The student news site of Arvada West High School

The Westwind

The student news site of Arvada West High School

The Westwind

The student news site of Arvada West High School

The Westwind

New students, new take on high school sports


Many high school students like being a part of a school activity. This can mean joining theater, clubs, sports and other extracurriculars. These activities get students more involved in their community, school functions and can help students create strong friendships that last a lifetime.

For Elise Mehmen this meant joining the Arvada West High School volleyball team. Mehmen is a current freshmen at Arvada West High School, she enjoys being part of a team and values her education. She started playing volleyball when she was in fourth grade.

She describes, “I’ve been around volleyball since I was really little, my uncle played and my dad always loved it.” After playing club volleyball all throughout elementary and middle school she was excited to join A-West’s volleyball team this fall. An unfortunate event happened when Mehmen tore her MCL in March. After healing, she was disappointed when she sprained her popliteal, the diamond-shaped space behind the joint on the back of the knee, in June. While healing, Mehmen describes going to open gyms and sitting and watching the other players practice.

Luckily Mehmen says, “I got cleared to play three days before tryouts.” Despite the setback, Mehmen went to tryouts and recounts, “I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it was. It was not stressful.” Going into tryouts she was hoping to make the level three team, Mehmen felt joyful when she accomplished her goal. Throughout her years of playing, her parents have supported her and she says, “They come to all of my games. My mom made shirts that say ‘Elise’s mom’ and ‘Elise’s dad’ and they help drive my team around.”. Mehmen feels grateful to have such supportive parents and appreciates all that they do for her. Along with her parents support, her coaches also encourage her immensely. Mehmen describes that even though she has one specific coach for her team, she feels a lot of support from all of the other coaches involved in the program.

Mehmen specifies, “ I love learning from each one of them because they all have something different to say. Coach John is our coach but Coach P helps us out a lot.” Additionally Mehmen adds another advocate that has helped her, “Our club director, Coach Jess…she just always has something new to say and is always moving and is always super supportive.” Mehmen observes that not only her coaches and parents support her but also her teammates, “I feel like the relationships and friends you make through volleyball are so different from anything else you could find in high school,” suggests Mehmen. She is happy with the season and glad to end with a win. She is excited for next year and hopes to keep making lifelong bonds with her teammates. 

Another freshman at A-West, Kendyll Quackenbush also devotes a lot of her time to playing sports. Quackenbush felt inspired to start playing soccer, after watching her older cousin play in high school. She started playing at the age of three. Up until high school, Quackenbush has played for Colorado Edge Soccer Club and will continue to play with them during the fall seasons. The soccer seasons are spring and fall. Traditionally, female soccer players will play with a club in the fall and then play for their high school team in the spring. It is the opposite schedule for male players. While Quackenbush’s high school season hasn’t started yet, she is still preparing for preseason and tryouts. 

Quackenbush says, “I’m preparing for tryouts by going to the gym, weightlifting, going on runs a lot and working on my own skills. And then also just club soccer is helping me.” Although she is nervous for tryouts she is also, “excited to be able to play in front of the school and just seen by more than peers.” Quackenbush is also a little anxious, “I’m most nervous about playing with new people because I’ve played with the same people for quite a while now and I have good connections with them.” She has high hopes for tryouts and observes, “I’m hoping to make JV and then maybe I have an opportunity to be on varsity or swing varsity as a freshman,”. Quackenbush enjoys playing the position of center back on the field. Center backs are the last line of defence on the field besides the goalie. They typically are strong players that can stop the ball with their bodies and are generally an essential to a team. Her overall favorite part of playing soccer is winning. Quackenbush states, “My favorite part of playing soccer is winning. I know that sounds bad but I like winning and having a goal to work towards and then overcoming that goal.” As well as describing the feeling of winning, Quackenbush also illustrates that she has a great support system from her teammates, family and coaches. But she feels that her biggest supporter is, “My dad because when I’m having a hard time or experiencing self doubt he helps me overcome that and is always just there for me and helps me with my confidence.” Quackenbush notices that not only her dad but also her old coach, Henry Lokay helped her with boosting her confidence. “He inspired me and he helped with my confidence a lot and made me feel better about myself,” She feels that players need a supporting coach. 

Some qualities that stand out in a coach for her are, “confidence, like if they boost your confidence, and if they care for you, not just in soccer, but outside of soccer. And if they’re willing to do whatever they need to do get you to improve.” All of these qualities are important and all of them show through in the new head soccer coach, Dan Watkins. 

Watkins joined the A-West staff this year as a technology coordinator. He is also the new head coach for girls soccer. Previously, before coming to A-West, Watkins worked at Wheat Ridge High School. 

He felt, “Very welcomed the staff [have] been great like helping me integrate into my change to the new school and from the soccer perspective, I’ve enjoyed kind of getting to know girls and getting to know more about our better A-West athletics and I’m really excited for getting our season going for the spring.” Watkins explains that his goal for the team is not just about winning but he wants the girls to really bond with each other and overall become better people along with players. This is the same case for the other coaches and the assistant coaches participating in the program. Watkins has years of experience coaching and being a player himself. He played soccer while growing up, all throught college and even after college. 

“I played, you know in a men’s league for many years after I was out of college. It allowed me to participate in a sport where I could be around people with similar interests,” Watkins elaborates. 

After playing for many years, Watkins illustrates why he wanted to become a coach, “I had a coach that I looked up to and was a role model for me that you know, was a adult figure in my life that you know, cared for me and that I trusted and so I think initially I got started because I just I wanted to be able to do that I wanted to share, like the love of the game but also be able to make a difference in players lives.” Watkins goals for the soccer team definitely are nobel and truly valued and he is excited to get the season going. 

Participating in sports definitely is a special thing and creates bonds that last forever. Being apart of something bigger is many peoples cup of tea and many are ready to see how far they can go. 

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About the Contributor
Cate Kennedy
Cate Kennedy, Reporter
Cate Kennedy is a freshmen and this is her first year on staff and she likes to take photos and plays soccer.

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