Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Swimming

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

With the 2011-12 Somerville High winter season about to begin, Somerville Patch will be previewing all seven of the Highlander teams. Unsure how the Highlanders did last year? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Co-ed Swimming

2010 record: 7-5 overall; 2-4 in Greater Boston League

In swimming, sometimes all you need are bodies in the water. Highlander swimming coach Mike Williams says last season’s team succeeded because the core group of seniors – especially Caio Azevedo and Roberto Douardo – were always willing to swim extra races, no matter how tired they were.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of depth [last year],” Williams said. “We had a lot of seniors that were willing to do stuff like that: get in there and score those extra points for the team, make sure that every swim was contested.”

With few swimmers this season mechanically strong enough to compete in multiple strokes, Williams says depth is definitely a worry.

“We may actually be at a point where we don’t have enough experienced swimmers to compete in all the events,” Williams says.

Williams adds that the Highlanders should still be strong in the individual medley races.

Continue reading Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Swimming

Steroid Use Should Cost Ryan Braun MVP

Because of steroid use, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun should lose his MVP award, and Los Angeles' Matt Kemp should get it. (http://www.thesportsbank.net)

When you get caught cheating, you’re supposed to be punished. Copy your friend’s homework? Zero on the assignment. Run a red light to save a couple minutes? Ticket. Carry on an elicit affair? Divorce, and probably half your stuff.

Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun got caught cheating: he failed a drug test. While a 50-game suspension next season is a sizable penalty, it’s not a punishment.

Braun should lose his MVP award. That’s the punishment. Sorry, Grandma!

Some have argued that because previous MVPs who later tested positive for steroids – Ken Caminiti, Alex Rodriguez – didn’t lost their awards, and because Braun passed a subsequent drug test, he should keep his MVP.

The truth about Caminiti and Rodriguez came out years after they’d won their awards. Braun’s situation is immediate – he won the award and tested positive for steroids within a month – and it demands an immediate answer.

By allowing Braun to keep his MVP, the MLB does nothing to dispel the widely held belief that the rich and famous live by a different set of rules than the fans. The Occupy movement proves how quickly that disparity can turn to outrage, with millions of Americans summarily rejecting the federal government in favor of blind protest. A private industry such as the MLB can’t afford a similar rejection.

Continue reading Steroid Use Should Cost Ryan Braun MVP

Twenty-Seven Highlanders named Greater Boston League All-Stars

The Somerville Highlanders had 27 GBL All-Stars for the Fall 2011 season.

(written for Somerville Patch)

Somerville Patch congratulates the Somerville Highlander athletics program for its 27 Greater Boston League All-Stars. Leading the way: the GBL-champion and MIAA Sportsmanship Award-winning boys’ soccer team, with four players named first-team All-Stars and three named second-team.

Sophomore Thayrone Miranda and junior Matheus Reis – both whom the Eastern Mass Soccer Coaches Association also named All-Stars – earned first-team status, as did senior Edgardo Perez Vasques for the second time. Junior Andre Rolim joined the trio on the first team.

Sophomore Francisco Neto and seniors Charlemers “Junior” Pierre-Louis and Richard Rodriguez earned second-team honors.

To become an All-Star, a player must be nominated by a GBL coach, though not necessarily his or her own. All of the coaches then discuss and debate the merits of the various nominations.

Somerville athletic director Nicole Viele says whichever team wins the GBL in a particularly sport typically sets the maximum number of All-Stars in that sport, which is usually around four. After that, there’s a trickle-down effect to the other teams.

“I think the GBL in general tries really hard,” says Viele. “I think we try to limit who our all-stars are and try to have an overall representation of the league.”

Continue reading Twenty-Seven Highlanders named Greater Boston League All-Stars

Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Ice Hockey

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

With the 2011-12 Somerville High winter season about to begin, Somerville Patch will be previewing all seven of the Highlander teams. Unsure how the Highlanders did last year? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Boys’ Ice Hockey

2010 record: 11-8-1 overall; 4-2-0 in Greater Boston League

The Highlanders came up a game short of a Greater Boston League championship last season, then lost to Triton in the first round of the playoffs. With 19 players returning this season, boys’ ice hockey coach Chuck Allen is looking for even more.

“The kids buy into what we’re trying to do,” says Allen, who’s coaching his third season with the Highlanders.

Allen says his system encourages not just good hockey, but also good academic habits and behavior, including wearing shirts and ties on game days.

“Coaching hockey is the easy part of coaching,” Allen says. “Trying to do enough academically, how they’re acting in school, that’s the hard stuff.”

“Games are fun. Practice is work.”

Continue reading Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Ice Hockey

Celtics Sign Sasha Pavlovic to Apparently Second Season

Signing a one-year deal Monday, Sasha Pavlovic will be playing what's apparently his second year with the Celtics. (Photo by Keith Allison)

In a move sure to please anyone named Sasha Pavlovic, the Celtics re-signed Sasha Pavlovic to a one-year deal Monday. The move is undoubtedly a thing come true for Celtics fans, who best remember Pavlovic as the guy Ray Allen made cry during the 2008 NBA Finals.

Wait, that was Sasha Vujacic? Then who the hell did the Celtics sign?

For those unfamiliar with Pavlovic… join the club. The Celtics signed Pavlovic back in March after he finished his third 10-day contract of the 2010-11 season, this one with the Hornets. Apparently, no one wanted him for longer than that.

Pavlovic averaged 8.8 valueless minutes in 17 games for the Celtics, kicking in a completely forgettable 1.8 points and 0.9 rebounds. If math isn’t your thing, remember: that’s fewer than one basket and board per game.

An NBA player since 2003 – when he was somehow drafted 19th overall – Pavlovic has never won anything or been named anything important. When GMs talk about Pavlovic, they most commonly mention that he played on the 2006-07 Eastern Conference-champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Basically, the best thing about Pavlovic is LeBron James.

Pavlovic is so nondescript that he couldn’t even distinguish himself in the YUBA League, the not-so-uber-competitive professional basketball league of Bulgaria.

He did play for KK Budućnost Podgorica during their YUBA League-championship 2000-01 season, somehow averaging even fewer points than he averaged for the Celtics.

Apparently a small forward, Pavlovic is sixth on the depth chart behind Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, rookie JaJuan Johnson, Lucky the Leprachaun and David Cohen, Celtics Account Executive.

Still, Pavlovic’s signing is great for GM Danny Ainge. Instead of having to actually work towards improving the roster by signing a player with talent, Ainge can instead just offer a contract to Pavlovic, who would probably accept Upper Deck basketball cards with his name on them as payment.

Continue reading Celtics Sign Sasha Pavlovic to Apparently Second Season

Patriots Report Card: Week 14

Rob Gronkowski's record-setting two touchdowns and career-best 160 yards Sunday earns him an "A+" in this week's report card. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

To beat the New England Patriots, a team must play perfectly for 60 minutes. Even when Tom Brady is so out of sorts he gets into a screaming match with his offensive coordinator, the Patriots still score so much that anything short of error-free football won’t cut it.

The Washington Redskins made two mistakes Sunday: one within the opening three minutes, another in the final 30 seconds. That was all it took for the defensively incompetent, offensively inconsistent Patriots to secure a 34-27 victory in Washington.

Can the Patriots defend their thesis any better than they defended against the Redskins? Here’s this week’s report card.

Quarterback: A-

Brady can scream at Bill O’Brien all he wants, but throwing a softball to a well-covered and very inexperienced Tiquan Underwood was a stupid decision. The Patriots only needed a field goal for a two-possession lead with six minutes left in the game. Instead, Josh Wilson intercepted Brady, and the Patriots’ linebackers had to save the game. The interception highlighted just how out of sync Brady was with his receivers.

Brady completed less than 60 percent of his passes Sunday, and his receivers’ ability to get yards after catches accounted for many of his 357 passing yards. But Brady still threw three touchdowns; a third-quarter 24-yarder showed Brady’s impressive mobility, with him ducking and dodging tacklers before hitting Wes Welker in the end zone. Brady went 8-for-10 in the third quarter.

Continue reading Patriots Report Card: Week 14

Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Basketball

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

With the 2011-12 Somerville High winter season about to begin, Somerville Patch will be previewing all seven of the Highlander teams. Unsure how the Highlanders did last year? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Boys’ Basketball

2010-11 record: 16-4 overall; 6-2 in Greater Boston League

The Highlanders put together a terrific 2010-11 regular season, earning them a preliminary-round bye in the MIAA playoffs.

“We had excellent guard play last year,” says boys’ baksetball coach Mark Antonelli. “I expect to hopefully have the same this year.”

The Highlanders lost their first playoff game to the Westford Academy Grey Ghosts, a loss Antonelli attributes to basic problems like turnovers and weak-side rebounding.

Continue reading Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Basketball

Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Girls’ Ice Hockey

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

With the 2011-12 Somerville High winter season about to begin, Somerville Patch will be previewing all seven of the Highlander teams. Unsure how the Highlanders did last year? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Girls’ Ice Hockey

2010 record: 12-6-2 overall; 2-4-0 in GBL

Somerville girls who want to play ice hockey have since 2007 played on a co-op team with girls from Cambridge Rindge & Latin. Though they’re called the Falcons and wear Cambridge’s black uniforms, coach Kevin Mitrano says integration hasn’t been an issue for his Highlander players.

“It’s been pretty seamless,” Mitrano says. “The girls, they know they’re here to play hockey. There are really no problems.”

Somerville-Cambridge qualified for last year’s postseason, but they lost in the opening round to Westford. With a 2011-12 squad composed entirely of returning players, Mitrano says his team will try to make it deeper into the playoffs despite a small roster.

“We’re going to have two solid lines,” Mitrano says. “And because I knew that we weren’t going to get a lot of new players, we did some off-ice training before our on-ice practice.”

“It shows on the ice that they have the stamina to play the whole game with only the few players that we have.”

Continue reading Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Girls’ Ice Hockey

Players and Owners End Lockout, Approve New Collective Bagaining Agreement

Billy Hunter and David Stern have good reason to smile: with the new CBA approved, the 161-day NBA lockout is officially over. (Patrick McDermott/Getty photo)

After 161 days of mind-numbingly frustrating and utterly juvenile bickering between NBA players and owners, the two sides officially ratified the new, 10-year collective bargaining agreement.

Finally, finally, the lockout is over.

The Final Numbers

WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery reported Thursday that the new CBA includes a $58.044 million salary cap, with a luxury tax level just over $70.3 million. This cap and luxury tax are identical to those of the 2010-11 season, and do not differ significantly from the last three seasons of the old CBA.

This nearly unchanged cap structure was most likely built to appease the players, who will lose about 6 percent of the hallowed Basketball Related Income. They will also have to take 12 percent salary reductions.

To balance the lost income, the new CBA contains several improvements to players’ earning power. Young players who achieve NBA superstardom qualify for higher maximum salaries, and team payrolls must now reach a higher minimum percentage – 85 percent for the next two seasons, 90 after – of the salary cap.

Teams will have an easier time reaching that minimum payroll, however, because the new CBA calls for greatly expanded revenue sharing starting in the 2013-14 season. NBA commissioner David Stern said some teams could receive as much as $20 million in shared revenue, and several teams could be paying up to $50 million from their local revenue sources.

Continue reading Players and Owners End Lockout, Approve New Collective Bagaining Agreement

Somerville Head Trainer Michelle Kelly Keeps the Highlanders Healthy

Michelle Kelly is in her fifth full season as Somerville High School's only athletic trainer.

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

To win a championship, you need talented athletes. You need good coaches and well-run practices. You need luck.

You also need to stay healthy, and when a Somerville Highlander gets hurt, his or her first stop is always the trainer’s office, where Michelle Kelly is in her fifth year as Somerville’s one and only athletic trainer.

“Athletic training, to me it’s a puzzle,” Kelly says. “There are so many aspects of what can be wrong. It’s not always clear-cut something is injured.”

Kelly, 36, has been an athletic trainer since 1998. She discovered athletic training as an undergraduate at UMass-Boston.

“I played basketball my whole life,” Kelly says. “I liked science and medicine, so the athletic trainer that was at UMass told me about the profession.”

Kelly graduated UMass-Boston with a B.S. in athletic training, then earned her board certification from the National Athletic Trainers Association. She also has a Massachusetts Allied Health Professionals license.

For Kelly, diagnosing an injury is only half the fun.

“Educating the students, and trying to get them to understand how their body works, and answering their questions,” Kelly says. “We have a good time in here. The kids like to come hang out. It’s a safe haven for a lot of people.”

The trainer’s office is on full display as a gathering place one Friday afternoon. When Kelly leaves to call a parent, several students – both injured and healthy – come in and chat with Kelly’s patients. They discuss upcoming sports seasons, the differences between boys and girls – common conversations among teenagers, no matter the setting.

“Michelle makes the environment non-stressful,” says Johnson Thomas, senior captain for the boys’ basketball team.

Continue reading Somerville Head Trainer Michelle Kelly Keeps the Highlanders Healthy