Photo by Sven Kucinic on Unsplash
The Academy of Occult Arts has been the birthplace of many prominent athletes over the years: Bernd Schuster, Helmut Rahn, Pat Tillman, Venus and Serena Williams, and Chloe McCardel are just a small sampling of the hundreds of former students who walked our same halls. The Uchimura elven clan were the most recent attendees, with Haruhi Uchimura making a name for herself in the world of gymnastics. It isn’t uncommon to see a handful of college scouts at one of our games or competitions, and one can only imagine how many will make an appearance at our academy’s graduation ceremony tomorrow night.
With that in mind, I would like to use this time to highlight the athletes of the graduating class and their prowess.
Pharom Grerora of the Merfyn Clan, #44
Not only is Grerora a member of our student council, but he is also the captain of our football team, the Magic Striders. He made waves a few years back as the first freshman to ever make it into one of our athletic clubs, and he paved the way for more Enchanter-inclusion in team sports, which are usually dominated by Hunter-class students and vampires. Grerora has incredible ball control on the field, making him one of the top-performing strikers in recent years.
“[Grerora] is the best!” shared Zahra Silveira, a junior member of the team and Pharom’s choice to be the next captain. Silveira is the best defensive player on the Striders’ roster. “He’s going to shock the world when he goes pro. The humans won’t know what hit them!”
“Pharom’s done so much for Enchanters,” Sage Bloodworth, a witch who successfully joined the team following Grerora’s influence, shared of the senior. “And not just us as a community–the team would have never given a Deaf person a chance if it weren’t for [Grerora]. He saw past that, and convinced the others to let me join. Then he took me under his wing, trained me personally. I don’t think I can ever repay him for the opportunity.”
Bloodworth is a sophomore and an up-and-comer on the roster. Much like their mentor, they are a clinical finisher, which means their accuracy in scoring goals is on an entirely different level.
Pharom Grerora is graduating with Highest Honor.
Tailor Vega of the Yonkers Pounce, #92
Many Hunters, myself included, were surprised when Vega showed up at football tryouts two years ago. As I had previously mentioned, academy sports are played by predominantly Hunters, but those Hunters are usually those who shift into larger predatory mammals. Vega is not only the first werecat enrolled at AOA in almost a century, but the first to take an interest in team sports. Werecats are known to be solitary, and to explore academic extracurriculars over athletic. Vega made academy history when she joined the Striders.
“Tailor is a speedy, unstoppable machine!” said Dagger Heywood, a defensive player known for his on-field team-ups with fellow junior Jude, a vampire notorious for counter-strikes. “Her reaction times are phenomenal, and her size makes the other teams underestimate her. [Vega] and Pharom have killer chemistry on the field. I don’t think it an exaggeration to say [Vega and Grerora] carried this team for the first half of this past season.”
Tailor Vega is graduating with Honors.
Malory of the Bruton Coven, #3
Malory chose well when she donned the number three. She completed her blood trial three years sooner than the one-fifty year average; she’s the third member of the Bruton Coven to attend and graduate from AOA; she is one of three Bruton vampires on the football squad, and she received an honorable mention every quarter for three years in a row. Malory was the primary wing-back of the team before Silveira was recruited.
“It’s going to be weird, not having [Malory] here when we return from break,” admitted Horace. Not only was he a junior from the same coven, but Malory was assigned to be his guide when he first enrolled. “Jude won’t admit it, but he looks up to Mal almost as much as I do. The three of us do everything together: studying, hunting–if you saw one of us in the vicinity, odds are the other two were close by. No one will ever have your back, on and off the field, like Mal.”
Malory graduates tomorrow with High Honors.
Infamous for their towering stature and uncharacteristically swift movements, Rapshider amazed the entire student body when they first stepped onto the court and dominated the scene. They joined the Mad Howlers as a center during their freshman year, and they spent the better part of this year showing Jude and Seth, a pair of vampire teammates, how to take their place.
“The look on [the opposing teams’] faces when Rap runs out onto the court is priceless,” joked Izayah Hawkins, a junior witch on the team. “[Rapshider] looks like they would stomp on you, but little do the other teams know that they’re a big softy. They’re in the Animal Rescue Club and the LGBTQIA+ Alliance–hell, they’re vegan. Rap couldn’t hurt a fly even if it threatened to destroy the world.”
Rapshider is graduating with High Honors.
Kafara of the Horn Coven, #15
Kafara is unlike the other athletes on this list; while students try out for their respective sports during their first or second year, he didn’t even consider an athletic extracurricular until he was a junior. He had spent his first two years focused on raising his GPA from 2.4 to 3.45–once he was satisfied with his progress, he tried out for the basketball team on a whim. Kafara was assigned to be the team’s point guard shortly after.
“[Kafara’s] like a blur on the court,” stated Melusine Jordan, mermaid and junior Mad Howler. Aside from being the vice president of the Journalism Club, Jordan learned much from her time with Kafara. “When Kaf has a goal in mind, he’ll go to the ends of the Earth to achieve it. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
Kafara is graduating with Highest Honors.
Arryn Devin of the Ó Damháin Clan, #20
Arryn Devin is a Howler hybrid–she’s ran as a shooting guard and as a small forward, putting her agility to great use. Haunters are typically the ones to take the combination roles, but Devin’s versatility paid off. She’s worked closely with half of the remaining team, including new recruit Omari Leonard. Leonard, like his mentor, has also been defined as a swingman.
“Arryn knows how to keep your head in the game,” said Leonard after their last game. “I’ve got ADHD, and I’ve unintentionally made many people lose their patience over my shit–but not [Devin]. Arryn’s the most patient, focused person you’ll ever meet. She’ll work with you over and over until you get it, even if it means switching up her methods or taking breaks. I don’t think I woulda lasted this long on the team if it weren’t for her or Izayah.”
Arryn Devin is graduating with Highest Honors.
Sibyl Chan of the Amaru Colony, #11
Sibyl Chan is far from the first giant to enter the game, but she stole the valor of all her predecessors the moment she slipped her hand into a glove. As a starting pitcher for the Heavenly Devils, Chan has made many a batter cry out in frustration over her split-finger fastballs. Brielle Ocampo, Wade Rivers, and Gabriel Caruso are just a few of the capable pitchers she trained.
“I don’t think people understand just how big of a deal it was to come to try-outs and see that one of the players was from my part of the world,” said Ocampo of Chan. “Filipinos and Polynesians are Asians you don’t see represented very often. We might be from different countries, but Sibyl did her best to make me feel a little more at home–and her splitters are practically lethal! I hope I can come close to replicating her pitches someday.”
Sibyl Chan is graduating with High Honors.
Zeidan of the Babaei Coven, #24
This is an undead fellow that I’m sure needs no introduction, but he certainly deserves it: Zeidan is president of the Student Council, a member of the International Language Club, and the best center fielder in AOA history. He’s light on his feet, has a capable throwing arm, and was recorded catching the most fly balls of any outfielder during his four years at the academy.
“[Zeidan] has a lot of fans because of his aesthetic appeal and intellectual prowess,” Olympia Lopez pointed out. Lopez is a baseman, normally second base or short stop, so she and Zeidan must always maintain good communication. “Most of [the fans] could care less about his athleticism–but they don’t know what they’re missing out on. Zeidan’s like a star, and the field’s where he shines the brightest.”
Zeidan is graduating with Highest Honors.
Rudy Warren of the Winnipeg Pack, #21
Rudy Warren joined AOA’s volleyball team, the Blue Dreams, at the beginning of his sophomore year on a dare. He claims the experience was serendipitous, citing that he would never have given the sport a chance if he had not accepted the challenge.
“I know I don’t have to tell you this, Feliks, but [volleyball] is more than just a hobby sport or a game people play at the beach,” Warren said of the sport. “In the Hunter community, volleyball brings us all together. Haunters can’t join us for day games, and Enchanters can’t keep up with us. It’s not all ours, and it shouldn’t be–we play mostly at nights to include Haunters and recruit the faster Enchanters, like elves and fairies–but at the moment, it’s mostly ours. A sport where our ‘beast’ side isn’t constantly speculated, because we’re the majority here. It’s nice to get away from that.”
Secoiya Rieviere, a junior who was named co-captain after Warren passed his title to Melusine Jordan, had this to say of the graduate:
“Rudy’s a big sweetie. People see his size and Hunter pin and they step out of the way… Not that they shouldn’t,” Rieviere added. “[Warren’s] kick-ass, no matter where he is. Plenty of my classmates rolled their eyes when I told them I play volleyball–their first thought is, ‘That’s not a real sport,’ and their second is, ‘Of course you do, Ariel.’ Merfolk aren’t all about swimming and sing-alongs, you know? Rudy would always put ’em in their place, though. He never judged us for flocking to volleyball.”
Rudy Warren is graduating with Honors.
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