Boys and Girls Ultimate: State Championships
Teams must qualify.
This past Friday, the SLA Poetry Team was rewarded with a trip to Slam League Championships: an Elite 8 on Friday May 17th at Franklin Theater. This victory was a team effort. Bella Mezzaroba kicked off the first round with a silky love poem that swept both judges and audience into a trance. Her mastery of language drew from the audience a steady rainfall of snaps. In the second round, Josh Melendez rocked his now-famous “Hallelujah” piece where he switches seamlessly between the character of a gay male and the bigot that kills his lover.The third and final round began with Veronica Nocella alone on stage, words poring forth in her customary velvety waves; when all of a sudden a shout rang out from what seemed like the heavens – Soledad Alfaro-Allah was beckoning from the balcony! This was the ghost of Veronica’s murdered partner. The crowd wasn’t ready! These young ladies spun out their story, then brought a hush over the crowd with a stunning and horrific conclusion.
-- Coach Marchella Baldwin
Also, if you ever miss a slam, you can check Team SLA’s YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVGXphRYY9ELDGuJjq5Gn-w
As was expected, the "interested" dwindled when the sessions increased in intensity and frequency. However, those who kept coming back for more formed the core of a dominating "Army of One" set to do battle from beginning to end. While their heroes and role models worked out in the golden sun of Florida and Arizona, this Army did so in defiance of the elements. When both started their respective seasons on April 1st, it was as if the roles had been reversed and the professionals paled in comparison to the amateurs.
"There were three main goals when we started out this season", said SLA Varsity Baseball Coach Doug Herman before the team took the field vs. Sankofa in their final regular season game. "We set out to establish a J.V. squad to expand our program, finally secure a home field, and we looked to command our own destiny with solid, fundamental performances to earn the right to move up in the Varsity ranks. We obviously achieved the first two, thanks to the addition of Coach Dan Winterstein, but a solid win today will help us accomplish all three." While having the Umpires officially deem the field unplayable on the final day of the Regular Season was not how this team wanted to earn a trip to C, they'll take it.
That Army, formed through the dark days of painful practices in swirling winds and bone-cold temps behind the ominous towers of Lee Park, never took their eyes off the prize. That Army, which would become known simply as "The Rocket", would weather all sorts of storms and suffer through hours of daily public transit to attend practices. That Army, which never let anything ruffle their feathers, had something to prove and constantly put their all on display. It was clear to anyone who glimpsed at the standings or box scores during this 2013 Season that this Army walked the talk and clobbered most who they faced.
From the very first game, when King's most Dedicated forgot he wasn't coaching football, and chose to incessantly bark his orders instead of sending signs, to the very end when Sankofa's coach didn't lift a finger to prepare their field for battle, "The Rocket" maintained composure and completed a near-perfect season, finishing 11-1. But these warriors were gentlemen too. They dominated but never forgot where they came from. Remembering what it was like to be on the receiving end of mismatched beat downs, they moved toward their goal with class and earned the respect of everyone along the way.
"Started from the bottom, now the whole team here."
Before the first pitch was thrown, Rush's Short Stop nonchalantly asked his teammates where they were going to celebrate after beating up SLA. Four inning innings later he was chirping at SLA's 3rd Base Coach claiming they weren't showing class by running hard on the base paths to build a 10-run lead. The innings in between his two comments were a textbook example of how psychological the game of Baseball can be, why Rush fell out of C division last year and how the Rockets continue to surge.
After striking out the first two batters he faced, Rush's starter- Anthony Moore- walked Jeff Schwartz on four pitches, became visibly frustrated when he stole second, and seemed to lose his composure when called for a Balk. Schwartz was awarded third and easily scored on the next pitch when Kevin Courtney ripped one through that same Short Stop to make it 1-0.
The psychological impact of a run scoring without a hit continued to unnerve Moore who was called for a total of three Balks in the game. The second put Mike Sanders in scoring position and Moore uncorked a wild pitch allowing him to reach 3rd. Although Sanders didn't score, the scene was foreshadowing for what would unfold in the third and fourth innings where the Rockets would score 11 times.
Moore threw hard, but the Rockets were patient the second time around the order. Ethan Reese fought off a bunch of pitches, eventually ripping a single up the middle and Abe Musselman was hit squarely in the back to reach 1st. With the runners moving, Jeff Schwartz notched his 31st and 32nd RBIs of the season on a rip into Center. Schwartz advanced to 2nd when Rush's defense tried to throw out Musselman at the plate. Kevin Courtney continued his hot hitting with an RBI (19) single to Center, making it 4-0. Mike Sanders came back in to pinch run, stole 2nd and 3rd and then scored on Nick Manton's groundout to the right side to make it 5-0.
Rush got 1 run back off 3 consecutive singles, but Nick Manton, who remained perfect on the season in 4 appearances by striking out 7 and only issuing 1 Walk, got some great defense from Mike Sanders whose catch in Right stranded runners on 2nd and 3rd. The Rockets continued to prove they can play Small Ball as well as mash it up by scoring 7 more runs off just 1 extra-base hit in the 4th to put it out of reach. The win moved SLA just 1/2 game out of first place behind University City who was in action against Gratz.
Kevin Courtney led The Rocket attack, reaching base in all 3 plate appearances, going 2-2 with a Double, 4RBIs and 2 Runs-scored (by Mike Sanders). SLA finished their 3-game road trip a perfect 3-0 and rides a 7-game win streak back home to Mt. Airy where they have outscored their opponents 82-9 in 5 games. Their next game is on May 6th vs. Bartram (7-2).
The students of the inaugural class of SLA-B will be chosen from the students who interviewed for SLA in the fall. Students who are still on the waiting list for SLA can email their interest email@example.com; teachers interested in working at SLA-B should send copies of their resume and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the full story, check Jenn Wright's story at SLAMedia.org.