The bond athletes create by practicing, competing and traveling together blends a special unity. Athletes consistently have declared the relationships go beyond just being teammates to being family.
Well, for eight Broken Arrow High School student-athletes the family claim rings true.
Four sets of siblings – swimmers Annie and Rachel Kramer and Nik and Joe Natale and wrestlers Zach and Zeno Marcheselli and Brady and Bryce Mattioda – will compete for individual and team state championships over the next two weeks. The swimmers at Edmond Aquatic Center Friday and Saturday, while the wrestlers will be in Tiger Field House for regionals this weekend before their trip to the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Arena on Feb. 23-24. Tiger wrestlers competed in dual state in Shawnee last weekend.
“It’s exciting to make memories together,” said Annie, who will swim with Rachel in the 200 Freestyle Relay. “We always hoped we would be going to state together. I mean, that is what we work for.”
On the road, the Mattioda brothers bring their X-Boxes or “just chill sometimes,” according to Brady, a senior this year.
“It’s a good thing to hang out with your brothers and stuff, because it’s just brother bonding time,” Bryce, a sophomore said.
From a family with four boys, Brady, now the older high school brother, was mentored by Blake. Eventually, Bryce will be the guiding voice for Brock.
Annie, a junior, called Rachel, a freshman, her “best friend, in and out of the pool.”
“I see her every day at the house, but also get to watch her grow up and train in the pool every day,” Annie continued. “Rachel has improved so much lately.”
Like any other brothers or sisters, the occasional sibling rivalry does arise. It seems rare among these eight, however.
“We’re around the same speed, so it’s nice to have someone I can compete with all the time,” said Nik, a senior and two years older than Joe. “He beats me every once in a while. We kind of go back and forth. It’s a lot of fun.”
The competition in no way interferes with the closeness of each of these family members.
“We get pretty competitive every once in a while, but we always watch each other’s races and help each other out,” Joe explained. “I get a lot of encouragement from him. We always have fun together.”
Zeno a 10th grader, has a two-time state champion in Zach, from whom to learn.
“He’s been there. Done that,” Zeno said. “He can teach me some things.”
Zach, a junior, who wrestles at 220 pound, jokingly reminded Zeno, who wrestles at 182, who the big brother is.
“He’s always trying to measure up,” Zach said with a smile. “We’ll see if he gets there.”
Then his tone shifted.
“It’s great to have my litter brother,” Zach said. “Competitively, it’s a great experience. I try to encourage Zeno. I tell him to be confident. I don’t big bro him or bully him. I just lift him up.”
That is similar to the message Rachel receives from Annie.
“It’s really fun to experience this with her because she has been really supportive and encouraging,” Rachel said. “The number one lesson she has given me is to do everything you have to do – keep pushing."
Forty Broken Arrow High School (BAHS) athletes participated in the National College Signing Day celebration on Feb. 7, officially announcing where they will continue to showcase their athletic talents beyond high school.
"There is a study that was done years ago that showed when young people move into adult life the number one factor for determining their success is involvement in school activities," Ken Ellett, Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) athletic director, told the students, parents, family members and friends who attended the signing ceremony in the Varsity Athletic Training Center. "It didn't matter if it was athletics, FFA or band, being involved helps them learn lessons they need to know when going out into the world. So parents, you have given sons and daughters a head start on that path."
Dr. Janet Dunlop, BAPS Superintendent, also acknowledged the accomplishments of the signees by recognizing the parents.
“Thank you so much to the families who went through hours and hours of practices and all of the things that go into these student-athletes who sit in front of us today,’” Dr. Dunlop said. “We know your sacrifice. We also thank you for allowing us to share in your celebration today, because this is a wonderful day.
"To the athletes, thank you to the hours you have spent in your sport to rise to the top. We look forward to watching your careers after graduation and we look forward to your deep roots – that that you have already placed in Broken Arrow – to continue to hold as you come back and raise your family here. We want more student-athletes like you.”
Establishing deep roots was a theme of guest speaker Cole Moos, a 2014 BAHS graduate and punter at the University of Kansas.
"A lot of people don't know about this, but things weren't going well and I was about to give up on my dream (of playing major college football)," Moos said. "But I was reminded of something that I read in a book about how Chinese bamboo."
Six years pass before the bamboo begins to show signs of above ground growth, Moos informed the students. But in that fifth year the tree can grow as much as 90 feet high.
"You have to keep watering and keep watering, just like in our lives you have to put the first things first," he said. "You keep focusing on things you can control. What you don't see is that under the surface the bamboo tree is building a tremendous root system as a foundation for future growth.
"When you are focusing on what you can control you are laying a foundation for your entire life. If you don't give up, you are eventually going to see that growth."
Held on the first Wednesday of every February, National Signing Day celebrates the talented recruits in a number of collegiate sports, including baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, softball, cross country, track and volleyball. Several other BA athletes will have an opportunity to sign letters of intent on the spring signing day in April.
Congratulations to Broken Arrows 2018 college scholarship athletes:
Brett Biggs Cowley County CC
Mack Chambers Seminole State College
Tucker Dunlap Seminole State College
Kohl Franklin University of Oklahoma
Drew Lowe Oral Roberts University
Kadin Pratt Bacone College
Kaden White Butler County CC
Trey Wolf Oral Roberts University
Braden Boyer University of Arkansas-Fort Smith
Kinsey Callen Seminole State College
Aallya Nascimento Spring Hill College (Ala.)
Austin Carter Northeastern State University
Corben Chambers Ottawa University
Devin Clayton Northeastern Oklahoma A&M
Anthony Diaz U.S. Air Force Academy
Austin Garrison Avila University
Izaiah Jackson University of Central Oklahoma
Trase Jeffries Abilene Christian University
Kei’shun Johnson Missouri Southern State University
Juan Mendez Undecided at time of printing
Gary Mossop U.S. Air Force Academy
Cade Nagy Friends University
Peyton Ross Evangel University
Derrick Shaw University of North Texas
Lafayette Wright Southwestern Ok. State University
Ashlyn Phipps Oklahoma Wesleyan
Jessica Laughlin Lindenwood University
Dwaylan McIntosh Oral Roberts University
Maggie Breiner Redlands Community College
Taylor Hair University of Central Arkansas
Karsen Killion University of Central Oklahoma
Morgan Rollow University of Central Arkansas
Taylor Sorrell Seminole State College
Olivia Volpe University of Louisiana - Lafayette
Olivea Wagner Northeastern State University
McKenzie Carney University of Central Oklahoma
Mary Collins Oklahoma State University
Katlin Mathis Connors State College
Madison Caputo Oklahoma City University
Erianna Murray Coffeyville Community College
Makina Wratten Missouri State University
Caleb Wise University of Central Oklahoma
At 6-foot, 4-inches tall, weighing 300 pounds and wearing size 16 shoes it’s hard to imagine the pitter-patter of three-year-old Andrew Raym’s tiny, sock-covered feet scurrying down a hardwood floor hallway to his parent’s bedroom.
Gerald Raym, Andrew’s father, remembers two nights some 12 to 13 years ago with visual clarity. Twice young Andrew crawled up the foot of the king size bed, between his mother and father, wriggled his way under the covers and whispered – “Dad, I had a dream I was playing football for OU.”
In December, shortly after his sophomore season ended, Raym committed to play football for the University of Oklahoma. “I’ve always dreamt of playing football at OU,” Raym offered support to those two childhood moments.
But the dream and his commitment to the Sooners have not deterred coaches from other colleges. During the last week of college football recruiting season, Raym had visits from nearly every Big 12 school and several others from across the nation. He even took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame last fall.
“It’s been awesome, but honestly, I don’t think about it too much,” Raym said of the recruiting process. “I listen (to other coaches) because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Things could change at OU.”
Raym did admit the game-night scouting visits somewhat influence his play.
“It energizes me and makes me work harder, especially when OU is here,” he said.
As well as being bombarded with coaching visits the last week of January, Raym also was named to the CBSMaxPreps 2017 Sophomore All-American First Team Offense, becoming Broken Arrow High School’s first football high school All-American.
“Under Coach David Alexander and his staff, you’ve learned that it takes more than a personal dedication and devotion…more than your own God-given physical talents to achieve this level of success,” Zack Poff of CBSMaxPreps wrote in a letter to Andrew. “Thank you for helping make this football season an exciting and memorable one for all of us that got to watch you compete.”
The rise to being a “5-star” recruit and one of the most sought after linemen in the nation came suddenly to Raym. It started on a trip to Norman for the 2016 Bedlam game when he was a ninth grader.
“I was there, and they were talking crazy about me, and said that they were going to offer me,” Raym said of the Sooner coaches. “That was like a complete shock. It wasn’t until then that I realized this could be a dream come true.”
Andrew doesn’t look back on his three-year-old self as a fortune teller. However, that stocking-footed child, barely beyond his toddler years, anxious to share a sleep-time vision with his parents, is now just two high school football seasons away from seeing his dream becoming reality.
It’s not every day a Broken Arrow High School softball player gets to share the stage with a three-time Cy Young Award winner and perhaps the best pitcher in Major League Baseball.
But for Mary Collins Wednesday night was offered that moment.
For the fourth time in his career, Kershaw was presented the Warren Spahn Award as the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. Collins was honored, along with four Oklahoma high school players, with the Michelle Smith Outstanding Athlete Award at the Warren Spahn Gala at Oklahoma City Country Club.
“That was pretty exciting,” a somewhat understated Collins said about meeting the Los Angeles Dodger pitcher. “It was cool.”
However, it was the words of Kershaw that created a lasting impression.
“There were a lot of people who talked,” the BA senior said. “Clayton said to ‘love the game when you play and not to just play because you’re good, but play because you love it.' I thought that was really good advice. To play when you don’t love it seems useless to me. I love playing.”
The Tiger pitcher/outfielder has signed to play softball at Oklahoma State University in the fall. Before that, however, comes the spring slow pitch season.
“I’m so excited (about the slow pitch season). I can’t wait,” Collins said. “When I step on the field, it’s not fast pitch or slow pitch, it’s just softball. And I love it.”
Collins was recognized with the high school softball award along with Mustang's Zoe Jones, Carl Albert's Audrie LaValley, Yukon's Chyenne Factor and MaKayla Jackson of Putnam City. The Ferguson Jenkins Award also was presented to five outstanding Oklahoma high school baseball players at Wednesday's event.
The Gala is centered on the accomplishments of Spahn, considered the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time in the Major Leagues. The Gala is the only event in Oklahoma in which a major league athlete is honored for their accomplishments on the playing field.
This marked the third year for Freezin’ for a Reason. And, the third straight year Sean Cunnane was part of the first official leap into the frigid pool.
“You have to understand, he has cerebral palsy and so when he gets cold he basically just stiffens up,” said Kris Cunnane, Sean’s mother. “Last year, he jumped in between Coach (David) Alexander and Coach (Ken) Ellett. They held onto him when they jumped. He doesn’t jump. So they jumped him in. He said ‘Mom, it was so cool. I really got to jump and then my whole body went numb.’”
Freezin’ for a Reason is a Broken Arrow Public Schools Special Olympic fundraiser sponsored by the BAPS Athletic Department. The purpose is two-fold. The majority of the money is used to provide uniforms and warm-up gear for the Special Olympic Athletes. The remainder goes toward helping with travel costs to the Summer Games in Stillwater.
“It is so cool, because the kids all match,” Kris Cunnane said. “They are just like any other athletic team. They all have their uniform and they love that.”
This year, 105 Broken Arrow athletes will participate in the game on the Oklahoma State University Campus. Each student will have three BA Tiger t-shirts in which to compete.
“Uniforms are expensive, so with the athletic department’s help we were able to completely outfit our entire team,” said Katie Fly, BAPS Special Olympic coach and BA Freshman Academy teacher. “We are thankful to the athletic department for thinking of our students just as they would any other athlete.”
The uniform, practices and participation in the summer games give the students a sense of what it’s like to be on a team. But the multi-night stay in an OSU dorm enhances the experience.
“Special Olympics has been great for him because it has helped him make new friends,” Kris Cunnane explained. “The first year we went he stayed one night in the dorm and the other night in the hotel with my husband and me. The next year, and every year since, he has stayed in the dorm, so it has helped him with his independence as well.”
This year’s Freezin’ for a Reason, held at the BA Golf & Athletic Club, raised more than $5,300. The total cost for the team to travel, stay and compete in the summer games is more than $17,000. All that money is raised through donations and special events like Freezin’ for a Reason and the upcoming Special Olympic Chili Cook-Off and Silent Auction on Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. in the BA High School Cafeteria. Email email@example.com to purchase a ticket.
“We don’t want the parents to pay because typically they have medical bills and other expenses like that,” Fly said. “We would rather their money go to that. We fund raise 100 percent of the money, so we can take every athlete (to the summer games) for free.”
Nominations for the 2018 Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame are being accepted through March 1, 2018.
Since 1995, Broken Arrow Schools has recognized the outstanding athletic contributions by student-athletes, coaches/administrators/staff, and “Friends of Broken Arrow Athletics” at the home-opening game of the Tiger football season.
“After looking at all the outstanding athletes we have had over the years that have come through Broken Arrow, creating the Athletic Hall of Fame was something that needed to be done,” said Ken Ellett. “We have had so many wonderful young men and women that have accomplished so much not only as a Broken Arrow athlete but also as a college and professional athlete.”
In all, 123 individuals have been inducted into the Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame. Though the majority of those inducted have been athletes, the list also includes two band directors, two doctors, two game announcers, two sports writers, several coaches and one “Friend of Athletics.”
“In more recent years, the committee has reviewed several nominations of people that some of us may have heard of but didn’t know just how successful they had become after leaving Broken Arrow,” Ellett said. “I’m not just talking athletically, but in their career and life after school.
“Our Hall of Fame committee does an excellent job of bringing nominations from different eras and then finalizing the selections for each year. We limit the selection to five individuals each year and, quite honestly, we could induct several more than that each year and never run out of former Tigers who are deserving of this recognition.”
There are two forms available online to nominate an individual for the BA Athletics Hall of Fame. One is by completing an online nomination form. The other is to print a PDF nomination form and mail it to Ken Ellett, Broken Arrow Multipurpose Facility, 2200 N. 23rd Street, Broken Arrow, OK 74012.
For a complete list of Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame members, please visit the Hall of Fame page at www.BATigerSports.com.
Parents of Broken Arrow High School, Freshman Academy and middle school student-athletes may go online to complete necessary forms to assure their child is eligible to begin participation in school athletics.
The completion of such forms as the Emergency Consent Form, Concussion and Head Injury Acknowledgement Form and the Risk/Insurance/Transportation Consent Form is required before a student is eligible to participate in Broken Arrow athletics. Other online forms parents are required to complete include the OSSAA’s Eligibility and Recruiting Forms, the Social Networking Form and the Drug Testing Consent Form.
To begin completion of the forms parents will need to include their child’s first and last names and know their child’s student ID number. An electronic signature of one parent is required.
Student-athletes are also required to have a current physical on file in order to participate in Broken Arrow school-sponsored athletics.
Online completion of the required forms is more convenient for parents and will streamline the process for Broken Arrow athletic department administrators, coaches and trainers. Visit RankOneSport's website to start the online forms process.