By FARHAN PATEL, junior, and ROHAN ROY, sophomore
From the golden letters of JP blazoned in the midst of green across the front to the uniform number on the back, sports jerseys instill a sense of pride in the hearts of the many athletes that have worn them. This year, while senior athletes conclude their high school career, pack their bags the locker room, celebrate with underclassmen, and shed the green and gold for the final time, we asked the class of 2015’s most outstanding athletes to share their parting thoughts on the impact of their sport on their lives as well as the lessons they’ve learned along the way. From the legacies these exemplary athletes have built to the confidence and optimism they have displayed, these seniors have become role models for the next generation of athletes.
LAWRENCE LIN: When he first stepped foot on a court seven years ago, Lawrence Lin did not think that volleyball would become such a major part of life. However, he hit his first milestone in his high school volleyball career during his freshman year when he received the Rookie of the Year Award. He eventually became captain and vital member of the varsity squad in various positions from outside hitter, setter, libero, and defensive specialist to almost perfection. During crucial moments in close matches, he gave his coach freedom to put him anywhere his skills were needed. Through volleyball, Lawrence learned to value teamwork. He comments that “one person can not always get the job done by himself,” as evidenced by the strong chemistry among all the players during their matches. Whether he is playing a fun game with his father or competing on the competitive level, Lawrence hopes to continue playing volleyball on the recreational level after he graduates.
HANNAH HARKAY: For Hannah Harkay, soccer is not just a high school sport. It has become a part of her life she can never let go. Her passion and love for the game, along with her impressive footwork, has granted her a myriad of awards. Hannah made headlines by being nominated to the Home News Tribune All-Area Second team for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014. In addition, she was named to the All-Red Division team and earned the Coaches’ Award in her junior and senior years. As captain of the girls varsity soccer team, Hannah was also chosen to be part of the Top 20 All-State (2014). Through soccer, she has learned the importance of cooperation and the value of hard work and effort. Hannah comments, “It’s not always best to do things your way. Sometimes with a little support from others and a helpful assist, it is much easier to reach your goal.” Despite sustaining several injuries, Hannah overcame these obstacles in order to continue playing the sport she loves. She plans to continue her soccer career playing for Penn State Berks in the fall.
DANIEL GALARZA: Daniel is known as a cheetah on land and a shark in the water. An accomplished dual sport athlete, he is a three-year varsity runner and the captain of the boys cross country team. As captain, he led the varsity team to a third place finish in the GMCs and a sixth place finish at the State Sectionals this year. He was selected to the All-Conference team for finishing fifth in 16:43.00 at the GMCs. From his time in the YMCA swim team to his accomplishments at school, Galarza is known as one of the best swimmers in the county. He earned a spot on the All-Conference team (2014) and won All-Area awards from his performance at the Meet of the Champions. From both his sports, Daniel has learned the importance of working hard and motivating others to do the same. “I learned how to be leader and a motivator toward others. From all my years of experience, I learned that in order to reach your goals, you cannot do anything else but work hard. By working hard, you will achieve your goals.” He will continue his swimming career in the Division II level at Pace University this coming fall.
ASHLEIGH ANDERSON: Ashleigh never planned to run in high school. However, after placing in a winter track meet as a freshman, Ashleigh pushed herself to keep going. She explains that the “idea of finally being good at something [caused her to] eventually fall in love with the rush and accomplishment of working so hard.” She became a four-year varsity runner and a two-time captain for the girls cross country, winter track, and spring track team. Ashleigh inspired her teammates to work just as hard and led this year’s varsity cross country team to the school’s first ever first place finish at the GMCs. In addition, she was part of the four-runner relay that helped break the school records for the distance medley relay with 13:21.41 and the 4×800 race with 10:06.6. She was named to the prestigious All-Red Division teams for winter track and cross country. Although Ashleigh will not run at the college level, she still plans on joining a club in order to keep the sport close to her heart.
SARTHAK MOHANTY: Sarthak began playing tennis 13 years ago and has developed into a highly-skilled and confident player. He became a two-time doubles national champion and singles national finalist. In addition, he was nominated as the United States Tennis Association Eastern Player of the Year and ranked 30th in the nation. In JP, Sarthak was captain of the boys tennis team for two years and led the team to three consecutive county championships and two consecutive Red Division championships. He was also named to the All-Area, All-Conference, and All-Division teams because of his many victories. Commenting on the importance of tennis in his life, he states“Tennis was definitely a pivotal part of my life and it was easy for me to continue. It was definitely an outlet for the stress of everyday life.” Although he does not to plan to continue playing tennis in college, Sarthak’s optimism and confidence on the court will live on and continue to inspire younger players.
SUSAN ZHAO: Since her freshman year on the varsity team, Susan Zhao has compiled an impressive 383 kills, 347 service points, and 69 aces. She has developed a reputation for being the go-to player when it comes to serving and putting the volleyball over the net to score a point. In addition to being named to All-Red Division and All-Conference, she was selected as the captain of the team this year and led the Lady Hawks to an 18-9 record with wins against a powerful East Brunswick team and cross-town rivals Edison High School. Susan reflects on her fouryear varsity volleyball experience, “Volleyball is a team sport. Losing a point, earning a point has to be done by more than one person. Volleyball has taught me the difficulties, but also the rewards and successes that come with teamwork…it’s the driving force behind the hard work and dedication that make the wins so much sweeter.” Susan will not be playing competitive volleyball in college, but she still plans to keep playing it as a hobby throughout her entire life.