By: Gabby Hankel

Senior year is a time that almost every high schooler looks forward to, but senior athletes have a more nostalgic experience during their final year as many of them will be stepping on the field or court for the last time. Many high school athletes have played their sport since they were little kids and find it hard to imagine not having it a part of their lives. After high school, a small percentage will go on to play in college, but a bigger percentage stop playing competitively after high school. 

A special way to commemorate the seniors during their final season is throwing them a Senior Night. Senior Night occurs at a specific game where the fans, team, and parents honor the graduating athletes on the team. This is normally held on the last home game of the regular season.

For the Providence Academy Lions, there are 37 seniors on fall sports teams. While that may not seem like a large number, many of these players have key roles on their respective teams. There are seven fall sports teams: Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer, Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country, Boys’ and Girls’ Swim and Dive, Girls’ Tennis, Volleyball, and Football.

The boys’ soccer team huddles together for a pep talk before they get into position. PAW Photo Credit: Lewis

PA Boys’ Soccer has the most seniors on all the fall sports teams with nine seniors and three of them being captains for the team. Captain Ronan Donohue,’24, Captain Sammy Lewis,’24, Captain Maximilian Igbanugo,’24. Mark Beauchamp,’24, Nicholas Gerlach,’24, Grant Heim,’24, Evan Janezich,’24, Jonathan Muene,’24, and Ryan Oskar,’24 round out the senior group. On their Senior Night, the boys’ soccer team played Southwest Christian. In the first 15 minutes into the game, Oskar scored a goal which brought the Lions up 1-0. However, later on in the first half Southwest Christian scored bringing the game score to 1-1. Sadly, after a long and tiring second half, the Lions fell to Southwest 1-2. While PA didn’t win, the seniors will remember this night for many years to come. 

“I am going to miss the camaraderie with this team. I haven’t felt it on this level with the other sports teams I have been on,” says Oskar.

PA Girls’ Soccer seniors have been playing together since freshman year which made their Senior Night extra special. There are only three seniors on the team: Captain Avery Lampe,’24, Captain Inga Nelson,’24, and Gabby Hankel,’24. During their senior night, the girls’ soccer team faced St. Francis High School. In the first half of the game, sophomore Maddyn Greenway, ‘26, scored two goals. Lampe also scored another goal which made the score 3-0 at halftime. During the first 15 minutes of the second half St. Francis scored bringing the game to 3-1; however, with 10 minutes left in the game Greenway scored one final goal which ended the game with a 4-1 win. After the game, the team and their families honored the seniors with speeches from the underclassmen and blankets that the team had made.

“I am excited to be a senior this year because I always looked up to the upperclassmen and now that I am one I am excited to support and help the younger classmen,” says Nelson.  

The tennis seniors honor traditions. PAW Photo Credit: Delaney Flanigan.

PA Girls’ Varsity Tennis team is made up of mostly seniors and only a few underclassmen. With eight seniors on the team, their Senior Night was unique as more than half of the varsity squad was honored. The eight seniors are Libby Bruce,’24, Katelyn Clements,’24, Leightyn Ferrell,’24, Gracie Griep,’24, Anni Harberts Ott,’24, Julia Holton,’24, Jaclyn Mader,’24, and Gabby Rampetsreiter,’24. The girls’ tennis team had a scrimmage for Senior Night against Wayzata High School because their previous match had been canceled due to weather conditions. The team had fun mixing up the lineup and playing with people on their own team that they normally wouldn’t play in a conference match. This aspect was extra special for the seniors as this was one of their final matches before sections.

“It’s quite bittersweet being a senior. It’s going to be weird not being in the routine of practice every day,” says Bruce.

The volleyball seniors strike a pose during media day. PAW Photo Credit: Mark Bloom.

Volleyball has four seniors in their varsity lineup. Captain Lily Regensburger,’24, Captain Mary Smyth,’24, Kiernan Albertini,’24, and Annika Bruce,’24. On their Senior Night, the team competed against Totino-Grace High School. The first set of the night was intense. The girls were battling back and forth to put points on the board. Totino-Grace took the first set 19-25; however, the Lions got their groove back and won the next three sets 25-17, 26-24, and 25-15. Even though PA didn’t win the first set, they didn’t give up and instead put their energy and focus into winning the next set. This night was not only special for the seniors but also for the whole team as they were competing for the Independent Athletic Metro Athletic Conference. With this win, the Lions secured the championship conference title.

“It feels really good to win the conference because it’s the first time in a long time that PA has won. This team has a connection with each other and puts in a lot of work that makes this so deserving,” comments Regensburger. 

The Lions’ football team is made up of five different schools: Providence Academy, Maranatha Christian Academy, Heritage Christian Academy, Rivertree School, and West Lutheran High School. There are six boys from PA on the team who are seniors on the varsity roster. All of these boys have been playing together since freshman year which made their senior night memorable because they were able to celebrate with their friends during their last year as a PA football player. The six players on the team are Captain Anthony Fahnlander,’24, Captain Charlie Willihnganz,’24, Trey Albertini,’24, Jackson Day,’24, Grant Heim,’24, and Maximilian Igbanugo,’24. The football team’s Senior Night was against Kasson-Mantorville High School. As the time ran out in the second quarter, PA scored the first touchdown of the night. But after a long and hard second half, the Lions fell to Kasson-Mantorville with a nail biting score of 10-17. Even though this wasn’t the outcome they wanted, they were still able to honor their seniors for all the hard work they had done for the team. 

 “What I like about being a senior on the team is that I know everyone which helps communicate and brings the team together,” says Albertini. 

While Cross Country doesn’t have a senior night, the underclassmen still wanted to honor the seniors on the team: Captain Aidan Flynn,’24, Captain Jack Mahoney,’24, David Bakke,’24, and Joseph Harlan,’24. Many of these boys have been on the team since they were in middle school.

Carly Bixby, ’24, and Ali Herlofsky, ’24, take a photo at one of their last practices.

When asked what advice they have for the younger classmen, Flynn reflects, “Live in the moment and cherish the memories.”  

Finally, the Girls’ Swim and Dive team co-ops with The Blake School. There are two seniors from PA on this team: Carly Bixby,’24, and Ali Herlofsky,’24. Like many other senior athletes, Bixby and Herlofsky have been on a swim team since elementary school.

“Swimming has impacted my life by giving me friends that will last a lifetime. It also taught me time management and that hard work does pay off,” commented Bixby. 

All of these seniors will be greatly missed by their coaches, teammates, and friends; however, they are all excited for them to start a new chapter in their lives.