Physical/Health Education Department during Quarantine
Throughout time in quarantine, our Valhalla Schools physical/health education department has continued to engage with students and their families to promote positive health. The department's goal was to establish normalcy in an abnormal environment. They created new curriculum and challenges for children and community member to enjoy together.
Working Papers for Valhalla Schools Students
Please find the procedure for Valhalla students and residents to obtain working papers from Valhalla Schools during the school closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A parent/guardian must complete all of Part 1 (Parental Consent) of the Application for Employment Certificate form
. In order to process the working papers in a timely manner, the Health Office must have a current health examination on file. If you have a new exam, please include it when sending in the employment application.
The employment application must be scanned and emailed to Ms. Diamond
. Please include your contact information (phone number) in your email. The application can also be mailed via postal service to: Valhalla Middle/High School, Attn: Nurse Diamond, 300 Columbus Ave., Valhalla, NY 10595.
Once the application is received, it will be reviewed for accuracy. A subsequent email will be sent requesting additional information or stating a designated date and time when working papers can be collected from school.
Section 1 Spring Sports Update
NYSPHSAA Cancels Spring State
Regular Season Remains on Hold
Latham, NY – The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announces the cancellation of the 2020 spring state championship events. The impacted events are boys and girls track & field, boys tennis, softball, baseball, golf and both boys and girls lacrosse state championships scheduled to be held between June 4th – 13th.
“Unfortunately, with the continued impact of the COVID-19 crisis, hosting the spring 2020 state championships is no longer feasible (time factor, facility and venue availability, etc.)” said Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA’s President. “Canceling the remaining winter state championships in late March was challenging and the cancelation of our spring state championships today is equally disappointing.”
Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director said, “Today’s decision is difficult for the membership of NYSPHSAA. We certainly sympathize with the students, coaches and their school communities, especially the graduating seniors.”
The NYSPHSAA will continue to rely upon information from the New York State Department of Health, local health departments as well as the Governor’s office for information and guidance on COVID-19 and its impact upon the spring regular season. As of today, the spring regular season remains on hold for nine of the 11 Sections; Section VIII and XI (Long Island) officially canceled all spring events on April 21st. Individual Sections have the authority to decide whether to hold regular season
For student-athletes to return to athletic participation this spring, schools need to be reopened by the Governor of New York State. The date students can return to school will play a significant role in the possibility of a spring sports regular season.
"In the Dugout" with VHS Senior Robert Carbone
On optimism: "Our team has a good mix of young players and seniors that bond together well. We have a team full of grinders that never let down."
Lacrosse Team Practices Social Distancing in Fun Video
Valhalla High School's girls varsity lacrosse team should have played its first game of the Spring 2020 season on March 26. Due to coronavirus, all athletic contests have been postponed.
"Since we couldn't be at Viking Stadium for Game Day, we decided on a little social distancing passing," said VHS girls varsity lacrosse coach Tara Lahm.
Section 1 Shares Spring Sports Update Regarding Coronavirus
The Section 1 Executive Committee held a teleconference to discuss the health concerns posed by coronavirus and made the following decision:
“In this meeting, there was a collective concern for the safety of our student-athletes, coaches and respective communities. As a result, Section 1 of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association has made a determination – effective Monday, March 16 – to postpone all practices, combined practices, scrimmages and interscholastic athletic contests until further notice. The situation is constantly evolving. The Section 1 Executive Committee intends to reassess the status of spring sports on Monday, March 30.”
FEB. 5: Celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day
In honor of the 34th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day, all Valhalla Schools girls and women are invited to wear their favorite team/sports jersey to school on Wednesday, Jan. 5.
This celebration inspires the female members of our school community to play, be active and to realize their full power. The confidence, strength and character gained through participating in sports are the very tools that they need to become strong leaders in sports and in life.
The spirit day honors the achievements of female athletes, coaches and leaders. It also acknowledges that sports have the power to unlock a child’s limitless potential.
Valhalla female athletes K-12 are encouraged to wear their own sports uniform tops. If you don’t have your own uniform, you can support the initiative by wearing your favorite sports team’s t-shirt or jersey.
Basketball Star Sebastian Pacheco Earns Player of the Week Win
After consistently being his team's top scorer, Valhalla's Sebastian Pacheco earned LoHud's Player of the Week honors.
The accolades were given in late December, less than a month after the Vikings’ first boys varsity game of the 2019-20 winter season. Sebastian’s sister broke the good news to him after he and his team defeated Putnam Valley High School by the score of 80-48.
“I was surprised to hear it,” said the point guard who wears jersey No. 13. “I was nominated the first week of the season too but didn’t win. It’s a great honor. I was up against some good players. It really boosted my mood.”
Not only did Sebastian earn more votes than the five other players who were nominated, but he earned nearly double the votes of the others combined.
Sebastian began playing basketball when he was in third grade, inspired by his father, who is a former professional basketball player in Puerto Rico. As a child and teenager, Sebastian played with a youth organization and also joined a travel team.
Even though Sebastian left Valhalla for his freshman and sophomore years, he maintained strong friendships with his teammates. Many of them, he explained, have been playing basketball together since they were all at Kensico School.
“I really enjoy our team,” he said. “We’ve been friends for a long time. We have a good core group and that brings up the team’s morale. They know that we’re all here to have fun and to win. We put each other before the game.”
The team’s closeness is one of the reasons for its success. One of Sebastian’s fondest memories is playing at the County Center in last season’s Sectional semifinals. Despite the agonizing 58-57 defeat to Blind Brook High School, the one-point loss brought the teammates closer together – they shed some tears but were determined to improve.
This season, they had some strong victories. In December, they renewed their rivalry with Westlake High School by earning a 61-52 win. They also split games with Dobbs Ferry High School, winning the first 73-46 before losing the second 58-46 one week later. In January, they finally broke the Vikings’ years-long curse against Blind Brook by defeating the Trojans by the score of 72-52. In the competitive home game, the Vikings pulled away in the fourth quarter and secured the remarkable win.
Sebastian is not only a basketball player; he was also an integral member of the boys varsity soccer team during his junior and senior years, where he played center back. In school, he enjoys his history and math classes, and participates in the Valhalla International Fund.
Next year, Sebastian anticipates playing basketball in college, perhaps at a nearby Division III school, where he plans to study business or sports management.
Two Vikings Named to All-Decade Sports Teams
With a strong Valhalla athletics program, two former Vikings were named to LoHud's All-Decade teams - for soccer and softball. Class of 2016's Kaio DaSilva, a standout athlete, earned his place on the boys soccer list. Class of 2015's Brandi Coon, a long-time varsity player, earned her place on the girls softball list.
For its lists, LoHud selected the very best athletes of each sport from 2010-2019 based on their career achievements in high school.
Notes on Brandi:
“The former Viking shortstop made her mark as one of Valhalla’s best players when she first joined the team in eighth grade. Coon blossomed into a talented infielder and a hitter her team could rely on to get on base when needed. She was a five-time all-section pick, a four-time all-state selection, and a three-year team captain. She finished her high school career as a top 10 leader in hits (226) and doubles (46) in the state. Coon recently finished her college softball career at Marist, where she was a two-time all-conference honoree.”
Notes on Kaio:
“The versatile three-time league MVP was a defensive standout until the Vikings needed scoring punch in 2015. He finished the season with 28 goals and 15 assists. DaSilva was all-state for three consecutive years and, in 2015, was picked Journal News Player of the Year. He spent the next fall at Old Dominion before transferring. He currently plays at the University at Albany.”
Congratulations to both of our former Viking athletes!
Volleyball Star Jasmine Grant Named Con Edison Player of the Week
While student-athlete Jasmine Grant excels on court, the Valhalla High School senior was honored for her athletic, academic, extra-curricular and community service as she was named the "Con Edison Player of the Week." The panel selected Jasmine as the winner in late November. She was interviewed by Rich Leaf at WHUD and an article was published about her in the Journal News.
“The emotion hit when I found out the process to get the award and the work that’s put into nominating someone,” she said. “I processed how grateful I was. You really don’t realize how much you do in the moment but this made me think of the impact that I might have on someone looking in. This gave me hope because there were a lot of times I was wondering why I do so many things.”
Jasmine’s volleyball coach Patricia Ward (who is also a fourth-grade teacher at Kensico School) submitted her application, which included a resume of her high school career. It included information about her academics abilities, athletic accomplishments, volunteer work and activities inside and outside of school. A board reviewed her application and selected Jasmine in the fall.
“People are seeing how you live and work and act,” she said. “I think of it as an opportunity to inspire others and motivate them to continue living their lives well. I want to give my all to something if I’m involved.”
Throughout high school, Jasmine has been a two-sport varsity athlete, shining in track and field and volleyball – where she was most recently a leading member of the 2019 state championship-winning team. She also plays club volleyball outside of school. Additionally, she is a member of the National Honor and World Language Honor societies, and used to be involved in the Whitney M. Young Club and the Valhalla International Fund.
Over the past three summers, Jasmine has performed community service at the Pine Bush Bible Camp, working to set-up, serve and clean three meals a day for the children attending. She, along with the Valhalla volleyball team, has also participated in several 5K runs to raise money and awareness for a variety of causes.
Next year, Jasmine will attend the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint, where she anticipates studying management and learning about communications and advertising. She would also like to branch out into military intelligence and get a job in human intel.
“There are so many values I love about Westpoint,” she said. “They push you to be the best leader and teammate you can be.”
Valhalla Swimmer Signs with Howard University
As a three-year-old, Valhalla High School senior Isabella Fountain visited relatives in Puerto Rico with her family. When she saw the pool, she gleefully ran straight for the water and jumped in. While her mother didn't know how to swim, her aunt helped her out. That zest for swimming led her to soon be enrolled in lessons at the local YMCA.
Now, fifteen years later, Bella was accepted into Howard University on a swimming scholarship. She knew that Howard was the right fit for her after visiting the school in early November.
“I didn’t want to come home,” she said, smiling. “I had so much fun and I felt at home. I loved how everyone made me feel like we were part of a family. They were so kind. The team and the coach were amazing. It feels amazing to be going there in the fall. It was always the plan to swim in college and focus on the Olympic trials.”
Bella is a four-year varsity swimmer for Valhalla who specializes in freestyle sprints. Over her high school years, she has been named All-League and All-Section. She contended in State competition last year, earning fifth-place in the 50-yard freestyle; as a sophomore, she placed sixth in the 50-yard freestyle, sixth in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 11th in the 200-yard medley relay.
While at Howard, Bella anticipates majoring in pre-physical therapy. Her goal is to eventually work in hospitals, motivating people who have been severely injured to get better.
Volleyball Team Crowned State Champion, Welcomed Home by Community
After falling in the first set to Portville High School, the Valhalla girls varsity volleyball team took a commanding lead of the competitive game by winning the second and third sets. In the fourth set, the Vikings were up 24-13. With a touch of the ball that landed slightly out of their opponents' reach, the Valhalla team had scored its final point.
The Vikings on court leapt into the air and gleefully flung themselves into a group hug. Their teammates on the sidelines rushed over to join them. Some fell to their knees in triumph as the gymnasium exploded in cheers and applause from the crowd.
“It’s surreal,” said coach Trish Ward, whose team finished the season with a 19-3 overall record. “For the whole season, I felt like we were going to achieve this goal because the girls had put in so much effort over the years to get to this point. They never got scared or down on themselves. They always played super calm and with confidence. That really led to their success.”
On Nov. 24, Valhalla High School’s varsity volleyball team was crowned the 2019 Class C State Champions. The Vikings defeated Portville High School – the two-time reigning champions – by the score of 17-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-13 in the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
“When I held the plaque, holding it with everyone else was just the best feeling because we knew that everyone had contributed,” senior Jasmine Grant told lohud after the game. “Every single person – from that first set that we lost to the next three – [we were] a family. It wasn’t two or three star players; it wasn’t a few people… Everyone was sharing the love of what had just happened.”
Not only did they become Valhalla’s first-ever volleyball state champions, but it was also the first time that the Vikings had played in the state final. Even more impressive, a Section 6 school had won the Class C state title each year since 2007; now, thanks to Valhalla, it belongs to Section 1. Seniors Linda Rossi and Stephanie Sicilian were named All-Tournament players, while Jasmine Grant was named the Most Valuable Player. Linda and Jasmine were also named lohud Sports’ Volleyball Players of the Year, while Coach Ward was named its Coach of the Year.
The team members performed excellently during the round-robin semifinals on Nov. 23, winning all six sets that they competed in. They beat Lake George High School (25-18, 25-18), Pierson-Bridgehampton High School (25-12, 25-14) and Portville High School (25-22, 25-18) – easily securing a place in the final.
“We knew that the semis were going to be tough,” said Coach Ward. “We felt like we could be one of the top two teams, but we never thought we’d go undefeated.”
After winning the final against Portville on Sunday, the girls were ecstatic on the ride back to Valhalla. Once they crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge, their bus was joined by the Valhalla and North White Plains fire departments, along with Valhalla EMS, and Mount Pleasant and North Castle police departments for an official escort.
When they arrived at Valhalla Middle/High School, a crowd of community members was waiting for them and surprised them with a Welcome Back parade. The bus door opened and the girls darted out, hoisting a big, blue banner that read “NYSPHSAA 2019 Champion” in large block letters. They jumped up and down hysterically, hugging one other and crying together as the crowd enveloped them in loud, supportive cheers. Residents held streamers and balloons while music blasted from the stereo system and multi-colored lights flickered at the school’s front entrance.
“It was overwhelming,” Coach Ward said. “I knew we’d have an escort, but I never imagined that it would be as big as it was. It amazes me how this town comes together for everything. They band together and celebrate. They go all out. They’re amazing.”
After Winning Season, Vikings Football Concludes in Final Four
With the community cheering for them at every game, the boys on the Vikings varsity football team won the Sectional and Regional titles this year. In the State semifinals, they played well and took the lead at halftime but, ultimately, lost in the Final Four.
The last game of their season was an 11-14 defeat to Gouverneur High School on Nov. 23. The game took place in Middletown and only leaned the Wildcats’ way in the second half.
Nevertheless, the striking season was filled with a slew of excellent victories and triumphs. Even though the team will be losing a few seniors to graduation, it is fueled to succeed during the 2020 season.
“I think this is going to make our quarterback much stronger and our team much stronger,” junior Rahsean Melvin told lohud about the final game’s learning experience. “I think our linemen will get more mature. Our younger kids are going to step up and we’re going to have a great year next year.”
Earlier in the season, the Vikings captured the Regional title by earning a 19-8 payback victory over Chester Academy – a team that had beaten them in the first game of the season. In fact, the Vikings ended their 2018 season on a seven-game losing streak and then proceeded to lose the first two games of the 2019 season. However, their hard work paid off in the season’s third game. In a tight battle against Highland High School, Valhalla won in overtime.
“They had to learn how to win,” said head coach Steve Boyer. “Since that first victory of the season, they have carried that momentum. Hard work and motivation equals success. The results have come because of that.”
From that point on, they charged forward on a motivated winning streak. In the process, the Vikings won the Sectional title – a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in 23 years. They defeated Dobbs Ferry High School by the score of 21-7.
“It’s a great achievement for them and they’re all excited,” said coach Boyer. “This is something that the kids will always remember. The game was great.”
Odin is Fired Up for The Weekend!
Volleyball Departs Friday for The New York State Championships in Glenn Falls, N.Y., at Cool Insuring Arena. Click here for additional information.
Viking Football Marches on to Middletown High School in Middletown N.Y. at noon for New York State East semifinals.
WINNERS: Our boys varsity football team defeated Chester tonight by the score of 19-8! Mahari Davis was named Defensive MVP and Michael Dawson was named Offensive MVP.
It was an incredible showing from the Valhalla crew, who lost to Chester in their season opener (score: 22-44). Fantastic improvement throughout the season, boys!
The Vikings will next play in the State Final Four against the Gouverneur High School Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 23, at Middletown High School at noon.
VICTORS!: Our girls varsity volleyball team defeated Millbrook in the Regional Semifinals in four sets! The intense and competitive game finished with the score of 25-19, 25-21, 25-27, 25-22!
They play next in the Regional Final against Windsor Central High School on Saturday afternoon at Corning High School.
Varsity Football Wins First Sectional Title in 23 Years
After ending the 2018 season with a record of 1-8, Valhalla's boys varsity football team returned this year to win the Sectional title.
On Nov. 9, the Vikings defeated Dobbs Ferry’s team by the score of 21-7 to win the Class C title. Playing at Mahopac High School, several Valhalla students and community members traveled to Putnam County to cheer on their classmates.
“It’s a great achievement for them and they’re all excited,” said head coach Steve Boyer, who is in his sixth year leading the team. “This is something that the kids will always remember. The game was great. We took the lead early, which gave us a lot of confidence. Since these kids had never played in a Section Championship before, that was the key factor.”
The Vikings had not won the Sectional title since 1996. They had not even reached the Sectional finals since 2001. In fact, up until mid-September, the team was on a 0-9 losing streak after losing their first two games of the 2019 season.
But their hard work paid off during the third game of the season. After a tight game, where they defeated Highland High School in overtime, the boys saw what it took to win. Coach Boyer said that his players needed to grow on and off the field over the past year, which turned them into the athletes they are now. They are currently on a seven-game winning streak.
“They had to learn how to win,” he said. “Since that first victory this season, they have carried the momentum. We’ve also gotten better defensively in the past month, which has helped. Hard work and motivation equals success. The results have come because of that.”
The team faces Chester Academy on Friday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. The Vikings previously played the Hambletonians in the first game of the season in early September. While they were tied at 14-14 by halftime, Chester pulled ahead for a victory.
“It was a good learning tool,” Coach Boyer said of the early defeat to their upcoming opposition. “They’ve won several Sectional Championships in the past, so we learned a lot from that loss.”
Through Soccer Lens, Varsity Team Leans Life Lessons of Love, Kindness
After winning a 5-0 shutout at home against Croton at Viking Stadium, the Valhalla boys varsity soccer team was on a three-game winning streak. The Viking athletes beamed, hugged each other and high-fived on the pitch.. Coach Sandro Prosperino had an idea to keep spirits high: instead of holding a practice the following day, the team would visit the American Youth Soccer Organization's Very Important Players program for children with special needs.
The following day, the players arrived slightly before 3 p.m. at the Lakeside Field in Mount Pleasant. The green field was the site of AYSO’s soccer program for students with special needs. The program is geared toward children and adults whose physical or mental disabilities prevent them from successful participation in mainstream teams.
“We often think that it’s so easy to play soccer all the time,” said VHS senior Steven Thelliyankal, a third-year varsity player, “but it can be challenging for them. It’s humbling to see that we can help. It’s eye-opening because you’re there to help others.”
The varsity team split into groups with the children. Six Vikings befriended the older students and began a game of six-on-six. Another group played a three-on-three mini-game. Others practiced drills, like dribbling and shooting, encouraging them and sharing tips.
“It felt good – it was very uplifting and everyone was happy,” said senior Dominick Novello. “Our group was having a scrimmage and we were all doing our own thing.”
Steven agreed: “They’re often kind of shy, but they interacted more when we were there,” he said. “It was fun. We had some good laughs together.”
During the session, junior Jonah Strupinsky and his teammates were standing by the goal, acting as the VIP children’s “fan section.” A child approached Jonah and wanted to play. The boy’s parents said that he had attended the program for weeks but had never touched a ball. With Jonah’s encouragement, he learned to kick it, dribble it toward the goal and shoot – scoring a few times in the process.
“We were so engaged with him,” said Jonah, a first-year varsity player. “We were continuously cheering him on. It definitely made me feel good. I’ve never felt like that before. It’s incredible to know that you made that much of a difference in someone’s life. It stuck with me.”
After the 90-minute session was over, the Viking athletes felt fulfilled. Jonah said that it was sad to leave, especially knowing that he and his teammates had imparted joy to the VIP students. He looked forward to returning.
“It was a very uniting feeling,” Steven said in agreement. “We don’t always see these kids in the community, so this was great. It was really nice to have that feeling of being all together.”
“I think that the varsity boys got more out of it than the kids in the program,” said Coach Prosperino, who is a Valhalla Middle School special education teacher. “They realize the power of it and how they’re playing a role. You cannot leave the experience and not feel good. It’s a way for us to say thank you to our community for supporting us.”
Instilling kindness, generosity, leadership skills and a positive spirit in the varsity players has always been at the forefront of how Coach Prosperino leads his team. Now the head varsity coach for 14 years, he had previously acted as the varsity assistant coach for a year, junior varsity coach for three years and modified coach for five years. About five years into leading the varsity team, he elected to no longer name captains.
“This goes back to the question: Are leaders born or can they be developed?” Coach Prosperino said. “I believe that you can develop those skills. I used to wrestle with who to make captain. Do I pick my best players? They’re not always the best leaders. Do I pick my best leaders? They’re not always the best players. It was a tough decision.”
Instead, he encouraged his 12th-grade players to step up as the team’s leaders. They were the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. They led warm-ups, gave advice to the younger players and carried the water, ice, balls, pinnies and other equipment. With 11 seniors on the Fall 2019 team, it afforded them endless opportunities to spearhead the team and showcase their leadership skills.
“Usually the younger kids do everything, but we do it differently here,” Steven said. “Here, the seniors are responsible. We lead by example. It has taught me to always live life as if someone is watching you and that we have to keep a high standard for ourselves. We always have to be cognizant of what we’re doing and where we are.”
Dominick agreed, saying that while it’s usually the younger students who are given the extra tasks, Valhalla’s team affords the seniors a chance to have leadership roles: “Our motto is that it’s right for the older players to take care of the team,” he said. “It’s a good move. Coach looks to us to do things. Everyone on our team gets along. As seniors, we have a lot of responsibility.”
Another way to share positivity and growth was through the team’s Gratitude Jar, which they began this year. Once a week, the team gathered in a room, each grabbing a small piece of paper and a pen. They each wrote down something that they were grateful for that day, folded the paper and placed it in the jar. No one was ever obligated to share what they wrote, but a handful usually did.
“We jot down things that put a smile on our faces,” said Dominic. “It’s a nice reminder that there are always things that make us happy and to always look at the upside. It shows us how everyone’s feeling. Someone might be having a bad day, so this allows us to lighten up and have a good practice. It helps the bad stuff to all go away.”
Coach Prosperino echoed his player’s sentiments. While he doesn’t read the anonymous papers that go into the jar, he shares his gratitude aloud – sometimes they’re about his colleagues, his family or the students he teaches.
“After people clap and acknowledge other peoples’ gratitude, there’s a buzz in the room,” he said. “The room is filled with warmth and positive energy. It’s about getting them to acknowledge the little things in life that are easy to miss. It helps us start a good practice and feel good about our company. We care about the people around us and about being a positive force.”
This positive attitude carried the team to a winning season, which saw them reach the first round of Sectional play.
“If the only thing I’m doing is coaching these boys in soccer, I’m doing a great disservice,” Coach Prosperino said. “It’s my pleasure to teach them about things outside of the game.”
Varsity Volleyball Repeats as Section Champions
For the second year in a row, Valhalla High School's girls varsity volleyball team was crowned the victors of Section One. At Pace University on Nov. 3, the Vikings outplayed the Rye Neck Panthers in three straight sets.
“It was great – I’m very proud of them,” said Trish Ward, who has coached the team for 10 years. “They were super pumped that they won Sectionals two years in a row. They felt confident going in. They hadn’t seen Rye Neck this season but they watched video.”
She noted that the student-athletes work well collaboratively and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. That team effort created a tough squad that, throughout the season, defeated rivals Briarcliff and Westlake twice each – and, ultimately, became League champion.
“I can’t say we’re a perfect team,” VHS senior Jasmine Grant told LoHud after the game, “but we truly rise above when it’s required – and that is one thing I greatly respect when we come onto the court. If there’s a situation, we have each other’s back, I can’t emphasize that enough.”
Before their run of success began last year, the Valhalla girls varsity volleyball team hadn’t made it this far in competition in approximately 20 years. Coach Ward and her athletes were delighted that so many fellow Vikings attended the game to cheer them on.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” she said. “The crowd was very loud. It’s incredible. The community is unbelievable with the support they give to these girls. They’ve always been big supporters throughout the season.”
The Vikings will next play in the Regional semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at Kingston High School at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re just trying to start a trend this year – to keep winning,” VHS senior Linda Rossi told LoHud after the game. “After last year, we were motivated even more to keep going, and we want to keep going further every year.”
The triumphant team was composed of seniors Isabella Masucci, Natalie Barbuto, Angelica Joseph, Juliana Abbondola, Naomi Ndzibah, Ava Reluzco, Olivia Callaghan, Dylan Van Bramer, Jasmine Grant, Sofiah Pacheco, Sophia Cavallo, Linda Rossi, Stephanie Sicilian, Gabriella Rinaldi, Mikaela Robinson and Elianiz Torres.
Field Hockey’s Ava De Natale Named LoHud “Player of the Week”
Ninth-grader Ava De Natale had possession of the ball and was running down the pitch. It was the beginning of a field hockey game against Pleasantville on Viking Stadium. Ava told herself that if she didn't shoot at that moment, she wouldn't make it. She was off the side of the field but decided to shoot anyway. She tumbled and fell onto the turf... but she scored!
That quick-thinking goal helped her team soar to a competitive and hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Panthers. It – and her excellent playing over the last month, including another goal in a 3-1 win over Croton – netted Ava the recognition of being named lohud’s field hockey Player of the Week for the last week of September.
“I was really excited,” said Ava, her team’s leading scorer, who learned that she won while at home with her family. “It is really cool to get recognized. It’s a good feeling to have.”
Ava was nominated alongside nine other standout field hockey players from Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties. She won – and was in the lead throughout the entire voting process – despite Valhalla being one of the smallest schools nominated. She earned one-third of the 35,000-plus votes cast.
“What makes her so good is her quickness,” coach Ashlee Austin told lohud. “Ava always wants the ball and will often out-run people to get it… (She) takes all critique and suggestions with open arms and then applies them to the game play… In the future, we are looking to grow Ava as a player and continue to see her as our leading scorer.”
Ava began playing field hockey during the summer before seventh grade. She played for two years on the modified team before being called up to the varsity team for her freshman year. Her interest in field hockey was inspired by her family’s love of hockey.
“Field hockey is really fun,” said Ava, who plays center forward and is the only freshman on the varsity team. “I like that it’s fast-paced and hands-on. My family watches hockey and it’s a similar game.”
Valhalla Standout Swimmer Makes All-American Scholastic Team
Senior Isabella Fountain was named to USA Swimming's Scholastic All-American Team for being, simultaneously, a strong athlete and student.
In mid-September, the national organization honored the standout Viking swimmer among 1,634 swimmers in grades 9 through 12 nationwide. She was one of only 806 females and one of only 381 seniors to be recognized.
To earn a spot on the team, an athlete must maintain at least a 3.5 Grade Point Average and meet the 2018 Winter Junior time standards in the pool during the year of application (2018-19).
“This is so surreal,” Isabella said. “I’m so satisfied that I almost don’t believe it. I think of myself as an athlete as I often get recognized for swimming. So this is cool to be recognized for academics also. I’ve very proud of myself.”
Isabella has been swimming for Valhalla since ninth-grade and excels as a freestyle sprinter. She said that she enjoys many of her classes, but has really challenged herself academically by taking new subjects.
“USA Swimming is proud to recognize these scholar-athletes and congratulates the swimmers on their achievement,” read the company’s press release, “as well as their coaches and parents for their outstanding support.”
Congratulations to Class of 2019 graduate Gianna Bencivengo, who was named an All-State Softball player!
We hope everyone is having an exciting Summer filled with Family, Friends and Adventure!
Students should be engaged in some form of physical activity daily, as well as eating right and reading!
As a reminder:
V&JV Sports (grades 9-12) begin August 19.
Registration for fall Programs will be done on FamilyID.
Registration Opens July 22 and CLOSES AUG. 12.
Middle School Sports Begin Sept. 9.
Registration Opens Aug. 12 and CLOSES AUG. 30.
Have a Great Summer and Train Like A Champion!
VHS Junior Wins Hammer Throw, VMS Athlete Competes at Track Nationals
Following an exceptional sports season filled with improvement, new records and awards, track and field star Noah Belmnahia won his division at the National Championships.
Noah competed at the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals on June 14 at the Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina. He competed in the “Emerging Elite” division for men’s hammer throw and set a personal record of 185 feet and 4 inches with his winning throw.
This showing earned Noah many new accolades. He is the first Valhalla athlete to win any division at Nationals. He is also now in the Top 10 of Section 1 hammer throwers all-time.
“He’s self-motivated and self-driven,” said coach Sonya Greaves. “He’s the first kid at the track and the last kid to leave. He’s always practicing – practice, practice, practice – until he gets it perfect. You can’t think of a more deserving kid to win this.”
Noah’s 185’4” throw was a full foot farther than the second- and third-place finishers, and over 11 feet farther than the fourth-place finisher. His goal for his senior year of high school is to throw over 200 feet.
Not only is Noah a spectacular athlete, but he has taken his coach’s advice to be a good sportsman. “He has really gone out of his way to help kids from other schools,” said Ms. Greaves. “He has friends in other schools and they all help each other. He is very highly respected by coaches at other schools in this region.”
A New, Young Star Steps into the Limelight
Valhalla Middle School eighth-grader Juliette Sullivan also competed at the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals alongside Noah. She contended in the 200-meter and 400-meter races.
Juliette’s outing makes her the first Valhalla eighth-grader to ever qualify for Nationals, and the first Viking student-athlete of any grade to ever qualify for Nationals in two events. She ran the 200-meter race in 26.9 seconds and the 400-meter race in 62.2 seconds – both results are about two seconds shy of Valhalla’s best.
“Now she has four more years left to compete,” said Ms. Greaves. “She’s a great kid, she works hard and has a great attitude. For an eighth-grader, this was a really excellent experience.”
Juliette joined Valhalla’s varsity track and field team a few weeks into the season after coaches noticed her potential on the modified team. She is now the fastest athlete on the varsity team and had an impressive, challenging and fruitful first year running with her high school teammates.
Three VHS Senior-Athletes Commit to Colleges
It’s official! Valhalla High School athletes Gianna Bencivengo, Shannon Brosnan and Joe Pecora signed their commitment papers to play college sports.
On June 12, the athletics department held a special ceremony for the three students in the Valhalla Middle/High School auditorium. The college-bound student-athletes were joined by their coaches and families.
The students are:
Gianna Bencivengo – Dean College (Mass.) – Softball
Shannon Brosnan – SUNY New Paltz (N.Y.) – Lacrosse
Joe Pecora – Sacred Heart University (Conn.) – Football
VHS Athletes Receive All-Section Honors
To cap off a victorious spring sports season, 13 student-athletes were recognized with All-Section honors.
At the June 11 Board of Education meeting, Athletic Director Jamie Block awarded the standout athletes with certificates and expressed how dedicated they were to their sports and their teammates throughout the season.
“I appreciate the students and all that they’ve done,” he said. “This is all about being a Viking, and we are grateful for the community’s support.”
The All-Section students are:
Robert Carbone (junior)
Patrick Gleason (senior)
Gianna Bencivengo (senior)
Track and Field:
Noah Belmnahia (junior)
Tyler Drummond (freshman)
Madison Marino (freshman)
Mekhi Miller (sophomore)
Ada Nduka (sophomore)
Henry Pennella (senior)
Julianna Pisacana (senior)
Diana Santini (senior)
Michael Rizzuto (senior)
Stefan Thiele-Pissini (senior)
Junior Thrower Noah Belmnahia Medals at State, Nationals, Earns New Record
It brings 11th-grader Noah Belmnahia joy to compete in indoor track and field’s weight throw event. When he spins in circles and throws a 25-pound ball as far as he can, he feels rushes of adrenaline and excitement.
Noah competed in the State and National competitions on March 2 and 8, respectively. He won fifth-place at States (additionally earning seventh-place at the Federation meet) and 12th-place at Nationals.
At the State competition, which took place at Staten Island’s Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex, Noah felt physically prepared and mentally strong. He had worked diligently during the season to continuously improve, had rested well the night before to refuel his body, and expected to perform well.
In the prelims, he threw a new personal record of 58’10” – a 24-foot improvement over his best distance from last year. As he progressed in the competition, he saw many strong opposing throwers, but was “in the zone,” he said, and stayed sharp. Even though he was seeded 15th, he placed fifth overall and took home a medal.
“It was a true honor to receive that medal,” Noah said. “It’s a true privilege. I felt like I deserved it. I worked really hard.”
Following that win, Noah became the first-ever Valhalla athlete to compete at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at Manhattan’s Armory. His 12th-place finish was a satisfying conclusion to his indoor track season.
Throughout that season, Noah racked up several accolades. He was named an All-League, All-County, All-Section and All-State athlete. He was the winner of the League Championships, Section 1 (Class C) Championships and the Westchester County Championships. In addition to being Valhalla’s first indoor track athlete to qualify for Nationals, he was also the first to qualify for the Millrose Games in New York City and to win the aforementioned county title.
Coach Steve Reich said that Noah dedicated himself to the weight throw and was committed to improving. Fellow coach Sonya Greaves agreed, saying that his focus propelled him to success.
“Noah really stepped up his throwing game this year,” she said. “He practices seven days a week and has an incredible work ethic. He got his feet wet in a lot of great competitions this year. This is what he does – he’s a thrower. It’s a lot of hard work and commitment.”
Noah began competing in track and field as a freshman to stay in shape during soccer’s off seasons. He picked up the weight throw at the suggestion of a friend, who recommended it due to his height and frame.
Basketball Star Shelby Sekinski Scores 1,000th Point, Wins “Player of the Week” Honor
After being fouled in the second quarter, Valhalla High School junior Shelby Sekinski stood at the free-throw line and focused. She knew that if she sunk her basket, she would reach a rare milestone.
On Dec. 6, the Vikings played against North Salem High School at the Keio Academy. With her teammates cheering her on, Shelby made her shot and scored the 1,000th point of her varsity basketball career.
“It’s exciting and I was really happy,” said Shelby, who is the captain of her team. “My friends were happy for me, too. I’ve had more faith in myself lately. And when I have more faith in myself, my shots go in. So I stayed focused.”
Following her momentous achievement, The Journal News named her its “Player of the Week.” Battling five other standout basketball players from Westchester and Rockland counties, Shelby won with nearly 44 percent of the vote. In a story focused on her win, the media outlet noted that she scored at least 20 points in each of the Vikings’ three games that week.
The point guard, who wears jersey No. 25, is now part of an exceptional group of only three female Valhalla student-athletes to score over 1,000 points in their varsity careers. “It feels pretty cool to be up there with great people,” she said.
Shelby began playing basketball in third grade at her father’s suggestion. He noted that she had confidence and a “tough” look for an elementary school student and could be a force on the court. While she practiced with teams and dedicated herself to improving, she met many friends along the way and enjoying playing with her peers.
No stranger to playing on Viking teams, Shelby has been a varsity basketball player since 8th grade and played on the modified team in 7th grade. She also played lacrosse in 7th and 8th grade. Aside from sports, she participates in the yearbook club and the Valhalla International Fund.
Varsity Volleyball Team Wins Sectional Title
For the first time in Valhalla history, the high school varsity volleyball team is the Section One champion in Class C.
The team – who soared through an undefeated 19-0 season – played a tough match against Haldane High School, the defending champion. The Vikings won by three sets to one (25-17, 26-28, 25-9, 25-16) at Pace University on Nov. 3.
Viking Swimmer Isabella Fountain Shines at Sectionals
For yet another year, Valhalla swimming phenom Isabella Fountain will compete at States against the best high school swimmers in New York.
Isabella, a junior, will contend at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s 2018 girls swimming and diving championships on Nov. 16 and 17. She qualified in the 50-yard freestyle capturing the section I title, the 100-yard freestyle and 200 IM relay.
Last year, as a sophomore, Isabella swam in four events at the state competition, and won three medals. She placed 6th in the 50-yard freestyle, 6th in the 200-yard freestyle relay and 11th in the 200-yard medley relay.
Boys Varsity Soccer Team Earns Academic Award
For the third time in four years, United Soccer Coaches recognized the Viking boys varsity soccer team of 2017-18 with an educational award for their high grade point averages.
In mid-October, the organization announced that Valhalla was one of 312 high school teams nationwide that earned the prestigious Academic Award. The award is merited if the combined GPA of the team is 3.25 or higher throughout the entire school year. Valhalla’s 21-member team had a collective 3.31 GPA.
“This is about as good of an award as you can win,” said coach Sandro Prosperino, who has coached Valhalla Schools’ soccer programs for 21 years, 13 of which as varsity coach. “This is a true reflection of a student-athlete. They are holding themselves accountable for their grades.”
Of the 312 high school teams selected for United Soccer Coaches’ Academic Award, 107 were boys teams. Valhalla was one of only three boys teams from New York to win.
“They put their studies first,” Mr. Prosperino said. “This is very cool. They help each other. They can lean on each other – academically and for moral support. It’s wonderful that their priorities and friendships extend to the classroom, which is the most important place for them to excel.”
During pre-season, he and assistant coach Marko Loncar make a point of not only discussing the team’s soccer goals, but also its academic goals. They reviewed the importance of cultivating a strong education and performing well in class.
“We’re called ‘coaches’ but we’re teachers,” Mr. Prosperino said. “We teach them about soccer, but also about integrity, respect, discipline and staying together. We’re really happy that they won this award for themselves.”
United Soccer Coaches is the largest soccer coaches’ organization in the world, composed of over 32,000 members that lead at every level of the game – from recreational to collegiate. Its mission is to provide programs and services that enhance, encourage and contribute to the development and recognition of soccer, its coaches and their players.
Field Hockey Goalie Hannah Etlinger Named LoHud’s Player of the Week
Senior Hannah Etlinger, the Viking field hockey goalie, earned LoHud’s “Player of the Week” recognition after performing exceptionally well during an exciting game late last month.
In early October, The Journal News announced that Hannah had beaten seven other standout field hockey athletes from nearby schools for the special honor. The media outlet recognized her spectacular 30 saves during the Vikings’ loss to Albertus Magnus High School.
“I wasn’t really expecting to win ‘Player of the Week,’” Hannah said. “It was kind of crazy. I didn’t know I had so many people voting for me. I’ve never had that many people behind me before.”
In addition to Hannah’s teammates and classmates, several Valhalla alumni saw Hannah’s name on the list and were happy to support their alma mater. Thanks to that support, Hannah narrowly defeated the runner-up from Clarkstown South High School by 35 votes in a tight race.
This fall season is currently Hannah’s second year playing field hockey. She made the switch from lacrosse, which she played in 9th- and 10th-grade on the varsity team.
“I love my team,” she said. “Being the goalie is a good leadership role for me where I can be loud and assertive. Our team works really well together. Some athletes play for themselves, but we play for each other.”
Two Juniors Medal in Grand Cross Country 5K Race
At an invitational 5K race featuring hundreds of runners, two Valhalla High School student-athletes earned medals thanks to their fast times.
Juniors Mary Henry and Gwen Lileika finished in the top 25 of their race during the Six Flags Safari Invitational in New Jersey on Sept. 29. The race featured top runners from high schools in the Hudson Valley and northern New Jersey.
“Both Mary and Gwen are really hard workers and are dedicated to the team,” said coach and teacher Ashley Fetzer, adding that Mary set a personal record during the race. “We’re happy that they performed so well.”
The invitational hosted several hundreds of runners, who were divided into groups of approximately 150 athletes. The top 25 finishers in each group earned medals. Mary and Gwen finished with times of 24:22 and 24:16, respectively.
Following the race, the team spent the rest of the day touring the park, enjoying each other’s company and engaging in team-building activities.
Always striving to develop their skills, both girls have improved their 5K times since the Six Flags Safari Invitational. Mary shaved nearly a minute off of her time by setting a personal record of 23:23 at the Brewster Invitational, and Gwen bettered that with a 22:46 finish at the League Meet.