O’Saben ready to swing into college baseball at UMBC

Over the summer, senior Blaze O’Saben accepted a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The UMBC Retrievers are an NCAA Division I baseball program, competing in the America East Conference.
O’Saben, who verbally committed to UMBC on July 5, began playing 12 years ago, at the age of 5. He said he became intrigued with playing in college during middle school, when his older friends and teammates began to talk about it. Since arriving at FHS, O’Saben has been a member of the varsity baseball team for four years, starting at shortstop. He said he hopes to achieve his sole goal of earning first team 4A all-state honors this season.
Senior teammate Dustin Donner said O’Saben adds tremendous value to the team as a whole.
“[He’s] a great teammate, and can make a team better on and off the field,” Donner said. “Blaze’s work ethic is incredible; he’s always at the cages taking grounders.”
Along with the Falcons varsity baseball team, O’Saben is a member of the Stars showcase baseball team. The Stars are the No. 2 organization from Virginia that puts players into college.
Matt O’Saben, Blaze’s father and coach at FHS, said he has enjoyed watching Blaze grow as an athlete throughout his life.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach him through most of his baseball playing days,” Matt O’Saben said. “It has been fun to watch him go from tee-ball to high school, to grow and develop, to see him work day-in and day-out.”
A week before Blaze O’Saben committed, he visited UMBC for the first time after the coach invited him for an official visit to see the campus and facilities. However, O’Saben said he already felt comfortable and ready to call it home.
“I liked the environment,” he said. “All the buildings are open, and there’s a lot [to do] everywhere. I felt like I had been there before, even though I hadn’t; it was just a really friendly atmosphere.”
The recruiting process was very fast-paced. Blaze O’Saben received significant interest from Radford University, also an NCAA Division I program, located in southwest Virginia. However, UMBC offered a scholarship quickly, playing part into why he committed.
“It was a little hectic,” he said. “A couple colleges notified me all at the same time, and [UMBC] just got to me first. I was talking to Radford longer than [UMBC], but [UMBC] got to me with a scholarship before Radford did, so I went.”
Matt O’Saben said the family was at a baseball tournament in Atlanta when Blaze made his final decision to commit to UMBC.
“We were in our hotel room and the UMBC coach called him,” Matt O’Saben said. “We could hear the excitement in both Blaze’s and the coach’s voice through the phone. It was fun seeing and hearing the excitement. We [couldn’t] be prouder of him.”
Blaze, who is planning to major in business, will receive a 37 percent athletic scholarship his freshman year, with a 51 percent scholarship guaranteed for the following three years.
An attractive component of the process for Blaze O’Saben was the success of the program. Along with their conference tournament champonship, the Retrievers finished 23-25 last season, in their final game, losing to Maryland in the NCAA Regionals.
“I liked their record—it has been pretty good recently,” he said “They’re in a rebuilding stage and they’re still successful and they’re getting all new facilities.”
Matt O’Saben said UMBC’s philosophy as a university and baseball program fits Blaze well.
“We like UMBC’s academic programs and the straightforward nature and approach of their coaching staff,” Matt O’Saben said. “UMBC plays with a chip on their shoulder. They bring guys in that love to play and are willing to outwork their opponents. That fits Blaze’s style, attitude and personality.”

~alex wright, sports director


Fauquier witnesses history as eclipse passes through Warrenton

Students turned their gaze upward on Aug. 21 to witness the moon pass in front of the sun in the first eclipse visible across the contiguous United States since 1918. Students who furnished signed permission forms and appropriate eyewear were dismissed to the football field for the last half hour of school.
“I think it was cool to be able to get out of school and involve a ton of people in science that’s going on in the real world,” sophomore Jessica Pain said. “It’s something that’s happening in your lifetime that doesn’t happen that often.”
The eclipse traveled southeast from Oregon to South Carolina. As Virginia was not directly in the path, students observed only about 81 percent totality. While many students viewed the partial eclipse on the football field, others traveled out of state for the full experience.
Junior Leslee–Kate Massey traveled to Maryville, Tennessee to see the eclipse in totality.
“It was actually really interesting, because down there it got cold, and there was a 360-degree sunset,” Massey said. “It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life. It was definitely worth missing the day of school for.”
Because only a partial eclipse was visible from Warrenton, some students and teachers felt like the event was not worth the hype or early dismissal. Senior Sophia Morales said she found the experience underwhelming.
“I thought you’d just see it in the sky, but you really had to put on the glasses and look up; otherwise, it just looked like the regular sun,” Morales said.
On the other hand, senior Angelina Martella said she was glad to experience the phenomenon, despite the interruption to the school day.
“We’re only going to have a few times in our life to see something like this,” Martella said. “If it happens to be during school, I think it’s important to be able to experience it.”
Total solar eclipses in the United States are normally rare, but the next one will come sooner than usual, on April 8, 2024.
Principal Clarence Burton said he hopes that students were able to develop a greater appreciation for science through the experience.
“You can’t duplicate this on a live stream,” Burton said. “The lighting is never like this. It’s neat to participate in science. I could only think [that this would inspire students to learn more about science]; you want to know the whys and the hows.”

~katie johnston, managing editor

ACLU educates teenagers in social justice

Following the 2016 presidential election, I realized that I had become more self-aware when it came to politics and the injustice that various minorities face. I felt like their voices and experiences, as well as mine by being a part of the communities, were silenced and deemed unimportant by our government. I sensed that I had an obligation to do something, and to use my privilege and platform as a writer to influence those around me. So, I submitted an application to the American Civil Liberties Union Summer Advocacy Institute, a week long camp held at Georgetown University, where rising juniors and seniors can learn more about social justice issues that interest them and how to bring activism into their community. Being surrounded with roughly 500 like-minded students was inspiring; I was excited so see so many young people with as much of a passion for change as I had.
Throughout the week, we were introduced to various speakers, mostly ACLU lawyers, covering a wide range of topics—from free speech to institutionalized racism. These speakers were able to take complicated and controversial issues, educate us on their impacts on our everyday lives and put into perspective their relevance.
One speaker in particular who moved me was Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney who specializes in free speech, privacy and technology. She spoke to us about the importance of free speech, and while I knew that the First Amendment was a key factor in our democracy, Rowland emphasized how essential it really is.
Without free speech, parties on either side of the political spectrum would be unable to voice their opinions. As frustrating as it might be to hear an opposing argument to your side, without First Amendment protections, none would have a platform to spout any views, whether hateful or inspirational. Sometimes, when arguing in support of a position, it can be easy to dismiss an opponent’s thoughts and voice, but in order to change minds we need to be patient and be able to peacefully converse with those different from us. And while there are topics, like white supremacy and racism, where there is no room for compromise or negotiation, it is crucial to realize which battles to fight, and be able to respectfully and civilly discuss these issues.
The most influential speaker at the ACLU Summer Advocacy Institute had to be whistle blower Edward Snowden. Snowden, a former technology contractor for the National Security Agency, exposed classified files that offered evidence of the government invading civilians’ right to privacy by reading and listening to phone calls and texts while ostensibly looking for signs of terrorism. Snowden currently is taking refuge in Russia, unable to return to the U.S. for fear of criminal prosecution due to this, his speech was done via video chat. Between taking curious questions about his living status and recounting his internal struggles and repercussions of his actions, Snowden offered insights into ongoing issues over cyber security. However, he made it very clear that he was not to be looked at as a hero. He said that he had just been doing what was right. He emphasized the importance of speaking out against our government when we see injustice and not reacting in silence and cooperation. We must take advantage of our democratic rights and use them to speak up when we feel that our government is not doing what is needed to protect the American people under the guidelines of the Constitution.
Before going to the ACLU camp, I was nervous about meeting those from all different walks of life and in different phases in their journey of activism. In such a rural and old-school town, I was confident in my views and wasn’t afraid to speak out, but going to a camp where hundreds of other students felt the same way—and might be able to express this more articulately and with more experience—made me question myself. While I definitely consider myself an advocate for social, racial and economic equality, I hadn’t made a huge impact in my community like other teenagers, and I was insecure in my abilities to represent my school and my ideals in such a new environment. But after the first few days, I found myself feeding off the energy and confidence of my peers, making me speak up more in discussions and not second-guessing whether what I had to say was “politically correct” or clashed with another student’s views. I had a newfound assurance of myself and found that hearing other students’ situations in their hometowns gave me a better understanding of other communities. This validates where I am on my journey, and even though I haven’t made the strides that Malala Yousafzai or Gavin Grimm have, that doesn’t make my fight and passion any less important.
That week was the most influential and inspiring week of my life; attending this camp put into perspective how passionate I am about making a change in current social justice issues. The amazing speakers and students made me realize how much a group of 500 students can touch different corners of the world and truly make a difference in each community, resulting in a monumental difference. Throughout history, the youth have been those at the forefront of change, making their voices heard and not backing down from the resistance of older generations. So, my advice to my peers is don’t be afraid to stir things up and create a little confrontation; go to protests, talk to your representatives, educate those in the dark, and speak out against hatred and bigotry.

We, the people, are responsible for our own fate, and without the help and support of one another, nothing will change. Remember: Dissent is patriotic.

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

Field Hockey seeks return to postseason

With their current record of 6-1, the Falcon Field Hockey team is starting the season off strong. With a game against John Champe on Sept. 12, the girls dominated their home turf with a score of 6-1. Scoring four goals in the first half, the team ended the game in a mercy rule, leading by six points in the last 15 minutes of the game. Senior Jo Quinn St. Ledger (co-captain) scored her first two goals since the start of her field hockey career four years ago, along with sophomores Jamie Renzi, Lucy Arnold, junior Meredyth Rankin, and freshman Abby McCuskter.

“Champe got a few corners in a row but [junior] Taylor DeHaven (goalie) did a good job as goal keeper, but for the most part we kept the ball in their defense,” St. Ledger said.

With a score of 1-0, FHS beat Loudoun County’s Freedom on Sept. 11. DeHaven says that defense worked hard on keeping the ball out of the net and overall, the excitement on the game was due to the close score.

“[The game] started out really slow but we knew that if we really tried to communicate we would beat them,” DeHaven said. “After the first 15 minutes we still weren’t communicating a whole lot, which was one of our biggest problems throughout the whole game. We had a lot of fast breaks and give and gos; defense was great on keeping the ball out of the circle. I only got a couple shots on me.”

On Sept. 7, the Falcons secured a 2-0 victory against Kettle Run at Falcon Field, resulting in a 2-0 win for FHS. Coach Brooke Settle wasn’t able to attend, because she was on maternity leave taking care of her newborn son, Landon. Junior Madison Filson said that the team played in dedication to their coach, and used that as motivation to win against the county rival Cougars

“It was kind of intense; our coach wasn’t there so we were faced timing her during half time and it really hyped us it.” Filson said. “During the second half we definitely picked up the intensity and had the motivation to get those goals and try our hardest, even if we had no energy left. [Playing against Kettle Run is] always a hard game and we always put our best in the game, so it was huge to win.”

Despite being early in the season, senior Caroline Diehl (co-captain) is confident in the team’s playing ability and says that the team needs to focus on having the right mentality in order to be successful on the field.

“It’s all about mentality,” Diehl said. “A lot of times when we play other teams we [psych ourselves out]. We care too much about what other schools and teams are up to but it doesn’t affect us and we shouldn’t be thinking about it. [We need to] just pushing aside what we think is going to happen and just play.”

On Aug. 30, the Falcons lost 2-0 versus Briar Woods, suffering their first loss of the season. After starting the game with a lack of intensity in the first half, Diehl says that part of the loss came from the change in terrain, since Fauquier fields have grass instead of turf. She said that starting out strong and working on fundamentals is a key factor in improving their game skills.

“It can take a while to build up our intensity, so think that’s our main thing [to work on],” Diehl said. “Our old formation was very defensive minded, it had a lot of gap in it, but our new one is more offensive that has support everywhere; since it’s early in the season it’s hard to tell but I think it’s going to help us a lot in being a more offensive things.”

St. Ledger said that switching the team’s lineup after its preseason scrimmage helped create more flow on the field and perfect their passing triangles, a tactic used to have multiple passing options. She also said that team bonding is essential to having chemistry on the field in field hockey, a sport where players are constantly shifting positions. However, there is always room for improvement.

“We can always communicate more; when you have communication, things can go a lot smoother,” St. Ledger said.  

Diehl said a main goal for the team, aside from playing to their full potential, is to have fun. In addition to practices, the team also tries to bond outside of school as well, by going to team sleepovers.

“The closer we are, the better we’re going to play and mesh on the field,” Diehl said. “We do have some fun, a lot of the times we’ll always do team bonding games but when it’s time to practice we get serious.”

The team’s chemistry allows the girls to communicate well DeHaven added.

“We’ve played together for three and four years,” DeHaven said. “W know what everyone’s strength and weaknesses are. So we try to place everyone in the positions that work for them. We try to be a fast paced team, we’re just well rounded all and all.”

Despite the early season, the team is confident in their abilities and hopes to make it back to states this year, to finish what they started.

“Everyone who is on the team is good skill wise but some fundamental things go a long way, like our passing and our shots,” Diehl said. “I can already tell we’re improving on our mistakes.”

~erica gudino, editor-in-chief

Volleyball sets up for new season

In her 23rd season as volleyball head coach, Diana Story will face the challenging task of improving on last season’s grand success. In 2016, the Fauquier Falcons volleyball team secured a Conference 22 title, advanced to regionals and broke the school record for most wins in a season, with a record 23-4. However, with eight returners, all-state senior captain Maddie Carter said she is confident in the Falcons’ ability to use their experience and rise to the occasion.

“Most of us have played together before,” Carter said. “We know the court very well as a team, so working together will help us be successful. We have already been working very hard to get back into the groove of playing together, and everyone’s doing a great job of syncing as a team, which will play a huge role in how far we advance [with] our tougher regular season schedule.”

That schedule will feature the new 13-team Northwestern District implemented this season, which includes 4A members FHS, Kettle Run, Liberty, James Wood, John Handley, Millbrook and Sherando. Junior Jules Oravec, who received all-conference honors last season, said she is excited to compete in the district and work toward the goal of advancing past regionals.

“We just want to play to the best of our ability and give 100 percent every game,” Oravec said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we match up with the new teams. I know it will be a challenging season, but I think we can compete consistently throughout it. [Last] season was very successful, so it’ll take a lot of hard work to match that record and to make it to states.”

Story said she had high expectations for her close-knit team heading into the season, hoping to win the new district and move onward in postseason play.

“We’re always working on basic skills and getting better at passing, setting, hitting and serving well,” Story said. “If we can have all that in one big package every night, we will be on point to do well.”

The starting lineup for the Falcons features senior co-captains Yvie Frazier and Carter, rounded off by juniors Rachel Crowe, Megan Constantino, Kayla Pavlock and Oravec.

“They are a great group of girls together and individually, which makes my job that much as their coach because I know them very well.” Story said.

As conference play approaches, Story, who was named 2016 Conference 22 coach of the year, said the team is promising and multidimensional, with each athlete playing an important role.

“It’s a well-rounded team. We had things that we did well and things that we need to work on—that’s how every scrimmage is supposed to be,” Story said.  “There’s six girls on the court at any time, and they all play integral spots on the court, depending on what we need that night.”

Some strong returners this season include seniors Carter and Frazier, along with juniors Kiki Scott, Crowe, Constantino, Pavlock and Oravec. New this season is freshman Kate Wilvert, who competed with the Falcons in summer camps, landing a spot on the varsity team.

“They’re a pleasure to be around daily,” Story said. “They step up to the challenge, and they’re willing to get out there and fight and play at a high level every day”

The Falcons enter the season 7-3, after securing a 2-0 victory versus county rival Liberty Sept. 12. On Sept. 9, the Falcons placed second, with a record of 2-2 in the Albemarle Invitational in Charlottesville. The team secured 2-1 and 2-0 victories versus Western Albemarle and Albemarle, however, failed to defeat Stone Bridge in both games, losing 2-1 and 2-0. The Falcons will face off against conference opponent Millbrook, Sept. 19 at 7:15 pm.

~alex wright, sports director

Martinez tours the country with Drum Corps International

This past summer, one exceptional student from Fauquier High School made the cut to join the Drum Corps International Tour, a marching band that traveled the U.S. playing in shows and competitions in various big name cities. Junior Alex Martinez spent over 2 months with the group learning about band and the realities of how it works.

“We’re basically just a band on a tour bus. We did competitions at High Schools and big football stadiums,” Martinez said.

Alex Martinez plays the euphonium for Fauquier’s marching band, and has only been playing since his sophomore year. Even though he has only been playing for a short time, Martinez has already developed enough skill to play at such a high level. Martinez had to go through an application, and audition just to get a spot.

“My friend Mason did it last year and told me about it, and he told me there was a hole I could probably fill, and I said let’s go for it,” Martinez said. “I was not confident whatsoever. I wasn’t confident because of lack of skill, I’ve only been playing for a year.”

To be selected for the group, Martinez had to try out for his spot. He went through various tests to see how he would compare with such a talented group.

“I signed up for a membership, signed up for the camp fee, then I went to their place in New Jersey and they saw how I was with the band playing wise, how I could march, how I looked visually, and then they take you out and hear you play,” Martinez said. “The next day I found out that I was contracted for the summer.”

Once Martinez was selected to join, he met up with the other 150 members to prepare for the journey. There they began their vigorous training.  

“We were in New Jersey for 2 days, then we went to Pennsylvania for most of Spring training where we get physically and mentally ready for it all,” Martinez said. “Training wise, we do 3 weeks of spring training, which are basically the hardest days, because instead of being on the bus for 1 day, it’s just 3 weeks of getting up doing practice and all of that hard stuff.”

After the band started the trip, they began a cycle of driving to a city, stopping, playing, then moving on again.

“We traveled as far as Texas, we went pretty south like Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, we finished finals week in Indiana,” Martinez said. “When we stopped we would have a rehearsal day or two, then we would have the show day.”

Practicing with such a highly talented group allowed Martinez to build skills he could take back to Fauquier with him. Playing with this skill level also allowed Martinez to see the differences with the school’s band.

“I learned that it’s all mental, you learn how hard you can push yourself and get up and do the same thing over and over again,” Martinez said. “It actually sounded good when we played. It’s a lot different from the school’s band just because of the size alone. Also the age gap was different because it was a lot of twenty year olds.”

Traveling with such a large group over this amount of time led to Martinez forming bonds and friendships with the other members.

“Playing with these people is indescribable, because you see them everyday,” Martinez said. “You’re going through some of the hardest days of your life, and they’re always there for you, and you’re there for them.”

~nathaniel thomason, entertainment director

It offers haunting adventures

It is the highly-anticipated adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling novel and the remake of the 1990 television miniseries of the same name. The film centers around a group of unpopular middle-schoolers who begin to see a monster that takes the shape of a clown named Pennywise. This monster also feeds off of the kids’ fears. Whether it be a scary painting or an abusive father, these lingering thoughts are used to the monster’s advantage.

This film has been on film-lovers’ radars for years, so to say that there is a good amount of anticipation from audiences is an understatement. Gratefully, for those looking for a fun, haunted-house-like adventure, It does not disappoint. The movie does justice to the book and the original film adaptation while paving its own path all the same.

What It does right that most horror movies recently seem to be missing is the personal aspect of the story. Where most would rely on creepy imagery and suspense, It combines the fantastical terror with elements that are all too real. Using the victim’s fears adds a realness to the horror that elevates It above other conventional scary movies. The demon in the film is played unsettlingly by Bill Skarsgård. In addition to Skarsgård’s unnerving performance, the acting from the ensemble cast is surprisingly solid, especially given all of the actors are under the legal age to see the movie they are in. Special recognition goes to Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Jaeden Lieberher, who both captured the lightheartedness of their characters with expertise.

However, there are times where the film can be a bit heavy-handed with its scares. At the end of the first act, in order to give each character a reason to be in the movie, they show each character running into the demon in some way. They show roughly six or seven scenes consecutively of the terrorizing these children, and after one or two it gets old and predictable. There may not have been a clear way to avoid this from a storytelling perspective, but it still could have been improved by either implying some of the scenes or by spreading them out within the narrative.

This movie also carries the same flaw that the majority of horror films contain: Why doesn’t the demon just kill the protagonists to begin with? There are countless scenes that involve the demon scaring the kids and the audience, but for some reason it always lets the kids escape. This is never explained, but it seems like the screenwriters needed the film to last, so they had to mask scenes with enough creepy imagery to distract the audience from the flaws of each situation. That being said, these scenes are for the most part very effective, and they give the film plenty of material to keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen.

Overall, It conjures up some good scares even though it sometimes reverts back to the typical cliches that come with the genre. It gives each character a good arc and backstory, and uses that to make the scenes of horror all that more creepy.  While the jump scares don’t work for the majority of the time, the overall horror will leave you terrified and captivated.  It is now playing in theaters everywhere.   

~joel alexander, staff reporter