At five-foot, four-inches tall, Kallie Fenscke pretty much looks up to every one of her Broken Arrow volleyball teammates. But when it comes to commanding respect, the senior setter has the stature of a giant.
“She’s not a very big kid, but she can be very loud, and you need that on the court,” Coach Ian Bullen said of Fenske, who comes in with more starts than any other returning Lady Tiger this season. “The big thing she gives us, and I’ve seen her improve on this over last year, is her leadership on the court. She’s almost like having another coach out there.”
When the senior setter’s voice is raised it’s not thunderous coach speak, though.
“Usually, I have a really good attitude, because a bad attitude can tear a team apart,” Fenske said. “If you want to do great things you have to have a great attitude.”
Fenske, along with senior middle blocker Gwyn Cowan, leaned on each other during the offseason to keep the team working hard.
“Basically, we are each other’s wingman,” said Fenske, who wouldn’t identify who is the pilot.
“We’ve already had talks with the team about how we have to be there for each other and not just play for yourself. You have to play for the person standing next to you.”
The preseason team conversation was triggered by what Fenscke, and Bullen, considered a disappointing season in 2017.
“Not getting to the state tournament last year has made them very, very hungry,” Bullen said.
Fenscke, Bullen noted, has the personality and the skill to give the 2018 Lady Tigers a fighting chance at a championship.
“I Look for her to lead us on the court with her actions, but also to lead us with her level of play,” Bullen said. “She has great hands. She is a great, great setter and very competitive. The thing that could be our biggest asset is she just likes to win and when she is out there she inspires the others to try and win.”
The Lady Tigers host Union and Jenks on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, in Tiger Field House. Matches start with ninth grade at 4 p.m. Junior varsity plays at 5 p.m. with the varsity match scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
Broken Arrow, Bartlesville, Choctaw and Coweta are the teams competing in the inaugural BA Kickoff Bash sponsored by Lenny’s Subs on Thursday, Aug. 16, at Broken Arrow Memorial Stadium.
The evening starts with JV scrimmages at 5. Bartlesville will play Coweta at 6 p.m. Broken Arrow and Choctaw face off at 8 p.m.
Autographed ALS footballs will be given away during halftime of each game. Four area NCAA Division I coaches – Lincoln Riley, OU; Mike Gundy, OSU; Phillip Montgomery, TU; and Chad Morris, Arkansas – and members of each of the teams playing in the Kickoff Bash have each signed a ball. Seven of the balls will be given away during halftime of the first game, while the ball autographed by Broken Arrow players will be presented at halftime of the second game.
Fans will have an opportunity to donate to the ALS Association before each game.
Broken Arrow Youth Football Association teams will be recognized between the two varsity games.
Tickets to the Kickoff BASH are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Gates open at 4 p.m.
The Tigers open the regular season at home against the Union Redskins. Kick off for that game is set for 7 p.m.
With the first day of practice in the books, Coach David Alexander outlined three keys that would dictate the success of the 2018 Broken Arrow Tigers football season.
Balanced performance from the quarterback position
A pair of 6-foot, 3-inch seniors, Quintevin Cherry and Tate Robards, are the front runners to be the starting signal caller on Tiger Field against Union on Aug. 24. Whoever it is will be taking his first snap as a Tiger, and will be the third opening-game starter in as many seasons.
“We have to be able to throw it when we want to throw it,” Alexander said. “We have to be able to get those really good football teams out of man coverage.
Defense must play to expectations
Bolstered by Demeco Roland and Zach Marcheselli, two of the state’s top 30 players according to The Oklahoman, and several other players who could play at the next level, the BA defense could be one of the best in the state in 2018.
“I’m putting a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations on the defense to turn the ball over, to get off the field on third down and mix up coverages where we couldn’t do that last year,” Alexander said. “They need to be a good as we think they are.”
Offensive line should control the game
The entire starting O-line is back from a year ago, plus there is plenty of depth.
“If we’re going to run it or throw it, it’s going to be on those guys,” Alexander said. “We feel that we’re going to be able to block people, so we should be able to run pass plays and keep the quarterback clean and create holes for running backs. We believe in our offensive line and will lean heavy on them to get the job done.”
Broken Arrow will host the four-team “Kickoff BASH” sponsored by Lenny’s Subs on Aug. 16. Bartlesville will play Coweta at 6 p.m. in the first varsity game. The Tigers will play Choctaw at 8 p.m. Junior varsity games featuring all four teams will start at 5 p.m.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. The gates will open at 4 p.m.
Broken Arrow hosts Union on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. to open the regular season.
Boys and girls soccer tryouts for new students and those who were unable to try out in the spring are scheduled for Aug. 20 at 3 p.m., at the Kirkland Activities Complex.
Sara Graham took her first dance lesson when she was four years old.
In seventh grade she was a junior Tigette. A year later she knew “this is what I want to do,” and danced her way onto the eighth grade team.
Now, as a Broken Arrow High School sophomore, she describes dancing as “my passion.”
Over the last few years, that passion brought hardship and heartache.
A tailbone injury – “I don’t know how it happened” – slowed her progression as a Tigette. The recovery time was short, however. By the second semester she was performing with teammates. But, in February of her eighth grade year, another injury halted her dancing. A severe concussion suffered at home kept her out of dance for seven months. She had scheduled visits with a neurologist for a year. Migraines and spots in her vision still exist.
As her ninth grade year rolled around it seemed as if the setbacks were behind here. Seemed.
After dancing at a freshman football game pain in her hip kept her from walking. The first diagnosis was a labral tear. A second visit, this time with BA Athletics team doctor Dr. John Balbas of Tulsa Bone and Joint, showed the labral tear as well as hip dysplasia. Two months later, at Dr. Balbas’s recommendation, Graham visited a hip specialist in St. Louis. This past March, while classmates were planning spring break fun, Graham was on a surgical table in Missouri. Her hip was broken in two places and, in laymen’s terms, the hip bone’s ball-and-socket were placed into their correct positions.
Next up was a month of bed rest. Her return to school would be on crutches.
“They told me there was a possibility I may not be able to dance again. That’s when things got real,” Graham said. “I didn’t tell anyone until after the surgery. I told my coach and I was just crying because dancing is my passion.
“I’m better now. It’s the right thing for me because I’m not in any pain. But there was a lot of sadness, anger, and ‘why did this have to happen to me?’”
Tigette coach Meag Warren remembers that day.
“When she came in and told me, I cried before she did.” Warren said. “I know how much she loves dance. To have someone tell you that you can’t do something is gut wrenching. I would be devastated if someone told me I couldn’t dance.”
After coming through, what she described as a “dark time,” Graham is back with the team. Though not dancing, her love for the sport does not allow her to walk away.
“She’s an inspiration,” Warren said. “You see lot of kids who have a hardship or injury and they’ll use that as a crutch. They just kind of give up. She is not that way.
“Sara is using this injury as a reason to fight harder. She can’t dance at all. But, instead of quitting the program, she found another way to stay involved. You don’t see that kind of grit in many kids.”
Graham is one of three 2018-2019 Tigette managers along with sophomore Jaclyn Bright and junior Veronica Gregory.
“It’s kind of sad being a team manager and just watching them because I can’t dance, but I’m still part of the team,” Graham said. “They still include me in everything. That’s what makes it so much better. I’m their Number One fan.”
Graham credits her mother, Sally Searcy, and best friend Presleigh Thompson for encouraging her during her bed-ridden recovery.
“I called Presleigh ‘my person’ because she was there for me a lot and I was able to talk to her,” Graham said of the friend who visited her three-days-a-week while on bedrest. “She came with me to St. Louis to be my support person.
“I really didn’t like that my friends or my mom, would have to do everything for me. I couldn’t get up to get something to eat or to drink. They would have to help me get to the bathroom. It would take 10 minutes just to go across the hall.”
Even on crutches “I was so happy to be back in school.”
Warren is glad Graham chose to remain with the Tigettes.
“Managers are like my lifeline,” Warren said. “These kids are helping with me with day-to-day practice stuff and keep me organized. It’s like having a great assistant. Those little things that take up so much time, they make it all work. Sara is proactive. I don’t even have to ask. She just does.
“She’s like the person they tell ‘you won’t walk again,’ and she’s like ‘watch me.’ She’s a tough kid. I bet by her senior year her mother and I will have to fight her to not put on a uniform.”
According to the International Hip Dysplasia website “running and impact sports are not recommended for people with hip dysplasia,” including those who have had successful surgery.
Those words do not discourage Graham.
“I want to keep positive thoughts about it,” she said. “I don’t want to be sad about Tigettes, because Tigettes is something I love.
“I do think that if I work really hard then I’ll get to the point where I can dance again, but at the same time I also think about if I heal it’s going to take a long time to train my body to do the stuff that I was able to do. There are both positive and negative. But I really want to get to the point where I can dance again.”
Her coach does not doubt the sophomore who “has the qualities of a senior captain.”
“I love when kids don’t let an injury become a hindrance or an excuse, but make it their success story,” Warren said.
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.