(Photos by Joy Feng)
The winter athletics season has come to a close, so it’s time to share how the season went for our Nueva athletics programs. Nineteen Middle and Upper School teams took to the basketball courts and soccer fields, and all had impressive moments worth recognizing.
Particularly noteworthy for our Upper School athletics teams was being named Scholastic Award winners, given to the teams with the highest and second-highest cumulative GPA during the season. The winter award is presented to teams in girls soccer, girls basketball, boys soccer, and boys basketball, and Nueva teams ranked highest in girls soccer, girls basketball, and boys soccer, and second in boys basketball.
“This recognition demonstrates our student-athletes’ commitment and follow-through,” said Athletics Director Chris Wade. “Students often have to miss class and then take care of schoolwork outside of school hours. Hillary Freeman calls our students ‘scholar-athletes,’ and I love the idea of Nueva students being scholar-athletes.”
In Middle School, wins and losses take a back seat to participation and instilling the values of commitment. But when participation and commitment lead to on-field and on-court success, it’s an accomplishment worth recognizing.
“During the winter sport seasons, student-athletes really saw the results of their commitment play out on the field and the court,” said Lower and Middle School Athletics Coordinator Alyssa Richards. “They really understood the impact of their individual commitment to the team’s development and success.”
Middle School girls soccer had one of their most successful seasons, as two of three teams completed their seasons undefeated. The fourth/fifth grade team saw tremendous growth as experienced and new players came together to represent Nueva.
“It was fun to go to the fourth/fifth grade games and see the energy and excitement and the high fives,” shared Alyssa.
Said eighth grader Anna F., "This year in soccer we grew as a team, and I felt that I made new friends and built new connections."
The seven boys basketball teams faced challenges throughout the season that they overcame with grace.
“Boys basketball is one of our sports most impacted by space,” Alyssa said. . “So they often get creative by practicing outside or doing ‘chalk talk’ in a classroom, where they talk game strategy. As an athlete myself, I can imagine it’s difficult to work through all of that, but the teams were able to maintain a strong mentality.”
Two teams often shared the gym space for practices, which blossomed into unexpected leadership opportunities for our students.
“We had our sixth-grade team practicing with the fourth-grade team, and it was so great to see the older students mentoring the younger students,” noted Alyssa.
The six girls basketball teams saw success, and the teamwork was impressive to watch.
“During the March 5 varsity game against Castilleja, the teamwork was amazing, the bench was cheering, and we had solid parent turnout with parents pounding on the benches,” Alyssa said. “And the team eked out a 29–21 victory. It wasn’t an easy game by any means and they played really hard.”
Eighth grader Zoe B. shared, “Everyone played aggressively and tried their best to bring something to the team. Even during games we didn’t focus on losing but instead on improving.”
While the season came to an early close due to coronavirus concerns, the seventh-grade team ended on a high note, defeating Sacred Heart by a score of 30–8.
The boys soccer programs had many highlights of their own, including a sixth-grade team defeat of Redeemer Lutheran School by a score of 6–2.
Sixth-grader Rohan K. reflected, “Our season started out in a tough way with a few tough losses. But in our last few games, we played really well, and we won 6–2 and tied 4–4. And I think there is room for improvement for everyone on the team, so we can get better next year.”
Added Coach Eitan Tye, “The season went well for the players, as they worked on improving both their soccer skills and teamwork. The biggest things that stood out were the students' buy-in, commitment to getting better, consistent attendance, and large level of improvement throughout the course of the season.”
Alyssa reflected on the season. “This is about more than wins and losses,” she said. “Throughout the winter season, our student-athletes clearly demonstrated the values that we, as coaches, strive for our athletes to learn.”
“I have been coaching sports—in addition to teaching sixth-grade humanities—at Nueva for 10 years, and each year I am provided a unique experience from every team,” said Gary Kaplan. “This past season has been successful from a win-loss standpoint, but more important, I have seen the kids on all four teams come together, helping each other out and willing themselves to go the extra mile. I think that they all learned that our skills have limitations, but continuing to focus on fundamentals, teamwork, and individual dedication can increase skill levels and ultimately team production.”
Injuries didn’t stop the boys basketball team from a successful season that culminated in a CCS Division V quarterfinals finish. For the second year in a row, the team compiled 20 wins. In addition, three players earned all-league recognition—a high number, given that only 15 players in the league earn this award each year.
“This basketball season was extremely memorable and we had lots of success,” shared senior and team captain Jeremy D. “Unfortunately, we faced a few major injuries this season, but we battled all year and developed so much together as a team. We learned how to play with each other, and we quickly developed our team chemistry on and off the court. As a senior playing my last season of Nueva basketball, the family aspect of this team is arguably what I'm going to miss the most; everyone is genuinely and incredibly unselfish and every game we've played for and with each other.”
AD Wade said, “What made that team special was that every night there were 12 to 13 guys making a significant impact. I have never seen a more utilized, deep team, with everyone one playing significant minutes.”
Coach Barry Treseler helped navigate the team to success through the many injuries the team faced. “All year, our head coach Barry Treseler has instilled in us a sense of unselfishness, and he always told us to recognize when someone else helped us out, whether it's a teammate helping you up or even something like a team parent recording stats or game film," Jeremy said. "Barry taught us that we can always ‘acknowledge the assists’ on and off the court, and this is something that we will all take with us even now that the season has ended.”
“This is the best any girls basketball team has ever done in terms of wins and losses,” exclaimed Chris, when asked about the team’s success. “While wins and losses are not the only barometer by which we measure success, it is one characteristic.”
The team finished 9–3 in the PSAL, and 14–11 overall. Three players also earned all-league honors from the other league coaches and athletics directors.
“This season was really rewarding,” said junior Tara S. “We were able to accomplish a lot of the goals we set for ourselves [at the beginning of the season], including winning our first-ever CCS game. My favorite moment was definitely senior night when we were able to beat Pacific Bay, a team that our seniors had never beaten, at home. The excitement of the community was amazing and it represented how far our team has come.”
Chris echoed Tara’s words. “With nine seconds on the clock and Nueva up by 1 point, one of our seniors was fouled and went to the free throw line. And she made her first free throw shot. To see her on the free throw line in that moment on that night — you can’t write it any better. That’s what happens when you commit, follow through, and have faith in yourself.”
“One of the main things I’ll take away from the season is a belief that we are capable of playing at a high level and beating teams we’ve never beaten before,” added Tara.
This year, the US boys soccer team was young, with only two seniors. While at first glance their record may not have seemed strong, “they played a number of playoff-bound teams, and many games were closer than the score reflects,” reflected Chris.
In fact, half of the teams they played throughout the course of the season qualified for CCS, and in soccer only eight teams qualify per division (compared to 16 teams per division qualifying for basketball playoffs). With such a young team, players like sophomore Coby W. were asked to step up and lead the team. “He’s so supportive and is such a visionary,” said Chris.
“One thing our team took away [from the season] was the importance of teamwork and effort, as those two aspects of the game are essential for building skill and enjoying playing,” said Coby.
There is so much to look forward to for the 2020–21 season, as most of the team will be returning players.
Girls soccer saw great team and individual success this season. While the team fell in their CCS Division IV playoffs match against Sacred Heart Prep—the eventual tournament winner—“we were the only team Sacred Heart Prep faced that scored a goal against them,” said Athletics Director Chris Wade. “It tells you how strong our team is.”
In addition to great team success—especially for a program that is only four years old—twelve Nueva girls soccer players earned all-league honors, and Gaelen C. was recognized as Athlete of the Week by the San Mateo Daily Journal. This all-league recognition, Chris said, “shows that [our players’] play really stood out to other coaches and athletics directors. Coaches saw our players twice and each time their performance was consistent.”
“Being a part of the Nueva girls soccer team has been one of the best experiences of my life,” said senior Stephanie S. “Our group dynamic is incredible—we are a mix of students from all four grades, and our starting line-up is evenly split between freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, which is super unique. I've never felt more included by a group of girls—we support each other on and off the field!”
In addition to their CCS quarterfinals finish, Nueva US girls soccer earned PSAL league champion honors as they completed league play with an undefeated record.