By Christine Guo (IV)
After their excellent season last year, the girls’ varsity squash team has high hopes for the upcoming season. Led by Captains Renée Chan (VI) and Jessica Hutt (VI), they hope to further improve on their record from the previous year. Coach Francis Odeh, who is new to Pingry, hopes to “bring excitement, hard work, and improvement to the team” as their preseason begins, and is already amazed by the determination and enthusiasm of his players.
Despite the graduation of their number two player, Alisa Chokshi ‘19, the captains are optimistic about their team’s lineup. “Our main goal is to beat our toughest competitors, which are Hackley, Poly Prep, and Lawrenceville,” said Chan. In addition to hard work, the captains prioritize the importance of team bonding since many new freshmen are joining the team. “We want to build on our team culture and cultivate positivity,” said Hutt, who hopes to have a successful season.
By Brian Li (IV)
Looking to build off last year’s success, the boys’ varsity squash team is ready for another busy and focused season. The team, led by Chris Zachary ‘19 and Jeffrey Xiao ‘19, finished with a record of 15-2 and capped off a dominant season as Division II National Champions.
The coaching staff has seen a major overhaul from last season with the departure of Mrs. Tina Rix-Stout and the addition of two new coaches, Mr. Francis Odeh, Assistant Director of Squash, and Mr. Chad Smith, Director of Squash. Mr. Odeh will bring more than 30 years of squash expertise, including a #1 national ranking, and will mainly run the girls’ varsity team. With past coaching experience at The Lawrenceville School and a successful junior career, Mr. Smith will oversee and direct the auxiliary squash program and “build the brand,” according to Coach Ramsay Vehslage. Coach Vehslage will remain as the Head Coach of the boys’ varsity team while Coach Olivia Tandon continues her role as the primary JV squash coach.
When asked about the goals for this season, Coach Vehslage stated, “Get seeded in Division I … In order to get there, we need to focus on winning five-game matches and in order to do that, we need to focus on fitness.” Mr. Vehslage also remarked that, “We have a lot of guys who are very passionate about the sport and are willing to put in the work individually so that they can contribute to the success of the whole team.” With captains Collin Wen (VI), Alex Chiang (VI), Waleed Nisar (VI), and Charlie Malone (VI), the boys’ varsity squash season is bound to have a triumphant season.
By Ben Gottesman (V)
The very underclassmen heavy wrestling team is excited to see what achievements lie ahead in the next few years. Captain Mason Stahl (VI) says about this year’s team: “We have a very young team this year; over half the players are freshmen. Our goal is to have every player improve and to create a strong footing so that Pingry wrestling will continue to grow and evolve in the future.” Along with the infusion of freshmen this year, there is a whole new three-team coaching staff being implemented, including the head coach. “We want them to be a part of the wrestling family, and hopefully this new insight will accelerate our program even more,” says Stahl. With a whole new team and culture, the next few years could be very successful for Pingry wrestling. The season officially begins for the team on December 11 against The Peddie School. We wish the team the best of luck!
By Brooke Pan (V)
The girls’ basketball team is looking strong this winter, with high hopes to build on their performance from last year. Captains Jennifer Ryan (VI), Aly Feeley (VI), and Olivia Volpe (V) will be leading this year’s team as they approach the upcoming season with a new and improved mentality.
“It was kind of hard last season because we lost a lot of our best players,” Volpe recalled. “Because of that, we went into last season with low expectations and … we lost a lot of morale.” Working from the lessons they learned from last year, the girls’ basketball team has made it their mission to “work harder on [their] team chemistry.”
Feeley is confident in the team’s ability to achieve this goal. “We all have a strong work ethic and a desire to get better every day, which is critical to the success and improvement of a team.” She adds, “this team has a really special environment and culture that differentiates it from other sports teams on campus … I can’t wait to see how the season goes!”
By Ben Gottesman (IV)
After a spectacular showing in both the county and state tournaments last year, the senior-heavy boys’ basketball team is looking to make an even deeper run into this season’s tournaments. Coach Jason Murdock said, “Knowing that we have six returning seniors from last year’s team, experience is key and we always want to win our conference, advance in our county tournament, and show well in the state tournament.” The team has been preparing offseason, Coach Murdock explains. “[The guys] have been in the gym working with Coach Scott, so they are very motivated.” It is clear that team culture is very crucial to the success of the program, Coach Murdock explains. Incoming freshmen should expect, “a team that cares about each other, a team that works hard and is competitive, and a team that’s going to do their best to represent Pingry.” The team officially kicks off the year with a difficult game at Immaculata on December 23rd.
By Brooke Pan (V)
This season, the Pingry ski team is looking to continue their positive momentum by improving upon last season’s success. Led by captains Matt Dispenza (VI), Natalie Ladino (VI), Peter McClearn (VI), and Rosemary Collins (V), the team hopes to build on last year’s performances while also fostering a strong rapport between each member of the team.
The ski team’s main priority this year is “to qualify for team states and get more individual skiers into the Race of Champions,” Collins said. To do this, the captains have implemented additional on-snow training sessions at the National Winter Activity Center. “This mountain has a steeper trail than we usually train on […] By training more on a steeper pitch, we will be better prepared to race,” Collins added.
Aside from individual improvement, the captains also hope to further the camaraderie on the team. Ladino notes, “One of our goals is to foster a stronger team environment so that we can encourage a more positive and supportive atmosphere for everyone.”
Overall, the Big Blue ski team is looking forward to a promising season.
By Sarah Kloss (IV)
The boys’ winter track team is returning with a strong lineup this year. Despite losing a handful of senior players, the team still has fifteen boys, including five new freshmen. With both new and returning runners, Head Coach Chris Shilts says, “We have some strong individual talent, and we hope to put these pieces together with some with lesser experience for some relay experimenting.”
The boys will be pushing through rigorous training in the winter weather. Henry Wood (V), a runner for the boys’ winter track team, said, “There are a lot of different elements that go into our training. The team lifts in the weight room four days a week. It is important for us to practice even if conditions are harsh so we don’t fall behind on our training.” After finishing fifth last year, the team hopes to crack into the top three in the NJSIAA Prep “A” Meet. The team is also hoping to place high in the Skyland Conference.
With a lot of strong runners, the boys’ winter track team is ready to perform to the best of their ability. They are excited to succeed and show that their training has paid off!
By Walker Johnson (V)
The girls’ winter track team, led by captains Dylan Anidjar (VI) and Kier Brown (VI), is looking to carry their great successes from last spring into the winter season. Last spring, two relay squads made it to nationals. This year, the team is looking to build on this achievement. Coach Christopher Shilts’s main goals this season are to “make a run at the Group A title and place high at Nationals in both relay and individual events.”
The team is made up of both experienced upperclassmen and newcomers to the sport. Anidjar believes that with the team’s “supportive and knowledgeable coaching staff” as well as its “hard work, [it] will definitely lead to a successful season.” With the season right around the corner, girls’ winter track is ready to achieve their goals and have a great season.
By Emily Shen (IV)
With Mrs. Whitman Annis as Head Coach, the Girls’ Ice Hockey team is ready to continue their last year’s legacy. This year, with many new players joining the team, Head Captain Lizzie Gilfillan (VI) and Assistant Captains Allie Moss (VI) and Annie Oatman (VI) are excited for the team to kick off the season with a smashing start.
The addition of new players to the team means working with girls of different skill levels. Gilfillan, discussing challenges that she is determined to overcome, says, “As a team, we definitely have a lot of strong and experienced players, but with many new girls joining this year, there will be a gap between the older and the younger players. As the captain, it is important to bridge the gap between the two groups and work together toward the championship.”
Gilfillan also plans to make her last high school season a memorable one. When asked about her experience with Pingry Ice Hockey, she mentioned, “Last year was one of the most fun seasons I’ve had. We weren’t the strongest, but it was a lot of fun. This year, we are trying to foster a fun and enjoyable environment, but we also look forward to playing strong in the tournament season in February!”
With a large team this year, the girls’ ice hockey team is looking forward to a successful season. In one of their first meets, they will be playing against Kent Place School, another very competitive team.
By Marc Bliemel (IV)
Coming off a great season last year, the boys’ ice hockey team is hoping for another strong season. Last year, the team finished 19-3-1 overall, and 13-1 in their conference. With returning scorers and play-makers, including Eric Bush (V) and Jared Kordonsky (V), the team is hungry for another conference victory.
Captains Ryan Bush (VI), Joe Faccone (VI), and James Cummings (VI), look to star incoming freshmen Henry Pyne (III), Nick Faccone (III), and Bennett Crosby (III). “We got a few new freshmen who look pretty good . . . I think the new guys will fit right in,” said Bush. The team looks to avenge their one loss from last year against division rival Ridge and repeat their perfect 3-0 record against other conference rival Hillsborough. “We got a couple big games this season [against] Pope John and the Hun School,” Bush noted. Hoping for another great season, players and coaches are getting ready for their regular season opener against Pope John on December 3.
By Anjola Olawoye (III)
The girls’ fencing team anticipates a promising season this year. Led by captains Allision Lee (VI) and Jamie Wang (VI), the team is hoping to build upon its past success. Last year, the team ended their season with a 6-7 record and had success in many major tournaments. Despite being a small team, the team believes the small group allows for a closer bond between the fencers. Zala Bhan (III) noted that the preseason workouts can be difficult. “The workouts can be hard sometimes, but they have taught me resilience,” she said. The team has been working hard during preseason to ensure a strong performance at upcoming meets, especially at the District tournament, where their individual, squad, and team performances all count toward their standing in the State tournament. The first meet of the season is on December 20 against Montgomery High School. Go Big Blue fencing!
By Caleb Park (III)
This year, boys fencing is ready for anything. Although the team is still in the middle of preseason, they are confident of success in the upcoming season. Several new fencers have arrived from the middle school, including Charles Jiang (III), Andy Overdeck (III), Vared Schmuler (III), and Max Watzkey (III).
Last year, the team fenced valiantly throughout the season, and this year’s captains, Corbey Ellison (VI) and Derek Huffman (VI), are excited to build on that success this year through strict preseason practices, which they believe will help to organize the team. Watzkey says, “My fellow fencers are extremely friendly, and I think we are ready for the season ahead.” With just a bit of practice, boys fencing is sure to come out on top this year!
By Kyra Li
Led by co-captains Emily Sanchez (VI), Martha Lewand (VI), Madeline Skapper (VI), and Coach Deirdre O’Mara, the girls’ swim team has started off strong with early morning and weight room practices. Coming off of a stunning season last year, the girls are working hard to prepare for the upcoming season. They will attend events like the Skyland Conference and Somerset County Championships, and, of course, the Prep “A” Championship at Lawrenceville. Last year, they were second in the Skyland Conference, the highest they’ve placed in recent years. The team also won the Prep A Championship for the third year in a row. Despite the loss of several seniors, including Darlene Fung ‘19, many freshmen have joined the team this year, constituting almost half of the team. Sanchez sees this year as “a new wave of the swim team.” Her goals for the team this year are to have fun, work on team spirit, and help the freshmen adapt to the community. With all the new blood, the girls’ swim team is aiming for a successful and fun season, as they hope to win the Prep “A” Championship for the fourth year in a row.
By Justin Li (V)
The Pingry boys’ swim team, led by captains Reid McBoyle (VI) and Will Stearns (VI), is looking forward to what they hope will be another dominant season. Following an undefeated 2018-2019 season, training for the upcoming season is in full swing. After the academic day ends, the pool is filled with Pingry swimmers undertaking sets of various pace, distance, and stroke, which usually total about 3000 meters. The intervals Head Coach Steve Droste and Coach Kevin Schroedter set ensure that every swimmer is consistently pushed to their limit.
McBoyle, who says that he’s “really excited for this season,” believes that this year’s squad is “a strong team with a lot of depth and the potential for another very successful season.” Their goals are the same as last year: win the Skyland Conference Championship, Prep Championships, and Meet of Champions against other strong teams, including Delbarton and Pennington. In addition to their success at meets, the swimmers want to continue filling the record board with new names and maintain Big Blue’s status as one of the best teams in the state.
By Rhea Kapur (V)
On Friday, November 8, at the annual John Hanly Lecture on Ethics and Morality, Mr. Andrew Goldstein ‘92 discussed the influence of the Honor Code in his career at Pingry and beyond, and shared some ethical dilemmas he faced where the Honor Code’s principles guided him.
Established in 1999, the John Hanly Lecture Series on Ethics and Morality honors former Headmaster John Hanly’s personal commitment to instilling honorable and ethical values in students at Pingry. A diverse set of speakers have visited campus each year since the series’ inception, each of them having a unique viewpoint on ethics and moral dilemmas in the 21st century. Mr. Goldstein is no exception. After graduating from Princeton University in 1996, Mr. Goldstein returned to Pingry to teach AP Government and World Cultures, filling the role of his former teacher Mr. Joe LaValley (whom Mr. Goldstein greatly admired). Later, Mr. Goldstein joined TIME Magazine as an investigative reporter. After graduating from Yale Law School, he eventually served as Chief of the Public Corruption Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Recently, he was Senior Assistant Special Counsel in the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation, led by Robert S. Mueller III.
In his remarks, Mr. Goldstein shared two stories, one of which centered around his experience as an investigative reporter at TIME. While covering the Columbine High School shooting, Mr. Goldstein discovered that members of the school’s community were distraught from TIME’s recent cover photo, in which the main focus was on the shooters, not the students who were killed. They wanted reassurance that this would not happen again. Mr. Goldstein retained a neutral position, noting his lack of control over the matter, but also stated how he could not believe they would repeat such a thing.
When another cover story that focused solely on new video footage of the killers ran, Mr. Goldstein had to come to terms with the betrayal the members of the community would feel and the role he played in that betrayal. To alleviate some of the pain, Mr. Goldstein personally reached out to each person he talked to, warning them ahead of time of the cover story. He also contemplated whether he “could have pushed harder [than he did] to keep that photo off the cover,” acknowledging his personal responsibility. Mr. Goldstein’s main takeaway from this was to figure out one’s motivations – the principles upon which one bases their decisions. Getting those right, he noted, is the first step towards acting with integrity. This was a key theme of his overall talk. In his conclusion, he reminded students and faculty to “step back and look at our public discourse today… the importance of telling the truth has dropped off the list of what people think matters. As Pingry students, that should not be acceptable to you.” He encouraged the community to always “remember the values [that] were taught here” to guide their decisions in life.
The talk was well received throughout the community. Meghan Durkin (V), Secretary of the Honor Board, said that “his take on the Honor Code was very insightful, especially his remark that while it may allow for more violations, it provides students with the chance to make realistic, tough decisions.” Samantha Burak (VI) also noted how “we hear about honorable behavior in our daily lives, but this was an important reminder that the lessons of the Honor Code apply well beyond just high school. The stories that Mr. Goldstein shared with us revealed that real situations in life are not always black or white, but that we should be striving to act with personal integrity regardless.”