The Summer Edition of Spring Sports: Before The Seniors Go

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[Left to right] Seniors Ben Lumaye, Alex Maline, Ben Hodge and Drew Braden after the first cross country race of the 2020 season at Monument Valley Park.

As I sit to write my 20th and final Jetstream Journal issue about my final season of high school sports in my final 20 days of senior year, I look back fondly on many moments and memories from my years at Air Academy. Sports, for me, are the high watermark of my high school journey. I have changed in many ways, I have learned countless new things in all areas of life that I have experienced so far. As all seniors have, I evolved and will begin a new chapter once we flip our tassels over on our caps at the final ceremony.

Season D starts Monday, April 26 and includes girls golf, girls tennis, girls soccer, girls and boys lacrosse, track and field, as well as boys swim and dive. COVID precautions are, as usual, athlete daily check-ins, social distancing, limited spectators, and slightly shortened seasons. The whole nine yards was to be expected. Will sports be how they once were come next fall? Who can really tell; ‘2 weeks to slow the spread,’ led us to our current situation and this point in time.

It seems fitting for most senior athletes at AAHS to be still participating in season D sports, as it continues on a good 2 weeks past the graduation date, 21 May 2021, as without a doubt sports will be what we likely carry on with us as our fondest memories, best times, highlights, and defining moments. Later on down the road when former Kadets will be talking about their high school days at the old stomping grounds, they’ll never forget that year that spring sports going into summer was the last thing they held onto before no longer being a kid anymore.

The 2018 Boys Swim and Dive team at their post season banquet at Old Chicago.

What matters to most seniors is here and now; until of course, fall arrives. Each class period I spend on the west side of the building, I relish the fact that I can look out the window and see the breathtaking rocky mountains, up close, in their glory. Speaking for myself, I’ll miss that.

Forever I’ll remember the stellar times I had at AAHS, specifically at practices, meets, social gatherings, and all things related to athletics.

Typically, for the spring sports season, I used to put on my leopard print speedo, swim goggles, and my blue and white Air Academy latex cap labeled “sonar” before taking a dive into Rampart High School’s pool at 3:20 pm every day. This spring season, I’ll throw on my 1″ inseam split shorts, old t-shirt, Nike Pegasus Turbo 2’s, and my obnoxious vintage style tortoiseshell Goodr “Superfly” sunglasses before I walk onto the track every day at 3:15 pm.

I entered high school as a long-time club swimmer, and somewhere along the way, became a runner. I never thought I’d end up doing track instead of swimming, but here I am. I do, of course, hide the sadness in my eyes behind pinkish orange-brown gradient lenses.

I’ll never let go of the memories I have from high school swim where everyone would be laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe, we were crying and legitimately losing motor skills while swimming. Even coach Scott and Sara would be practically blue in the face from laughing at whatever we thought was so hilarious. Sometimes after practice, my cheeks hurt more than anything else.

“No other sport or team has such a rich culture and fun set of traditions like that of the AAHS boys swim and dive.””

— Senior Maddox Riewald

I remember rushing out of fourth period to try and find a ride to swim practice at Rampart High School, walking through the line of cars in search of an empty seat in a teammate’s car, and hurrying across town to get to practice on time. We always would hit McDonald’s to scarf down several $1 burritos, a McGriddle, a sausage McMuffin, hashbrowns and a $1 coffee in addition to a packed breakfast from home on the way to school from the crack of dawn “in the water at 5 am” morning practices. Each of our stomachs would be longingly rumbling by second period anyway.

For cross-country, I’ll never forget what it felt like to hit my first runners high while running with the big boys (now in college running) as a little freshman and sophomore. I would get so excited every day to go follow in the footsteps of people I look up to, still to this day, on the runs and workouts. Without those boys, I would not be going to Colorado School of Mines to run track and cross-country. I’d like to thank them for leading me to my discovery of a shared passion; to run nowhere in particular as fast as I can, and enjoy doing it with my friends.

[Left to right] Matt Storer (class of ’20), Matt Mettler (class of ’20), Justin Banta (class of ’20), senior Drew Braden, senior Ben Lumaye, senior Ben Hodge, senior Alex Maline and being held, Ethan Abbs (class of ’20) the day before the 2019 Nike Desert Twilight 5k in Casa Grande, AZ.
I went from hardly running at all, and hardly knowing anything about the sport at all, to being completely engrossed four years later. I have at least two distinct memories from nearly every trail on the base; a good laugh, a moment of panic, a sense of wonder out in the strange silence, a scene of beauty, an encounter with an animal, or a song we sang.

At one time, early on in my years at AAHS, I used to carry my school backpack, my swim bag with a snack, two water bottles, my clothes or sports gear, my shoes, and a full-size hard guitar case on the bus to school and then to cross-country practices or meets.

I see all these things and much much more, especially now, every day when I’m at school, practice, on the trails, or passing by Rampart or the McDonalds on the corner or Voyager and Academy.

Each AAHS senior is likely going through the same feeling of remembrance and excitement to move forward just as each senior in all the preceding classes before ours.

“I have so many precious memories from AAHS athletics. Some of my favorites are pasta parties and post-state race parties in cross-country season. My athletic career has been fairly successful, as I have been on varsity basketball, soccer, cross-country, and track. It helped me figure out which sport I wanted to keep pursuing which led me to where I’m going for college [University of Wyoming]. If it weren’t for AAHS’s fantastic group of athletes and supportive coaches, I wouldn’t be where I am,” said senior Brooke Moss.

Moss mentioned the mystery of what it will feel like for seniors, already graduated, to still come back to AAHS to finish out their spring season.

Senior Brooke Moss posing for her senior pictures. Photo credit: Steve Willis Photography.

For many Kadets, athletics has been a very special experience. Air Academy always produces a fairly decent number of collegiate athletes with a high standard of work ethic, good character, aptitude, positivity, and excellence.

The atmosphere for Kadets in the athletic realm is one that breeds better and better athletes each year. That could be attributed to the wonderful staff, fantastic coaches, the reputation or the standard Kadets across the board hold themselves to.

I think I speak for the entire class of 2021 in saying that through irregular and uncertain times, AAHS has remained consistent in its superiority and effort to stay that way. Each and every staff member at AAHS makes the school a wonderful place to be. It is no secret AAHS is much different than any other school in all the right ways.

Continuing to speak for the class of 2021, we thank you all for the wonderful and fortunate opportunities we have as Kadets. We won’t forget any of it. Saying “yes I go to Air Academy” or even a simple”Sko’dets” comes with a chest-puffing sense of pride.

When the seniors flip over the tassel on our caps, we know that we have been very carefully guided to have as many open doors as possible, and are equipped to move forward and take our next step whatever it may be.