A New Year

with Michael Betteridge

Traditionally, the start of a new year signals a time for reflections, resolutions, and predictions. Let’s take some time to do that together.

Looking back at the 2023 high school sports year, we have many reasons to smile. 

Our Catoctin Lady Cougars basketball team was amazing in March 2023. They finished the season as the No. 1 seed in their region and went on to lose a heartbreaker in the playoffs to underdog Boonsboro.

Our Catoctin baseball team finished the season with 18 wins and 2 losses, one a jaw-dropper at Boonsboro and the other in the playoffs to the eventual Maryland State 1A Champion, Clear Spring Blazers, for the second year in a row. The Cougars were also declared baseball co-champions in the CMC with Urbana in a rather unusual game played at FCC that ran out of daylight.

Catoctin Lady Cougars softball battled all the way to the 1A Maryland State Championship, where they played their hearts out in a hard-to-describe 1-0 loss.

In a rather odd footnote, both Catoctin baseball and softball lost on the same day at Boonsboro, within shouting distance of each other. Both Boonsboro teams pulled off one of the few defeats of Catoctin that year on the same day at Boonsboro. We might want to reconsider that scheduling this year. And to add insult to injury, Boonsboro knocked our Lady Cougars basketball team out of the playoffs when they were almost certainly headed for another state championship repeat visit. We’ll call it the curse of Boonsboro for now.

Our Catoctin football team struggled this year. Fifth in their division, they lost their starting quarterback to injury toward the end of the regular season. But that seemed to give them a bit of a chip on their shoulders, and they plowed through playoff divisional opponents as the underdog on the road all the way into the state quarterfinals. That is a pretty respectable show of guts and determination for a team that many critics had written off as the playoffs began.

Catoctin boys lacrosse finished 9-3, and the girls lacrosse finished second seed in the 1A region two. Shoutouts to Brody Buffington who made it a very interesting year indeed, both on and off the track; to Furious Trammel who had a great season, and an even better postseason; and to Jenna Conley who finished the Maryland State Girls Track Championship in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter runs. Catoctin cross country finished fourth in the 1A West championship! Catoctin field hockey made it all the way to round two of the playoffs. Shoutout to Catoctin Cougars golf leader, Jordan Moore, who finished the year with a 146 in a two-day combined state championship total. Catoctin boys and girls soccer made it into round two in the playoffs.  Both teams had a great regular season.

That’s our look back. Now it’s time to talk about resolutions. I resolve that I am terrible at New Year’s resolutions. Like most people, I start the year off with some amazing aspirations. Every year, I resolve to lose weight, to read more, and to spend more time with my family. By March or April, I pat myself on the back for achieving such great goals and staying on track, but then I begin to drift back into the routine that created them in the first place. I will share a tool I have used for many years that I find very helpful with personal planning for the new year.  It was created by Zig Ziglar, and it’s called the Wheel of Life. Google it and print out the wheel, which helps you plan personal, physical, family, career, spiritual, and financial goals. Just rate yourself on his wheel and set some goals and objectives for the year. It’s fun and personally challenging.

Now the final part of our New Year’s journey together: predictions!  Here’s my first prediction for the New Year: If Catoctin can avoid the Boonsboro curse, the Lady Cougars basketball team will play in the 2024 Maryland State championship for the second time in three years in March. Brooke Williams, only a sophomore, will lead the 1A in scoring and rebounding. Taylor Smith and Kelsey Troxell are the heart and soul of this team’s spirit. Kylie Perhach, Harley Fitzpatrick, Sam Orndoff, Grace Williams, and Beka Zentz are amazing off the bench. Coach Amy Entwistle has built something special over there on Sabillasville Road. And, if you haven’t seen the JV team play, make it a point to do so! I can’t wait to see those girls on varsity. These are some athletic ninth and tenth graders.

Catoctin baseball lost senior Joey McMannis to the University of Maryland, but only two other seniors graduated. Pay close attention to this year’s pitching tandem led by senior Logan Malachowski, and my prediction that they will beat Clear Spring this year. Two years in a row is enough.

Catoctin softball will feature Virginia-bound Taylor Smith on the mound again, with only two seniors graduating from last year’s championship team. I predict another trip to the finals at the University of Maryland softball stadium. That may be the best bet for the 2023-24 high school sports season.

One final prediction: I predict Deb Spalding will have a blast in Arizona and enjoy all the great things to see and do. It is one of my favorite states from the Kaibab to Organ Pipe. I want to thank Deb Spalding for her support and leadership through 2023. She supported me when I took on the task of writing this column in 2022, and I am truly grateful for her trust and wish her all the best as she moves to the next challenge in her life. Thanks, Deb!

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