Written by Rebecca Urato ‘21
As the fall sports season comes to a close, we must recognize the dedicated and outstanding seniors of our varsity teams. Each team was incredibly successful: varsity soccer advanced to the first round of playoffs, varsity golf placed fourth at the TISAC tournament, girls varsity cross country won the state championship, varsity volleyball and varsity field hockey advanced to the semifinals and varsity tennis won the state championship for the second year in a row. The following five seniors represent profound commitment and contributions to the Durham Academy athletics program.
Nick Epstein is a four-year varsity soccer player whose success took off as soon as he hit the Durham Academy fields, leading to him win All-Conference with All-Region Honorable Mention his junior year. While developing his skills on the field, Epstein has also fostered friendships that have lasted throughout high school. He says, “Being able to interact with other students in other grades, it’s pretty special.” Looking back, Epstein explains that his friendships were special, but the team’s 2-1 win over Ravenscroft, the second-ranked team in the nation, was the most memorable experience of his career. “Seeing our friends, family, fellow students and classmates out there, and to be able to get the win against Ravenscroft who were undefeated and number one in the state at the time was big for us,” he recalls. That’s probably my greatest memory.”
In varsity golf, senior Haley Leversedge tells a similar story. Leversedge has been part of the golf team for six years, and her achievements began to grow in eighth grade, when she was runner-up for states. Since then, she has won All-Conference twice, Coach’s Award twice and Most Valuable Player twice. Leversedge believes that the skills she has cultivated through golf continue to aid her in both her personal and academic life: “Golf is a really mental sport. When you are playing bad, all you can do is fix your mentality. That has helped me a lot in other aspects of my life, such as school and developing relationships, especially with my teammates.”
For varsity cross-country, Anneke Dekker is a proud five-year member and is grateful for the way her last varsity season has come to a close. “This season has probably been one of the best because overall as a team we have been doing really well,” she reflects. “In past years, the team hasn’t been as cohesive and successful.” For Dekker, running cross-country is more than just an after-school sport; it has become a way of life. She explains, “I have been running since I was 5 years old, and now, it’s just something I do every day. It’s part of my daily routine.” Dekker was awarded the Most Valuable Runner title her ninth- and tenth-grade years and has also won the DA Invitational. Despite her successes, Anneke says, “The best part is seeing everyone improve, getting into the sport and just seeing the process unfold.”
Senior Imani Spence has proven to be a vital member of the varsity volleyball team. This year, she led her team to the state semifinals, the farthest they have gone in the conference since 1996. As senior captain and four-year member of the team, her favorite part of DA volleyball is the team dynamic: “Our team feels like family. The best part is continuing to make it farther with the squad.” Over the course of four years, Spence has gone from looking up to the upperclassmen to being a role model for the younger athletes of the team, further strengthening their team bond. Spence was able to close out her varsity career with recognition for Most Improved Player and Most Valuable Player.
Lizzie Kerman is a member of the varsity field hockey team, and although she has only been on the team for two years, she has proven to be a strong leader and a hard-working player. For Kerman, her spirited teammates and the dynamic team activities are what make the team so special. She recalls, “My favorite memories are dancing and singing before games, cheering and when we all dressed up as Ms. Starling for spirit week.” Kerman’s love for the sport extends beyond the field. She explains, “Field hockey has allowed me to meet friends in other grades and keep close friendships with seniors that aren't in any of my classes.”
Finally, Joy Callwood is a four-year member of the varsity tennis team and is their first seed player. On top of winning two state championships, Callwood has been named All-State three times, All-Conference four times, and Player of the Year twice. Despite her profound successes, the skills she has learned through tennis are most important to her. She says, “Having to rely on somebody, and be a good doubles partner, you learn to always be positive with your teammates.”
After an amazing fall season, Durham Academy is lucky to cheer on these six and many more outstanding senior athletes. As they make their way into the world, their futures, both on and off the field, are sure to be bright.