The Fall 2021 Athletics Season was the most anticipated season I have ever experienced. While there were still limitations, reservations, and uncertainties about what was in store, one thing that was clear was the desire to get back on the field and court. It had been two years since AOS competed in Football, Field Hockey, Volleyball, and Cross Country. Even for many 8th-grade athletes, it was the first time ever to compete in these sports. The season brought wins and losses. There were highs and lows. Victories and defeats. Although it was a season of extremes, the desire and will to always fight to the end never wavered in our Dolphin spirit.
Far too often sports are measured by one thing, wins. Unfortunately, that mentality has trickled down to youth sports. Our kids are often told by word and action that they are not worthy if they make mistakes, if they are not the best, or if they do not go undefeated on the scoreboard. This fall athletics season has reminded me that championships do not define our self-worth. Our AOS students have shown they are so much more through their relentless pursuit to improve each day at practice, their hearts to put their teammates first, and their will to never give up. I am proud of each one of our student-athletes, and I am filled with enthusiasm to see what they accomplish this winter season. On Monday, November 8, we held an awards ceremony to celebrate our athletes. Keep reading for a season recap for each sport.
Not many teams and coaches were as excited to return to action as the cross country runners and Coach Reeves and Coach Carr. The cross country athletes were putting in the miles and work before the school year started. Even before the first day of school, the AOS cross country team competed in their first meet of the season at the Incarnate Word Academy Meet at Willow Waterhole Park. If our cross country runners had any rust from the year without cross country, it didn’t show. They wrapped up their first meet with the girls taking runner-up and the boys taking 1st place. While the number of runners on the team may have been fewer than in previous years, their successes were not. The team ended the season with two 6th place finishes, one 5th, two 4th, three 3rd, ten 2nd, and eleven 1st place finishes. In sports there have been many dynasties. The great John Wooden and his UCLA teams of the 1960’s and 70’s come to mind. Also, Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls of the 90’s and Bill Belichick's New England Patriots teams of the 2000’s, among others. Those teams are great, but there is one more dynasty a little closer to home that comes to my mind, and that is our very own AOS Cross Country program led by Coach Marti Carr. I have been involved in HJPC athletics since 2002. During all of that time, AOS has consistently been at the top of the conference, and has won many championships. In her final season at the helm, she led the Dolphins on another amazing run.
Another fun and exciting group to watch this season were the AOS Field Hockey teams. Coach Shah not only had the teams prepared and ready to play at each match, they steadily improved throughout the season. The JV girls closed out the season with a 2-3-2 record. Many of the girls on this team had never played field hockey before. By the end of the season, they looked like season pros, ready to take their knowledge and experience to the next level. Their growth this year should help the Dolphins’ chances to win a field hockey championship in the coming years.
The varsity girls finished the season with an overall 6-8 record. Early in the year, the team made an impressive showing at the Episcopal High School Tournament with 3 wins and only 1 loss. Later in the season, the Dolphins had an impressive performance against St. John’s. Although they lost in overtime, the girls displayed the kind of grit and determination that makes the AOS athlete special. In the opening round of the HJPC tournament, the varsity girls played St. Francis in an exciting back and forth match. St. Francis was able to sneak one goal in which proved the difference. In the end, the Dolphins never backed down. They competed with fire and determination and lost with grace and character.
AOS football finished the season with a 5-2 record. Coaches Turley, Muschalik, and Pasoli guided the team to solid wins over tough opponents. In their game against the then reigning HJPC Division 1 Champions, our boys never backed down even in the face of adversity. AOS closed out the regular season with a convincing victory over Presbyterian. In a repeat game against the Panthers in the HJPC 3rd-place game, the Dolphins closed out the season on yet another victory and finished on a high note.
The boys volleyball program, under the leadership of Coach Begg, showed why the AOS boys are regularly at the top of boys volleyball in the Houston Junior Preparatory Conference. Although their 4-6 record doesn’t reflect it, the JV boys volleyball team competed like champions. Most of their wins were in 2 games, and each loss for AOS wasn’t an easy victory for the opponent.
The varsity boys volleyball team had a tremendous season finishing with a 9-2 record and the title of HJPC Boys Volleyball Runners-up. Their three losses during the season came at the hands of only one St. John’s team. While the Mavericks may have had our number, each of their wins didn’t come without a fight. The varsity boys played every point of the season with heart and determination. If you did not get a chance to see one of their games, you missed watching a special team.
The two-year layoff from volleyball competition proved to be a challenge for our girls volleyball teams, but they didn’t let it stand in the way of improvement and success on the court. Both the JV White and JV Blue teams finished the season with winning 6-5 records. The JV White team led by AOS’s newest volleyball coach, Stephanie Aycock, showed they had what it takes to compete with anyone. JV Blue, led by Coach Austin, had equal success. With amazing serving and excellent teamwork, they opened the season with four consecutive wins. The team had its share of dominating victories along with some very close losses that could have gone either way. Each game was exciting to watch and kept you on the edge of your seat.
Coach Austin and the Varsity Blue team also opened the season with four consecutive wins. It looked as though it could be a very promising season for the Dolphins until they ran into a freight train that was the eventual HJPC champion, the John Cooper Dragons. In true AOS fashion, they didn’t let it keep them down very long and continued to fight and play their best throughout the season. Varsity Blue made the conference tournament as the 7th seed but fell to River Oaks Baptist in the opening round. Coach Steph and the Varsity White team finished the season with 7 wins. Although they had a slow start with 3 losses, the White team never gave up and kept working hard to improve. They won five consecutive games during the middle stretch of their season and then wrapped it all up with a dominating 2-0 victory of St. Mark’s Episcopal.