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Augustine dominates softball field

Senior Justina Augustine began playing softball when she was 10 years old. Eight years later, she has become one of the district’s top players and has signed with Longwood University’s Division 1 softball team.
“One of my neighbors needed a player on their team, and we had just moved to Warrenton so I decided to give it a try,” Augustine said. “It was love at first sight.”
Head coach Mark Ott saw potential in Augustine when he first saw her play as a freshman and has watched her develop throughout her career to the player she is today.
“She came in great as a freshman, but she’s gotten stronger and faster which has helped her game dramatically,” Ott said. “Lots of kids play sports because they love playing the game, but she is the sport; her life revolves around softball.”
While softball is primarily a team sport, Augustine enjoys the individual dynamic of the game.
“Each person has a job, and if they don’t do it, the game doesn’t come together like it should,” Augustine said.
Augustine has improved her abilities through various camps and Jim Pulchine’s Life Fitness class, where she has increased her strength. She also plays on three travel teams, in addition to co-captaining the school team with senior Ashley Brown. Because of her position, Augustine has had to prove herself both as an athlete and a leader.
“I’m more of a natural leader than a vocal one. I lead by example, and I’m always willing to help,” Augustine said. “I try to lighten the mood because I can be silly sometimes.”
Augustine primarily plays shortstop, but she also catches and plays in the infield. She made first team all–district and all region, second team all–state, and won player of the year last season. Augustine’s accolades and talents intimidate both the competition and her teammates.
“Playing with her is a little scary,” junior Josie Adgate said. “When I throw with her, I feel like I’m going to die. Her fast release is intimidating.”
Though she started on varsity her freshman year, Augustine continues to work on improving her game.
“It’s safe to say that I’ve gotten a lot stronger as an athlete because I’m more confident,” Augustine said. “My mental part of the game has developed, too, because once you’ve experienced something so many times, it’s easier to adapt.”
Longwood University offered Augustine a scholarship her sophomore year. She committed to the school her junior year, and signed with them this year.
“Becoming a college athlete has been a huge dream of mine since I was 12 years old,” Augustine said. “It’s nice to say that all my hard work has paid off.”
As Augustine recalls her fondest memories, beating Kettle Run her junior year stands out the most.
“Were down by 10 in one of the last innings and at the last second we broke through and scored several runs,” Augustine said. “It was a great game!”

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

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Holmes at home on pole vault

No one at FHS knows pole vaulting quite like senior Grant Holmes. With his technique constantly improving, he placed 10th in the New Balance Indoor Nationals on March 9 at the Armory in New York City.
“I was happy just to be there,” Holmes said. “I didn’t really care about where I placed, but getting in the top 10 was pretty cool.”
Holmes went to Fork Union Military Academy for sixth and seventh grade, where he began his pole vaulting career.
“In sixth grade, I saw pole vaulting and thought that it looked like it would be cool to try out,” Holmes said. “There was a guy jumping 14 feet, and that looked pretty beast to me as a sixth grader watching.”
Holmes has developed a technique over the years that works for him.
“I have a really good plant and swing, which is the take-off positioning,” Holmes said. “You have to have your hands up when you take off, but the top of my vault isn’t where I want it to be. You’re supposed to be inverted, and propelled straight up, but I tend to go sideways; we call it flagging out. I know exactly what I have to do, and I know exactly what I’m doing wrong, but it’s just so hard.”
The strength of Holmes’ ability has been recognized by his coach, Ted Uhler.
“This is the fourth year I’ve had him, and he enjoys the sport a lot. He’s really dedicated,” Uhler said. “He’s always looking for ways to improve. Currently, his best record is 14-7, which is five inches from a school record set in 1994, and his goal is to beat it.”
Freshmen Jimmy Filson is trying pole vaulting for the first time and admires Holmes’s talents in track and field.
“He’s absolutely amazing,” Filson said. “He’s really good at teaching, and he gives me something to aim for.”
Freshman and first time pole vaulter Ava Thornton sees vaulting as an opportunity to develop in track and field, and believes Holmes is the perfect role model.
“It’s impressive to see how far he’s come and how committed he is,” Thornton said. “He’s helped me with techniques and showed me tips to get over the bar.”
As a captain of the team, Holmes leads by example.
“I like being watched,” Holmes said. “It pushes me further. Watching the new vaulters helps me, too. It kind of reminds me of the basics that are easy to forget about. It’s so complex, sometime the simple stuff can help me out.”
Senior Ryan Enos, a longtime close friend of Holmes’s, has observed his positive attitude first hand.
“He has a good attitude towards the other vaulters in competitions,” Enos said.
Holmes and Enos have a special bond over pole vaulting. Since both recognize and understand the vault is important to the sport; they feed off of each other, improving technique.
That positive attitude and determination contributes to Holmes’s performance, and helped him get to nationals.
“It was a big honor to be chosen,” Uhler said. “They only select the best athletes in the nation to compete.”
Looking back on nationals, Holmes was a bit disappointed in his performance.
“As far as jumping, I did all right,” Holmes said. “I could have done better.”
After high school, Holmes intends to pursue pole vaulting at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, where he has a scholarship for half of his tuition. This spring, Holmes desires to jump five meters, a distance of 16-5.
“If I get my form down, I can clear 16-5 easily,” Holmes said. “I’m currently 84th out of about 8,000 vaulters in the nation. Being in the top 10 percent is awesome, but making [16-5] would probably get me a bigger scholarship to VMI.”
Pole vaulting has made up a big part of Holmes’ life and high school career.
“You have to be insane to [pole vault],” Holmes said. “Just go look at it; just watch it one time.”

~Ryan Perry, staff reporter

Morrison cradles pressure with ease

Although only a sophomore, Robert Morrison is a key player for the boys varsity lacrosse team. Starting varsity as a freshman, Morrison has high hopes for the season.
“Last year we were an average team,” Morrison said. “This year we are definitely going to be district champs. We are a young team, but a strong team.”
New head coach (and Robert’s father) Eric Morrison decided to cancel the Junior Varsity team to create a large varsity team, along with a practice team made up of freshman who did not make varsity. According to Morrison, having his father as his head coach has not added much pressure.
“He’s harder on me than the other kids,” Morrison said. “It’s not too bad though; it will only make me better.”
According to his dad, Morrison has the potential to be an impact player this year, but he would like to see him taking the shot more.
“Lacrosse is a team sport, and Robert is not a selfish player,” coach Morrison said. “He would rather feed the ball to a teammate than take the shot himself. But he wants to be better than last year, and I expect that he will increase his number of goals to become one of the leading scorers on the team.”
Junior Kenneth Palmer also lauds Morrison’s positive attitude.
“He has a great attitude about playing,” Palmer said. “He’s easy to work with and is a good teammate. He has the potential to score a lot of goals and lead the team.”
According to Morrison, his father initially inspired him to play lacrosse.
“He played in high school and in college,” Morrison said. “He really was my biggest influence.”
Morrison has had years of experience with lacrosse, playing for recreational and travel lacrosse leagues before playing for FHS, which contribute to his skill and leadership.
“As a returning varsity starter, Robert knows what it means to be a leader,” coach Morrison said.  “As a freshman, Robert gained a lot from last year’s seniors and team captains. With the four seniors on the team, there is a strong leadership presence. Robert knows what it takes to be a leader, and I look for great things from him over the next two seasons.”
Morrison also plays for the Battelax elite travel team, a lacrosse league for Fauquier and surrounding counties. According to Morrison, the travel lacrosse team faces highly skilled competition from states like Maryland. Although college seems far away, Morrison has already begun looking at schools where he could play lacrosse, including Washington & Lee and Roanoke College.
“Robert is disciplined and committed to the sport,” coach Morrison said. “As soon as he knew he loved the sport, he had a stick in his hand working countless hours on his skills. He is also great at meeting his academic and athletic responsibilities.”
To be able to compete at the collegiate level, Morrison knows there are skills he needs to work on, especially stick handling with his less dominant hand.
“I need to improve my off hand,” Morrison said. “It’s the biggest aspect that college coaches look for.”
With any athlete there are pressures to perform well, but Morrison feels extra pressure that comes from being a younger player who is counted on so heavily.
“It’s tough sometimes,” Morrison said. “But I’ve got a great team around me to take some of the pressure off. The biggest problem I faced last year was my size, but I had a around me to keep my confidence up even when I wasn’t doing too hot.”

~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter

Political thriller becomes entangled in its own manipulative machinations

Is it good? Yes. Could it be better? Probably. Does it really need to be? Probably not. Like its protagonist Frank Underwood, House of Cards, a first foray into Netflix-produced programming, is unashamedly itself. Its premise is fairly straightforward: House Majority Whip Frank Underwood (D-South Carolina) helps elect president Garrett Walker, in exchange for the promise of promotion to Secretary of State. When he is passed over after the election, vengeful machinations ensue.
Wife Claire (Robin Wright) backs Underwood (Kevin Spacey) through the conduit of her tightly-run clean water non-profit. The senator also executes his smarmily Southern puppeteering with personal Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), a stereotypically spunky young reporter working for the fictional Washington Herald. Zoe just wants to get somewhere. Unfortunately, Underwood seems to be doing most of the thinking for Zoe, feeding her juicy advance scoops and scandalous editorials that hang on the skeleton in a Congressman’s closet. Finally, Underwood lures budding Pennsylvania Representative Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) into doing his bidding by lifting alcohol and prostitution charges against him; apparently booze, blunts, and babes are not unfamiliar to this Friendly American Congressman.
The hooplah surrounding the show occasionally distracts from the show itself. The entire first season of House of Cards was release at one time up front and available solely online, a practice that has been hailed as “the future of TV,” as Internet access and television streaming (via Netflix and…other providers) continues to expand. I like having shows online. I watch more TV programming on Netflix than movies, and it’s pleasant to be able to finish an entire series in bed, on my laptop, without having to wait week-by-week for the next episode. But I’m not sure if I started and finished HOC so quickly because I liked it, or because it was available and I just wanted it to be over.
Frankly, I decided to watch HOC because it stars Kevin Spacey. Creator David Fincher aptly hailed Spacey’s work on a recent production of Richard III as quality preparation forHOC; Underwood’s sheer, pleasantly distributed ruthlessness and sassy direct-to-camera asides echo Shakespeare’s villain. Spacey obviously relishes his role, which makes the rest of the show at least bearable.
I feel obligated to like this show, because of Kevin Spacey, because I should support Netflix’s gutsy venture, but…eh. HOC’s impossibly sleek, pristine production interferes with everything else. Even in supposedly gritty scenes, involving Peter Russo, cocaine, and an old hippie, the light falls just so on the dusty yellow couch in the run-down home. HOC looks as if the production team paged through Pottery Barn and the Washingtonian and rented photo spreads that don’t look real or lived-in, but eerily perfect. Shots of the Underwoods’ impeccable downtown townhouse make me want to throw duvets or spill lemon juice around the kitchen. These sets are just too clean. They’re disquieting.
I felt that same disquiet about the oddly trope-y characters, as though I’d seen versions of these people before. Ah, yes, the young politician struggling to recover from drug and alcohol addiction. The frighteningly cool-as-ice, uber-capable power wife, a frustratedly frumpy managing editor, and the jilted head of a teacher’s union populate a cast I’ve seen somewhere before. And this is the show’s tipping point to meh, for me, at least – none of the characters “clicked” for me. The character I wanted more of was essentially cast aside after the second episode: Catherine Durant, Underwood’s longtime friend whom he promotes to Secretary of State in his place. I’d much rather go globetrotting with Catherine Durant that schmooz-plotting with Frank Underwood.
There’s something about this show, like The Big Bang Theory, that unsettles me. Maybe it’s the tropes, maybe it’s the broad, sleek production, maybe it’s Underwood’s relentlessly precise machinations; whatever the cause, something is out of place. Plot and character and design slip into neat little boxes that portray Washington as the legendary stereotype of itself the parties, the politics, glossy modernity smashing into American Neoclassicism. I’m reminded of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette; fed up with the endless, farcical etiquette at the royal palace, Marie complains that “this is ridiculous.” Her companion the Comtess de Noailles simply replies, “This, Madame, is Versailles.”

~Sophie Byvik, editor-in-chief

“Crysis 3” – Long on style, short on substance

The Prophet has returned, but he’s not offering a religious experience. In Crysis 3, the latest installment in the EA games first-person-shooter series, the main character, Prophet, and his high-powered suit of armor are back and kicking CELL’s (CryNet Enforcement and Local Logistics) backside yet again. However, CELL is not the only enemy; the alien race Ceph still lurks in the shadows of New York City in the year 2047.
Crysis 3’s weak storyline prevents this series from being great. The plot is vague at critical points, especially regarding the powers of Prophet’s nanosuit. This one suit has the power to destroy an entire alien race, but how?
The game begins 20 years after Crysis 2, during which Prophet has been busy hunting down the Alpha Ceph. As the game begins, Prophet has been captured by the villainous group CELL. (How did that happen when he has a suit that makes him virtually invincible?) Never mind, because Prophet is freed to join the fight by rebels who are combating CELL and their dastardly plot to rule the world through the monopolization of energy. However, as the game progresses, the Ceph alien menace returns, and Prophet is once again caught in a firefight between CELL and the Ceph.
Although the storyline of this game is less than refined, the campaign playthrough is. The maps of 2047 New York are large, but very manageable. The difficulty system is not very challenging, but for people playing this game for the first time, it should be helpful. Also, the newest weapon in the series, the Predator Bow, is the coolest thing, like, ever. The bow, combined with the invisibility feature of the nanosuit, make for one of the most deadly combos in videogame history.
Crysis 3 gets an A-plus in one specific category – graphics. This is the most beautiful game on the market. Crysis 3 boasts the most realistic storms, jungles, wastelands, and half-destroyed New York City that anyone has seen in a console videogame. Character animation is also near perfection. Not only do the enemies look flawless, but the simple motions of Prophet, such as when pulling back the Predator Bow, are crisp.
The multiplayer feature of Crysis 3 is still not refined on console. A high-powered computer is much more serviceable for this game. That being said, the multiplayer is still fun and challenging. For those new to the series, it takes some getting used to playing with the armor and invisibility modes of the nanosuit. Overall, the multiplayer feature is just as pretty as the rest of the game, but not top-of-the-line.
This game will not please everyone, but it is worth a try. This will be more of a bargain-shopper game. Wait a few months for the price to drop $20 and then buy. Crysis 3 is the best-looking game I have ever played. Although the campaign can be uninteresting and confusing at times, the sheer fun of being an unstoppable force of nature (with a bow) is over the top.

~Josh Henry, design editor

“21 and Over” – Bro-love comedy romps through cliches

Going into a movie like 21 And Over, remember that you get what you expect. Bawdy, booze-filled comedies like this one shouldn’t be compared to Oscar-winning pictures, so the standard has to be how well it pulls off being bawdy and booze-filled. 21 And Over delivers, and still manages to be a pretty good movie outside of all the cheap laughs.
21 And Over centers around two college-age best friends, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) who decide to surprise their high school buddy Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) on his 21st birthday. Chang’s stereotypically disapproving Asian father forbids his son from going out drinking, since he has an important interview at a medical practice in the morning. Thus Miller, playing the typical frat-boy character who’s more focused on beers and babes than common sense, makes it his mission to get the hesitant Chang and the rational-minded, overly-mature Casey to go out and party. And of course, since a movie about a quiet night in would be boring, he succeeds.
After a bar-hopping sequence filled with lethal amounts of alcohol consumption and a meeting between the inevitable “golden girl” Nicole (Sarah Wright) and Casey, the two best friends realize that Chang is so drunk he’s barely conscious. This is where the movie differs from most in its genre – instead of leaving their friend to handle his own mess to go off on adventures, Miller and Casey spend the rest of the movie attempting to get their friend home.
Admittedly, the basic storyline of the movie is predictable. The three best friends all go through the basic hero’s journey in one night, discovering everything they want in life. One hero even gets the girl (who, is a terrible cast choice, as she’s quite annoying throughout the whole film). There are a couple genuine plot twists along the way, however, and the story is enjoyable.
Ninety-nine percent of the movie’s charm comes from the three main actors. Miles Teller, notable for his minor but hilarious role in last year’s Project X, is the funniest part of the movie, and somehow plays up the lazy frat-boy into a likable character. Astin and Chon, too, take some very clichéd roles and transform them into funny, endearing people.
Their drunken adventure becomes not so much a cheesy Girls Gone Wild meets Animal House, but more of a comedy of errors. There’s no gratuitous objectification of women, no glorification of underage or completely irresponsible drinking, and when the guys in the movie want to show some bro love, there’s no one yelling out that it’s gay.
Without those cliches, 21 And Over still manages some serious comedy, and even made my mother laugh out loud. If that’s not a testament to a bawdy, booze-filled comedy well done, then I don’t know what is. I’d give this movie three out of four stars.

~Fiona McCarthy, staff reporter

“Oz: The Great and Powerful” – Few twists, fine fun

You probably heard the witches tell their side of the tale in Wicked, but did you ever wonder how the wizard ended up in Oz? Director Sam Raimi’s return to L. Frank Baum’s magical land shows just how the man behind the curtain became Oz the Great and Powerful.
Similar to the 1939 classic, the story begins in early 20th century Kansas, and is shot in black and white. However, the exposition centers not on Dorothy Gale, but on travelling circus magician, Oscar “Oz” Diggs (James Franco). Diggs makes his living as a self-absorbed and selfish conman, short changing his admirably loyal assistant, Frank (Zach Braff).
Soon after Oscar is introduced, he is whisked away in a hot air balloon to the mysterious land of Oz, and the picture shifts to lively color. There, Oscar meets the strikingly stunning witch, Theodora (Mila Kunis), who takes him to the beautiful Emerald City and tells him the prophecy of a wizard who would vanquish a wicked witch. To the people of Oz, Oscar is that wizard.
With a timeless and beloved film such as The Wizard of Oz, a prequel story approach can’t be easy. Leave it to Sam Raimi, the director of Spider-Man to do Oz justice.
Raimi delivers characters that the audience can relate to. The cast is well-chosen, and their characters are enjoyable. In place of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man are Finley, a winged talking monkey, and a talking China doll. Surprisingly, neither of these side characters are as annoying as they first appear. I was sure that Finley would be Oz’s equivalent of Jar Jar Binks. Both serve as reminders of people from Oscar’s life in Kansas; Zach Braff voices Finley, a symbol of how Oscar treats Frank like a trained monkey. The fragile China doll is voiced by Joey King, who appears early in the film as a handicapped young girl, fooled by the illusionist and heartbroken when he is unable to make her walk.
This serves the theme of the film, which is how Oz mirrors Oscar’s own life in Kansas. The wicked witch he’s tasked with defeating serves as an obstacle in his quest to become a great man. The people of Oz, and their remarkable faith in him, reflect his own determination.
James Franco is rarely cast in this of character type, and he does an impressive job. Franco stretched his sinister muscles in the Spider-Man trilogy, but he has never portrayed a character particularly egocentric until now. Robert Downey, Jr. was originally considered for the role, but if I could recast it with anyone, it would be Johnny Depp. Having already acted a similar role in 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, Depp would fit right in Oz’s shoes. Mila Kunis proved in Black Swan that she has outgrown her teenage role on That ‘70s Show, and she has done it again here. The plot twist surrounding her character is entirely unpredictable, and, though it could have been executed better, Kunis positively surprised me. And who could forget Michelle Williams, bringing irresistible charm to the part of Glinda the Good Witch?
In the end, the special effects are dazzling, the cast is superb, and the story draws on the power of the original classic while still holding its own. The Wizard of Oz has become one of the most cherished films around the world, and since its 1939 release, spin-offs have tried to recapture its heart. For being the first to do it right, Oz the Great and Powerful gets a solid three stars.

~Ryan Perry, staff reporter