Authors Posts by Joe Stellato

Joe Stellato

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Joe is a junior at DGS, and the Sports Editor for the Blueprint. He is apart of the school's Track & Field team and is passionate about sports and writing.

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The DGS Blueprint has relocated to our new website: southblueprint.com. Make sure to check out all of our new content.

Peace, love, Blueprint

- Joe Stellato, Editor-in-Chief of Print

 

 

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Ava Porlier

College: Valparaiso University
Sport: Soccer
Study: Health Sciences/Biology

“I chose [Valparaiso] because they have a great soccer program, and they are well known for their academics. They have great health sciences programs, and… I am studying biology,” Porlier said. “I also really liked the team, coaches, and campus… I am very excited to play at the next level. I’m excited to learn a lot more about soccer and improve my skills overall. I hope to have a successful career at [Valparaiso] and play to the best of my ability while I am there.”

Senior Ava Porlier scans the soccer field for an open teammate.
Photo courtesy of Ava Porlier

TJ Simpson

College: Robert Morris
University – Chicago
Sport: Football
Study: Business

“I felt that RMU was best for me because they help you with internships, and you don’t take general [study] courses. I also enjoy the city lifestyle,” Simpson said. “I’ve played football for four years now. My goal for playing football at the collegiate level is to stand out amongst all incoming freshmen. I plan to do that by continuing to lift daily and increase my power and speed.”

Senior TJ Simpson commits to Robert Morris University.
Photo courtesy of TJ Simpson

Andrew Heneghan

College: Carthage College
Sport: Track/Cross Country
Study: Computer Sciences

“I decided to go to [Carthage] because… I think doing a sport in college is going to be an unforgettable experience and is something that not many kids will get to experience,” Heneghan said. “I hope to make nationals by the time I am a senior. I hope as a freshman, I will be able to make Varsity. I want to experience being on a national caliber team, which is what we will strive to be next year… running is really rewarding and is a great metaphor for life.”

Photo courtesy of Clarissa Moreno

Senior Andrew Heneghan competes in the 800-meter run at the Western Suburban Gold Conference meet on May 15.
Photo courtesy of Clarissa Moreno

Katie Vondra

College: Aurora University
Sports: Volleyball
Study: Special Education

“I decided to go to Aurora University because it offers a great Special Education program, which is what I plan on doing as a career. It just so happens that I got the chance to also play the sport that I love,” Vondra said. “I feel so blessed and grateful that I get the chance to continue playing volleyball at the collegiate level.  I hope to do the best that I can do at not only volleyball but also my academics.”

Senior Katie Vondra takes a breather in between sets at a home match.
Photo courtesy of Katie Vondra

Rebekah Ondracek

College: Elmhurst College
Sport: Softball
Study: Education

“I want to make All-Conference in college and work my way up to being the starting catcher my freshman year. I’m super excited about forming close relationships with my teammates and getting out of my comfort zone to make college the best experience I can make it…. I found so much joy with the sport and can’t think of anything else I’d rather do,” Ondracek said. “It means a great deal to me, and I’m so excited that my career in softball doesn’t have to be cut short after high school.  I can’t believe I only have four more years of playing, but I want to give everything I have to these last four years.”

Photo courtesy of Rebekah Ondracek

Senior Rebekah Ondracek shares laughs on the field with fellow teammates as she warms up before a game.
Photo courtesy of Rebekah Ondracek

Graphic by Joe Stellato

Compiled by Joe Stellato and Jack McGann

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Senior Will Tischler is one of the three senior captains of this year’s team from the 2013 State championship team.Photo by Sam Cherney

Senior Will Tischler is one of the three senior captains of this year’s team from the 2013 State championship team.
Photo by Sam Cherney

After starting off the season at 1-6, the boys Varsity volleyball team has been on a hot streak. Their record is currently 9-8 overall and 4-0 in conference play.

This recent spike in their performances has expectations rising, especially since it’s been two years since the team won a State championship. This year’s team is full of youth, including only four seniors along with six juniors and four sophomores. Senior team captain Will Tischler described the differences between the State winning team of 2013 and the current 2015 team.

“I think one thing this year that is really different about this team than the past few is that we have a young team…It is a wide spread of emotions, personality and experience,” Tischler said. “Another thing is that this team has players from all different clubs, whereas in the years past there is usually one club that dominates. With that being said, we all have different backgrounds and different training. It’s just something different and something we need to work on, so we’re all on the same page,” Tischler said.

Senior Eddie Binion also believes that the team’s separation in club volleyball impacts their performance and team chemistry.
“We have never really all played at the same volleyball club, so we all learned things different ways. While the past couple years the entire team played for the same club team, which made it a lot easier to communicate and connect with the other teammates,” Binion said.

Head Coach Kevin Streur explained how club volleyball sets limitations on players competing with people of other ages, opposed to high school where there are players ranging from freshmen to seniors. Despite this separation, Streur believes that everyone eventually gets on the same page.

“With club volleyball growing and more players playing, it’s great to see the improvements and how hard players do work in the off season from high school…Until you have tryouts, you really do not know the makeup of your team,” Streur said. “With many players spread out to different clubs when they come play for DGS we get them to understand that we are a whole program from freshman to Varsity at DGS. When they put on a DGS volleyball practice jersey [or uniform], they not only [represent] themselves, but [also take] pride in [their] school and [their] teammates.”

Compared to the championship team, this year’s team requires more senior leadership for the younger, less experienced members of the team. Streur acknowledged the role the seniors have to play this year.

“[The captains] have taken on roles of not only leadership, but [they] also [give] advice to players when they struggle or the game is not going the way we want it to,” Streur said. “With them, they have the experience and feeling of being on that team two years ago, and whatever they can provide to younger players, they do and know what it takes to play at the top level.”

Tischler elaborated on his and his co-captains’ responsibilities and how they lead by example.

“As captains we, Kyle Harty, Jeremy Hroma and I, need to lead by example on the court. If it’s keeping the energy up or staying mentally strong if a few points don’t go our way, I think the younger guys look up to us, and we need to make sure we set a good example on and off the court. We want to keep a good name for the program,” Tischler said.

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Yesterday, DGS had lightning strike its campus causing a series of electrical issues in the building. The strike affected power lines on 63rd street, and there was a school-wide power shut down after 4 p.m. in order for ComEd to continue their repairs.

Associate Principal Omar Davis discussed the severity of the damage of the school’s structure and the status of the school’s repairs.

“There isn’t any major damage to the building structure…In terms of our infrastructure, electrical feeds into our building, those are fine too. For the most part, our building is sound in terms of [permanent damage]. We all know that process of a fuse blowing… we are working with the electrical company to come out and change over those fuses… they’re pretty high in voltage so we definitely want a specialized individual to come out and do that,” Davis said. “We can’t really put a time on [the repairs]. We are confident that things will be back up and running to 100 percent by the start of school on Monday… Right now we are at 90 percent in terms of functionality of classrooms.”

Davis also explained how some devices remain unable to work properly.

“We may have individual classroom speakers [or other devices] that were plugged in that may not be operational anymore. Sometimes when that power surge goes, the devices stop working and become burned out. We may have a few of those but, then again, those are replaceable.”

This morning, a team of administrators held a meeting to discuss the impact of the electrical issues on students, staff and classrooms. Davis opened up about the meeting’s discussions regarding these conflicts.

“There’s lots of problems to solve but a few of the things that we do look at in the building first to make sure we have working is, in no particular order, our cafeteria,water,heating, cooling… and our classrooms,” Davis said. “The meeting this morning was just to give our department chairs an update of what happened with the lightning strike, the work done overnight,…and now working today to move classes, if necessary, so that instruction can continue in those classes.”

The repairs ComEd performed restored a majority of the school’s power except for some areas within the B Hallway including the B hallway elevator, auditorium, little theater, a few classrooms on all three floors and the B hallway closet that affects wireless connectivity for some classrooms.

Among these areas, one of the growing concerns were shifted towards the effects to the B hallway bathrooms. Davis explained the cause for these malfunctions.

“We had a few issues in the men’s bathroom on the third floor in the B hallway…,” Davis said. “An electrical issue in the building does not affect the water…when you have automatic flushers and don’t have the manuals, that automatic flusher will not operate.”

Davis commented on the successes of resolving issues leading up to today.

“We made out pretty good. We made out in terms of having classes that were needed to move were moved and everyone’s happy,” Davis said. “It was a good day. It was a little crazy, but we made it through.”

Compiled by Joe Stellato and Sara Guagliardo

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Jackie Robinson West Cartoon

In 2014, a Chicago baseball team actually won a championship — not the White Sox or Cubs — but Jackie Robinson West; they claimed the Little League World Series (LLWS) title. Unfortunately, last year’s Little League national champions have been recently stripped of their title after Little League International (LLI) held an investigation and found that the team had submitted a falsified boundary map. As a result, LLI found the team guilty of using players who lived outside the team’s original boundaries.
These kids have been praised for their achievement last July, from parading on a double-decker bus through the city they play for, to receiving front row seats at the Major League Baseball Worlds Series and even meeting President Barack Obama. After basking in the limelight of championship honors, this team has been hit with the harsh reality of being labeled as “cheaters.” To label these kids as cheaters for something they didn’t have total control over is cruel, and taking their title away isn’t completely justified to their crime. Therefore, Jackie Robinson West should have their LLWS title reinstated — and don’t call me crazy yet.

The outcome of this entire situation rooted from the adults’ mistakes and has the kids of the team taking all of the heat. Where’s the justice in that? There has been past cases of the Little League handling situations that caused unnecessary collateral damage.

For instance, in 1975, following Taiwan’s fourth consecutive championship in 1974, Little League banned foreign teams from participating in the LLWS. They banned them while the league worked to strengthen rules against year-round practices and out-of-district players. To ban the entire rest of the world besides the USA from being able to compete in the league can’t be taken lightly, especially since the purpose behind it revolves around mistakes made by the league itself.

It just simply does not make sense to punish someone for something they weren’t responsible for. In this current case, the adults who manage the JRW are the ones who deserve the consequences for their own actions. The kids may have known that they did not live within the team’s original boundaries, yet it was the decision of the coaches whether or not to recruit players and submit their altered boundary map. Would a 12 year-old kid really be concerned about “residency boundaries” when they get invited to a team that would have a chance to win the LLWS?

Then there comes a question being brought into play: is it really cheating? If you think about it, the only thing that the players did wrong was live on the other side of town. This brings us to the issue in Major League Baseball with Barry Bonds. Bonds was a former professional baseball player who currently holds the all-time record for home runs (762). In 2003, Bonds was investigated for steroid abuse and was eventually found guilty. You would think that the league would take away his home run accolade — and you thought wrong. Bonds was sentenced a pathetic 30 days of home confinement. Compared to the punishment for JRW, it just doesn’t make sense.

The members of the team didn’t use illegal PEDs to enhance their skills, nor were they violating the age requirements. There’s really no unfair advantage given to them just by picking up kids beyond their borders. Yes, you can say that they have more access to more skilled players, but in the end, they are just normal kids who want to play baseball.

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By Joe Stellato, Sports Editor 

Freshman Cheyenne Everhart has been participating in roller skating since she was six years old and has acquired many accolades. She began roller skating back in 2008, taking lessons at the USA Skate Center in Romeoville, IL.

 

Everhart went into her first competitions for the 2014 season with her precision team and her artistic routine. A precision team is an assembly of eight skaters performing a synchronized skating routine to music. There is also the artistic or figure skating competition which is where the competitor performs turns on a painted circle on the floor. 

 

She did not come out empty handed, making numerous appearances in many Illinois and national competitions. For league meets in artistic skating, she received a total of 12 medals–a combined four medals at regionals for both speed and artistic skating and fifth at nationals with the precision team.

 

USA Skate Center owner and coach Donna Turner has been coaching Everhart since she set her skates on a rink. As a first hand contributor to Everhart and her team’s success, she shared the qualities she sees in Everhart’s work ethic.

 

 “Cheyenne is a very hard worker and tries very hard to do as I teach.  She is a pleasure to work with, and I really look forward to her lessons with me,” Turner said. “She is always trying to do her best, and as a coach there is nothing more you can ask.”

 

Everhart’s mother Donna Everhart explained what characteristics her daughter has gained through her experience with skating on her precision team.

 

“I think that being involved with skating has taught her a lot about being a team player, and how to handle setbacks with grace,” Everhart said. “Skating has also brought out more of her creative side, fine tuning her attention to detail, and giving her the ability to help others achieve their goals.”

 

Everhart also discussed her dedication and time commitment her daughter displays.

 

“Participating in both speed and figure skating keeps Cheyenne incredibly busy. Add to that the fact that she’s in Winter Guard, plus making sure that she keeps her grades up. It can be tough to find time to just relax,” Everhart said.

 

Cheyenne Everhart’s love for roller skating grew not only from the sport itself, but the people she met and relationships she made because of it.

 

Freshman Taylor Hawkins of Naperville Central High School skates for Chicagoland Racing and has been friends with Cheyenne for roughly two years.

 

“Cheyenne and I are best friends–practically sisters,” Hawkins said. “Over the time that I have known her, skating has helped her mature by becoming strong-willed and determined. [I would describe her as] admirable because whatever goal she has set for herself, she won’t give up no matter the obstacles that come in her way.”

 

Having coached Everhart over the years, Turner also has formed a bond with her.

 

“I am very fond of her and we are friends, but we both know when it comes to training we each have our place,” Turner said. “Off skates she is probably like a daughter to me; actually, all my skaters are like my children.”

 

According to Turner, Everhart also gives back to the roller skating community. She assists her in teaching a beginner’s class at the Skate Center where “the younger skaters look up to her.”

 

Donna Everhart expressed her feelings towards her daughter’s achievements thus far.

 

“I am extremely proud of Cheyenne and everything she has accomplished so far. She’s just getting started, and I know she will climb to greater heights,” Everhart said. 

 

Cheyenne Everhart discussed the impact the sport of roller skating as a whole has impacted her life.

 

“I feel that roller skating is the best thing that I have been involved in. The sport itself is amazing, the people involved are awesome and my coach Donna Turner is truly amazing. She is the only coach in Illinois that is certified to coach at an Olympic training center and all of her kids have been to nationals…I am truly grateful to have such an amazing coach,” Everhart said.

 

She also expanded on how her experience with skating has made a major imprint on her life and how it has impacted others as well.

 

“My message to others is probably follow your dreams and try your hardest to achieve your goals. I know [roller skating] has really impacted my life for a better lifestyle because of all the people I have met are such great athletes and they treat me and their other competitors like family. The people I skate with in my rink and in the region are very positive. This sport keeps people active and off of the streets and it’s just a good way of just having fun whether you do this competitively or recreationally,” Everhart said.

 

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amiee

Junior Aimee Dragas dives off of a block at a DGS Varsity girls swim meet against Leyden on Oct. 2, 2014.
Photo by Joe Stellato

In early November of 2013, one girl stood alone as the only member of the Varsity girls swim team to place first in sectionals and who would continue on to represent DGS at the State competition. She stood, accomplished, on two prosthetic legs.
Now, almost a year later, junior Aimee Dragas returns to the team preparing to blow her competitors out of the water.
According to Dragas, she was born missing both of her tibias — also known as shinbones — and was forced to have her legs amputated at six months old. She also was born with a deformity in her hands describing them as being “cupped together like mittens,” and had to have them separated. Over the course of her life, she has had 10 surgeries performed on both of her hands and legs, and she is expected to experience more in the future.
Dragas describes the feeling of her transition into high school with such a condition.
“I had to overcome the fear of being the only person on the team who was a little different, physically. I’ve always lived with this obstacle, but I came from a small middle/elementary school, so I was pretty nervous about being in such a big school with a whole new group of people,” Dragas said. “I had to overcome the fear of letting my situation hold me back because of what people thought or said.”
Despite what some would describe as a setback, her confidence in her athletic ability is present and prominent. Dragas enters into her third season with high expectations from — not only her coach and teammates — but also herself.
“I feel like I swim pretty well despite my disability. My mentality while swimming is to learn my limits by pushing them; I try to push myself every day,” Dragas said.
Varsity girls swim coach Paul Krick explained the experience of coaching an athlete, who, despite her lack of legs, has never lacked perseverance.
“It’s been difficult on the aspect of trying to coach her without the normal body parts that most swimmers have, so learning how to teach her how to swim without these things has been a challenge, but she’s a quick learner, and she’s always giving feedback on what works and what doesn’t work,” Krick said.
Entering into her first year at DGS, Dragas decided to join the girls swim team. She started her high school career as a diver until halfway through her sophomore season, Krick and Dragas came to a consensus to have her pursue swimming.
The rewards came soon enough at State competition. Dragas had placed 2nd in the 100 free and 3rd in the 50 free for the IHSA State Athletes with Physical Disabilities competition.
Dragas describes what inspires her to strive for such accolades and her aspirations on how people perceive her.
“I think my motivation to keep swimming is myself. I want to be known for my accomplishments, and not just the everyday ones. I think that being an inspiration for other people is also a motivation because you always want to be the best you can be, and when you can help someone else do their best, then that’s the best feeling in the world,” Dragas said.
Her father, Dave Dragas, elaborated on how her achievements have affected his daughter as a product of her efforts.
“I think she’s worked hard to get where she is. Her accomplishments have helped her become a more motivated athlete and to push herself forward,” Dave Dragas said. “She has adopted new leadership qualities, a sense of dedication and willingness of working hard for what she wants to achieve and to set high goals.”
As a junior, Aimee Dragas is looked upon as a role model by her peers and mentors–not only for her swimming–but also her character.
“I think she’s a good role model for the rest of her teammates. They look up to her as a positive person; she’s always cheering. She’s a leader by example and also by the way she does things in practice,” Krick said.
One of Aimee Dragas’ teammates, sophomore swimmer Jamie Vacek describes who Aimee is to her and her qualities as an athlete and person.
“I believe Aimee is unstoppable… she finds a way every day to get in the pool, never complain and just keep swimming,” Vacek said.
In addition to be an example to her teammates, Aimee anticipates to affect other individuals and influence people about an idea that’s beyond the pool.
“I hope I can teach people that it’s not about what people think of you; it’s about your goals and what it takes to accomplish them,” Aimee Dragas said.