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#1StudentNWI: Goodbyes and New Beginnings for River Forest Athletics

It is the end of the fall sports season and, to some, the end of an era as seniors say goodbye to the sport that has had such a huge impact on their high school experiences. Senior Night became an emotional night, and sectionals meant the absolute end to most seniors’ athletic careers.

“[I’m going to miss] playing with the team I have right now and just about everything about the sport,” Senior Erika Cervantes stated before the senior night game against South Central.

The River Forest Volleyball team hosted this year's 2A sectional 33 right at home in the Bill Logan Gymnasium. Although the team fell to Andrean, they appeared in the program’s first sectional championship game in 10 years. The team was not predicted to win, but, at the end of the day, it was not about whether or not they walk away with the trophy; it was about enjoying their last moments as a team and working together one last time before saying goodbye.

“[Volleyball taught me] how to have patience and work as a team. I’m really going to miss going through all the ups and downs with them,” Senior Idalis Alvares-Loza stated.

Volleyball, football, cross country, and tennis seniors all said goodbye to the sport that had such a huge impact on their high school careers. Few plan to continue their athletic careers in college, but a majority have now played for the final time. Every senior impacted Ingot athletics throughout the years and contributed to rebuilding the programs. From football going winless their freshman year to the volleyball graduating 15 from the varsity roster in the past two years, every program has grown in some way. Sometimes the record does not tell the whole story; the senior class has left a legacy for future Ingots, who will continue to build the reputation of these teams.

Girls’ Basketball Under New Direction

Former Hanover Central coach, Doug Nelson, has now found home with the Lady Ingots. Nelson will lead an upcoming team into the regular season on November 7, as they travel to Washington Township. With a lot of changes throughout the program and a new atmosphere brought by the new coach, the players are adapting well and are excited to compete in the coming weeks.

“It’s hard when a new coach comes in because you’re not really sure where you’ll stand and how things will be, but I’m excited to go out there and play my game,” Junior Abby Galligan stated.

As the kids are adapting to the new coach, Coach Nelson is also adapting to River Forest after being at Hanover Central for so long. Soon the Lady Ingots will head into a long schedule, hoping to live up to the new expectations set by Nelson, but, in the end, Nelson just wants his kids to have fun and enjoy the season.

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“I want the girls to just prove themselves everyday, stay healthy, and just enjoy it. We’re ready to go for the season and antsy to play someone else,” Doug Nelson stated.

Girls’ basketball competes the longest schedule out of all the other high school sports, but everyone is ready to be back on the court. Last year the program graduated five seniors and only one of last year’s starters, Abby Galligan, returned to the roster. Although a whole new lineup will be put on the floor this season, there is a lot of unmasked potential, heart, and dedication that will make for great combination on the court. It is a young team, but it is one that should not be underestimated.

Student Spotlight

Alexis Miller is currently a multi-sport athlete and intelligent sophomore at River Forest. Miller has been involved in the basketball and volleyball teams the past two years along with maintaining high honor roll recognition. Miller takes pride in the Ingot community and represents very well.

“I really love the school spirit of River Forest. I always look forward to homecoming,” Miller stated.

Miller is a huge fan of the Boilermakers and plans to continue her education at Purdue after graduating in 2020. She is currently undecided on exactly what she will be majoring in but is thinking of psychology. Miller may also continue playing volleyball after graduation. Although she is not set on any of her future plans, Miller is continuing to improve herself for her future and is working hard through her sophomore year.

Teacher Spotlight

Michael Burns is a newer face at River Forest. Burns was hired one day after his graduation from Valparaiso University to take over the freshman English teacher position. So far he has been enjoying the new atmosphere. Originally from Munster, Indiana, Burns has already come to feel at home with the community of New Chicago.

“My favorite part of River Forest so far is the community. I love being able to get to know the other teachers and students so well. There’s a nice sense of family at this school,” Burns stated.

Outside of school Burns enjoys reading and writing. He is also a comic book collector, so he spends his free time at the comic book store or catching up on comic books in general. Aside from that, he is currently in the process of planning a wedding that will take place this summer.

River Forest is grateful to have Burns passionately teach Ingots how to read and write critically.

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