It has been more than four years since a Durham Academy varsity team has won a state championship. Certainly, there have been plenty of chances from great teams making runs to the state finals in the seasons since, but no team since the 2012 field hockey squad has brought home a state championship trophy. But there is a lot of excitement in the air this spring, as a few teams have state championship aspirations and look to add a banner to Kirby Gym.
In part one of the Cavs Corner spring sports preview, we feature the girls lacrosse team, which has been to the state championship game five times in its eight years of existence; the boys tennis team, which will look to improve upon two straight final-four appearances; and the baseball team, which made major strides in last year’s first season under coach Tyrone Gould.
VARSITY TEAM PREVIEWS
The varsity girls lacrosse team won the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association’s first state championship in the sport back in 2009; in the seasons since, the team has made an appearance in the finals four other times (all losses to Charlotte Country Day). Behind the leadership of seniors Madi Dunk (Duke commit), Hannah Pope (UNC-Chapel Hill commit), Lydia Carbuccia (East Carolina University commit), Ellis Toms and goalkeeper Isabel Gutierrez, coach Debbie Rebosa has another team that could contend for a state championship.
Dunk, Pope and Carbuccia were all-state selections in 2016, a season that saw the Cavs finish 11-5 and lose to juggernaut Charlotte Country Day 18-2 in the state championship game. In fact, of the five losses last season, two were at the hands of the Bucs, the winners of the last four state championships. Once again, Rebosa’s team has set up a challenging schedule; the Cavs will find out right away where they stand among the state’s best, as their opener Friday night is at defending public school champion Cardinal Gibbons. Also on this year’s slate is a matchup with Charlotte public school power Myers Park, Canterbury School of Connecticut and Virginia Episcopal.
Rebosa is hoping that these tough tests early in the season will help the Cavs get ready for Triangle Independent School Athletic Conference (TISAC) and state tournament play where once again, Country Day will be lurking. In order for the Cavs to dethrone the Bucs, Rebosa is counting on some of her underclassmen like junior Tatum Teer, sophomores Julia King and Anna West, and freshman Charlotte Easley to help ease the burden of the senior class. While Pope and Dunk prepare to be rivals for the next four years competing at Duke and Carolina, they have one last chance to play together and lead a strong group ready to contend for a state title.
The boys tennis team is another group looking to advance far in this year’s state tournament following two consecutive semifinal round appearances. The 2017 tennis team is a unique group in that there are no seniors; instead, the lineup is filled with members of the Class of 2018. Juniors James Shaheen and Priyan de Silva are the 1 and 1a at the top of the lineup, according to head coach Sean Bilsborrow. Shaheen, who earned all-state honors in 2016, finished 13-7 in singles and 17-4 in doubles, mainly at the No. 1 position. De Silva, who is fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him from competing at 100 percent a year ago, was 14-5 in singles and 15-5 in doubles in 2016.
Bilsborrow describes junior Kenan Ulku-Steiner as “perhaps our steadiest player and one of the toughest guys to defeat because he won’t beat himself.” Ulku-Steiner was 14-3 in singles and 14-4 in doubles during last season. Two other juniors, Alexander Brandt (14-6 singles, 15-5 doubles) and Jack McCallie (6-2 singles, 13-2 doubles) should compete for spots in the lineup.
Bilsborrow is excited to learn more about his “unknown commodities” that will make strides during the season and help the team in the back end of the lineup. He is hoping that there will be one or more of these players who will step up and help the team get over the semifinal hump and bring home a state title. One of the Cavs’ most impressive victories last season was a 5-4 home win over Cary Academy, the three-time defending state champ, that had earlier blanked the Cavs 9-0 in Cary. The Chargers have graduated the majority of their lineup that has been so dominant over the past few seasons, opening the door for the Cavs to take the next step. DA will head to Florence, South Carolina, this weekend for the 16-team Florence Tennis Association High School Tournament and also have a pre-spring break matchup with Covenant Day, the team that ended the Cavs’ season a year-ago 5-1 in the state semifinals. Add to that match-ups with independent school powers Providence Day and Charlotte Country Day, as well as strong public school squads in East Chapel Hill and Cardinal Gibbons, and Bilsborrow’s group will be battle-tested when it comes time for the state tournament in May.
Coach Tyrone Gould returns six starters from last year’s 11-8 baseball season and hopes that this year’s team can make a run at a conference title and earn a bid to the state tournament for the first time since 2011. Leading the way this season will be senior captains Aidan Therien and Charlie Johnston, as well as junior captain Matt Willis.
Therien led last year’s squad in innings pitched (55) and ERA (2.29) and was third on the team in batting average at .406. With this year’s NCISAA-mandated pitch count rules limiting both the number of pitches that can be thrown by a pitcher in a game and requiring a certain number of days rest between outings, the Cavs will need to find hurlers ready to eat up some innings. Willis was 3-0 in six appearances with a 2.58 ERA last season as he took the hill in Wednesday’s 11-1 season-opening win over Burlington Christian. Junior Cam Brown also returns as a strong pitching option for the Cavs as he was 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA with 22 innings pitched in 2016. On the offensive side, Therien, Brown (.356) and sophomore Michael Jaffe (.311) are the only returners to bat over .300 a year ago. They are hoping that the development of players such as juniors Ted Middleton (.229 average with 48 ab last year), Ian Layzer (.219 with 32 ab) and David Klein (.136 with 22 ab) will help in the batter’s box and in the field, where Middleton will spend a lot of time at first base and Layzer should see action behind the plate. This weekend’s 3A games at Covenant Day and Metrolina Christian should tell Coach Gould a lot about this year’s team and if they can get themselves back into the state tournament.
FROM THE ATHLETICS DIRECTOR
Taking a look at expenses for families
Durham Academy Athletics Director Steve Engebretsen offers the following message about extra expenses that families involved with the athletic program may have experienced.
Durham Academy’s administrative team has been discussing and reviewing some of the “additional costs” incurred by students and families in various departments, divisions and programs.
With that discussion in mind, the athletic program is encouraging coaches of teams and parents to limit the amount of money spent on non-school provided items.
Certainly, there are costs that families need to bear when children participate on teams, such as basic equipment — gloves, racquets, appropriate shoes, sticks, goggles, etc. But after discussions with coaches, we feel that there are some areas in which we can cut down or reduce costs for team members and their families:
- Food and drinks provided by parents. Coaches appreciate drinks and snack provided but don’t expect it. Often, this is excessive with considerable waste. In many cases (home games, short-trip away games), coaches don’t feel this is needed. Parents who organize these game-day provisions should attempt to keep it simple and remember that DA does not expect parents to spend significantly on them.
- Money collected for team parties, end of year gifts, etc. Parents should not feel obligated to purchase gifts for coaches or contribute significantly to a gift fund. Our coaches feel appreciated by your support and backing throughout the season and would prefer a low-key season-ending gathering.
- Money collected for senior day. Many of these fun and important days have become excessive. DA and coaches want to provide a special recognition day for seniors, but we’d like to lessen the cost incurred by other team members and simplify these recognition events while still honoring and recognizing seniors.
- Personal team gear. Many of our teams provide the opportunity for families and athletes to personally purchase extra gear (shirts, jackets, etc.) during the season. These items are never intended to be returned to DA at season’s end and are not required as team member. So we urge parents to make those choices as you wish, but not feel obligated to spend significant amounts.
The athletic department hopes to provide most of what is needed for participating on a team.
I ask coaches to keep me informed of items needed for team members that the school should provide, so we can plan accordingly through the budgeting process. I also have asked coaches to look themselves, and carefully consider and reduce what they ask parents to contribute during a season. The coaches and I sincerely hope to cut back on some of the expenses listed above, so as to ease any financial burdens. We also want to eliminate any misunderstandings of what parents feel obligated to spend.
Thank you to all parents for your support of the athletic program and our coaches. And thank you for your help in making life at Durham Academy as accessible and comfortable as possible for all of our families.
- Steve Engebretsen
As always, thank you for your support of DA Athletics!
KEEPING UP WITH THE CAVS
As always, you can keep up with the Cavs on Durham Academy’s website and the DA App:
www.da.org/athletics: Schedules and Results
- For a list of all teams, their schedules and directions to games, visit www.da.org/teams.
- Click on an individual team to subscribe to automatic alerts about athletics results, postponements and cancellations, calendar and athletic event reminders. You can also import team schedules into your electronic calendars.
- For a recap of athletics results and scores, visit www.da.org/scoreboard.
- All information about the daily athletics schedule is also available on DA’s Athletics Hotline: 919-489-2534 (ext. 5).
The DA App: Schedules and Results
- The DA App allows you to keep up with athletics wherever you are. You can download the app from iTunes at http://bit.ly/DACavaliers. The DA App pulls athletics content directly from the DA website and delivers it to iOS-based devices including iPhone and iPad.
- The Athletics portion of the DA App (after launching, click Menu, then click Athletics to open) features results of recent games, a list of upcoming contests and team records.