming game is.”

The impact of full support of an activity has been seen many times at PLS. “Winning metro soccer was huge, and the community and school came to support. We ended up beating the No. 1 ranked team, Omaha South, and afterward the fans and team were celebrating on the field. It was pretty special,” Torbensen said.

Girls basketball had a similar experience this year.

“With full support, we were able to win a district championship and go to state,” DiGiacomo said.

With the school and community banding together to support a common purpose or activity, great things have been accomplished. The level of support is entirely the choice of the student body. What kind of school do you want to be a part of?

10 Questions with Riley Olson


The Papillion La Vista Swim team has made waves this season with 3 wins so far. Captain, senior Riley Olson is leading the team to one of their best seasons yet, while they’re testing the waters for state.

How has the season gone so far?

Riley cutoutThe season has been fantastic. The boys and girls are swimming really well. A lot of people are getting personal records and we’re winning. I think this year we have a good chance of winning or placing at state

What made you choose swimming?

I’ve been swimming since I was ten, so it was just natural for me to join the team since nothing else really interested me.

What’s the biggest challenge with the pool being at the other school?

The biggest challenge physically is trying to get over there, but with half the team being monarchs sometimes there’s differences between the kids at school that kind of tease us because we train with them. It’s nothing that we can’t get over.

Where has the titan monarch mentality become a problem?

Around football time, when it’s the titan monarch game, there’s a bit of tension in the pool, but other than that I’m cool with them, they’re cool with me and we’re all like a family

How would you describe the vibe of the team this season?

We’re just so excited to swim and there’s no drama on the team because there has been some in the past few years. We are so excited that we’ve been winning and getting our best times. the mentality is just that we’ve got this fire. We’re ready to finally beat prep and get the state gold

As captain how do you bring the two schools together?

We have a lot of bonding parties and get togethers, that’s usually the main way because we don’t really fight each other physically, we’re just kind of a family.

How do morning practices affect the team?

For the people that do wake up early and train early I think it makes them better, and after training early I think they want to win and get into the afternoon group because training in the morning sucks.

Does this season have anymore significance for you as a senior?

We have senior night coming up. It’s my last metro meet and my last state meet. It’s going to get really emotional.

What are your plans to continue swimming?

I plan on swimming in college on either the D-2 or D-1 level, but I definitely plan on swimming in college.

What are you trying to do differently this year apart from the past?

I think in other years not everybody was included, so this year the seniors, we kind of drag the freshmen along that don’t want to come to the bonding parties because we are one team.

Titans fight to the finish


All sports want to feel support from their school. The volleyball team felt this when the entire student body gathered to send the varsity team off to the state competition in a surprise rally organized by volleyball parents and teammates on Nov. 12.

“It was awesome, it was very surprising,” senior Michaela McClellen said. “We were like, ‘We actually have support’ – and everyone appreciated it.”

At state, Lincoln Southwest beat Papio South in their first set, 25-23, but the Titans answered that with two back-to-back wins, 25-23 and 25-13 over the Silver Hawks. The teams then traded wins, with Southwest triumphing 25-21 and the Titans finishing it with a 15-12 victory in the final set.

“It was exciting, nerve-wracking – it was a good experience,” sophomore Mallory Voyles said.

The Titans moved on to face off against defending champion Marian on Friday. Against Marian, the Titans claimed just one victory, in the second set, 25-23. Marian won the other three, 25-20, 25-17 and 27-25, to reclaim the state title.

The Titans ended the season with an overall record of 35-7 and ranked 9th in the state.

Gender plays challenging role in school sports


Gender Sport NewBoys playing volleyball? Not in Nebraska. Freshman Matthew Perl is a volleyball player, but he is not on Papio South’s team because he’s a boy. Other states permit male entrance to volleyball teams, but Nebraska does not.

Not in Nebraska
“We had talked to staff on parent night and were told that guys can’t try out at all because of Title IX,” Perl said. He was also given another reason – that boys are physically stronger. If Nebraska doesn’t allow males to play because of their strength, how do the other states keep their co-ed teams fair? “They have regulations for the boys to play in the back row or play until the team hits state and then not participate for competitions,” Perl said. “I’d be fine with that.”

Perl feels that the current lack of policy at home is unjust. He has played on a volleyball team before and has lots of previous sport affiliations, including swimming and basketball. Perl finds it cutting to not be able to participate in the sport of his choice.

But what exactly is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal law covering nationwide policy on gender discrimination. It was designed to allow for better inclusion of females in sports. “Girls, generally, are underrepresented,” activities director Jeremy Van Ackeren said. “It gives girls the same opportunities and same kind of experiences as boys. Title IX does not work the other way.”

When athletic programs in some schools are dominated by male orientated sports, girls might not have as many opportunities. Title IX allows a girl to play on a boys team if there is not an equivalent all-girls team for that sport. It does not allow a boy to play on a girls team when there are more male teams altogether in a school (even if they don’t have a male equivalent for that specific sport). This is why Perl was turned away.

Raising the Net

In states that allow boys to play on girls volleyball teams, the nets are raised higher to accommodate for the differing ability by sex. “The other teams that don’t have boys don’t want to play against them because they’ll have to raise the net,” Van Ackeren said. “And if the boys have to play in the back row, they don’t get to hit.” With regulations not making the system perfect, there isn’t necessarily a fair solution to allow boys to play on a girls volleyball team.

Why classify ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ teams?

There are real physical differences between girls and boys. It isn’t that one sex is physically better than the other but that the biology of either sex is better suited to different abilities and has a differing range of skill. “Boys typically jump higher,” Van Ackeren said. This is one of the real reasons the net is raised for co-ed volleyball.

There has been much academic debate about the differing strengths between males and females in hopes of defining it. As of yet, no clear answers exist. The authors of the book “Playing With the Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal,” Eileen McDonagh and Laura Pappano, argue that “coercive sex segregation does not reflect actual sex differences in athletic ability,” implying that the gendered teams that exist today aren’t designed to better fit each sex but are just to keep them apart. There are reasons people may want separate teams – personal comfort, and what they have been raised to expect – that gender, especially in sports, is a dividing line that shouldn’t be crossed.

Gender vs. Sex

What makes a girl a girl and a boy a boy? Gender is in the mind and sex is biology. “Girl teams” and “boy teams”, then, are supposed to be defined as such because of physical differences – that means they’re separated by sex, not by gender. But for students whose sex doesn’t line up with their gender, transgender individuals, this means they don’t have a place to play in sport at all.

Senior Sam Unverzagt is ready for this to change. “Being transgender and extremely athletic, I didn’t find a team where I found myself comfortable. You can’t really find that if you don’t fit with people of your biological sex,” Unverzagt said. “I think that anyone should be able to play a sport, no matter their gender.”

The NSAA is currently coming up with a policy regarding transgender students to rectify this issue. Unverzagt wishes it would have happened sooner to give him a rightful place to play.

A Final Thought
“This is all something to look at. Matthew’s situation makes you revaluate where we stand on this, especially with Title IX,” Van Ackeren said.

The price of fandom just went up


This school year Papillion-La Vista Community schools raised the price to purchase an activity ticket.

This has caused concern among some students and parents purchasing these tickets. The price has risen $15 (from $35-$50).

Jeremy Van Ackeren, the athletic director of PLSHS says the prices have risen due to budget cuts in the district.

“We are building new schools, so we have to support new schools with more teachers; that becomes more expensive.

Van Ackeren believes $50 is a reasonable price, “By buying those we hope kids go to a lot of events and support one another; that’s the primary goal.”

There are some differences in who has to buy an activity pass according to the school.  “Some schools make kids buy an activities pass, if they’re a cheerleader, if they’re a dancer, if they’re in
band, if they’re in choir, if they’re in an activity period. For the most part here its kids that are in sports, and band” Van Ackeren said.

Both Papillion-La Vista high schools  compared their policies with other area schools’ when setting the new. “Millard is totally different, they charge an activity fee and you have to buy a pass on top of it. Their participation fee is $60 and that does not include their pass,” Van Ackeren said.

Although PLSHS matches other schools in the district, they do not plan on matching Millard on this policy.

The school has to be careful on the amount they spend, and what they spend the activity ticket money on. “We try to use that money to benefit all of our kids; and buy something that most if not all of our kids will use. This year we got a new ice machine in the training room that produces about 3x more ice than our old one did. A lot of our people use that. I know the band sometimes uses that one for their water jugs,” Van Ackeren said.

The old ice machine was the original ice machine. “We have the old one in the stadium so if we need extra ice we can go to the stadium and get it too,” Van Ackeren said.

Van Ackeren said there are other areas of the school in need of renovation, such as the theater.

“We need a new curtain; those aren’t cheap. So that’s one of our primary concerns right now.”  The seats also need to be re-upholstered, Van Ackeren said.

The area between the baseball and softball fields is also being considered. “There’s an area between the two fences, quite a bit of area that’s just grass, we want to figure out what to do with. We have to keep it mowed. Maybe we could use it for some football practice; for our junior titan kids,” Van Ackeren said.

Some replacement is also being considered in the softball and baseball fields. “We need two new scoreboards down there at baseball and softball. Last night we had our first softball game
down there, and [the scoreboards] quit on us,” Van Ackeren said.

Because students aren’t required to buy an activity ticket, Van Ackeren believes the rise in price will not affect the purchases from these particular students. “If they’re going to attend a lot of events, it’s well worth it,” Van Ackeren said.

Some students qualify for free and reduced lunch, their set activity pass price will not waver, Van Ackeren said.

The efforts to recover from budget cuts began last year. Last school year PLSHS started charging for lower level games. These include junior varsity, reserve and freshman. Admission to these games is currently $3 for an adult, and $1 for a student. This
change will also help with the budget cuts.

One idea in consideration is the use of student ID’s as an alternative to a paper pass. “On picture day if they bought an activity ticket an A would be printed on their ID so when they went to games all they had to do was show their Id; and their pictures on there that way if you brought your ID to the gate I would know if it’s you or not. We can save some money by doing that, we don’t have to print a bunch of cards,” Van Ackeren said.

Titan athletes recognize team players


Sports are a big deal at our school, and so are our athletes. Everyone knows that star player, but there’s a lot more that makes up a team. We gave some standout athletes the chance to shed some light on teammates who’ve been standing out to them at practice and in competition.

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY: Logan Clark (Nominated by A.J. Knowles)

“Logan Clark put a lot of hard work in this summer, and he’s ready to have a big season. … I see a lot in the future for him. He’s been working really hard and he’s cut a lot of time. … The sky’s the limit for him.” PHOTO BY CHANDLER ASHBURN

FOOTBALL: Gunner Todorovich (Nominated by Triston Fairchild)

Todorvich WEB“Gunner Todorovich is just an overall athlete. He has a lot of match-up ability and he’s really big. He also gets to the ball well and he plays really well on the defensive side. … He can do whatever he wants in the sport, I feel like with some hard work. He’s blessed size wise and talent wise.” PHOTO BY NIKKI WILLIAMSON

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY: Olivia Kastens (Nominated by Anna Milton)

“Olivia Kastens is a freshman who made varsity. She has a humble yet driven attitude. She always says, ‘Great job,’ and pushes herself. … She’s a strong leader and great runner. She really helps push the team.” PHOTO BY CHANDLER ASHBURN

GOLF: Chandler Ashburn (Nominated by Hayley Moulton)       

“Chandler Ashburn started out never really playing before, and she’s improved a lot. … I see her eventually making varsity, because she’s going on her own and practicing … and she always keeps a positive attitude.” PHOTO BY EMI LESSER

SOFTBALL: Emma Kauf (Nominated by Madison Finley)      

Kauf WEB“Emma Kauf is a freshman who is our starting catcher. She stands out because she’s a leader and is a great player. She works really hard and does a lot of great things for our team and will continue to succeed as she gains more experience and gets older. She’s someone who has a lot of character and is a great person.” PHOTO BY EMI LESSER

TENNIS: Nathan Jatczak (Nominated by Aaron Palensky)    

“Nate Jatczak really knows how to help encourage others and to be mentally tough. … He can help with the younger people and be a leader to them.” PHOTO BY JESSICA BISHOP


VOLLEYBALL: Jessica Hendricks (Nominated by Reagan LeGrand)  

Hendricks WEB“Jessica Hendricks is a freshman who kind of came out of nowhere, and she works her butt off every day. You can tell she genuinely wants to be at practice. It’s fun to be around her. … If she keeps working the way she does, I think she can play college ball – with her work ethic.” PHOTO BY MORGAHN SECORD


Girls basketball shoots for crowd support


From dunks to fast breaks, the game of basketball is a high-flying, energizing, spectator sport that entices many to attend the games of girls and boys each week from grade school to professional leagues. Here at PL South, we have two competitive basketball teams, a girls and a boys, with the high flying players, the shooters, and the role players on each team. The uniforms are similar in taste, the cost to get in is the same, the games are on the same day, even back-to-back. The same number of players are on the court and the rules are the same, but when it comes to attendance, it’s a different story.

It doesn’t take much to compare the crowds at the boys game to the girls. The difference is noticed by many and the lop-sided attendance is in favor of the boys. The boys game is always much more populated than the girls. On the topic of support, Sophomore Baileigh Nuzum, point guard for the girls team, said, “It makes us feel unimportant.”

Why do more people go to the boys game than the girls? The question is not simple to answer. The current athletic director of PL South and former girls basketball girls coach of 16 years at Leigh and  Norfolk, Mr. Van Ackeren, believes, “The pace of the game is probably a lot of [the reason]. You think of dunks, speed, and a different style of play when you think of boys basketball. Although there are many girls who can play to the same speed as the boys.”

WEBgirlsbball2There is another idea about why there are fewer spectators at the girls game. Mr. Van Ackeren said, “ When I first started coaching girls, the games were on separate nights as the boys. The girls would play Thursday and the boys would play on Friday. Now, it’s structured to where the girls game is treated by many as a JV game because they play before the boys, just like the JV used to. I think if the girls played on a different night, there would be more support.”

Some say pop culture and American tradition have something to do with it. Senior Aaron Rothermund, guard for the boys team believes, “The game of basketball has become all about the flash, glitz, and glamour.”

Pop culture may think the same way, as NBA star LeBron James is always on Sports Center, whereas WNBA standout Brittany Griner is a far less frequent face on the channel. Freshman Taylor Beacom, point-guard for the girls team said, “I think showing boys on Sports Center puts out the image that boys are way more athletic, which isn’t true.”

The issue of lopsided support between girls and boys basketball extends beyond our school and has been for ages, but the reasoning may surprise some.

When asked about the reasoning of unbalanced support, Beacom said, “People think that girls basketball is less exciting because it is a little bit slower paced.”

In Mr. Van Ackeren’s experience, the boys and gilrs teams feed off of eachother. He said, “[In our school] The girls basketball support depends on the success of the boys.”

This may lead to less spectators coming to support their local girls team and may also explain why, as a culture, we are more apt to go to boys games rather than girls.

Freshman Malory Voyles, a regular at the boy’s basketball games, said, “Boys basketball is more fun to watch because it is way more aggressive. It’s also always been boys basketball as the main focus. Its a tradition.”

When asked what needed to be changed to encourage spectators to come to the girls basketball games, Nuzum also said, “The themes need to be better. We can try to make attending the girls games more fun by bringing in brand-new and never before seen themes to encourage crowd participation.”

To fans and spectators across the country, the difference in crowd size between the two genders of the same sport may seem highly unfair and even unjustified. To change how girls basketball games are seen in our school and community, and even basketball as a whole, it starts with the student body. It starts with you.

Titan swimmers plunge in for successful season


This season, both the guys and girls swim team have been off to a swimmingly great start, with many students placed in the top three at their competitions. They’ve broken records, qualified for state, and have won duels that were not won the year before.

The girls swim team has been placing in the top three for their 200 yard medley relay, 200 yard free relay, and 400 yard freestyle relay at various meets. Junior Emma Miller, senior Amanda Carlson, junior Paige Knight, and sophomore Keilah Lewis have been achieving placements for their individual meets such as 200 yard freestyle, 200 yard individual medley, 100 yard freestyle, and 100 yard butterfly.

Senior Mary Stanley, captain of the girls swim team, placed first in the 100 yard butterfly. “I think we have our best season in the making this year. It will come very close to last year. But I think we will break more records and score more points at state than last year…I always expect a lot from teammates. I know we can do it.”

WEBboysswimThe boys swim team has continued to keep up their reputation by doing very well this season as well. Along with breaking a few home records, they have placed in the top three for the 200 yard medley relay, 200 yard free relay, and the 400 yard freestyle relay. Sophomore Noah Barr, junior Riley Olson, senior Logan Stranglen, freshman Grayson Stanton, sophomore Conner Moran, freshman Mark Vanderloo, and senior Drew Lansman have placed top at their meets for multiple events.

Senior Nick Robbins, captain of the boys swim team, placed first in the 100 yard breaststroke. “We’re expecting a lot out of our team this year, we have 6 state qualifiers on the boys team so far and we’re looking to add about 4 more if possible. We had a top 3 finish last year in one of our relays along with some top 5 finishes in individual events at state. We’re looking to see if we can win our 200 Medley Relay and win events in the 200 Individual Medley, the 100 Backstroke, maybe the 100 Butterfly, and the 100 Breaststroke.”

Both swim teams have made great progress throughout the season and are looking forward to the rest of their meets and preparing for success.

Football for fangirl wannabes


From what I’ve gathered over the years, football is kind of a big deal in the United States. Football seems to be the reason we breathe here in
Nebraska; it sure is one of the reasons for those living in my household.

Just because I live in the football-loving U.S. of A., doesn’t necessarily mean I know or love anything about football. Yes, I enjoy the atmosphere of  good game and the cute team gear and, of course, the beautiful men who bless the field, but I honestly couldn’t tell you one thing that I know about the actual game other than when a touchdown is made. My Steelers-loving family shuns me, and my inherited Husker blood is ashamed to flow through my veins.

If you’re like me, then this time of year can be particularly uncomfortable, because of the slew of bowl games or whatever coming up. Your entire family glues themselves to the couch and watches just about every football game ever played, and you just want to lie in bed and watch some “Grey’s Anatomy,” but then they all call you a hermit and look down upon you for not appreciating the institution of football. If you want this all to end, do what I did and learn the basics to slip by. I recommend the book “Football For Dummies,” by Howie Long and John Czarnecki. Once you sort of know what’s going on, you’ll feel like you can conquer the universe. Seriously, you’ll be inclined to fight a grizzly bear or do a backflip off the wall or something, (don’t do that, no matter how awesome you feel). With that, I give you my own Football For Dummies: your guide to sliding by your football-breathing peers.

1. What even is football?

Football is defined as “A game in which two opposing teams of 11 players each defend goals at opposite ends of a field having goal posts at each end, with points being scored chiefly by carrying the ball across the opponent’s goal line and by place-kicking or drop-kicking the ball over the crossbar between the opponent’s goal posts.” Okay, so it seems all of the hotties on the field are trying to make sure the people wearing the other jerseys don’t cross the magical line that will give the other team a touchdown, but they also are trying to get a touchdown by carrying the football across the opposite magic line. A lot of other complicated stuff seems to happen in there, so we’ll move on to that.

2. Learn the basics

Many many things can and will happen while each team tries to score those touchdowns, very often words like “fumble” and “holding” are said by the guys in the referee outfits followed by either cheering or intense angry yelling by the people around you. Seriously what are these words? WHAT ARE THEY? I’ll give you a condensed list of the many confusing words floating around in the wonderful world of football.


“The act of losing possession of the ball while running with it or being tackled. Members of the offense and defense can recover a fumble. If the defense recovers the fumble, the fumble is called a turnover.”

Translation: AKA, bad if it’s your team. Don’t cheer.


“A score, worth two points, that the defense earns by tackling an offensive player in possession of the ball in his own end zone.”

Translation: Could be good, could be bad. Just go with the vibes.


“An imaginary line that extends from where the football is placed at the end of a play to both sides of the field. Neither the offense nor the defense can cross the line until the football is put in play again.”

Translation: Um… just watch the football?

There are so many words that we might never fully understand the meaning of. You can find a few more in my Terms for the Tragically Illiterate Football Fan. Again, just go with the flow. The people around you can tell you what’s happening based on their reactions. But, if you would like to learn more, terms can be defined on when “football” is searched, and the extended list is available on The Bolt, Just know that the penalties will either mean peace, love, happiness, or a lot of yelling.

3. Look good, take credit

   You’ll probably have the outfit before step one, I feel you. But honestly, if you’re trying to understand football, give yourself some credit. Not once did your brother try and grasp your love of “Gossip Girl,” nor do they offer to have a family viewing of “Grey’s Anatomy.” So go you for being a team player! Once you’ve patted yourself on the back, if you still don’t understand, just sit quietly and nod in agreement. It’s easier than you think.

Terms for the tragically illiterate football fan

BY CASSIDY ADOLF (with help from Football For Dummies, 4th US Edition by Howie Long, John Czarnecki)


“The leader of the team. He calls the plays in the huddle, yells the signals at the line of scrimmage, and receives the ball from the center. Then he hands off the ball to a running back, throws it to a receiver, or runs with it.”

Translation: The guy who throws the ball. I guess.


“A period of action that starts when the ball is put into play and ends when the ball is ruled dead (meaning the play is completed). The offense gets four downs to advance the ball 10 yards. If it fails to do so, it must surrender the ball to the opponent, usually by punting on the fourth down.”

Translation: I’m going to go with the way the ball moves down the field. Don’t quote me on this.


“A 10-yard-long area at each end of the field. You score a touchdown when you enter the end zone in control of the football. If you’re tackled in your own end zone while in possession of the football, the other team gets a safety.”

Translation: TOUCHDOWN CITY!


“When the 11 players on the field come together to discuss strategy between plays. On offense, the quarterback relays the plays in the huddle.”

Translation: When it looks like they’re having a big group hug, they’re actually talking about important stuff.

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