Missed Friday Night Lights? Read All About It Here!
On Friday, October 8th, AES hosted Friday Night Lights for the first time since February 2020. A night consisting of swim races, golf, volleyball, taekwondo, and academic games. Due to COVID, these events didn’t happen last school year. Students, faculty, and family were thrilled to hear that the noisy night of competitive games was finally coming back! Vaccinated adults came on to campus to cheer on their friends and family. After ASIAC soccer games from 2:30 - 3:30 pm, a barbecue opened up and all games started between 4:00 and 5:45 then ended around 7 pm.
To start off the night, the golf team was hitting targets on the Tiger Turf and gave some pointers to fans for half an hour.
Before an evening of racing in the water, swimmers stretched and warmed up. Once everyone was ready to go, the night was kicked off with a relay race. Although some swimmers didn’t meet their goals, a number of them were pleased with the results.
High school senior and swim team captain Nick set a school record for fastest 50m (to the other side and back) freestyle with the time of 24.68 seconds, just 0.2 seconds away from breaking the MESAC record.
When asked about this year’s Friday Night Lights in comparison to last year, he said, “Definitely a lot more people would come out, not only would parents feel safer but friends would stay after school, and it wasn’t only AES members, when we raced other schools people from there would come and that would really help create a more competitive atmosphere.” In addition to that, Coach Manker stated, “We didn’t have another team, so the competition was different, but the energy was high and exciting and so many kids were still rooting for each other.”
Even though COVID restricted the audience, the swimmers made the best of it and made sure to cheer each other on. Kaya, like the other 8th grade swimmers, is thrilled to be a part of this wonderful team, “To be able to compete with people older and more experienced than me, it pushes me and makes me proud of my growth as a swimmer.”
Taekwondo athletes demonstrated their skills outside the Tiger Turf right by the food stand. While not being associated with ASIAC and MESAC, students from all grades are allowed to join and practice the art of taekwondo with Ms. Vernon. 6th grader Ihsan was very enthusiastic about performing taekwondo, “Because of the pandemic, we didn’t do a lot of stuff in person. It was all on Zoom, and there wasn’t much space. This Friday Night Lights was an excellent way to help us regain that mindset and get back to how taekwondo was like before the pandemic.”
For academic games, there were two rounds of friendly quiz bowls. The varsity and junior varsity(JV) teams were spilt into four groups of four students and a few teachers. For the first half of the night, JV's two teams played against each other, varsity players then did the same after. Friday Night Lights helped prepare the participants of academic games with an exhibition showcase.
Over at the gym, the volleyball teams finally got a chance to show off their hard work. Unlike years prior to COVID, this Friday Night Lights game was the girls' volleyball teams’ first of the season. Normally they would have other official games before Friday Night Lights so the team would have more opportunities to work out small mishaps.
Coach Courtney Al Moreno said that because of COVID “I was less nervous than normal. I knew they would be confused about a lot because that’s how it always is with the first game of the season.”
Just like swimming, volleyball’s audience was significantly smaller than what it was like pre-COVID. While that is a loss due to the pandemic some things were changed for the better. This year MESAC’s regulations were more flexible so 8th grader Yuka is playing on the varsity team. Despite all the hardships the volleyball teams are facing, their coach could not be more proud; “The players are so inspiring and I mean that with the very depth of who I am. Showing up to a season like this, as competitive and inclusive and determined they are, it’s just really inspiring.”
Even though COVID changed a lot and this school year’s Friday Night Lights event looked different from any other time, that did not stop the athletes from giving it their best effort!
All photos courtesy of Alan Rubin