Bocce Team Embraces Inclusivity at TMHS

By: Tyler Lambing

Cheers could be heard from the opponents teams at the scrimmage with Huntingdon, when the Titans scored a point at the newly formed Bocce match. It is rare for the other team to cheer on their rival, but in Bocce that’s what it is all about, praising everyone for trying and succeeding. During the fall of 2022, the Director of Education, Ms. Danelle Diehl, proposed a new team sport for Tussey Mountain High School, the first ever Bocce ball team.

Diehl approached Mrs. Melissa Madzy about starting the Bocce all team. Madzy states “Ms. Diehl had seen Unified Bocce at other school districts and got one started for Tussey.” There were many different reasons for the creation of this new team. Another coach Mrs. Jessica McGraw says, “We felt it was a perfect opportunity to get students from various backgrounds who may not normally get to interact with one another to work and play together in a sporting environment. Being that Tussey does not have a Bocce team, it just seemed perfect when the idea presented itself.”

Tussey Mountain Junior Landon Jays throws a warm up ball while teammates, Jabin McGraw, Isaiah Sosak, Kyler Coffman, Courtney Aller, Joslynn Jays and Xavier Ricchiuti look on. (Photo Credit: Tyler Lambing)

Many people have joined the new team for many different reasons. Junior Isaiah Sosak states, “I figured it would be a new experience to play with new people and my friends.” While Sophomore Courtney Aller states, “It is something new, and I like doing new things.” 

Like with all other new sports, people have to learn all the rules and how to play. Sosak says, “It was kind of confusing until I started [playing] then it was easy to pick up.” He also says, “The hardest part is rolling [the ball] because the balls are really uneven and full of water.” 

Recently the Bocce team had their first scrimmage against Southern Huntingdon. Sosak says, “I didn’t really know how it would go because I didn’t really know how good the other people were, and then I saw them and was like ‘oh these people are the real deal’.” 

While Madzy says, “I feel the scrimmage went really well. Our team was very focused and had some fantastic rolls. The game was more intense than I expected it to be. It’s always exciting when they’re close in score. It was great to have the support of the students, teachers, and other fans.” Even though most people didn’t know how it would go, there were still some great moments during the scrimmage. Junior Landon Jays states “I like when we got two points for throwing the ball right straight across the [pallino].”

Jordyn Raycroft gives a thumbs up to her fans in the stands before her throw.

Bocce ball is a game much like bowling where two teams of six to eight players go head to head to try and score the most points throughout two rounds and a tiebreaker round if necessary. First, one of the players rolls a yellow ball called the pallino. Then, the rest of the players roll balls as close to the pallino as possible. For every ball that is close to the pallino the team scores a point. The team with the most points at the end of 30 minutes is the winner of that round. 

It is a game mostly about strategy. Madzy states, “We need to work a little more on our strategic play. It’s important to know when to make throws in an attempt to score and when to throw the ball away so that your current points in the frame are not potentially lost.”

Bocce ball is Tussey Mountain’s first sport for people with and without special needs. Sosak states, “People say it’s an advantage but it’s really not. You get to learn from [other teammates] how they learn, and they get to learn from you, and it is just a good overall experience.” 

Tussey Mountain is not the only school in the area that has created a Bocce team. Many different schools have created a team including Southern Huntingdon, Huntingdon, and Mount Union. All of these schools will be competing against each other during this winter Bocce season. Even if the players were on another team they deserve to be recognized for doing the best they can. Spectator Mrs. Amy Snyder says “It was beautiful to see every spectator cheering on every player no matter what team they were on.”

Tussey Mountain’s first United Bocce Ball Team (kneeling) Landon Jays and Xavier Ricchiuti (standing) Courtney Aller, Joslynn Jays, Coach Melissa Madzy, Kyler Coffman, Isaiah Sosak, Jabin McGraw, Jordyn Raydroft, Coach Jessica McGraw and Superintendent Jerry Shoemake

Preparing For the Game 

By: Vanessa Clark

The Titan athletes have many things they do before every game. The things they do could prevent injury or help them perform better during the game.

Many athletes prepare in many different ways. Some athletes might have had a previous injury that they need to make sure is wrapped such as wrapping a wrist a couple of times, or they wear a brace. They might do this so they don’t hurt it again. Athletes that have had injuries during the season might have to wear something to support it during the game when they are allowed to go back. Freshman Basketball player Brianna Gabrielson says, “many of my teammates wear ankle braces for more stability. It’s definitely an overlooked asset in performing your best.” 

Titan Junior Josh Williams warms up before his wrestling match against Huntingdon.

Most of the time teammates witness the injuries. It affects the whole team when a player gets injured. Freshman Basketball player Abygale Morningstar says, “Injuries can [affect] a small team. It can cause you to only play with the amount you need, and that can be a problem in different situations.”

Some athletes just prepare through practice. They might have certain routines that they do before a game. They might practice for the same amount of time before the game.  Some players might just take a minute to themselves before the game. This could be to think about things they will do or clear their mind so they can focus on the game. Morningstar says, “I will sit down and take a moment to breathe and get myself ready for the game.” Others could think about why they play and think about what they are there to do. Gabrielson says, “Before every game I make it a point to acknowledge and spend a few minutes with my family members who are there to watch me. I think for me it’s just a way to remind myself who I’m playing for, and it also makes me feel a little extra grateful for the opportunities I’m given. I like to talk about the game and what my goals are for this specific night.”

Many athletes do things to prepare themselves before a game to help them play better. Every athlete is different so they all will tell you different ways to prepare for a game. 

Playing with Fire

By: Tyler Lambin

This article won Write of the Week in the Huntingdon Daily News

Sophomore Elizabeth Park sets the world on fire as a fire twirler for the Tussey Mountain Marching Band. Park got the idea to twirl fire when she was 3 years old and attended a Tussey Mountain football game where she saw Adriene (Walls) Montalto twirling fire. From that moment on, twirling fire became her dream.  

When Park first started she went through all kinds of emotions. She states, “I was young when I started so I was nervous. I thought ‘what if I can’t do it or burn myself?’ I was excited to finally be able to try this cool talent.” 

Sophomore, Elizabeth Park twirls fire at Titan Football games.

Before actually twirling fire, Park has to prepare herself mentally and physically. She has to make sure her hair is up so it doesn’t catch on fire. She also has to change clothes quickly because she is also on the field as a cheerleader. Before Park twirls, she feels incredibly nervous and excited because it is her favorite thing to do. To actually set Park’s baton on fire, her dad places one end of it in kerosene overnight, then flips it and lets the other end soak. Park says, “The most challenging part of twirling fire would be trying not to burn yourself, or trying not to catch the end of the baton where it’s lit, especially when you are twirling in the dark, and [the flame] goes out so you can no longer see your baton.” 

Park is very passionate and driven to do the best she can when twirling. Park actually doesn’t get that much practice twirling fire; she only practiced before the first game. Park loves being able to live her dream and twirl fire. She will continue to twirl fire for as long as she can.

“I would twirl fire over a regular baton any day. I just like how exciting it is and it looks a lot cooler,” says Park.

Lucko Breaks Record

By: Chloe Ritchey

On Friday, October 19, 2020, Kaden Lucko, a senior, broke the Tussey Mountain record for yards rushing. For Kaden, breaking the record felt “great for myself and the whole team. I’m very thankful for my linemen and the opportunity to have my name in the record book.” 

Kaden Lucko breaks Tussey record for yards rushing.

The excitement was not just felt by Lucko. Nick Brumbaugh said, “It was amazing watching Kaden break the record, because I know how hard he has worked.It was a great accomplishment for our line the past three years to help him get that accomplishment.” The fans felt it too. According to the “Woo Man” Bill Brown it felt “amazing watching my grandson break the all-time rushing record at Tussey Mountain. It was just wonderful watching him play sports all throughout the years. Kaden’s ability to contribute to his teammates with such a humble character says a lot about who he is. He is a good kid. I am so proud of Kaden.”

“Woo Man,” Bill Brown cheers on the Titans as the loudest and proudest in the stands.

The “Woo Man” was one of the lucky few who got to attend some of the games. To Lucko he is a “die hard Tussey fan” and also happens to be his grandfather. The “Woo Man” went to every game. He would even sit across the road to watch the game when people were not allowed in the Dick Hess Stadium at Tussey Mountain High School. Even in that case you could still hear his cheers in the stadium. For Lucko, hearing “the cheers from the fans is what fuels the fire [of the game.]”

The season is over but the grind doesn’t stop

By:  Caleb Sopher

The sun is setting on a Tussey Mountain season once again, but for the athletes, the sun is still shining bright. I got to learn from three athletes the common struggles of training for a sport. Putting time aside for practicing and doing homework is hard enough for the average athlete; however, an extraordinary athlete pushes the envelope past the whistle. 

Titan wrestler, sophomore, Chad Weist conditioned on the exercise bike while Sophomore Caleb Sopher clocked him. Photo Credit: Amelia Dibert

One such example is Sophomore Chad Weist, who works out 5 times a week. He also finds time after practice to run. 

Juniors Aaron Lopez and Aden Scott work hard as well. Aaron runs in the morning before school, while Scott lifts weights and runs because “There is no rest” when it comes to working out.  This isn’t some weekend motivation for these athletes: they have been involved in sports for many years. Weist has been running track for four years. Lopez has played basketball for 5 years, and  Scott has wrestled for a staggering four years. These decisive athletes have to give up junk food and precious time to train for sports. It’s hard to keep up with training on a schedule. “You just gotta push through the tough time even turn to motivation,” says Lopez. 

You can lift weights and run all the time, but that means nothing if you don’t have a good diet. Shawn M. Talbott, a nutritional biochemist and former director of the University of Utah Nutrition Clinic, says, “weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.”

Weist, Scott, and Lopez all agree that they consume proteins and watch calorie intake. 

It takes more than just willpower to keep going; motivation can be a deciding factor. Weist looks to make a name for himself and to impress people. Lopez would like to suppress the haters. Last, but not least, Scott feels like he is getting stronger, so he keeps going.

All three athletes plan on going to college to play sports.  Weist hopes to continue training after high school–maybe in college–and after that to become a football coach. The season never really ends because the skills learned from excruciating training continue for a lifetime.

D5 Champs Recognized

By: Colton Bishop

In the month of January all the varsity football players got invited to a board meeting. At the meeting they presented the students of the month awards and towards the end of it the Titan football team got recognized for winning D5. We got called up one by one to be noticed and received our certificate of recognition. 

Colton Bishop shares the certifical all D5 Football Champions received at the Tussey Mountain School Board Meeting. Photo Credit: Amelia Dibert

As a varsity football player, the best feeling is knowing that we have a whole community behind us. The feeling of having the fans/whole community behind our backs is very hard to describe. Seeing the younger ones happy and knowing that we’re bringing something so special back to our school. 

One of my favorite memories as a Titan football player is when we won. We all looked at each other and said we made it. Returning home from the game, seeing everyone filling up the side of the streets happy and excited that we won was a alot to take in as a player. One of my favorite things is when I walked into the gym and saw that we made it up on the football banner for winning District 5. 

 With the 2020-2021 season coming up, I’m excited to be with the upcoming varsity players. There is a lot of good talent we players have that doesn’t go to waste. We have a very good coaching staff that makes sure we’re giving it our all. The coaches that we have now are the best thing that has happened to our school. They push us to do our best and give 100 percent no matter what. They don’t just coach us as football players, they make us grow into respectable young men. I feel that if we all get into the weight room and push ourselves even more, we’ll be successful. As Coach S says, “today starts tomorrow”.

I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the field again, each year our brotherhood gets stronger and stronger. We all pushed each other at practice, especially if we see someone slacking and not getting it their all. We all stuck together, and we made great things happen. With the year coming up, I have big of shoes to fill as a starting QB. I am looking forward to leading the team to wins.  I’m looking forward to making great memories and putting more work in to make it to be D5 champs once again. 

Reflecting on Becoming D5 Champions

By: Colton Bishop

In the summer, as football players, we worked very hard to become District 5 champions. At practice we would always say that we wanted to be District 5 champions; last year we were close to that happening. We had a playoff game, but we lost the playoff game by a few points. We players put that chip on our shoulders and let it sink in that we had it but lost it by a few points. Players this year wanted that District 5 Title to bring back to our school and make our community happy.

With the sun beating down on, you the summer practices were the worst, in my opinion. Wearing shoulder pads and a helmet was the worst feeling ever. You felt like you couldn’t breathe from pushing yourself so hard. Conditioning was the four quarters and the county fair, which we did pretty much every week at least two times in the week. I found them both hard. We were tired from practicing and from tackling, and by the end of the practice you had to condition. The four quarters  was running from one side of the field to the other four times, it was like playing a game, but instead of that you were running down and back.You’d run two times per quarter. The county fair was like an obstacle course in which you had different stations (running five yards, zaps, up downs and bear crawl) to do to make up for four quarters. I remember being pushed to my limit for the four quarters. I felt like giving up, and I’d questioned myself. Why am I doing this? Is it all worth it? 

Football is a year round sport. We start weight lifting a few months after the season ends and from there it’s all about putting in the hard work. Football practice sometimes starts around April or May. 

The two games that I found the most challenging this year were playing Northern Bedford County High School (NBC) twice, once in the regular season and then in the District 5 Championship. A few NBC players stated that “they had us.” In my eyes we had them from the start of the game against NBC.  They got out hustled by us. In the third and fourth quarter they weren’t playing as hard as we. In the D5 game they ran points up before us, but in the third and fourth quarters we came out on top because we had conditioned all year. Beating NBC was one of the best feelings ever and especially knowing that the NBC coach said they would  “finish their season.” during the week of NBC practices to get them motivated for the district 5 championship. The best feeling was that we finished their season and made it to the state playoff game. 

Our hardest game was playing Bellwood, when our starting quarterback, Matt Leonard, got hit in the head in the first quarter. I went in for Matt the first half. I was very nervous, but deep down I knew I had to keep calm and relax. Both of our teams were undefeated until they pulled out on top. The second hardest game would be against Farrell in the State Playoff game. They hustled more than we had, and they ran all over us. Since they had such good players, it was hard to shut down every single player with them being more motivated than we.

As a sophomore backup quarterback, I was happy that our team made it to districts and won  districts. It was a good feeling we were all looking forward to becoming District 5 Champions, we would talk about it all the time at practice and weight lifting. It was our dream to bring back the title. The best part about that was that we were playing against our rival school NBC. It felt really amazing when the community sent us off to the D5 game and then the state playoff game with signs and banners on Main Street in Saxon. As a sophomore going into my junior year, I have a lot of work to put in. I am looking forward to having a successful year each year that I play. One of our coaches Steve Moore stated, “It was a great year to be at Tussey because we’re bringing it home.”

Lifting up the Titans 

By:  Colton Bishop

In the month of October the Tussey Mountain Football team got a new weight room. The weight room wasn’t in the best of condition originally. A few of the weight bars were bent and some of the weight benches were leaning to the sides. The new equipment now in the weight room includes “new bars, dumbbells, full racks, and all purpose equipment,” said head coach Anthony Sottasante. Sottasante went on to explain, “It was my idea. We needed the new weight room to be more functional as well as a safer environment.”

Coach Steve Moore spots Colton Bishop on the new equipment in the Field House weight room. Photo by: Colton Bishop

Both the school district and the Titan Football Booster Club pitched in to fund the new equipment in the weight room. In addition to the new equipment, the Titans also got new football lockers. With the lockers, every player will have their very own locker and a chair in front of their locker. With the new lockers it is less cramped and there is a whole lot more space. Senior running back Tyler Rhodes feels it was a big change for the Titans and went on to explain, “I feel it is definitely gonna help change the environment from our past seasons. We now have better and more useful equipment which is absolutely going to help out the future team of Tussey.”

Sports Injuries: Poor Conditioning or Dangerous Accidents?

By: Caleb Sopher

A broken foot, fractured ankle, broken arm, or a concussion–how long before it becomes too much?  These are some of the many gruesome and damaging injuries to the various team members at Tussey. 

Junior, Jenna Hall and, sophormore, Samantha Thomas sit out during their fall sports due to injuries.
Photo by: Amelia Dibert.

Finding injured sports athletes is very easy in these dangerous times. Sophomore Colton Bishop, a varsity football player and starting track athlete, has suffered injuries throughout his sports career. “I had a fractured ankle last season which still bothers me.” This is also the case for sophomore Kaylee Coffman, another injured sports athlete, who had a foot injury during soccer that still affects her sometimes.  According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, “28% of football players” and “22% of soccer players get injured while playing their sport.” Is it not enough conditioning for the players? Athletes in both sports have differing thoughts on the matter. 

Coffman, who plays varsity soccer, said that her coach does “a lot of conditioning such as running around cones and doing the ladder exercise to improve footwork.”  Bishop, on the other hand, felt that his coach is not as tough on conditioning. In the sport of football, Bishop has to condition by running four quarters, which is a conditioning exercise where players have to run down the side of the field and back twice. It is designed to help your breathing after running for a long time.

Melody Toth, a sports trainer of 45 years, explains, “While your body can be in peak position and you workout 365 days a year, you have the same chance of injuring yourself as someone that has never conditioned before.” According to Toth, these various injuries can affect people down the road, especially concussions.  The most common injuries Toth has to deal with are: ankle, wrist, and concussion injuries. When asked if she thinks sports are dangerous, she responded by saying, “No, as long as you have the right equipment.” 

A burning question among parents and students is: “Do you think that it is a bad idea for young children to play football or hockey at a young age such as 7-8 years old?” Toth quickly responded, “No, it’s not because those kids get old hand me down [equipment], and the equipment never fits.” ”If you use equipment that doesn’t fit you,” explains sophomore varsity football player, Kyle Williams, “it won’t absorb the impact [on the field].” Injuries sustained could be very serious. Sophomore backup quarterback and safety Chad Weist shares his concern this football season as his “football helmet doesn’t inflate as it should, but it [meets] the minimum safety requirements for playing.”

  The bottom line is that sports can be dangerous: it’s a risk you have to take with dangerous plays, faulty equipment or careless injuries.

Voice of the Titans

By: Colton Butler

Mr. Chris Carrier: Voice of the Titans

The Voice of the Tussey Mountain Titans is Mr. Christopher Carrier; he became the voice of the Titan’s when the last announcer resigned about 8 years ago. Carrier explains he became the announcer because he felt “there needed to be a little more spice added to the game after the last announcer quit.” 

Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Hummel scout for Mr. Carrier

The hardest part of being the Voice of the Titans is “trying to find who the person that carries the ball or whoever tackles the players that [has] the ball.” So he has to have a whole team of people in the booth to scout for him.  There are at least 4 or 5 additional people in the booth with him, such as Mr. Hummel, Mr. States, Mr. Conley, and Mr. Flaherty. Carrier explains, “It is a responsibility to call out the players names; it is also not really hard because I have a really great team of helpers.”  These helpers keep track of the plays and the players involved, sometimes using binoculars. They relay the information to Carrier to be announced. 

“It is a huge honor to be the Voice Of The Titans,” states Carrier. “I can spread my energy to the crowd during the game.”

Hammie Rolls Out in Style

By: Colton Bishop

Most players run out on the field, but Dominick Cornelius has his own ride at only twelve!  On the evening of September 13, 2019, the Tussey Mountain football team’s honorary captain made his first appearance at the beginning of the annual backyard brawl against Northern Bedford High School. Junior High Assistant Coach Tank Ritchey suggested to Head Varsity Football Coach Anthony Sottasante acknowledging sixth grader Dominick “ Hammie” Cornelius as an honorary captain for the 2019-2020 school year.  “I thought [the idea] was awesome,” said Sottasante, “Anytime you can give back to the community or lift someone’s spirits, it’s important to do so.”

It was mutually agreed upon by all the head captains of the varsity football team that Hammie would be voted as the full-time honorary captain for home games. Typically, the team recognizes honorary captains weekly instead of the full season. “We all saw how excited Hammie was to come out with us,” said senior quarterback Matthew Leonard, “so we thought he would be happy to come out for the coin toss”

“He loves all the noise and all the action that goes on,” said Hammie’s mother, Andrea Cornelius. “As soon as he sees the games starting, he starts kicking and clapping with excitement.” During the game, Hammie has a sideline view of the action.

Communicating with Hammie requires showing him images to which he reacts.  When asked what he liked about being a captain, Hammie was able to communicate, “I like being out on the field.” While Hammie enjoys all sports, ironically, his favorite sport is baseball.

Young and Improving

By: Caleb Sopher

Titan golfer, Caleb Sopher, tees off at Down River Golf Course in Everett, PA

The young and ambitious Tussey Mountain Golf Team swung out this season but is coming back strong next fall to putt their way to victory! 

Mr. Horsh, the golf coach said, “This year I think we had a great group of guys. They all were willing to try new techniques.” With all these improvements, there were still areas for improvement.  Short game was a major issue the golfers had this year and, in the game of golf, that is where you get most of your strokes. The short game refers to putting to get the ball in the hole.

In the spring Mr. Horsh is hoping to get a few middle schoolers and some girls together to start  spring practices. In Fall 2020, Mr. Horsh says that the ICC Championship will be more wide open for the golfers at Tussey because many of the really good golfers this year will be graduating. 

Since the time Mr. Horsh started coaching at Tussey he has not had a winning record, but he says he does enjoy coaching because he is able to see new golf courses and meet new people. Mr. Horsh believes “golfing is one of those sports you can play till you’re ninety, so there is no harm in trying golf.” All of the golfers this year will be going on to be juniors so the Titans are on the hunt to bring back former ‘90s glory to the Tussey Mountain golf team.

Bond Between TM Offense and Defense Scores Victory Yet Again

By: Tiffany Black

The “Game of the Week” starred the Tussey Mountain Titans and the Juniata Valley Hornets, and the Titans took home an impressive win for their school with a driving force that keeps the team going. Kicking off the end of the first quarter, Tussey Mountain leads the game with a score of 2-0. Tension started to rise between the two teams as the Titans capture a touchdown to obtain an 8-0 lead, and the Hornets come back with a remarkable touchdown to swarm behind the Titans to conclude a score of 8-6 at the end of the second quarter. By the end of the fourth quarter, the Titans have a 14-12 lead, and the Hornets needed to make a two-point conversion to tie the game up. Instead, the Titans recovered and prevented the Hornets from scoring any points, ending the game with 14-12.

Behind this September 27th victory, the driving force remains up to the players. The Titans’ quarterback, Matthew Leonard, confirms how the team was able to perform so well. “Juniata Valley is a good team: We all knew how hard we had to play.” Leonard continues on to give all the credit to the power of teamwork between all of the players. “Everyone’s working together to make sure we win the game; we came up short last year, so we knew we had to work harder.”

Tyler Rhodes, the Titans’ running-back, gives insight on the expectations of both the offense and the defense positions on the game. “Defensively, we definitely did [reach our expectations]. We had a few errors here and there, but we held them down to [about] 100 yards.” According to Rhodes, though, the offensive expectations didn’t seem to reach the potential they intended. “But for offense, definitely not. We had too many errors, we got stopped too often, and I feel as if we’re a better team than that.” Nonetheless, as a whole, the team performed well. “Our [the team’s] expectations are to win,” says Leonard.

Alongside the players, Rhodes gives some credit to some outside forces. “[The drive to succeed is] definitely for our family, our coaches, our community, [and] the school. We work hard because we see how great of a team we can be and how far we can make it to make everyone proud.”

The game may have been challenging, but the glue that bonds the team together continued to stay strong during the whole game. “We thought we were in a bit of trouble,” Rhodes confesses, “but I never doubted the team or doubted myself because I knew that would just dig us deeper in the hole that we were in.” However, Leonard has a more straightforward answer. “No. There is no doubt [when] being there for my teammates and being the best I can be for my teammates.” Leonard boldly states.

The ambitions for the Titans continues to grow and evolve, and after the game, the team continues on with their undefeated streak of 6-0. Goals have been set for the team as well. Leonard states that, “we [the team] plan to make it all the way to the District Title; that’s the goal.” The team thrives on, and Tussey Mountain wishes them the best of luck.