Brown combines positivity, hard work in athletics

By Chloe Anderson
Photo Editor

Mattoon High School sophomore Amari Brown has participated in tennis, basketball and track since her freshman year. In tennis, Brown is the number one JV player, and in track she is a hurdler. Her dedication paired with the help she gets from coaches and more experienced teammates contributes to her success and improvements over the past two years in all of her sports. While many athletes may dread practices and find competitions and games to be their favorite part of the sport, Brown acknowledges the importance of taking time to improve her skills.

“My favorite aspect would have to be when we practice our events because it gives us the time to get better at what we do and to fix the things that we do wrong,” Brown said.

Not only does Brown work hard during practice, but she is also willing to put in extra time.

“When I first started playing tennis, I needed to improve my serves, my backhands and my volleys, so I practiced even outside of tennis practice, which was after school. Sometimes I stayed after with my coach and worked on those things, and I practice on the weekends to try and improve my skills. When I first started running, I wasn’t the fastest on the team and I knew that. I work hard in practice. I also lifted weights and ran with my mom on the weekends to get stronger and faster,” Brown said.

Brown’s mom has not been the only person helping Brown to get faster. At practices, she has found MHS senior Rachel Ervin to be a mentor, helping to improve her game and speed.

“In track, Rachel and I both run 100 and 300 hurdles, and she has helped me with my foot work, and she continues to push me to run faster and drop my times. In tennis, she has helped me with my serves and has given me some tips on how to place the ball in a certain spot so that it’s harder for my opponent to return the ball,” Brown said.

The relationship between the two teammates goes both ways. While Ervin often helps Brown with form and speed, Brown has a great impact on Ervin’s demeanor, spreading happiness everywhere she goes.

“[Brown] is really funny, and I just love being around her. She always has this positive energy in both tennis and track. I probably spend more time with her in track because we are both hurdlers, and she never gets too down and whenever she does she just picks herself up easily. Any time I get down in hurdles, she will always pick me up and say nice things about me and tell me I’m a good hurdler… she is always so positive,” Ervin said.

While her positive attitude is a huge part of what makes Brown a valuable team player, she is also extremely athletic and a hard worker. Her resolve to improve and extra time spent working toward her goals has paid off.

“In my tennis career, I am most proud of how hard I’ve worked to get where I am. I went from being one of the bottom players in the team to being number one on JV. In my track career I am most proud of how far I’ve come since I ran in middle school,” Brown said. “High school is very different than middle school. For example, the height of the hurdle for 100 high hurdles. I remember it was the first time I jumped over a high hurdle I was nervous and shaking. I ran up on it, and I closed my eyes as I jumped over it because I was so scared. Now, I can clear a hurdle that high and I am proud of that.”

While Brown has met many of her goals in the past, she continues to set goals to work toward in the future.

“My goals of this track season are to be better than I was last year, to be able to drop my times and jump farther” Brown said.

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Girls track sets season goals

By Brennan Tomer

The Mattoon High School girls track team is beginning to train for the challenges their preseason will bring.

“[A difficult aspect of track is] the mental part. Your body wants to stop, but your mind wants to keep going,” MHS senior Rachel Ervin said.

Despite these differences, they will not stop Ervin from making personal goals.

“I want my times to improve, and I want to help and support my teammates this year because they are younger and new,” Ervin said.
“Track is as much a team sport as an individual sport. We have a lot of girls that contribute individually and on relay teams,” girls track Head Coach, Troy Haacke said.

Girls track Assistant Coach Elizabeth Schumacher expresses the differences between traditional sports and track, saying that it is unlike most team sports.

“Track and field is without a doubt a different sport than most others. There are numerous events that make up a track and field team that all require practice and training,” Schumacher said.

Not only do the girls make personal goals, but Haacke’s goals for the team this season are plentiful, and the girls have their work cut out for them.

“We have several goals. We would like to compete for the Apollo Conference title; also we want to send as many girls to State as possible. The nice thing about track is that the girls are always working to improve on their time or jump or throw, and as long as they’re improving, we are doing some good things,” Haacke said.

Schumacher shows her enthusiasm for the new players that have joined the team, as well as the old players who remained from last year.

“I believe that each girl that we have out for track will be an asset to the team in many different ways. While we have several girls that stick out athletically, there are also girls that stick out for the leadership ability, work ethic and winning spirit,” Schumacher said.

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Varsity boys basketball: Reflecting toward end of season

By Kambelle Ashmore

The Mattoon High School Varsity boy’s basketball team has a record of 8-17 in the regular season and a record of 2-6 in the Apollo Conference. They have had a tough season, but have pushed through the obstacles and have bonded as a team.

“They have become closer as a team. We have a good locker room, and everyone gets along well,” MHS Varsity boys’ basketball Head Coach Josh Forsythe said.

MHS senior Drake Jefferies and MHS junior Justus Donaldson both agree that they have become closer as a team and that they learn from each other.

“We have all grown as better players and have learned a lot too,” Jeffries said.

In addition, Donaldson believes the team has grown in terms of experience.

“At the beginning of the year, hardly any of our current members had any varsity experience whatsoever. Only two people on the team had significant minutes in the 2015-2016 season,” Donaldson said. “Throughout this season, many of us have stepped up to the level of play in a varsity basketball game.”

Although there have been improvements throughout the season, there are also some aspects the team still needs to work on.

“Consistency is the biggest thing. We weren’t consistent enough and we just have to get over that hump,” Forsythe said.

They also better their record for the regular season and the Apollo Conference next year.

“I wish to improve on our record. Things may not look good this year, but that doesn’t mean my teammates and I can’t turn around next year and end the season with an impressive record,” Donaldson said.

Both Jeffries and Donaldson have personal goals that they want to strive for this season and next season.

“I want to improve my defense and my overall skill of the game,” Jeffries said.

While Jeffries’ goal is for the rest of this season, Donaldson has a goal for next season—his last year on the MHS basketball team.

Donaldson wishes to win an Apollo Championship next season and has faith in his teammates who will be with him next year. He believes that others on the team want a Championship as well. They have nine sophomores on their team, and many of them have stepped up this year because of injuries the older players.

“Now that this season is coming to an end, I have confidence in our sophomore and junior classes to make an impact on the Apollo next year,” Donaldson said.

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