Over the last couple of seasons, Oyster River High School sports have had many firsts, including the first time ever winning the championship for three sports. In total five teams have received the award of state champions including softball, Unified volleyball, golf, girls cross country, and Unified soccer. These wins were all monumental, not only for the teams, but for the school as well.
It is important to recognize each sport at Oyster River High School and acknowledge their accomplishments. Each team has worked incredibly hard to get to the point of winning a state championship and can now relax and celebrate all that they have done. The MOR staff wanted to recognize the major accomplishments that Oyster River High School athletic teams have gained over the past year due to the many firsts that have occurred.
Last spring, the softball team won their first ever championship. Gracie Gagne (‘22) who plays center field, second base, and pitcher, describes the feeling as “…unbelievable. Words cannot describe how happy I was for my team to win this. I know I have always wanted to win a state championship in high school and I was very glad it was with the team I did it with.”
The game was one of their best played, staying in the lead the whole game against Milford. Morgan Veno (‘22) who plays outfield, says “there have been articles about our hitting early on in the season but towards the middle end it sort of plateaued. We barely made it through the playoff season going into overtime and only winning games by one run. In the final game we saw all of our hard work really show. Everyone had such a high level of energy that it made us all play to our absolute best and it paid off.”
With the season being different due to COVID-19, the softball team had to play the different teams around us. They faced off against many D1 schools, making our team better and stronger for the playoffs. In 2019, they made it very far, only to lose in the quarterfinals and then not having a season the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19 just hitting hard, they had the drive and the perseverance to go far and win the state championships.
Growing from a softball team that was on a losing streak to winning the state championships changed the attitude towards this sport. “I think it changed something for the softball team. They used to be very bad and used to get made fun of in school for playing softball… but now we changed the program to what it is today and I hope it keeps going up from here,” says Gagne.
Now this year, for the spring season, they are excited to be back. Although they won, they also have to think about losing some of their best players. “I think we can keep up our offense which is hitting. We had a great hitting season last year and I think we will have another one. We also lost five important seniors and it’s gonna change our whole defense, so [that] will be a big change this year and something we will need to work on,” says Gagne.
Also winning their first ever championship this spring, the Unified volleyball team persevered through their season and were able to win a state title for Oyster River. Annika Baumgardt (‘23), a partner, says, “it was so amazing to win the championship. There was so much excitement and energy from the team and the fans [during] the whole game, and when we got that last point to secure the win, the gym exploded with cheers. It was so emotional and overall such a proud moment for everyone.”
Alexander Satterfield, the Unified volleyball coach says, “it was the first time Oyster River had won a championship in Unified sports, so that was pretty cool.” Finally winning the championship over Dover, who won in 2018 and 2019, was very exciting and with this new accomplishment, more people have been involved with Unified sports. “I definitely think it changed something at Oyster River. I think everyone can agree that over the past two-ish years, Unified sports have really grown in popularity. They’re a really amazing way to bring everyone in the school together and the bonds that the players on the team form with each other are amazing. I really hope that Unified sports continue to thrive at Oyster River,” says Baumgardt.
For the spring season, they are enthusiastic and ready to keep the title. “The most important thing for us is keeping the energy up when we’re playing. We’re all so supportive of each other which is something I hope stays the same next season…” says Baumgardt.
The golf team winning the championship was another huge moment for Oyster River. “It was a really great feeling!” says varsity player Delaney Nadeau (‘24). She continued, “I was the last person to post the score which ended up securing it for us, so I didn’t experience the waiting that other people did… our team also had worked very hard through the year despite a variety of challenges. It was also a rewarding moment, as our coach was battling some health issues, and we had played the last bit of the season as well as worn ribbons in support of him that day which made it all the more special.”
The tournament was very well played, with the Bobcats winning by 9 points. Nadeau says, “I think probably the fact that it wasn’t the top few kids that won it, but a combination of everyone that made it really special. Playing for our coach also changed the dynamic and brought the team together a little bit.” With the golf coach recently battling some health issues, the team played their best for him, and even wore ribbons in their support.
“Next season will be a year of growth for the team as well as the program in general. The dynamics will also be different as I likely won’t be the only girl on the team and it will be interesting to see if that has any effect on things,” says Nadeau. The next season will be very different for the golf team, with only two players returning. “Next season will see a drastically different lineup and potentially a new coach. Delaney Nadeau and Myles O’Quinn are the only returning [varsity] players and their experience will help guide the new players to hopefully another championship,” says Jack Poitras (‘22) a varsity player.
Girls Cross Country
For the first time in 22 years, the girls cross country team won the state championship this past October. Tessa Brown (‘24), a varsity runner, recalls, “we were almost in shock after winning states [and] it felt so amazing. We were all really proud of each other and that energy was contagious.”
Nicole Toye, the coach for the girls cross country team says, “basically how cross country works is that you score the top 5, so seeing our fifth runner come in and just knowing before we had a tally that we had won states was really cool.”
The entire varsity team this year was made up of underclassmen, which is uncommon for a high-intensity athletic team. “… I realize the potential we will have once we gain more experience,” says Brown. She continued, “for next season we want to use what we’ve learned this season since we’re all so young and the experience will be really good to have behind us. We try to pack together as much as possible and have the smallest difference between our 1st and 5th runner so that’s another goal for next season.”
Lastly, the Unified soccer team won their first ever state championship this November. Mitchell Warden (‘23), a player, says, “I felt happy for myself but also the entire team and the school because this was the team’s first ever championship win in [Oyster River] history for Unified soccer.”
After beating the number 1 seeded Exeter in the semifinals, the Bobcats, as the number 3 seed, were confident in their victory over Dover in the championship game. “We had never beaten Exeter as a school in Unified. I think that everyone felt the energy and committed to our game plan and I think that gave us the belief that we could win and for the championship game as well,” says Satterfield, the Unified soccer coach.
The game happened only a couple of days after the boys varsity soccer team lost in their championship game to Lebanon in penalty kicks, so Warden believed that the Unified soccer team owed it to them to win. “I think the win changed a couple things for Oyster River. The boys varsity had a great season but lost a heartbreaker in the finals, and we did this for them…” says Warden.
For next season, the team plans to grow and get better to keep their title. “Although we will lose quite a few to graduation next year, I think we will still be capable of winning games and making a deep playoff run again as long as everyone on the team can get along and communicate well with each other on both sides of the ball,” says Warden.
It will be exciting to see where all of these teams go in their next seasons, especially now that they are state champions. Each team and individual player has worked hard to get to the position they are in today and I know I speak for all of the Oyster River community in saying that we are proud of them!