Kicking into Gear: Fall Sports Kickoff


Malea Weaver

Senior Varsity Player, gets ready to serve the ball at practice, at the University High School gymnasium.

Adam Kunin, Staff Writer

After spending tireless hours training this summer, many fall sports athletes are gearing up to begin their season. These athletes are excited to see their hard work come to fruition as they compete this fall, and have goals and expectations for this upcoming season. 

For many of these athletes, the goal is to make the playoffs and continue on past playoff success. This is the case for girls volleyball, who had a successful playoff run last season making it all the way to the semi-finals in CIF.

Senior captain Katrina Soto commented on how the team will utilize the experience they gained from last season to try and put together an even better 2022 campaign.

“[The team] learned to stay the course of the game and stay positive and to stay positive because attitude is crucial in the heat of the moment,” Soto said.

This will be a key aspect that the team must hone in on if the squad wants to repeat their run of last season, and try to advance even further this year.

Another team facing high expectations due to continued playoff success and a high reputation is girls’ tennis. Year in and year out, the team continues to produce impressive results, despite playing against challenging competition. Senior Anna Slavuk detailed how the team deals with the pressure associated with being a part of an elite program. 

“As a whole, we take one match at a time so that the stress of what’s to come does not influence our performance,” Slavuk said. 

The team also enjoys bonding events that they’ve planned throughout the season. 

“What happens off the court is just as important as on the court, and building a great relationship among the players is crucial,” Slavuk said.

The players have gotten close through team bonding experiences such as a recent trip to the beach, as they aim to build upon the camaraderie already established. The squad aims to advance towards a CIF Championship by taking a more tactical approach to their game which should be a vital component of their success this season. 

For others, they look forward to not only pushing toward the playoffs but also competing against rival teams.

Senior cross country athlete Josh Malek emphasized that he looks forward to facing off against rival Beckman High. He explains that one of their varsity runners betrayed them and transferred to Beckman. Beyond this rivalry, the team looks forward to trying to make CIF for the second year in a row and accomplishing one of their main goals of winning the Pacific Coast League. It has been 41 years since cross country won the league and the team is hungrier than ever to end the drought.

Another team aiming to end a drought is the football team, who is looking to end their over six year drought of missing the playoffs.

“[The teams expectations are to] make CIF playoffs by winning two out of the three league games,” junior Blaine Anderson said.

The team has improved from last season by retaining many key players from last season, ultimately giving them a more experienced squad than in years past. On top of this, the team has continued following in Coach Mesa’s leadership, which should lead to a more cohesive unit this fall. 

One of the biggest advantages the team has this year is their schedule. The team will play many of their tougher games at home, and play two out of their three league games on their home turf. This includes the final game of the season against Woodbridge, which is classified as a road game, but will still be played at UHS due to Woodbridge playing their home games on the Trojan’s field. The football team, along with all the other fall sports, will lean on the Trojan Army to get an extra edge this season. 

All of these teams will face tests early with some tough competition coming up on their schedule.

The next home game for girls volleyball will be against Portola on Sept. 22, while girls tennis will square off against Woodbridge High School at home on Sept. 20. Boys cross country will have its next meet at Mason Park on Oct. 5. Finally, the football team will play its homecoming game against Laguna Hills on Sept. 30.