Crimson Bears Senior Soccer Girls Bid Pitch Goodbye

    The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears senior soccer girls will be honored at 5:10 p.m. tonight at Adair Kennedy pitch before their final home match. (Klas Stolpe)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - In a normal year, a senior’s final home game would be the culmination of years of progression and growth as a student and an athlete.

      The reality of the last two years is that one class had no traditional senior night send off and the next class woke up each morning of their final high school soccer season wondering if opponents would cancel, if cleats would stay neatly paired under uniforms hung in lockers and if the shrill cry of an official’s whistle would be anything other than a distant lonely echo of youthful play.

      When asked what they learned from the coronavirus pandemic seasons, the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears girls senior soccer players, who will be honored tonight at 5:10 p.m. on the Adair Kennedy pitch before their match, said simply they were grateful.

      Forward/midfielder Jasmin Holst stood with her senior teammates on the Adair Kennedy pitch Wednesday, a day before their final home game, and they answered that question.

      “I’ve learned…. (long pause).. oh man,” Holst said. “I have learned that it is okay to not know what you are doing.”

      She is undecided about what she will do next year. Her favorite food is burgers, her favorite book “Stella the Sea Star” and her favorite movie is “Coraline.”

      Goalkeeper Jenae Pusich plans to go to Western Washington University next year.

      “I have learned to be grateful for the opportunities we have to play sports and do activities in school and stuff,” Pusich said. She said her favorite food is fried rice, her favorite book  “Hunger Games” and favorite movie “Catch Me If You Can.”

      Midfielder Taylor Bentley has two state championship trophies and two state tournament selections from freshman and sophomore seasons.

      “What I have learned over the past year is that family is very important,” Bentley said. “And I am very grateful for my time with them.”

      Bentley’s favorite food is mar y sol grilled halibut tacos, her favorite book is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and favorite movie “The Castle in the Sky.”

      “My plans for next year are to attend the University of Alaska Southeast to major in elementary education,” she said.

      Defender/midfielder Rachel Erben plays every outing in a knee brace, a reminder that if she can overcome obstacles on the pitch she can anywhere.

      “I’ve learned that you should take and cherish all the opportunities to play soccer that you can get,” Erben said. “Because you don’t know how many more there are going to be.”

      Erben plans to attend the College of St. Benedict and St. Johns University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, next year. Her favorite food is Outshine popsicles, favorite book “The Glass Castle” and favorite movie “Almost Famous.”

      Forward/midfielder Kate Debuse will be attending Elon University in North Carolina next year to study political science and communications.

      “From this last year I have learned to cherish every moment that you get,” Debuse said. Her favorite food is pasta, favorite book “The Catcher in the Rye” and favorite movie “Dead Poets Society.”

      Forward/midfielder Sophie Thibodeau’s favorite food is chicken wings, favorite book “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and favorite movie “Tangled.”

      “What I have learned from the past year is to appreciate the time I do get to spend with my teammates in this last year,” Thibodeau said. “I plan to attend UAS with a major as yet to be determined.”

      Sandra Lamas, a midfielder who scored her first varsity goal this season, likes sushi. Her favorite book is “The Da Vinci Code” and favorite movie “She’s the Man.”

      “What I have learned in the last year going through school through the pandemic is to appreciate and take a lot of opportunities because they will become good memories in the future,” Lamas said. She plans to attend UAS and is yet undecided on a major.

      Tatum Hines, an undersized in stature but not in spirit, starting forward/midfielder, is going to attend the University of Montana. Her favorite food is pizza, favorite book “The Nickel Boys” and favorite movie “Superbad.”

      On the adjacent baseball field, Thunder Mountain players practiced. On the track oval around the pitch, the JDHS track team practiced.

      On the pitch, her Crimson Bears teammates warmed up.

      All were wearing the season’s new uniform addition - the pandemic mask.

      Gray clouds moved slowly across a sucker hole of sunlight, becoming darker as water droplets and ice crystals bulged ominously.

      “What I have learned in the past year would probably be that the world can change super quickly,” Hines said. “So just be grateful for what you have and live in the moment.”

    Above - The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears girls senior soccer players are (L-R) Jasmin Holst, Jenae Pusich, Taylor Bentley, Rachel Erben, Kate Debuse, Sandra Lamas, Sophie Thibodeau and Tatum Hines. They will be honored at 5:10 p.m. tonight at Adair Kennedy pitch before their final home match. (Klas Stolpe)


      Jenae Pusich - This is Jenae's first year with JDHS, having played striker for JV, and goalkeeper for Varsity. The goalkeeper position is not the easiest position to simply walk into and embrace--physically and mentally. However, Jenae has simply broken that barrier down with hard work, drive, and dedication--earning the respect and admiration of her teammates. We wish Jenae all the best at Western Washington University studying accounting.

      Jasmin Holst - This is Jasmin's fourth year with JDHS, mostly playing the Varsity wing position for. Although we were unsuccessful in getting Jasmin to go with us on the Anchorage trips, due to prior dance commitments, simply having her with us at practices, Ketchikan trips, and at State, was really worth the trade off. Jasmin's endurance, strength, and speed, essential qualities of a dancer, were a sight to see every time   she was on the pitch. We wish Jasmin well not only in studying engineering, but hopefully in the world of dance as well.

      Kate Debuse - This is Kate's first year with JDHS. Missing most of the season due to injury, we are excited to have Kate back, just in time to see her in action on Senior Night. We are simply happy to have her back, seeing her with her friends, and just getting the chance to play alongside them on the pitch. We wish Kate all the best with her plans to attend Elon University, studying political science and communications.

      Rachel Erben - This is Rachel's fourth year with JDHS having mostly played on the back line for both JV and Varsity. It has been a tough high school soccer career for Rachel, enduring a knee injury that shortened her sophomore season and then having her junior season shut down due to the pandemic. But just like how she plays the game on the pitch, such as being persistent and resilient, she overcame the hardships, and is having a "really ... really great" season. We wish her all the best as she plans to attend the College of Saint Benedict/St John’s university in Saint Cloud, Minnesota next year and be part of the Bonner Leadership Program.

      Sandra Lamas - This is Sandra's fourth year with JDHS, having mostly played on the backline with JV and getting the opportunity to play the striker position with Varsity. Despite Sandra's claim of being unpredictable on the pitch, we knew for sure that anytime Sandra was on the pitch, she was going to give you 110%, and she never was going to quit on her teammates. None of this was more evident, when she scored her first ever goal, playing Varsity, against Ketchikan. She really did achieve a goal, to get a goal. We wish Sandra all the best with her plans to attend UAS.

      Sophie Thibodeau - This is Sophie's fourth year with JDHS, playing mostly wing with JV, and wing and wingback with Varsity. Thibodeau is a well known name in the world of Juneau soccer and running, and is definitely a name one should not take lightly on the pitch. If you've seen Sophie play, or practice, you would know what we are talking about. She can pass, shoot, score, has great touch on the ball and can hit a mean PK. And when Tatum, Sandra and her get together, all bets are off. We wish Sophie all the best with her plan to attend UAS.

      Tatum Hines - This is Tatum's fourth year with JDHS, having played striker and wing for JV and wing and wingback with Varsity. One of the coolest things soccer can do for individuals is the development of some tight friendships, and arguably the one that comes to mind is Sophie and Tatum's. Over the years, we have been witness to hilarious interactions on the pitch, van ride jams, and heard of an alleged spider incident in Ketchikan. But, we have also been witness to seeing both grow as players, transitioning from JV to Varsity. For Tatum, seeing her become quicker, fearless, and being physically tough, since Freshman year, has been a sight to see. We wish Tatum all the best as she attends the University of Montana.

      Taylor Bentley - This is Taylor's fourth season with JDHS and has been an integral part of our midfield throughout her high school career and has arguably achieved great success. She has helped the team win two State championships, and early on this season, she became the all-time career assists leader. She sets up her teammates regularly even when she herself is a dangerous goal scorer.  She's a premier goalkeeper at practices, and our emotional leader, crying uncontrollably during her sister's Senior night her sophomore year. In all seriousness, what a mind Taylor has for the game, her great vision, and an unbelievable work ethic. We wish Taylor all the best as she plans on attending the University of Southeast, Alaska to major in Elementary Education.

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