Monarchs Make the Most of Challenging Winter Sports Season

By Gabriella Sorrentino, Sports Editor

The Monarch ice hockey, swim, winter track, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball teams persisted through the winter season and the challenges imposed by the pandemic to continue achieving new firsts in the school’s athletic history.   

This year the ice hockey team, led by head coach Frankie Francese and junior captains Caitlin Birmingham, Anna Clements and Noelle Turek, ended its season with a record of 3-5-1. Though they experienced a setback in the form of a team-wide quarantine that temporarily kept them from practicing and playing, the team still managed to find ways to have an enjoyable season.

“We just had to find different ways to get together and bond and make up for this lost sense of team,” said Birmingham. “Bus rides were fun; it was kind of like a sense of normalcy, the closest we got to a locker room. And we had a bunch of new girls so watching them develop and grow was a lot of fun.”

Another major accomplishment for the ice hockey team was earned by Clements, who was named to NJ.com’s First Team All-State Girls Ice Hockey Team as a defensive player. 

“Being named to the All State Ice Hockey Team was an incredible recognition not only for myself, but for Trinity’s Ice Hockey Program,” Clements said. “Being one of the inaugural members of the team, it’s really amazing to see how far this program has come in just three short years.”

Senior swimmer Jess Z. heads into the final lap of the 100 yard butterfly in a dual meet against St. Rose High School on March 24 at SwimQuest in Tinton Falls. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Morreale)

The swim team led by head coach Bill Lynch and senior captains Courtney Cushman, Grace McEvoy and Jess Zebrowski, ended their season with an undefeated 4-0 record. All three seniors are also notably part of three consecutive state championship teams. 

The swimmers felt the changes in their seasons in the form of assigned practice lanes and mask mandates during both meets and practices. 

“We definitely missed out on a lot, especially how excited we used to get with each other before meets,” said Zebrowski. “It was very hard to get the team close this year, especially the freshman, but we really worked hard at it, especially during practices and meets. I think we all became really close by the end despite the challenges from COVID. We honestly just supported each other and helped each other grow, no matter what else was going on.”

The Monarch swimmers were able to have a winning season both as a team and individual athletes. Zebrowski along with sophomores Gianna Cofone, McLane Gmelich and Molly McKenna were also named to the NJ Girls Swimming First Team All-Shore. 

The winter track team also had to make changes to their regular season due to state COVID guidelines. Led by coach Chelsea Bollerman and senior captains Jordan Codispoti, Anna Ferrigine, Ally Lawson and Charlotte Walsh, the season prepared many runners for the following spring season. 

“Winter track gave us an opportunity to lay a strong foundation for our spring season,” Codispoti said.  

This year the runners were able to attend a limited entry indoor meet in March at the Toms River Bubble, during which junior Kira Newbert qualified for the Shore Track Coaches Association Championships. They were also able to attend several other meets outdoors, a major change from the traditionally indoor sport setting during the winter season.

“Running meets outside was definitely a challenge but we were able to adapt and it definitely helped us build character,” said Codispoti.   

The basketball team, this year led by coach Matt McCarthy, senior captains Cecilia Peters and Emma Bradley, and junior captains Haven Dora and Cameryn Keane, ended its season with a strong 8-6 record. 

The Monarchs beat three schools — Matawan, Middletown North and Colts Neck — to win the Shore Conference Pod C Championship. 

“Winning our Pod C Championship was definitely my favorite part of the season because we were seeded at the third seed and ended up beating the first and second seeds,” said Peters.  

Right after the team’s first game, the players were quarantined for 18 days for COVID reasons, making for a challenging start due to lost practice time. Still, the athletes managed to work around the restrictions to work as a team. 

“We really stuck together over quarantine and we had team Zoom calls so we could stay connected with one another,” said Peters. 

A new change for high school athletics was the addition of a new sports season for the gymnastics and volleyball teams: season 2A. This came in response due to rising number of COVID numbers during the fall season across the state and recommendations from Governor Phil Murphy and health officials. 

Freshman Zoee C. performs on the beam during a dual meet against Wall Township High School at Spartan Gymnastics on April 19, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Claire Mikulski)

The volleyball team was led this year by head coach Carol Moser and senior captains Jean Gilbride and Kat Chafart and junior captain Sofia Lehman. Despite the postponement of the season from fall to late winter, the volleyball team managed to emerge with an undefeated 9-0 record in their division, the best record in school history for the program. 

“We didn’t have a great start to the season. It was already short and postponed, and we made it three practices before we were all quarantined,” Gilbride said. “Once we got back from quarantine though we all worked really hard and it showed on the court. We had great teamwork skills and mental toughness.”

The gymnastics team, coached by Colleen Pellettiere and led by senior captains Maggie Jordan and Mary Rosivack, faced similar challenges of a postponed season and individual quarantines throughout the season; however, they still managed to finish with a solid 4-4 record and some fine performances. 

“The most challenging part of the season was not only having teammates quarantined but the postponement meant high school season overlapped with the club competition season so there was a lot to juggle,” Jordan said. “But we still had fun together and enjoyed supporting each other at practices and meets.” 

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