The Tunkhannock Kiwanis Club hosted the Tiger spring sports teams Thursday at the Moose Lodge.
Four of eight Tunkhannock Area teams were represented at the pre-season banquet.
The club entertained members of the boys and girls track and field teams, the boys lacrosse team, and the girls softball team.
Kiwanian Bob Parkison said the tradition of honoring the youths began about 10 years ago.
Trejon Turner, a junior jumper for the boys team said, “This is where the sports teams get to show off what they are going to do this year.”
On the other side of the room, the boys lacrosse team was well represented, with five players and two coaches.
Hunter Grow, a Tunkhannock lacrosse alum who now suits up for the Keystone Giants squad, has returned to his roots to be an assistant coach.
The team’s head coach, Eric Janiszewski, said, “This really is a great opportunity to interact with one of the great service clubs in our community and our fellow sports teams in a different environment. In all reality, we are too busy with ourselves- getting practices started, setting rosters- we need to learn more about the school as a whole. This gives us a better insight.”
Once the question and answer part of the night got underway, the student-athletes were in the spotlight. Each member of the orange-and-black teams relayed their personal goal, as well as the team focus for the 2019 campaign.
Beginning with the girls and boys track and field team, represented by girls track coach Kenny Young, junior Nathan Myers said that the team goal was to get to states, and break some of the records.
His personal goal is to get a sub-five minute mark in the mile, and he currently sits at 5:03. When one of the Kiwanis members asked if he could beat the current record for the school, a chuckle rippled through the crowd as Myers explained he would try, “...but Ben Robinson’s 4:20 is pretty impressive.”
Along the same lines, Turner is looking to break Matt Blaisure’s high jump record of 6’-10”. Turner’s state medal last season, at 6’-9”, proves he is on his way.
For the ladies, Marina Wells and Madelyn Franko are both looking to better their own personal records, and push the team to the postseason.
Young spoke about practices, listing conditioning and circuit training as primary focuses until they can get outside.
He also named all the integral coaches on the staff and is looking forward to Tiger alum and current standout at King’s College, Ellen Kuzma, helping this season.
Next up were members of the boys lacrosse team. The crowd was engaged, seeing as many of the Kiwanis members seemed unfamiliar with the sport.
Steven Bognatz, Jake Hawley, Jaxson Montross, Sergey Montross, and Izaiah Simon were the teams representatives.
After peppering the coaching staff with logistical questions, including field size, equipment needed, position clarifications and which local high schools they play, the athletes were able to respond to their goals.
A crowd question about what types of athletes do better at the sport came across, and Janiszewski responded that offensively, soccer players do well because they understand triangle offense better and have a better understanding of the plays.
“Defensively, well, the football players are better because they usually just want to go out there and hit someone,” answered the head coach.
A common theme amongst the laxers in attendance was to gel and come together as a team, and believe in themselves.
“My personal goal is to add swagger to the team,” said senior Bognatz. “I want to make this season a little more flashy, and have some fun.”
Bognatz also pointed out the district put up new banners in the high school gym, and the boys lacrosse one is empty.
“We want to put something up there. And we will,” he said, with the confident swagger he mentioned previously.
Janiszewski also mentioned that bringing the games and practices back to the high school, after a few years at Roslund Elementary School, has generated more interest in the sport, which boasts a roster of around 35 boys.
Finally, the spotlight shone on the girls softball team. Tunkhannock softball has been a longtime mainstay at the Kiwanis events, and the six senior representatives were quite comfortable in discussing their upcoming season.
“Honest to God, this is surreal,” said Kendra Schultz. “We came in here as freshmen and no one knew who we were. Now we have made a name for ourselves and every year we have had to adapt to represent the team. That is important to us.”
The reigning two-time District 2 Class 4A champions will continue their quest for state gold this spring.
Volunteer assistant coach Mark Reposa represented the team while head coach Bob Hegedty was in Hershey for wrestling states.
Reposa said, “These are six of the best players in the district. They have been in the gym working out and lifting since July. They have brought our program the recognition it deserves, all six of these girls were starters on the team that went to states two years ago. They make it real easy to coach them, but all the credit goes to them.”
He also mentioned that the team was invited to play in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association tournament April 6 and 7. The Tigers are one of only two teams from Pennsylvania, and 16 teams total.
“All nine of our starters are returning from last season, and I can honestly say-without arrogance- that these girls have earned everything they have gotten. There is not a team in the area that works harder than them,” he added.
Shultz, Erin Dunn, Faith Jones, Hope Jones, Jena Simmons, and Hailey Farr all gave different versions of the same team goals- to be united, lead by example, make a run for the postseason, and finish their softball careers on a positive note.
Simmons, though, has a personal goal of hitting what she calls a “tennis court dinger,” a homerun over the fence and into the tennis courts.
The Kiwanis club meets the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at the Moose Lodge on Hunter Highway (behind the old WalMart). For more information about becoming a member, please contact any member of the club or Barb Hughes at 570-240-1348.