Written By: Gabby Hankel

With the winter sports season well underway, there’s one game that every sport has. On this special night, the team, coaches, family, and friends honor the seniors of 2024. They are recognized for all that they have done. 

The winter sports for Providence Academy are: Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball, Boys’ and Girls’ Hockey, Dance, and Nordic ski. 

The Boys’ Varsity Basketball team has nine seniors on their roster, which make up more than 50% of the varsity squad as well as having two senior girls that are managers. The eleven seniors are: Captain Patrick Newman, Captain Charlie Willihnganz, Nicholas Gerlach, Jimmy Hughes, Maximilian Igbanugo, Henry Jacobson, Zachary Leuer, Jack Mahoney, and Chase Millerbernd. The two managers are Libby Bruce and Avery Lampe.The Boys Basketball Team’s senior night faced Hiawatha Collegiate High School on Thursday, February 1st.

“This is going to be a tough game, but I think it’s great because as seniors our season has been filled with trials. In order to make it to the next level, you have to push through them.” Hughes commented the morning of game day.

 Before the basketball game, the team played music in the locker room to get themselves hyped for the big game. The PA pep band made an appearance at the game. They entertained the crowd before the game and during halftime. At the beginning of the game, PA was very determined to win. They took the first half, 52-22. Finally, after another 18 minutes of playing in the second half, PA won the game 82-55. That game against Hiawatha was special for the team as some seniors got to have more minutes in a varsity game and others had their career scoring high.  

The Girls’ Varsity Basketball team has three seniors who are captains and two others are managers. The three players are Ali Herlofsky, Brooke Hohenecker, and Tess Klammer. The two managers are Tierney Dennison and Inga Nelson. On the Girls’ Basketball Senior Night senior night, they played against St. Clair high school on Friday, February 9th. The PA pep band also showed up again to cheer on the team. The girls started the game off strong leading the game  56-38 at half. In the second half, they only let St. Clair score 13 points as PA scored an additional 38 points. The final score was 94-51 which was another big win for PA on senior night. After the game; the team, friends, and families of the seniors held a “ceremony” for the five girls on the team. A group of players on the team gave speeches about the seniors. The underclassmen team continued the tradition of making tie blankets for each of the seniors. 

“Senior night was a really special night for me because throughout my whole basketball career senior night always felt like a night that would never come for me personally.” Hohenecker comments. “However, realizing that my basketball career is coming to a close, senior night was a night that showcased everything I’ve accomplished throughout the years and I was able to do it with some of my closest friends.” 

The Boys’ Varsity Hockey team has three seniors from PA on the team. This group of seniors is unique because all three seniors from PA are captains! The three seniors are Sammy Lewis, Brandon Sattler, and Louis Wehmann. They played against Chisago Lakes on senior night on Thursday February 15th. To add on to the emotions of the night, it was also the teams last regular game of the season. Before the game, PA held a ceremony honoring the three seniors and their parents. In the beginning of the game, Chisago Lakes scored two goals in the ten minutes. Wanting to stay in the game, PA then scored a goal one minute later. This brought the score to 1-2 at the end of the first period. For the first 15 minutes of the second period, no one scored, but with five minutes left in the period Sattler got the puck past the goalie and brought the game 2-2 at the end of the second. This goal was the turning point for PA and gave them a new burst of energy for the start of the third period. In the first minute of the third period, once again, Sattler found the back of the net again with another goal that gave PA the first lead of the night. This goal gave PA hope to finish the game with a victory. PA then scored four additional goals and only let in two goals from Chisago Lakes. The final score was 7-4. All of the seniors contributed to the game whether through assists or goals. 

“The years have gone by in the blink of an eye.” Wehmann commented, “It’s also cool to see how much we’ve changed over the years and where we are now compared to before.” 

The Girls’ Varsity Hockey team co-ops with The Blake School with one senior representing PA on the team: Kiernen Albertini. The team played Western Wisconsin Stars on senior night Saturday, February 3rd. The game started off even with each team scoring a goal in the first period which made it a nail biting first period . In the second period, Blake got their game together and scored two additional goals which brought the score to 3-1 at the beginning of the third period. The team went into the locker room in between periods driven to end this game with how they wanted it to end, a win. At the start of the third period, Western Wisconsin scored which then only gave a one point lead for the Blake team, but Blake scored five minutes later, bringing the lead to two once again. However, two minutes later Western Wisconsin scored another goal which again brought the Blake co-op to a one point lead. The Blake co-op wanted to end the game with a win and with persistence and good defense, Blake co-op ended the game with the win 4-3. 

“On senior night, I was looking forward to being recognized by my teammates and coaches, but also playing some good hockey and getting a win,” said Albertini. “The team’s atmosphere was electric that day and I couldn’t have asked for a better senior night!”

The PA Dance team is a little different as they do not have a senior night, but the team, parents, and coaches still wanted to recognize the seniors on the squad. The two seniors are Lillian Haapoja and Danielle Kukulijan. Haapoja and Kukulijan have both been dancing for 15 years! 

“What I’m going to miss about this team is competition days.” Kukulijan comments. “Dancing with all of my friends was a lot of fun but the fun team bonding opportunities we had on those days made them special.” 

The PA alpine ski team is part of a co-op team with Rivertree School and Heritage Christian Academy. Ryan Oskar is the only senior from PA on the team. Oskar has been Nordic skiing for about three years. 

“I like the community of the team, because even though it’s made up of three schools, we’re still a tight knit group.” Oskar commented.  

With all winter sports soon coming to a close, Providence Academy wants to thank all of the senior athletes for what they have done for the team and what they still continue to do.