Morgan Ryan excels on field

For many, transitioning from playing one sport to three completely different ones would be a challenge, but not for junior Morgan Ryan who has thrived in athletics almost her whole life.
“I’ve been playing sports since I was five,” Ryan said. “I played soccer until eighth grade when my parents wanted me to try some different sports.”
Ryan’s parents suggested trying out for field hockey, despite her love of soccer.
“I was upset about having to quit soccer,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t really my decision, it was my dad’s. I did get to learn a lot more about athletics, and I had had a few bad experiences with my coach. I’m glad that I had the good experience of playing different sports, but I do miss soccer.”
When Ryan’s parents told her to try out for the field hockey team, they said that it didn’t matter if she made varsity, as long as she tried her best and made the team. It came as a huge surprise when she made varsity.
“I had heard that they were putting the rosters up online,” Ryan said. “The next day people were congratulating me and I was so confused! That night I went home and saw that I was on the team.”
Senior Hailey Miller, who co-captained the field hockey team with Ryan this past season, says that Ryan is a great player.
“Morgan is a quick learner,” Miller said. “If you tell her to do something, she’ll do it. She is a smart player; she thinks before she makes a play. I have loved playing with Morgan.”
In the winter, Ryan runs track and has been on the varsity sprint team since her freshman year. This year her 4×4 relay team came fourth at the state meet and broke the school record of 4:16, finishing the race in 4:11.
“During warm-ups before the race, we were all really pumped up, but really nervous,” Ryan said. “After we ran, we were all just waiting to find out if we had broken the record. We had given it everything we had, and when we found out we had broken it, it was surreal. It was like we were on top of the world.”
In the spring, instead of trying out for the soccer team, Ryan decided to play lacrosse. She has been on the varsity team since her freshman year and is now a co-captain of the team.
“I was on the varsity team freshman year, but I played in a lot of JV games,” Ryan said. “I was completely new at the sport, and it was so different from field hockey. I had never played a sport in the air before and it was really weird.”
According to Ryan, the biggest challenge that comes from transitioning between such different sports is following the rules.
“I’m still pretty new at my sports,” Ryan said. “A lot of times when there is a call on the field, I have to ask what it means. There is also a huge mental and physical difference to the sports.”
Along with participating in school sports, Ryan does Tae Kwon Do and will soon be testing for her yellow belt.
“My mom really wanted to do it, but she didn’t want to do it alone,” Ryan said. “My brother started classes, and I ended up sitting in on one and thought that it would be fun.”
Ryan plans on getting her black belt before college, and on taking Tae Kwon Do as an elective if it is offered.
“At first, it was so intense and freaky,” Ryan said. “Then I started getting the hang of it. It was so different from anything I’ve ever done; it is completely individual, and the mentality is different from other sports.”
Although Ryan does have some regrets about leaving soccer behind, she is glad that she has been able to try so many new things.
“Soccer was my life,” Ryan said. “But if I hadn’t quit, I wouldn’t have learned so much more about athletics, and I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people on my teams.”

~Caroline Liebel, staff reporter

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Croson leads baseball squad

Leadership is an important component of every team. Senior Garrett Croson was elected team captain at the beginning of the season by his coaches, and he has proved them right.
“It’s good to influence the younger guys on the team,” Croson said. “I have to help guide them and do my best to make them better players.”
Head coach Bob Martin has seen what Croson could do on the field since his sophomore year, his first year of varsity baseball. But he was chosen as captain for what he could do off the field and how he could influence his teammates.
“He was elected as captain for his leadership qualitites and the respect he gets from his teammates,” Martin said. “His communication with other players is great and he has done a great job mentoring some of the younger players.”
Croson began playing when he was just five years old. His father was a huge influence on him and gave him the will to win and to never stop trying.
“My dad taught me the basics growing up,” Croson said. “He dedicated a lot of his time to making me a better player.”
Crosan plays shortstop, second base, and pitches for this year’s squad. He has had to fill in multiple spots due to the injuries of teammates, but being able to fight through adversity is something other team members appreciate about him.
“Garrett is a really strong leader. He has played for so many years and knows the ropes,” sophomore Ryan Simpson said. “His experience and dedication makes him a better player. The amount of work he puts in really shows.”
Freshman teammate Ty Pavlock agrees that Croson is a crucial part of the team, who is always encouraging everyone.
“He’s a great vocal leader and a good role model in the locker room,” Pavlock said. “He spends a lot of time helping us out, especially at Saturday practices.”
Croson works to improve himself, and the rest of the team, too. His work ethic pushes everyone to do their best.
“The mental part is easy for me. Knowing baseball comes naturally for me since I have played for so many years,” Croson said. “The hard part is going out and working everyday. But I still enjoy it.”
Getting on base, making solid contact every time he is at bat, and making sure his swing stays consistent are the aspects of his game that Croson seeks to improve. As for the team, they are just focusing on getting better as a unit, and Croson wants to be a role model.
“I just need to be consistent,” Croson said. “I’m the captain, so it’s my job to set the example, and [staying consistent] is how you win games.”
Croson’s busy academic schedule mirrors his busy practice schedule. Despite three-hour practices and playing games during the week, he still considers school work a priority.
“Time management is really important,” Croson said. “You have to make sure you make use of all the free time you get. Keeping your grades up is important.”
In Croson’s favorite class, Advanced Sports Marketing, he enjoys sharing his love for sports with his friends. He is a National Honor Society member and the DECA treasurer. DECA Adviser Kathleen Evans has worked with Croson throughout his senior year.
“Garrett has a strong work ethic. He knows when to have fun and when to work,” Evans said. “He takes a rigorous work schedule and sets his priorities. He makes time for baseball and all of his other activities. As a person, he has a great sense of humor and he is just very reliable.”
Croson placed at DECA State Competition this year and qualified to compete at nationals. He plans on attending James Madison University in the fall where he wants to major in sports management and minor in coaching. As for his baseball career, he plans on trying out for the Dukes baseball team as a walk-on.
“My mom really pushed me to take hard classes and that’s what ultimately got me into JMU,” Croson said. “Ideally, I would love to be a director of player development for a major league team. That’s kind of my dream job, but we’ll have to see how it all works out.”

~Gavin Cranford, staff reporter

The ‘Evil Dead’ deserves burial

A horror movie that doesn’t follow the “quick fix before Halloween” cliché could be either really good or really bad. Unfortunately, Evil Dead, a re-imagining of the 1981 cult horror classic of the same name, is painfully underwhelming.
Similar to the original, Evil Dead isn’t about vampires, werewolves, or aliens, but about a book, the Book of the Dead, which is centuries old and possesses the power to summon nasty spirits. When a group of friends, looking to get away in the old family cabin in the woods, discovers the book in a hidden cellar, the movie picks up in motion, but it just isn’t enough.
Let me begin with the cast of characters. Barely leading the pack is David (Shiloh Fernandez), the older brother of recovering drug addict, Mia (Jane Levy). David has assembled a group of childhood friends, including Olivia (Jessica Lucas), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and David’s new girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), to stage a recovery for Mia in the remote setting.
Now the tone is set, and you’re ready for a good scare. However, if you’ve seen any trailers, you’ve already gotten the movie’s full scare quota. The ticket price brings nothing new, save for gallons of excessive gore that is substituted for the original film’s clever placement of dark humor. Evil Dead isn’t Saw, but it’ll still make you cringe. More than that, the gore is just out of place and simply unpleasant. Looking back on one of the movie’s more grotesque sequences, I thought, “If I wanted to see that, I would’ve seen…wait, there’s nothing else that offers that. Nobody wants to see that.”
I already knew that the acting in a modern horror movie wasn’t going to be memorable; at least, I hoped so after I had sat through the movie. Sadly, I had the misfortune of remembering these performances in a way that annoyed me, beginning with the character of Eric. He’s introduced as a teacher, but doesn’t take a hint when he discovers a book wrapped in barbed-wire in an ominously disturbing cellar. Instead, he carefully unwraps it and recites a chant from a page clearly marked “Leave this book alone.” Then there’s Elizabeth Blackmore’s Natalie. You won’t remember much of her, because she’s there only so that the lead character can have a partner. He calls her “Baby,” but they have the chemistry level of a rock and a paperclip. As for Evil Dead’s lead character, Shiloh Fernandez is no Bruce Campbell. It’s clear that he’s the leader of the group, but he’s the kind of character who holds power solely because the script says so.
In the end, the execution of Evil Dead can be best compared to a rollercoaster that loses its brakes at the top of the slope: it’s got a lot of momentum going for it, but nothing to support it. As a result, the ride down is unanticipated and out of control. The original Evil Dead was one of the few horror films to seamlessly balance genuine scares, dark comedy, engrossing atmosphere, and head-tilting camera work, while taking horror to new places. Here, the new heights are felt, but it’s all just for show. Is it worth the cost? My answer is that if you’d like to see the same premise executed far better and set against a far eerier backdrop, see the original Evil Dead.

~Ryan Perry, staff reporter

A ‘Twilight’ rehash, ‘Host’ offers muddled characters, plot, acting

If you’re looking for a plot-less version of the Twilight franchise with more visual effects that’s set in a post-apocalyptic society, then you should go see Stephanie Meyer’s latest book-to-film gem The Host. But really, you shouldn’t waste your money.
The “plot” focuses on an Earth where all human bodies are inhabited by a peaceful alien species that has apparently dominated several other planets without any sort of rebellion. Where the species came from and why it needs to dominate other life forms is never explained, which really helps the audience understand.
The film focuses on an average-looking teen named Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), who is abducted by a gang of alien-inhabited humans who attempt to find human rebels, a group Melanie was part of. Her new identity, Wanderer, or Wanda, tries to extract the memories from Melanie in order to expose the human rebels, but Wanda and Melanie form a connection that is displayed in awkward, schizophrenic conversations. Wanda/Melanie eventually escapes and rejoins Melanie’s old friends where conflicts with old and new love interests arise.
Basically, nothing added up. It wasn’t believable that two people were living in one body. What’s worse is that there was a complete lack of chemistry between Roanan and the two love interests. We should’ve learned our lesson about Stephanie Meyer from the Twilight franchise, but apparently America can’t get enough of standard-looking brunettes involved in supernatural stories, who must choose between the affections of two men.
Unfortunately, the acting mirrored the plot. Ronan gave a confusing performance as Melanie/Wanda in which she changed her accent from awkward teen to southern belle nearly every scene. She also wore heels the entire film, even when she was walking in the desert for days. Diane Kruger’s The Seeker (not the Quidditch position) was irrelevant and mediocre at best. The two leading men (Jake Abel and Max Irons) were great eye-candy, but that’s about it. Not even hot, shirtless men can make up for the perplexing plot or terrible line delivery.
Meanwhile, in what seemed to be a totally different movie, people in all-chrome technology hunt them down. If only they had caught them.

~Maddie Lemelin, features/arts director

‘Gears of War: Judgment’ faster, bloodier, and better than the rest

The always magical Gears of War franchise returns with gore and violence galore. Judgment is the prequel to the first three Gears of War games, but it offers an entirely new spin on the series, taking the slow gameplay to a faster, more exciting level.
The story in Judgment begins at the end. The player starts as Lt. Damon Baird on trial for treason against the Coalition of Ordered Governments. Baird testifies that during the first year of the Locust War, with humanity being slaughtered, he and Kilo squad discovered that the Locust general planned to destroy Halvo Bay. Kilo squad decided to use the Lightmass missile (the equivalent of a nuke without the fallout) against the order of their commanding officer.
For the first time in the series, the campaign is experienced through flashbacks, rather than unfolding as the player moves through an ever-evolving story. It is a challenging, competitive, and fun way to play with friends. But when playing alone, it is ridiculously frustrating because the A.I. allies in your squad are a bunch of morons with chain saws and knives. The experience is boosted by “declassified” missions that make the game more challenging. They implement scenarios where players may only use certain weapons or are blinded by smoke or roaring winds. The reward for doing these missions is in game content, such as dialogue that would not be heard otherwise. Another advantage to doing declassified missions is that players accumulate stars by which he or she gains achievements or unlockable multiplayer characters and skins.
Why is Judgment different from any other Gears? Speed. Speed has become the most deadly force in Judgment. Little things like reloading or picking up weapons faster, or even just moving faster, has infused new life into this already stellar series of games. Many players may find that the adjustment to a much faster, Call-of-Duty style of gameplay takes some getting used to. Epic Games took a chance releasing a game that does not play like the others in the series, but the reward is a truly exciting change that is worth the $60.
Judgment allows players to enjoy the violent world of online multiplayer, where players can dominate and humiliate their opponents. Judgment has brought the domination and free-for-all game modes to the series. In domination, players contend to control separate areas on the map for short periods of time, and in free-for-all players fight without teammates. The multiplayer is not new, but it is different. In this case, different is good.
Gears of War: Judgment is not the best game in the series, but it is new. Epic Games not only made several changes to gameplay, but it also put out a different game with the great Gears feel. It is still third person, it is still full of the blood and body-part ripping that we have all come to love, but now it is even more fast-paced, allowing even more glorious death. A short, yet challenging, story will give gamers a solid six to eight hours of challenging gameplay with a few friends, while a seriously enhanced multiplayer mode will provide endless hours of explosive fun. This game is definitely worth a four of four stars and is a must-buy for the upcoming summer season.

~Josh Henry, design editor

Bowie boisterously bounces back after heart attack

David Bowie’s iconic music and performance on stage need no introduction. Best known for his 1972 revolutionary album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and his flashy, vivid getups, he has been dubbed by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest artists of all time. Ten years since his last album, Bowie is neither rusty, nor out-of-date with his spectacular recent release, The Next Day.
There has always been something undeniably intriguing about Bowie, and this album puts that quality in the spotlight. He begins the record with something of a doomsday mystique, ironically playing on the recent rumors of his crumbling health with lyrics like, “Here I am, not quite dying, my body left in a hollow tree.” Gritty sax and guitar playing characterize this album, giving the glam-rock artist a muddy, almost sultry edge. Bowie succeeds in effortlessly combining his old, legendary sound with an intimate, vaguely mysterious, and less bluesy tone. This intimacy is found in tracks such as the lyrically dense “I’d Rather Be High,” which recalls the post-war life of a traumatized soldier. Other tracks follow suit, covering a spectrum of heart-wrenching topics, from the tragic ballad of a high school shooter, to Bowie’s meditations on celebrity culture.
“You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” is a song for stereo speakers, incorporating a blazing guitar and drum line indicative of Ziggy Stardust’s “Suffragette City.” “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” is perhaps the most revered and successful track on the album, and reflects on the immortal nature of a celebrity with a backdrop of descending synth and guitar progressions.
The Next Day is a musical resurrection, a work of art, and a thrilling comeback for anticipating fans. While many of the songs could easily fit into one of his many hit records from the 70s, Bowie has successfully extended his abstract themes from previous works into a new, modern, and energetic achievement. The Next Day proves that Bowie, at age 66, has plenty left to give the world musically, and this record has earned a spot among his many great works.

~Michelle Daniek, staff reporter

Tyler triumphs on new album

A lot of people hate Tyler, the Creator. The soccer moms, suburban churchgoers, and sensitive hipsters hate his attitude and his satirical sarcasm. They hate his vulgar language, his violent imagery, and the sound of his voice. They hate him the same way they hated Eminem in the early 2000s, and they will not tolerate him. One can’t help but think of the Sex Pistols.
However, even Tyler’s critics have to admit that he’s unique. His new album, Wolf, is further proof of his authenticity. I can’t remember the last time I heard a rapper with as much conviction. His deep, rolling voice always has something to say, whether he’s complaining about his hype, lashing out at his absent father, or narrating the thoughts of a serial killer. Tyler’s entire musical attitude is soaked in artistic creativity, a dark and interesting atmosphere, and often in raw intimacy. When he’s not wasting time with shock lyrics or fan-rallying catch phrases, Tyler is one of the most personally honest and intriguing voices in modern hip hop. His debut album, Bastard, was an emotional rollercoaster. Wolf represents a return to form after his somewhat inauthentic sophomore effort, Goblin.
On Wolf Tyler rehashes the accessible hooks so many people liked on Goblin, but also reincorporates the emotional intensity so many people missed from Bastard. Songs like “Jamba” and “Domo23” burst with fiery production and provocative rhymes catchy enough to bring in a wider audience. Tracks like “Cowboy,” and “Awkward” focus on avant-garde lyricism, dark beats, and conceptual character development. “Answer” is not only the most emotionally charged song on the album, but it is also one of the most powerful songs in hip-hop so far this year, fusing Tyler’s real life with his story characters and giving him an outlet to vent about paternal abandonment. Every verse drips with an impeccable honesty and emotional power, backed by a beautifully subtle drum beat and synth line.
Unfortunately, the whole album isn’t gold. Tyler shows he has yet to grow out of his somewhat stale, horror-core shock-tactics. However ironic he intends the homophobia and sexism in his lyrics to be, sometimes his characters come off sounding unimpressively plastic. There aren’t any particularly bad songs on Wolf, but many of them don’t sound too fantastic either.
Tyler’s new record has its blunders just as he has his, but overall, Wolf is a rich, artistic concept album, and represents an artist growing in maturity and nearing a possible magnum opus. Even with his faults, Tyler remains one of the most interesting MCs in modern hip-hop, and one of the most daring, as well.

~Patrick Duggan, news director

Fauquier High School's student newspaper. By the students, for the students.