Underclassmen excel in varsity athletics

As the frosty season rolls in, VHHS opens its gym floors for winter athletics. This year’s underclassmen athletes have been especially successful. Cheerleaders support basketball players during exciting games, while swimmers, divers, and dancers leap into their sports.



As of November 21, Girls’ Basketball is off to a fantastic start to the season by defeating four schools; Niles West, Elk Grove, Antioch and LFA. This brings the team to the standing of 4-0. 

Shooting guard and point guard, Keira Thomas (9, she/her), talked about being one of four underclassmen on the girls’ varsity basketball team is like for her.

“It’s pretty nice [to be one of few underclassmen on the team], but it’s kind of stressful; it’s a lot of pressure, but other than that it’s fine,” Thomas stated. 

Thomas started her basketball journey in third grade and continues to practice whenever possible. She describes the routine her team goes through before games.

“[On game days], we have a 15-minute shoot around after school before going home. We come back at around 6:30 to watch other games and during those halftimes, we shoot around. Before our game we talk and do our warmups,” she said. 

According to Thomas, along with the practice and game schedule comes stress. She speaks highly about how the team supports one another.

“Not knowing the plays sometimes and being in a new environment can be stressful, but the girls and coaches are super supportive…Grace Koepke (12), Ava Barszcz (12), and all the upperclassmen definitely help out a lot,” she said.  



The boys’ basketball season is off to a great start as they beat Northridge Prep with a score of 60-39 on November 21. 

Shooting guard and small forward, Anthony Morgan Jr. (10, he/him), opens the season with hard work and determination. 

I just look forward to Friday night games and just competing to try to win all the games we can,” Morgan stated. 

Similarly to the girls’ basketball team, boys’ basketball has a strong team bond.

“I have a great relationship with many of the upperclassmen on the team,” he said.“There are many jokes that are made at me because I’m the youngest on the team, but I don’t mind them. There is a lot of help that I get from the seniors and the juniors who try to help me become better.”

Morgan proves himself while continuing not to think too much about being the only underclassman on the team.

I’m the only underclassman on the team. I really don’t think much of it, I really just try to go out and play and pull my weight as a player,” Morgan said.

He also sticks to a schedule to make sure everything is set for the game.

“After school, I try to be the first person in the gym or locker room to get my shoes and get out. Once I get to the gym, I try to get a ball and shoot and dribble. Then, when my teammates come in, I tend to talk to them and have jokes before the game,” he said. 



As the boys are busy on the court, Vernon Hills Varsity Cheer (VHVC) is right there cheering them on, just as they were during football season. 

Harper Noble (9, she/her) is one of two freshmen on the Varsity cheer team this year. This is Noble’s first year of cheering since 6th grade and the hard work she has put into the sport has paid off.

“I think I am able to be pushed harder due to the fact I am a varsity athlete and that comes with a great advantage,” Noble stated.

Although her coaches push her hard, Noble enjoys being on the team as well as hanging out with her teammates with whom she has bonded over the past few months.

I have made so many friendships from cheer and I am so lucky to be so close with my team. VHVC is a family and we are with each other almost every day.” Noble said.

VHVC especially displays the ‘family’ element on game days by establishing many traditions and routines that bring the team closer together.

“Normally, on game days we have a theme of what we wear to school, whether that be our uniforms, dressed up, or a matching shirt with leggings. After school, we normally go to someone’s house, if it’s a home game, and eat dinner together before all heading to the game,” Noble said.

Noble has made many memories on VHVC since the beginning of the school year.

“My favorite memory so far was at a game where we got a whole bucket of Chick Fil A nuggets,” she recalled.



On November 25, the VHHS varsity dance team completed their second competition weekend, resulting in the team taking 10th place in the BCA top 25.

Eden Block (10, she/her) is one of five underclassmen on the varsity dance team and cherishes the friendships she has made with her teammates.

It is really nice having other underclassmen since we can all relate to each other and have similar schedules since we take many of the same classes,” Block says. 

Even though she enjoys competing at the level she is at, she does experience some of the challenges that come with it. 

The only real disadvantage is that there is sometimes a lot of pressure competing at the varsity level, but it can also be a good thing since it pushes us more,” Block stated.

Block not only has a good relationship with the underclassmen on her team and the upperclassmen as well.

I am really grateful for the upperclassman on my team because they are able to help me navigate things not only dance team related but also can help me with school things. They are all also very supportive and fun to talk to,” she said. 

She looks up to her older teammates and aspires to help future underclassmen as she will become an upperclassman next year. 

¨I’m looking forward to the ability to lead the team as an upperclassman, knowing that I really appreciate the upperclassmen that have taken me under their wing and helped me,” Block says. 



The girls’ swim and dive team ended the season strong by taking 3rd place at conference; hopefully, the boys can follow in their footsteps. 

Diver, Samuel Ryniec (10, he/him) starts this season off with a positive attitude and good sportsmanship. 

Ryniec appreciates the help and support he receives from his teammates as well as the memories he has shared with them this year.

“All the upperclassmen on the team are really nice and they’re always trying to help push you to be the best person you can be and just to be a good swimmer and diver,” he says.

Ryniec has the goal to help future underclassmen divers, just as this year’s upperclassmen have helped and guided him.

“[I look forward to] being able to help all the underclassmen and to be able to help improve the team in the next generations,” Ryniec stated. 

Ryniec not only receives support from his teammates but his teachers as well. He mentions the part they played in his joining the diving team.

¨All of the teachers recommend that you try a new sport and I tried it [diving], and it’s been a good decision for me. They said that you’re only going to be able to go through high school once, so you might as well try something new,¨ Ryniec recalled.