The Lady Lions hit the ground running under the leadership of Head Coach Don Dimoff in his 26th season as they hope to take the next step in contending for a district title.
Grace Tollinger, who has played basketball for 12 years, has high expectations for the team this year. “We have the talent to make it far in this year’s postseason,” Tollinger said, “but we need to stay disciplined throughout the season.”
The team is led by six seniors, Tollinger being one of them. “I am looking forward to the postseason with this team,” Tollinger said, “We have a different dynamic than the past three years which opens up new offenses we can play.”
Tollinger also pointed out the fact that the team “is composed of many guards,” also saying that “we will have to adapt to playing bigger posts compared to other guards.”
However, because they are a smaller team, she believes “they can outrun most other teams.”
The team is off to an incredible 5-0 start, most recently beating Central York 44-38. In addition to beating Central York, they have convincing wins against Ephrata, Manheim Township, York High, and Dover.
“Our team has faced many challenges adapting to playing styles from other teams,” Tollinger said, “We have been working really hard at practice to replicate each team’s playing styles in order to overcome that struggle.”
Tollinger will lead the Lions into their next matchup away at Warwick, where they look to continue their hot start.
Tollinger said that despite their undefeated start, there is still work to be done with bigger goals in mind. “We will continue to learn and develop as the season progresses,” Tollinger said.
Last night as Red Lion faced Northeastern in the second game of the season it set a different tone than in years past. Stands stood nearly empty as the referee blew the whistle to start the game.
While there were few fans to cheer on the Lions, the team played with fervor, not unlike years past, the night ended with a score of 53-36.
Red Lion Varsity came in strong keeping a steady lead over Northeastern. At the end of the first quarter, Red Lion led 16-7, and at half-time, 23-19. By the end of the third quarter, Red Lion led 35-28.
Standout players included senior forward Davante Dennis, the high-scorer, with 18 points on the nigh. Junior forward Mason Urey scored a total of 13 points.
The game ended with Red Lion emerging victorious.
JV began strong with four points in under four minutes. From there they continued their streak. At half-time Red Lion lead 24 -19. Red Lion kept up their lead in the third quarter but was neck and neck with Northeastern in the fourth quarter.
With 12.5 seconds left, both teams were tied at 40 points. At 6.0 seconds Northeastern gained 4 more points allowing them to take the lead 44-40.
In the end, Red Lion JV lost 44-40 against Northeastern Senior High.
Governor Wolfe announced a delay of the start of winter sports practices and games Dec. 13 as COVID-19 cases rose in Pennsylvania.
Signs in the gym remind anyone at the events to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Players are required to wear masks as well. Spectators are not allowed to attend. They can watch events as they are live-streamed.
After resuming the season Jan. 4, winter sports are in full swing. Boys and girls basketball had their first game and scrimmage Jan. 8. The boys won their game. Wrestling had their first match Jan. 10, leaving them 3-2 overall.
Upcoming home games include girls’ and boys’ basketball against William Penn Jan. 15. The wrestling team has a match against Dover High School Jan. 14. Also, the swimming team has a meet against Central York Jan. 21.
Just as Red Lion athletes were ready to tip-off their winter season, high schools across Pennsylvania heard the news that K-12 sports would be suspended until early January.
The suspension runs until 8 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2021. Gov. Tom Wolf announced this and other changes during a press conference on Thursday in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The release noted that there has been a significant increase in cases among schools. Pennsylvania has seen an influx of cases since October with the number of daily cases and hospitalizations seeing record highs in the last few months as well as deaths per day, reaching the hundreds.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine explained the decision. “The virus continues to strain our health care systems, and the dramatic rise in cases among all age groups, including among school-age children, is alarming.” Levine said. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 37,500 cases among children age 5 to 18, yet 9,500 of those cases occurred in the past two weeks.”
This postponement is in hopes that daily cases go down over the next three weeks, making it safer for high school students to participate in winter sports. The release noted that because of the increase in cases among schools that it “increases the risk that asymptomatic participants will spread the virus at a game or practice, in the locker room, while traveling to and from events, or at team meals, parties or other gatherings.”
Dec. 10, 2020 marked the fifth time that Pennsylvania recorded 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day since Dec. 2, 2020. Before Oct., Pennsylvania had not reported more than 2,000 new cases per day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker and the Mayo Clinic, Pennsylvania has an average of 9,898 cases per day in the last seven days as well as recording that 78 people out of every 100,000 in the state have COVID-19.
The number of hospitalizations has also risen to 5,877. Until Nov. 18, the highest number of hospitalizations was 2,800, on April 17. Since then each day has marked a new record high. Pennsylvania has the third highest number of hospitalization in the country after California and Texas.
This announcement comes one week after the Red Lion Area School District Board of School Directors approved a revised plan for health and safety for interscholastic sporting events at the Dec. 3 school board meeting. The plan lays out when and what materials get sanitized as well as how to keep coaches and athletes safe by social distancing when possible.
Soccer attacking center midfielder Delaney Bittner won the October 15 GameTimePA YAIAA Athlete of the Week. Each week people get the chance to vote for the GameTimePA YAIAA Athletes of the Week at https://www.ydr.com/gametimepa/.
This is the second week that senior Delaney Bittner has been nominated.
She finished with four goals in last Thursday’s YAIAA win against South Western, which earned her a nomination. As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Bittner came in first place out of the seven girls on the poll. She won with a total of 4,750 votes.
Bittner has played on varsity all four years of her high school career. She started playing when she was four years old and has since been playing for the last 13 years.
Bittner has also accumulated multiple awards and accomplishments over the years. She won 2x First-Team All-County, 2x Varsity Captain, 2017 Varsity Newcomer of the Year, 2018 Outstanding Effort Award, and the 2019 Red Lion Player of the Year.
“I am honored to have been nominated twice,” said Bittner. “The support I got from my teammates, friends, and family was unreal.”
In previous years Bittner said that she struggled to move into an offensive role, but this year she has fully embraced it.“My biggest triumph this season has been my switch into more of an attacking role,” said Bittner. “I feel like in the previous years I have been more defensive minded, and didn’t really transition much into offense.”
Her success thus far was not always guaranteed. “My biggest struggle this season has been all the uncertainty with COVID,” Bittner said. “We didn’t know if we would even have a season for a long time, so it was hard to keep the intensity up while we would only be allowed to play each other.”
Her confidence since the beginning of the season has changed. “I also feel like the confidence my coach has in me has made a huge difference in my play,” Bittner said. “He believes in me which makes it easier to believe in myself.” “I would like to give a huge shoutout to my awesome teammates for being my personal hype up crew,” said Bittner. “And being amazing per usual.”
“There is no I in team,” is a common saying within many sports. Tennis, on the other hand, has its players compete in order to be ranked. While this happens on every team, every year, it still insights competitiveness between teammates.
Junior Sophie Lanius and freshman Alexis Lakatosh were two such competitors. At the beginning of the 2020 season they competed against each other for the number one ranked spot on the team. Lakatosh came out victorious taking the number one spot on the team.
Since then, Lanius and Lakatosh have been working together in doubles matches against rivaling schools. They are both 7-1 this season and plan on continuing to dominate on the court.
The relationship between Lanius and Lakatosh developed over time. “I knew it was going to be tough beating her in the challenge matches,” said Lanius.
“Sophie and I have been friends for around two years now since I’ve been playing since seventh grade,” Lakatosh said. “Sophie and I knew it was going to be tough battling each other, head to head.”
After the initial competition, the two have grown closer together and have been victorious in many matches against competing schools. But this teamwork did not come easily.
“Since we have been together every day over the summer and we’ve been playing all this time, it’s been really good,” said Lakatosh. “Our relationship has gotten a lot better.”
Lanius said that the hardest part for her was that they were not yet familiar with each other’s playing styles.
Lanius and Lakatosh competed in the county finals Friday, August 9, 2020. Both won their bracket and faced off for the champion title. Lakatosh beat Lanius in both matches, 6-2, 6-3.
Even though they started out as competitors, they have grown closer as teammates, with many nice things to say about each other. Lakatosh describes Lanius as energetic, caring, and funny.
“I see Lexie as a little sister and I have seen how hardworking, competitive and resilient she is,” said Lanius. “I really admire that about her.”
Cheers echoed throughout Spring Grove as the field hockey team celebrated Coach Carol Gillmen’s 300th win Wednesday, Oct. 7.
The team painted a poster to run through, signed a framed picture for Coach Gillmen, and wore matching yellow shirts to honor their coach’s hard work. According to Coach Gillmen, this was a pleasant surprise.
“That’s what people want,” Coach Gillmen said. “They want to work hard, be successful, and have fun.”
The lions earned that 300th win 4-1 against Spring Grove with their strategic and balanced offense. Kennedy Bratton, Hannah Downs, and Paige Griffin all scored that Wednesday night.
“Emma Waltemyer did a great job getting the ball off to her offense and trying to control her midfield,” Coach Gillmen said.
Though single players score a goal, Coach Gillmen emphasizes teamwork both on and off the field.
“One of the things we try to preach is that we’re going to be there for each other as a team,” Coach Gillmen said.
Her players notice her drive to meet the challenge. “Coach Gillmen is dedicated to what she does,” junior JV player Bryn Hughes said. “She’s in it to win it.”
Coach Gillmen started coaching at Red Lion in 1995 and says the time has flown by. She remembers former players.
“Over the years, there have been some really awesome families and athletes in the program.” she said. “It’s been really cool to hear from them, saying they have a lot of good, fond memories from playing field hockey.”
Having passion for the sport is vital to being a good player or coach. “Being an athlete is not an easy job,” Gillmen said. “Dedication and perseverance are needed to be successful,” Gillmen said.
The 300th win milestone gave Gillmen reason to reflect on her career as both a teacher and a coach.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be at Red Lion School District, teaching and coaching and (having) a lot of support over the years from the administration and the community,” Gillmen said. “I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.”
Springtime is filled with blooming flowers, rainy days, and rising temperatures. With the start of new life is also the start of spring sports all across high schools. Student athletes prepare through the long winter to be ready for their spring sport to finally begin.
For seniors, this is the year that they will most likely remember forever. This is their last year of high school and participating on a high school level. For those who won’t be playing on a collegiate level, their high school careers as an athlete will be coming to an end. The Senior Season is something that is special to those athletes, something that they will remember forever, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Although senior seasons should be a glorious and unforgettable time, this year’s seniors are facing upset as schools have closed for the remainder of the year.
The recent COVID-19 outbreak is the result of sports seasons getting cut short. On April 9, PIAA announced that the spring and winter sports season ended for the remainder of the 2019-2020 year. This took in effect after Governor Tom Wolf declared that schools were closed to in-person learning for the rest of the school year.
Disappointed seniors all across high schools are facing the fact that they will never get their last practice, their last game, their last bus ride, and they won’t get their senior nights.
Dedication and commitment has gone into preparing for the season to begin, and it has all been washed away for so many student athletes. For those athletes that have been doing their sports for a long time and worked so hard for so many years, are now feeling the pain of not earning their senior season.
“Senior year is what you look forward to,” senior Kaiya Edwards said. “We had a really good group of girls this year and we can’t get to play with them.”
Kaiya Edwards has been playing lacrosse since the fifth grade. In those seven years of playing, never did she think that her senior year playing for Red Lion would not happen because of a global pandemic.
One of the values of the spring season, according to Athletic Director, Mr. Arnold Fritzius, is for scouts to check out up-and-coming athletes.
“There would have been some volleyball coaches coming out to see the boys play this spring to see ‘Is Johnny as good as they says he is’ or “Should we take a shot a Jimmy…everyone says he can set, but we’ve never seen it,’” Fritzius said. “[Coaches] are pretty sure of what they think, but for them to come to a Northeastern or Central volleyball game and see kids play at their highest level, they might take a chance on somebody.”
Nothing was set in stone for this season. There was no way of knowing how successful each team would be, but they never got to prove their worth this year.
“We don’t know if lacrosse was going to have a good season,” Fritzius said. “We don’t know how well baseball, or volleyball, or track was going to be, but it doesn’t matter. We wanted to let those kids have a chance to compete and see if they could beat some teams they aren’t supposed to beat and beat some teams they were supposed to beat. But now they lose that chance.”
Schools want to honor their senior sports players. At Red Lion, Fritzius is working hard with other athletic directors across the state to find a way to show admiration for the seniors at Red Lion. “Nobody has a clear-cut answer to what we’re going to do, but all we know we’re going to do something,”
This isn’t just something that is affecting these certain seniors, coaches and administration are seeing the pain the sports seniors are going through and they want to do something for them, even if they don’t know what that will be yet.
“We are all just talking about what can we do to send these kids off with as good of a send-off as we possibly can,” Fritzius said.
Something that can be taken away from this worldwide pandemic is you are never guaranteed another game or another practice. No one ever knows what just might happen tomorrow.
“Appreciate the four years,” Edwards said. “Because you never know when your last high school game will be.”
RED LION, PA–Watch here to learn about the club bowling team celebrating their senior night at Lion Bowling Center. Coach Mike Zelger explains the genesis of the team, while students share their thoughts on finding a fun activity.